TPC Sawgrass volunteer correspondent Peter White gives a look into Saturday and Sunday activity
Saturday night when we arrived at TPC Sawgrass at the early dinner meeting, (director of agronomy) Tom Vlach, CGCS, kicked the evening off and welcomed all the volunteers to TPC Sawgrass, and with a chuckle he added, “and sunny Florida.” Just walking around the volunteer tent, it was clear the rain damage was severe —everything was soaked and the mud was thick. After dinner, Clay (Breazeale, Stadium Course superintendent) introduced us to the TPC Sawgrass crew members who would be leading the groups of volunteers. He made it clear that they were happy to see us and were thrilled to have our support.
After the welcome we headed to the course with our group leaders for just a few minutes to learn about our responsibilities for the next day. When we returned to the dorms around 6:30 p.m., my teammates and the rest of the volunteers and I were really excited to get to work, and ready to help out in any way possible.
Sunday morning kicked off at 5:45 a.m. with more rain. My UMass teammates and I spent the day with volunteers from Mississippi State in the bunkers. We cleaned, added sand and raked them all.
As Damon, our group leader and TPC Sawgrass crew member, showed us what we’d be doing for the rest of the week, we were awestruck and overwhelmed by the entire operation. So many people, so much work to be done, and on such an expansive property. We were amazed that there was going to be enough time to get it all accomplished. But Damon gave us a great tour of the course, and shared some of his experiences, which helped us all to loosen up a bit and we had a lot of fun on Sunday.
At lunch we received our afternoon assignments, the rain stopped and Florida returned to being the Sunshine State. It was like we had accidentally taken a wrong turn and landed on a new golf course. The layout is spectacular and we were just amazed at how different it looked compared to that dreary morning. We spent the rest of the day walking the course and blowing off the rough, greens, tee surrounds and cart paths in order to get the place looking pristine after all the rain we’ve had.
Overall, Sunday was a real learning experience for us. We didn’t expect to see the greens mowed eight times, but they handled it extremely well and they feel really smooth. It will be a fun week watching the players putt on these surfaces during the Players Championship.