A championship welcome

By |  July 25, 2016 0 Comments


After waking up at 3:30 a.m. for a 6 a.m. flight, driving on New Jersey highways for the first time and a small hiccup with my hotel room, I finally made it to Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, N.J., early Sunday afternoon.

I picked up my media credential and started back to the maintenance facility to see if I could find some friendly faces.

IMG_1342_chipsThe first person that recognized me walking along the path was Nick Alley, Baltusrol assistant superintendent, whom I met at last year’s Green Start Academy. I hitched a ride with him and we caught up about things going on with the course. He told me how hot and dry it has been recently in the area and made a comment about the amount of rainfall at Oakmont (Pa.) CC during the U.S. Open.

Alley said they heard about dump trucks of wood chips that had to be brought in to try and firm up the mud spectators were walking through outside of the ropes. At the same time Baltusrol’s staff had recently trimmed some of the course’s trees. Instead of discarding them they decided to grind them up and keep the wood chips just in case Mother Nature decided to delay another major championship.



Once we made it to the maintenance facility Alley walked me into the office of Mark Kuhns, Baltusrol’s superintendent and an attendee of the 2015 Golfdom Summit. Kuhns welcomed me to the course and offered to show me around the facility. My millennial selfie skills paid off for a solid picture of the two of us in his cart.

While I was getting the tour Kuhns mentioned to me there was an audible called on part of the car parking. Some of the attendees of the championship decided they wanted to skip the car traffic and requested an area to park their helicopters.

So part of Baltusrol’s Upper Course that was going to be used for car parking was converted into a mini-airport. A small air-traffic control tower was brought in and Kuhns sent a couple of the members of his staff to paint landing areas (see below for pictures). He added that they expected 30 helicopters to land on the course during the championship.


(L to R) Gannon, Alley and Minogue.

Dinner was not being served at the course yesterday so I met with Alley and Tyler Minogue, a former Baltusrol intern and current assistant superintendent at Glencoe G&CC, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Alley knows the area the best and he suggested an Outback Steakhouse. Nothing like a Blooming Onion, steak, beers and good conversation at the end of a long day.

My car was back at the course and we were reminded of how crazy the world is right now while driving back through Baltusrol’s gates. Security stopped us and Alley flashed his parking pass to security. Then they asked him to turn off his engine and a large German Shepard came around the corner. The dog’s handler led it around the car and it was a sobering experience after our enjoyable dinner. But at the end of the day I’m glad the PGA is taking these precautions.

Keep checking our blog and our Twitter account for updates from the course.


Police brought in a mini-air traffic control tower.


One of the two large make-shift landing pads on the Upper Course.


One of the three parking areas for helicopters.


The spray paint cans used to mark the helicopter parking spaces in the back of Kuhns’ cart.



Photos: Golfdom

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