Charlie Schauwecker shares what goes into hosting the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

By |  June 19, 2024 0 Comments

Without question hosting a major championship demands the very best from a golf course. And, in turn, the golf course requires the best of everyone involved in preparing its championship conditions.

Although Charlie Schauwecker, director of agronomy, takes pride in Sahalee Country Club’s conditioning, he knows that his teams’ expectations and standards must increase, in preparation for the LPGA Tour’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

To prepare the Sammamish, Wash.-based course and his team for this rise in expectations, Schauwecker has a checklist of projects and issues, that must be addressed to ensure everyone is fully prepared.

“Fortunately, that checklist is now shrinking as we approach the tournament,” Schauwecker says. “It’s important to recognize that even though the Women’s PGA Championship was the catalyst for much of this work, it will benefit members and guests at Sahalee for years to come.”

A family reunion

The Pacific Northwest region hasn’t hosted many major championships in the past. This year, Sahalee will host the Women’s PGA Championship for the second time — it also hosted the championship in 2016. Outside of 2016, the club has only hosted two other majors in its history: the 1998 PGA Championship and the 2010 U.S. Senior Open.

Since major championships are so rare, the Pacific Northwest’s golf and turf communities are supporting the Sahalee in as many ways as they possibly can. Schauwecker anticipates approximately 50 grounds volunteers will support Sahalee’s 35 full-time agronomy staff members.

“One thing that really stands out to me is how many former Sahalee Country Club staff members get involved in events like this,” he adds. “It’s almost like a family reunion when everyone comes in for the week.”

The 2024 Women’s PGA Championship is Sahalee Country Club’s fourth major and only the third major hosted in the Pacific Northwest this century. (Photo: Charlie Schauwecker)

The 2024 Women’s PGA Championship is Sahalee Country Club’s fourth major and only the third major hosted in the Pacific Northwest this century. (Photo: Charlie Schauwecker)

Recent renovations

Since joining Sahalee Country Club as an agronomy staff member, ahead of the 2016 Women’s PGA Championship, Schauwecker has witnessed numerous improvements at the club’s three nine-hole courses. Most of these improvements have supported Sahalee’s tree management plan, which is a fundamental guide to the club’s management of 7,500 cedars, firs, hemlocks and maples.

“Sahalee’s golf course architect, along with certified arborists and the USGA Green Section, gave advice about three key goals — how we can improve turf conditions, maintain healthy Pacific Northwestern forests and maximize a unique strategy, which trees present at Sahalee,” Schauwecker says.

During the 2022/2023 offseason, the club also underwent a full bunker renovation. At the time, the courses’ 87 bunkers were 25 years old and in poor condition with heavily-contaminated sand. As a result, they offered minimal functional drainage, if any at all.

Schauwecker — who was promoted to his current role just before the renovation began — chose to invest in several drainage and bunker liner technologies.

“The redesign has enhanced the courses’ aesthetics and strategies, as they have more charismatic contouring and repositioning,” Schauwecker adds. “Such contouring and repositioning will challenge modern-day golfers more, just in time for the professionals to encounter them at the Women’s PGA Championship.”

The par-3 No. 8 on Sahalee CC’s North Course gives golfers a challenge with a small lake separating the tee complex from the green. (Photo: Charlie Schauwecker)

The par-3 No. 8 on Sahalee CC’s North Course gives golfers a challenge with a small lake separating the tee complex from the green. (Photo: Charlie Schauwecker)

Opportunity knocks

Reflecting on his experiences with Sahalee, as it prepares to host its fourth major championship, Schauwecker advises superintendents — and other staff members — to build and maintain relationships with golf’s governing bodies, as they consider hosting major championships, too.

“From there, opportunities will present themselves, while tournaments, which may be a good fit, will be identified as well,” he says. “For us at Sahalee, the Women’s PGA Championship is a perfect fit, and the PGA of America is a great partner.”

As the tournament draws near, Schauwecker says he can’t wait for area superintendent volunteers to witness the club’s renovations. He’s also particularly excited about watching the world’s best female golfers display their skills.

“Our courses reward accurate tee shots and great ball striking, as golfers have to work it both ways to get around, under or over our trees,” he stresses. “Undoubtedly, the PGA Championship will present a challenging, yet fair test for the world’s best female golfers.”

This article is tagged with , , and posted in From the Magazine, People, 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.


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