Every so often golfers are afforded the chance to do something that no other sport can offer: A chance to play on the very same venue as the best in the game. You might never get to stand in the box at Yankee Stadium, but you can tee off at Sunriver Resort and Crosswater Club most any time.
Such an opportunity is part of what makes golf special. With the 2017 PGA Professional Championship upon us, amateur golfers have the even rarer opportunity to play a course — or two courses, actually — in the same firm-and-fast condition that will test the pro golfers.
More than 300 of the top club professionals in the world will tee off on Sunday, June 18, at both the Meadows Course and Crosswater for the first round of the PGA Professional Championship. The final round is scheduled for Crosswater on Wednesday. The 72-hole PPC will include live coverage on the Golf Channel, and for the pros, a chance to qualify for the 2017 PGA Championship is at stake. (Channel broadcast schedule: First Round: Sunday, June 18, 2:30–5:30 p.m. Second Round: Monday, June 19, 5–8 p.m. Third Round: Tuesday, June 20, 5–8 p.m. Final Round: Wednesday, June 21, 4-7 p.m.)
That is exciting enough. But for us regular golfers, the opportunity to play the very same courses, with the very same conditions meant to challenge the best, will last far beyond the tournament’s four days.
Between now and when tournament practice rounds begin on Thursday, June 15, and immediately after the final round is played, both Meadows (which reopens to the public on Tuesday, June 20) and Crosswater will be maintained to the same specs as one would find on the PGA Tour. In real terms, that means greens rolling near 12 on the Stimpmeter and tightly mown fairways and tees.
“Things could not be any better on the golf course right now,” said Ryan Wulff, Sunriver Resort’s director of agronomy. “They’re not only perfect conditions, but identical to what the professionals will play.”
As is the case every year, Wulff and his staff have spent the majority of spring inching the golf courses toward peak condition. The biggest difference with the PPC on the horizon is that the speeds required are a bit more than typical.
Everything has to be exactly right for a tournament of this magnitude, and nearly all of it is complete. A dose of moisture from the weather before the tournament begins will only further dial in those conditions.
The best news for golfers is the conditions will last. Wulff expects the maintenance staff to be able to maintain the tight mowing heights of the tournament well after the final putt drops. Even green speeds, which will be backed down from the lightning-fast surfaces in the days following the tournament, will be kept speedy and rolling true for the remainder of the summer.
“I couldn’t ask for any better weather for tournament preparation,” Wulff said. “And that will only help us maintain tournament conditions over the next couple of weeks.”
There is still plenty of work for Wulff and his staff before Sunriver is showcased across a national audience. The details of the more tournament-specific preparation still must be completed. And of course, there is the diligence required to maintain PGA-quality conditions through four rounds of professional golf and beyond.
“We’re really busy doing things like putting scoreboards up, TV towers, and getting the courses just right,” Wulff said.
That hard work will certainly pay off. Not just for Sunriver Resort, but for the golfers who will choose to take advantage of two courses in prime shape.
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