Work actually got a bit less hectic for Marty DeAngelo, director of golf operations at pristine Medinah Country Club, on Thursday when the first round of the BMW Championship began.
“Now that the tournament has started, things will slow up for us a bit,” DeAngelo told the NewsTribune Thursday morning as players headed to the first tee.
Over the past few weeks, DeAngelo, formerly of Peru, and the staff were busy preparing Medinah’s course No. 3 for tournament play as well as helping to set up the club property in anticipation of having 25,000 to 30,000 spectators per day this week and Sunday.
DeAngelo’s specialty these days is service and management, and once the tournament began, the former 1991-93 NewsTribune Area Wide Men’s Golf champion and PGA professionals attention turned to acting as a liason between his golf operations staff and the Western Golf Association.
The WGA is deeply involved in the BMW championship and in golf in Chicago and the Midwest, and will get a lot of help around the club this week from DeAngelo and the 43 employees he oversees.
“Myself and my staff are more support for them and we fill positions as required,” he said.
“Everything’s been really smooth. The course is ready to go. The players have been saying the course is really good and playing pretty long.”
Several days with rain prior to the tournament softened the fairways and greens, so drives and iron shots weren’t likely to roll very far away from where they land during the first two rounds.
“It’s all carry,” he said, noting if the rains stay away, some of the drives that land in the fairways may start rolling into the thick, deep roughs by Saturday.
As for the course playing long, DeAngelo said scores can go low when courses are soft. “I don’t know if you can make a golf course that’s too long for these guys. … The ball lands where it lands and stays.”
Medinah set up the tournament course almost exactly the same as it was for the 2012 Ryder Cup, the semi-annual international match play event involving the best players in the world.
DeAngelo noted one major difference.
“The rough is playing longer than it was in the Ryder Cup. Davis Love wanted it shorter for the Ryder Cup,” DeAngelo said, noting that the coach thought the shorter rough could be better for the U.S. players if they got off of the fairway.
Instead of 2-inch-deep rough, Medinah has 4- or 5-inch roughs this week.
“So it’s about double. It’s very dense with the rains that have been coming most every day,” DeAngelo said.
The extremely wet spring followed by the dry July did not cause a problem for the greens keepers.
“We were so wet in April and May we needed a good 3-4 weeks like we had in July to get back to where we could control things,” he said.
The club cut back on play on the tournament course, and then halted it altogether before tournament week.
“We started slowing down guest play in mid-July and then the members played the first week of August,” he said.
The weeks before the tournament as well as the first three days of this week were busy for DeAngelo and the crew, and the week after the tournament gets pretty crazy.
“It’s just a lot of chaos,” he said of the days following a major event and the circus-like arrival, setting up and tearing-down of the PGA Tour tents, TV towers, etc. A lot of the tear-down gets completed in two or three days, but completely getting the course back out of tournament-venue shape takes longer. “It takes them about 14 weeks to put it all together and about it will take a total of five weeks to get all the bleachers and grandstands and concession stands out of here.”
He said the club members are proud of their course and hosting the tournament, part of the FedEx Cup tournament series. Players are eliminated each week, and the fields become smaller and smaller during the series that ends Aug. 22-25 with the Tour Championship at East Lake Country Club, Atlanta, Ga.
In addition to the excitement of hosting the tournament, there’s a bit of an extra buzz because the most famous player in the world has shown up.
“It’s a shot in the arm for everybody that Tiger is going to play,” he said.
And if Tiger Woods still is in the field, and in contention on Saturday and Sunday, the excitement level will go up.
“He moves the needle,” DeAngelo said.
As for golf in the Chicago area, the biggest winners are the students. The Western Golf Association benefits from the tournament, and this year for the first time, the WGA will award more than 1,000 Evans Scholarships to send that many participants in the Evans caddie program to college — all paid — to the college of their choice.
Craig Sterrett can be reached at (815) 220-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_NewsEditor.