SPRINGFIELD, NEW JERSEY — As much as they don’t want to, members of the Baltusrol Golf Club maintenance staff have to start thinking about Monday — the day after the PGA Championship concludes on Baltusrol’s Lower Course.
“The PGA Championship has become a huge, huge show, not only for the people in the event but for the people who attend the event,” says Mark Kuhns, Baltusrol’s director of grounds. “So it’s like cleaning up after the circus leaves town. It’s the most difficult task of all.”
For as long as Kuhns and his crew have spent getting the Lower Course ready for the tournament — down to the smallest of details — the course will get beat up pretty badly this week, considering the amount of play and the thousands of golf fans trampling the course’s perimeter.
Even Baltusrol’s Upper Course has taken a drubbing. Cruising the Lower Course in his utility vehicle on Thursday afternoon and navigating it through crowds of golf fans, Dan Kilpatrick pointed to a large concession stand.
“That used to be the tee on the 17th hole of the Upper Course,” remarked Kilpatrick, the golf course superintendent of the Lower Course. “But it isn’t anymore.”
While the tournament is played on the Lower Course, the Upper Course is being used to house concession stands, corporate chalets and other staging areas.
Some areas on the Upper Course have been covered for nearly two months. Alas, Kuhns knows the turf under those structures will be long gone.
“That’s a lot of interseeding, reseeding and resodding of tees, fairways and approaches,” he says.
One good thing is the time the year, Kilpatrick notes, which is good for aerifying, seeding, watering — and growing.
The goal is to get the courses back to the members to play as quickly as possible.
“When we draw up the plans for recovery, that’s probably the biggest thing of all — getting these courses in shape as quickly as possible and getting them back into the hands of our members,” Kuhns says.
Funny thing: Come Sunday night, Baltusrol’s members won’t be thinking about the PGA Championship anymore.
“They’ll be thinking about when will they get their course back,” Kuhns says.