Brandon Razo on the challenges of hosting the Memorial Health Championship around a major holiday

By |  June 26, 2024 0 Comments

Ever since Springfield, Ill.’s Panther Creek Country Club started hosting the Korn Ferry Tour’s Memorial Health Championship in 2016, it’s faced one primary challenge: the tournament is hosted around the Fourth of July.

For superintendent Brandon Razo, the timing is difficult because he’s usually unable to find a large group of industry volunteers to assist him, as they’re often celebrating the holiday with their friends and family.

Thankfully for him, an entirely different type of volunteer has stepped up to fill the void.

“We have a large group of industry sales representatives that always go out of their way to help us with the tournament,” Razo says. “Not only do they help by providing meals and drinks, but they also help on the course with anything we may need, whether they’re operating a mower or removing dew.”

Thanks to their dedication, Razo can focus on the aspect of the week he relishes the most.

“I absolutely enjoy the tournament atmosphere when it comes to hosting a tournament, and that is what brought me to Panther Creek Country Club in the first place,” he says.

During his career, Razo has volunteered for a handful of competitions and tournaments, including the Presidents Cup and the Tour Championship. Because of his experience at those events, he’s longed to become involved with tournament golf.

“I enjoy the grind of tournament week,” he says. “It’s very exhausting, but well worth the sacrifice when you can sit back and realize you have some of the best players in the world playing at your course.”

The Panther Creek CC agronomy team gets help from all corners of the industry as volunteers during tournament week. (Photo: Brandon Razo)

The Panther Creek CC agronomy team gets help from all corners of the industry as volunteers during tournament week. (Photo: Brandon Razo)

Preparing for the future

To challenge golfers for years to come, Panther Creek has undergone several renovations in the time since the 2023 edition of the Memorial Health Championship.

Last fall, Razo’s agronomy team began its fairway reduction project. Thus far, his team members have completed the course’s front nine holes and are set to continue the project this fall.

“Our fairways are noticeably big, and they have a lot of little nooks that add time to mowing and spraying,” he says. “With this in mind, we took out around three acres of bentgrass throughout the front nine fairways, which will not only save us on labor but also reduce the costs that are associated with chemicals and fertilizer.”

Furthermore, Razo and his team are building a new professional tee area on the par-three fifth hole (which will function as the 14th hole during the Memorial Health Championship). Consequently, the course will be longer for the Korn Ferry Tour competitors while also enabling its members to have more room on the existing tees. Razo expects this project to be completed prior to the 2024 tournament.

“(Hosting the Memorial Health Championship) is an exciting opportunity and I hope it’s something that continues to happen here at Panther Creek,” says Superintendent Brandon Razo. (Photo: Brandon Razo)

“(Hosting the Memorial Health Championship) is an exciting opportunity, and I hope it’s something that continues to happen here at Panther Creek,” says superintendent Brandon Razo. (Photo: Brandon Razo)

Enjoy every moment

As Razo reflects on his experiences with the Korn Ferry Tour so far, he advises other superintendents — particularly those who work at courses that host professional golf tournaments — to “take the time to enjoy it and not get too stressed out.”

“When it comes down to it, we’re doing everything we would normally be doing on the course,” he emphasizes. “We’re just doing more of it.”

Razo also stresses that superintendents must find time to be with their families during tournament week. For example, last year, his wife rode with him during evening shifts while he prepared for the following day’s activities. Additionally, his daughters were involved, as they ensured every crew member had drinks and snacks.

“It made the week even better having them here,” he says. “Remember that your family is always your No. 1 priority.”

This article is tagged with , and posted in From the Magazine, Tour Guide

About the Author: Chris Lewis

Michigan-based writer Chris Lewis specializes in reporting on golf in the U.S. He wrote about White Pine National Golf Resort for Golfdom in 2013, and part two of the magazine’s annual Plant Health Series in 2014.

Post a Comment