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November build will pay dividends for 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill

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From a recent press release on the PGA Championship, to be contested next in May of 2023, at Rochester’s Oak Hill Country Club:

“For the first time in PGA of America’s history, the groundbreaking of a major championship has started the year prior. In anticipation of any snow that falls in Rochester, and potentially lingers in early 2023, service providers are at Oak Hill Country Club laying the framework and beginning to construct the massive temporary infrastructure for the 2023 PGA Championship buildout.”

“Despite any snow on the ground in January, February and March, these pivotal preparations will allow the buildout to continue and ensure the restored East course is ready May 15-21, 2023, when the PGA Championship returns to historic Oak Hill.”

At GolfWRX, we decided to do something similar, and begin our coverage in advance of the 2023 playing of the PGA Championship. Eric Nuxol, the Operations Manager for the PGA Championship, connected with us for a quick six questions.

Originally from Orlando, Florida, Eric has been on the road with the golf industry for over 10 years, most recently in Rochester for the 2023 PGA Championship. His work has taken him to San Francisco for the 2020 PGA Championship, Chicago for the 2018 Women’s PGA Championship, and Williamsburg, Virginia, for the 2017 Kingsmill Championship — while also spending many nights in hotels across the country working for the Symetra Tour (now known as Epson Tour) of the LPGA. Before his career in the golf industry, Eric studied Sports Management at the University of West Florida, where he also pitched for the University of West Florida Argonauts baseball team.

Today, he’s Operations Manager for the 2023 PGA Championship, serving as the conduit between service providers, local agencies, municipalities and more. He sees that all operations happen, from planning to budgeting to execution and restoration.

Our questions touch on the beginning of the build, and what to expect from next year’s run-up to the main event. Be warned, though, that the fifth question is a healthy one!

GolfWRX: Why start in the fall?

Eric Nuxol: Our schedule is generally based on hospitality sales and entirety of scope. We anticipate a three-month build, sometimes a bit more or less. We wanted to make sure that we put ourselves in the position to succeed, regardless of potential winter-linger weather or rough spring weather. By starting in November, we wanted to get three weeks in the bank.

GolfWRX: Tell us which aspects or areas of the build were mandatory for November?

Eric Nuxol: Three areas of the course had our attention. The biggest component is the 4100 tent stakes going into the ground. These will give stability to all of our tents once they are erected. You can’t do it so easily in frozen ground. We will put in 200,000 square feet of scaffold, to support the wooden beams and plywood floors for those tents. When you walk through the PGA Championship shop or the concession spaces, these subfloor grids will provide stability/floor. Later, there will be mesh on the side of each structure, yet it will be something that folks will never see. After that, we will install perimeter fence and chainlink runs. In the spring, the windscreen around the perimeter of the course will go in.

GolfWRX: What will happen in February?

Eric Nuxol: We will resume the three areas on which we are currently working. We want to be above the frost if snow is still there. We do account for potential snow days. Doing everything to jump ahead. Wood on top of steel, followed by frames of tents. then, another group builds out the interior of the PGA Shops.

GolfWRX: What parts of the build wouldn’t you undertake ahead of time?

Eric Nuxol: The most important component is the wood. We do not want wood to rot or warp with temperature and moisture fluctuations that occur during a northern winter. We will begin all wood work in the spring.

There will be no offsite buildings by the PGA for the 2023 championship. We will work on a parking plan for fan, vendor, and media attendance and will develop an efficient shuttle system thereafter. We plan to use portions of open areas of the club’s West Course for broadcast, but we will not erect any structures on the fairways nor greens. The entire shopping district will be built over the club’s driving range. The player’s practice range will be on the West course. (Interviewer’s note: the range will probably be sighted on the West’s 7th hole fairway.)

You (the interviewer) made a Theme-Park comparison. That is not far off. We are extremely focused on guest experience. We want attendees to enter the world of the PGA Championship as soon as they exit the shuttle.

GolfWRX: You were on site for a number of PGA Championships in the past decade. What do you remember from each, and what did you carry forward to 2023?

Eric Nuxol:

2018 Women’s PGA-Kemper Lakes and 2020 PGA-Harding-Spectatorless PGA 

Women’s and Senior PGA Championships-There are many similar elements, but the construction isn’t as expansive. Both require working with outside groups and local municipalities. We know what the final picture looks like, but we have to fit it to each unique site.

2019 Senior PGA at Oak Hill

I was at Bethpage during this event, preparing for that year’s PGA Championship. Our PGA team learned a great deal from our time in May 2019 at Oak Hill. We knew that two things would happen: we would be heare in May, four years later for a PGA Championship, and that the East course would close immediately after the tournament for an Andrew Green architectural restoration. The team did not have to start as early as 2023, as the footprint of a Senior PGA is not as large. The 2019 team gathered information  on golf course preparation for a May major championship through its work with the club’s grounds crew and we are able to carry that information forward for 2023.

2019 PGA at Bethpage

If you haven’t seen it, the Bethpage State Park property is massive. There are five, 18-hole courses on site, and the Black course extends for nearly a mile, from the first tee to the ninth tee. We used bits and pieces of the five courses, and had a lot of room for buildings. The PGA will return to Bethpage for the 2025 Ryder Cup, and we will revisit all of our notes in advance. There is such a luxury in having so much room. It is unique seeing what you can do when you have that much property. It is a bit similar with Oak Hill having two courses, but want to minimize our use of the West course, to ensure that club members will have room to play.

2022 at Southern Hills

We tested the all-inclusive ticket option at Southern Hills. It allowed the holders to walk up to markets for concession and make their selections from food and non-alcoholic beverage options. Making those a part of the ticket allowed for a different level of service, and also eliminated a certain number of wait lines. Regarding set-up, our notes account for additional volume arrangements of these products with our championship event suppliers.

We had a few, cooler weather days in Tulsa, and we had to make adjustments on tent and crew assignments. It felt as if we experienced all four seasons throughout the four days of the tournament. The first few days had us in the 90s and then a front came through, bringing 57 degrees on Saturday morning. Ironically, the temperature in Rochester that day was in the upper 70s. Our fingers are crossed for good weather next May!

GolfWRX: What question haven’t we asked, that you would love to answer? Ask it and answer it, please, and thank you for your time.

Eric Nuxol: Q: What part of the early build are you looking forward to most?

A: Getting a head start is always nice, but I think being able to see our project managers and crews earlier than usual and catching up with them in person.

Photos courtesy of Joey Conti

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

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News

Morning 9: Tiger gets Bob Jones Award | Record U.S. Open purse | PGA Tour-PIF announcement next week?

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Thursday morning, golf fans, as day one of the U.S. Open gets underway!

1. Tiger accepts USGA’s Bob Jones Award

Ron Driscoll for the USGA…”Tiger Woods began competing in USGA championships at age 14, which is the same age that Bob Jones was when he competed in his first U.S. Amateur. It’s far from the only characteristic that Woods shares with the namesake of the USGA’s highest honor, which Woods received on Tuesday evening before the 2024 U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club…”

  • “…In accepting the award, Woods called Jones “the greatest amateur who ever lived. All the attributes that we all try to aspire to in this great game of golf, that is what Bob Jones exuded.”
  • “Woods went on to honor his mother, Kultida, but not before joking that the first USGA event she attended was his final U.S. Amateur in 1996. Having won five straight USGA events, he said the pressure was enormous. “There she was in a Stanford sweatshirt; imagine if I had lost? But who did I hug first after I won, right, Mommy?”
  • “My mom doesn’t get enough credit,” Woods said. “It was Dad and I on the road, but my mom has been there my entire life, has always been there through thick and thin. I accept this award with humbleness and in unbelievable regard for the past recipients, but I also accept it for my mom, too. She allowed me to get here, to do these things, to chase my dreams, with support and love. I didn’t do this alone, I had the greatest rock that any child could possibly have. Thank you, Mommy.”
Full piece.

2. U.S. Open purse now stands at $21.5 million

Golf Channel staff…”This week’s U.S. Open offers a $21.5 million purse with the winner earning $4.3 million. That’s up from $20 million ($4 million to winner) a year ago.”

  • “It’s the largest purse among the four men’s majors, with The Players Championship paying $25 million.”
Full piece.

3. Pathway for top LIV players into future U.S. Opens?

Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”For three years, the major championship bodies – Augusta National, USGA, PGA of America and R&A – have been reluctant to give players who joined LIV Golf a pathway into their events. But on Wednesday at Pinehurst, USGA CEO Mike Whan offered those players hope.”

  • “We’re going to talk about it this offseason, whether or not there needs to be a path to somebody or somebodies that are performing really well on LIV that can get a chance to play in that way,” Whan said. “I think we are serious about that. Exactly what that looks like and how that’ll curtail, I’m not just being coy, we haven’t done that yet.”
Full piece.

4. USGA looking at drivers?

Mike Stachura for Golf Digest…??”When the USGA and R&A announced in December that there would be a change in the way golf balls were tested that would make most models nonconforming, resulting in an estimated distance loss of as much as 15 yards at the elite level, it was seen as a way to penalize the fastest swingers in all of golf (top men professionals) while offering lesser and potentially inconsequential penalties at the recreational golfer level. While a similar rollback for the driver was contemplated in the early days of the ruling bodies’ research, that interest eventually waned, said Mike Whan, USGA CEO.”

  • “Yet during his U.S. Open-week press conference on Wednesday at Pinehurst No. 2, Whan talked about the distance deliberations and conversations with R&A CEO Martin Slumbers and indicated that the driver is still in the rollback crosshairs.”
  • “I would say comfortably speaking for both Martin and I, we had and have a real interest in figuring out a way to provide a difference as it relates to the driver, as well,” Whan said. “To date, we didn’t really come up with something that wouldn’t have a much more negative effect on the recreational game. What we did on the golf ball is going to have much more of an impact at [the elite] level than at the average level. When we started talking about changes in the driver or driving equipment, it was just the opposite. Much more significant impact across the board than just at the elite level.”
Full piece.

5. Last chance for Olympic spots

Nick Zaccardi for NBC Sports…”The U.S. Open is also a scramble for the last Olympic men’s golf spots in Paris.”

  • “After Sunday’s final round, the 60-player Olympic men’s field will be determined based on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR). The women’s field will be drawn from the Rolex Rankings after the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week.
  • “A nation can qualify up to four golfers per gender if they are all ranked in the top 15 in the world. A nation can qualify up to two golfers if any are ranked outside the top 15.
Full Piece.

6. Nelly’s proudest moment of 2024

Beth Ann Nichols for Golfweek…”Nelly Korda, a six-time winner on tour this season, says she was never more proud of herself this season than the U.S. Women’s Open. That might sound strange, given that she made a 10 on a par 3 and didn’t play the weekend.”

  • “But Korda is wise enough to see past the score.
  • “I’m not going to say that I was happy with the way I played,” she said. “I was happy with the way I fought. I fought really, really, hard to make the cut.”
Full Piece.

7. Bettors loving Scheffler

Doug Greenberg for ESPN…”The central betting story going into the U.S. Open is the same as it was before the Masters and the PGA Championship: Scottie Scheffler is an overwhelming favorite and is seeing some of the shortest odds for a major since prime Tiger Woods.

  • “The 27-year-old opened the week at +300 at ESPN BET and has been bet down to +290; across the marketplace, he’s as short as +250. It’s the shortest odds for any golfer to win the U.S. Open since Woods in 2007 (+250).”
  • “Despite the extremely short odds, Scheffler is still attracting a very healthy number of tickets and even more handle.”
Full Piece.

8. PGA Tour-PIF announcement next week?

9. U.S. Open photos

  • Check out all of our galleries from this week’s major event!
Full Piece.
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Equipment

Spotted: Phil Mickelson testing Callaway’s mini driver

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There is some serious equipment testing going on at Pinehurst’s legendary No. 2 course before the 2024 U.S. Open starts! We spotted renowned club tinkerer Phil Mickelson on the range with a new setup. He was testing out the new Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver with a new Mitsubishi Diamana BB (Blue Board) shaft.

Phil has long been a mini driver/2-wood/strong 3-wood guy, as he was the inspiration for the Callaway “Phranken Wood” about 10 years ago. For many pros, adding a strong 3-wood or mini driver allows them to turn it over easier and add a more consistent draw to their bag off the tee without losing too much distance.

Mitsubishi’s Diamana BB is the newest mid-launch shaft in the Diamana line. The “BB” on the shaft of course references the iconic Blue Board shafts from 20 years ago and this model will have a similar smooth feel.

 

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2024 U.S. Open

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GolfWRX is live this week from the third major of the season: the U.S. Open at historic Pinehurst No. 2.

Qualifier WITBs are the stars the the show so far — along with in-hand looks at what Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau are playing.

Check back throughout the week as we continue to add more galleries.  

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

See what GolfWRXers are saying about the photos from the U.S. Open in the forums. 

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