November build will pay dividends for 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill
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?
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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Tour Photo Galleries
Photos from the 2023 Valero Texas Open
Ah, the Valero Texas Open — a tournament as rich in history as it is in Texan charm. The event has been around since 1922, making it one of the oldest on the PGA Tour calendar.
Over the years, it’s been held at a variety of courses across the Lone Star State, but it’s found its home at TPC San Antonio in recent years. Some of the biggest names in golf have taken home the title here, including Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino, and Ben Crenshaw. But the real star of the show? That would have to be the legendary Texan wind, which can turn a benign par-4 into a 500-yard monster faster than you can say “y’all.”
Per usual, GolfWRX was on site to check out what the pros are playing with the Masters just a week away.
Check out links to all our galleries, below.
- 2023 Valero Texas Open – Monday #1
- 2023 Valero Texas Open – Monday #2
- 2023 Valero Texas Open – Tuesday #1
- 2023 Valero Texas Open – Wednesday #1
- 2023 Valero Texas Open – Wednesday #2
- Chandler Phillips – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Hayden Buckley – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Brandon Wu – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Rickie Fowler – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Paul Haley II – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Kevin Chappell – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Austin Truslow – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Peter Lansburgh – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Peter Kuest – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Trevor Werbylo – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Doc Redman – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Padraig Harrington – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Ryan Fox – WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Ricky Barnes WITB – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Hayden Buckley’s custom Cameron putters – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- S H Kim’s custom Cameron putter – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Beau Hossler’s custom Cameron putter – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- New Garsen grip – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Brent Grant’s custom Cameron putter – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Odyssey Tri-Hot 5K Three – 2023 Valero Texas Open
- Luke Donald’s new Odyssey Twelve putter (w/ SuperStroke grip) – 2023 Valero Texas Open
Join the discussion in the GolfWRX forums.
Spotted: Odyssey Tri-Hot 5K Three “anti-right” prototype putter
Odyssey Tri-Hot 5K putters have really taken off on tour, and we have seen a handful of models in tour player’s bags. The latest version we spotted out on tour is a very unique design.
Odyssey makes this putter head with a standard flow neck that offers plenty of toe hang for golfers who prefer or need that weighting. This prototype has a long slant neck installed more near the center of the putter head that lets the toe sit slightly up in the air when held horizontally. This is pretty different since most putters sit with the toe hanging down towards the ground or are face balanced (face sits parallel to the ground). A full shaft offset looks to be achieved with the slant neck and the look at address is definitely different.
We spoke to Callaway PGA Tour manager Joe Toulon about the putter and he had the following to say
“On course [we had a player who] had a little push bias that didn’t necessarily show up in practice but it is something that he felt on course. So we wanted to build something that was a little easier to release and maybe not necessarily open the toe as much in the back stroke and not have to work as hard to release it in the through stroke. That was kind of designed to give a little offset and when you rested it on your finger it would rest toe up a little bit. We thought for that player it would help him square the putter face at impact rather than leave it open a little bit.
“It was more of a concept we had and will continue to work on it. When we had it on the truck and we were hitting some putts with it we noticed that you had to work really hard to push this putter. We wanted to make an anti-right putter. Just a fun little concept that we have an idea and work with our tour department to test things out.
“It isn’t something that ended up in a player’s bag but we learned some things in that process and will keep in mind for future builds and projects.”
The finish also looks to be a little different than the standard Tri-Hot 5K putter’s black and silver motif. The face and neck are finished in silver and the rear done in more of a blueish-gray tone. The White Hot insert looks to be standard and the sole still contains two interchangeable weights.
The shaft looks to be painted in the same metallic red as their standard Stroke Lab shaft, but we don’t see a steel tip section. Not sure if this putter has a full graphite shaft or painted steel.
Check out more photos of the Odyssey Tri-Hot 5K Three Putter.
More “Spotted” pieces
- Spotted: S.H. Kim’s Custom Scotty Cameron Circle T Newport putter
- Spotted: Brent Grant’s Scotty Cameron Circle T T5W putter
- Spotted: Beau Hossler’s custom Scotty Cameron Circle T TG6 putter
- Spotted: Tom Kim’s 2 new Scotty Cameron Circle T putters
- Spotted: Bettinardi BB41 Flow 25th anniversary putter
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