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An Intern Takes Two
Presented by BASF

By |  June 16, 2014

Editor’s note: This is the first essay on preparing Pinehurst No. 2 for back-to-back opens by Carlos Sanes, one of the workers on the ground.

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Carlos Sanes takes a quick break from work to smile for a photo in the Pinehurst maintenance building. Photo by: Seth Jones

One of the most challenging and exciting times in a turfgrass intern’s life is getting the opportunity to prepare a golf course for a major tournament. It demands long hours, sustained focus and strenuous attention to detail. The back-to-back U.S. Open Championships at Pinehurst No. 2 present an historic once-in-a-lifetime chance for an intern like myself to learn what goes into creating the playing conditions demanded by the most rigorous challenge in golf.

My name is Carlos Sanes and I’m pursuing an Advanced Certificate in Turfgrass Management through Penn State University’s World Campus program. Previously I’ve worked with Dryject Northeast/TurfPounders for four years providing aeration solutions for mostly private golf clubs in the Westchester, New York area. Last year I worked eight months at Fairview CC in Greenwich, Conn., under the tutelage of Vincent Pavonetti, CGCS while beginning my certificate program.

This season I’m interning at Pinehurst CC & Resort on Course No. 7. Recently I’ve been called over, along with all of the other interns from Pinehurst’s eight courses, to course No. 2 to help prepare and maintain the course for both U.S. Open championships. We’ve been tasked with an assortment of jobs including: mowing greens, fairways, tees and approaches; grooming bunkers; managing weeds; and hand-watering areas of fine turf.

During the Men’s U.S. Open Championship I’ve been tasked with mowing green surrounds, approaches and tee boxes in the morning. During the afternoon I’m part of a two-man response team that checks four holes to make sure every detail is taken care of (i.e. rakes are placed near bunkers properly, bunker sand is whipped off greens, debris is removed from areas of play, etc.) In the evenings I lead a small crew of six workers maintaining bunkers on the back nine.

By far the most important element to successfully fulfilling my responsibilities on the course is attention to detail. In the mornings, I do my best to make sure my mow lines are straight, I execute wide turns with my machine so as not to damage turf, I mow in the assigned direction to maintain uniformity of cut throughout the course, and I take great care not to get too close to greens while turning. These things seem obvious but when you’re waking up at 3:30 a.m. and you’re tired from the 16 hours worked the day before, fatigue and stress can hinder your attempt to execute your job properly, no matter how trivial the job seems, every day for 14+ days straight. Each person doing their part every day is what transforms a golf course into the marvel that plays host to the best golfers in the world for a week, in this case two. The USGA’s standards for tournament course conditions also present a challenge that must be met with excellent teamwork and an intense focus on detail day in and day out.

The 2014 U.S. Open Championships at Pinehurst No. 2 present the perfect challenge and learning environment for up and coming interns seeking to carve out their place in the often challenging yet always rewarding golf course management industry.

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