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Alan Brown shares how he handled a hurricane a week before hosting a pro tournament

By |  October 5, 2023 0 Comments
Graphic: Golfdom Staff

Graphic: Golfdom Staff

Seasoned agronomist Alan Brown, director of golf course and grounds at Timuquana CC in Jacksonville, Fla., has weathered a few storms. None more nail-biting, however, than that of Hurricane Ian in late September 2022, just a week before the PGA Champions Tour event, Constellation Furyk & Friends.

“I just said my prayers and hoped for the best and everything worked out,” he says.

Brown, being humble, did more than just pray.

Focus on logistics

Roughly five years ago, decorated professional golfer Jim Furyk approached Timuquana about hosting a Champions Tour event. At the time, the club was open to the opportunity, despite existing plans for a golf course restoration project in 2022.

In 2021, the premiere event kicked off for a five-year run.

Extensive renovations at Timuquana CC in Jacksonville, Fla., finished just in time for the second Constellation Furyk & Friends event in 2022. (Photo: Alan Brown)

Extensive renovations at Timuquana CC in Jacksonville, Fla., finished just in time for the second Constellation Furyk & Friends event in 2022. (Photo: Alan Brown)

While Brown has 23 years of experience in course maintenance, he’s spent almost half of that time at Timuquana. The 100-year-old private country club with coastal views offers members the pleasure of playing a classic Donald Ross-designed course, typically in tournament condition.

Players, according to Brown, enjoy the opportunity to play a course that retains its original architecture.

“I think they love coming here just because it’s something different that they get to play instead of the other places they go to day in and day out,” he says. “It’s a special place.”

A course’s heritage matched with an experienced super doesn’t necessarily make tournament preparation any easier.

“What you’re trying to do is just pull everything together at one time,” says Brown. “There’s a lot more to it than just getting the course in condition … the biggest challenge are the logistics before and after the tournament.”

Fortunately for Brown, he built a long-standing team that splits the responsibilities and takes ownership over varying aspects of preparation, allowing Brown to handle the unexpected.

Therefore, in 2022 some might say Brown was more than prepared for the unexpected.

Following Hurricane Ian in 2022, Alan Brown, director of golf course and grounds at Timuquana CC, says his course rebounded nicely, thanks to a well-thought-out plan. (Photo: Alan Brown)

Following Hurricane Ian in 2022, Alan Brown, director of golf course and grounds at Timuquana CC, says his course rebounded nicely, thanks to a well-thought-out plan. (Photo: Alan Brown)

Launching a renovation

Under his guidance, the course launched its golf course master plan in January, mere months after the inaugural Constellation Furyk & Friends event and just 10 months before the second run-through of the event.

The renovation was no small feat; it included: all new irrigation, improved drainage, rebuilding of 18 greens, the creation of additional bunkers, regrassing the fairways and tee boxes and expanding the native planting throughout the course. Miraculously finishing a week ahead of time on Aug. 19, Brown and his team redirected their attention to welcoming back members and began preparing for the tour event on Oct. 3.

“We opened up a month ahead of the tournament and then held the tournament,” he says.

Little did he anticipate that the Atlantic Ocean would throw him another unexpected event on Sept. 28 — Hurricane Ian.

“I’ve been through hurricanes before, so we just prepared,” he says. “We tried to take caution to what needed to happen during that time so we didn’t have a bigger mess to deal with at the end of things.”

Reported storm surges weren’t enough to take down Timuquana or its recent renovation in part due to Brown’s extensive preparation.

“I had tree companies lined up, I had generators in place to handle any power outages. I had a golf course construction company in place to come in the day after just to help us with whatever we were going to be facing,” he says. “The other things I was concerned about was just the build out, the hospitality tents and all of that, just having those prepared to handle whatever winds we were experiencing.”

And the silver lining — everything worked out, and the hurricane left behind beautiful weather for the week of the tournament.

As Brown starts another season at the course, he looks forward to year three of the Champions Tour event — a year in which he can finally focus on just the event.

“To be able to go through a summer and grow grass and condition things the way we want it, we haven’t experienced that yet. So, I’m excited about that,” he says.

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