Talking PGA Championship conditions with Chris Zugel

By |  August 13, 2015 0 Comments
The volunteer crew rakes bunkers on Monday after the practice round.

The volunteer crew rakes bunkers on Monday after the practice round.

If you read the player interviews from Tuesday you saw one word a lot, “soft.” Almost every single player we talked to said the course was playing soft thanks to the recent rain over the weekend and on Monday. Plenty of them were still confident the course would firm up if the weather continued to stay dry (knock on wood.)

When we talked to Straits Course Superintendent Chris Zugel the day before the tournament he understood the course is soft but says even he is limited when it comes to course preparations.

“We can start rolling and things like that but we have our time constraints that are on us,” says Zugel. “So we are doing our best to get it smoothed out but you can only push it so much.”

I think Zugel would take a soft course over the bunker maintenance issues he and his crew faced five years ago. After the 2010 PGA Championship Zugel and his crew knew they had to fix the bunker issue and why it was happening.

“We started to really pay attention when it rained seeing where issues were in bunkers. When we were out there after or during rainstorms you’d see problem areas,” says Zugel. “After that we changed some techniques and some of the things we did and made sure we constructed them a little bit differently just to make them look a little better.”

Joe Sell, Straits Course assistant superintendent, has been a part of the changes but knows they have a long way to go to work on every bunker.

“We have done a lot of work but it’s relative. For a course with 60 bunkers we would have finished that course four times over by now,” says Sell.

Zugel even said they have been lucky so far this tournament with the weather and overall the bunkers have been behaving themselves quite well. When asked if he is still concerned about them he had a quick response.

“I’m always concerned about them.”

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