Behind the Scenes
It takes a (PGA) Village of personnel to prepare PGA Golf Club for the PGA Professional Championship
This story originally appeared in the April issue of PGA Magazine
PGA Golf Club, the PGA of America’s picturesque flagship property in Port St. Lucie, Florida, embraces a “tournament ready every day” motto among its work force of nearly 150 personnel. That means the Wanamaker, Ryder and Dye courses are always in tip-top shape and perpetually prepared to conduct a championship under immaculate course conditions.
When PGA Golf Club was awarded the 2021 PGA Professional Championship presented by Cadillac, Club Car and Rolex, which unfolds April 25-28 on the Wanamaker and Ryder courses, the staff shifted from high gear to major championship gear. PGA Village and PGA Golf Club have hosted countless championships and tournaments during the past 25 years, but when it was announced in early 2019 that it would conduct the premier championship for PGA Professionals, everyone sharpened their work schedules and began the extensive preparation process.
From PGA General Manager Jeremy Wiernasz to PGA Golf Club Director of Golf Courses and Grounds Clay DuBose, to PGA Head Professional Holly Taylor and PGA Golf Club Director of Marketing Adriana Vizcaya, the key personnel required to maintain three leading championship courses,
manage 500-600 rounds played per day, and oversee a 22,000-square-foot clubhouse began addressing the 1,001 little things that transform a great golf facility into a major championship facility.
It takes a village — in this case, PGA Village — to accommodate the 312 PGA Professionals, their families, PGA officials and Golf Channel personnel scheduled to be on site this month for the PGA Professional Championship. Wiernasz and DuBose are the field generals, working in strategic step with PGA Senior Director of Member Championships Mark Tschetschot with consultation from PGA Chief Championships Officer Kerry Haigh, to ensure the Wanamaker and Ryder courses at PGA Golf Club are in “major” form for the 72-hole Championship. PGA Head Professional Holly Taylor reports to Wiernasz, while DuBose has a staff of approximately 75 to provide the best possible conditions.
“We pride ourselves on being tournament-ready 365 days a year, but every member of the team at PGA Golf Club is dedicated to going the extra mile to prepare for the PGA Professional Championship,” notes Wiernasz, who came to PGA Golf Club in 2013 after establishing successful operations at TPC Las Vegas, TPC San Antonio and TPC Scottsdale under the PGA Tour properties umbrella.
“A strong commitment was made and a lot of work behind the scenes has been ongoing since PGA Golf Club was selected as host,” notes Wiernasz. “Our team of 18 PGA Members, with Holly (Taylor) and Nate (Manis) serving in leadership roles, will play a major role during Championship Week, just as they have helped us plan and prepare leading up to the PGA Professional Championship. Our PGA Professionals wear a lot of hats every day of the year, and they have added this major championship preparation role across the board.
“On the grounds side, Clay DuBose has come in and put together a staff that is equally dedicated to preparing the Wanamaker and Ryder courses for the participating PGA Members. The Wanamaker and Ryder courses underwent re-grassing and drainage renovations a few years ago, and Clay’s crews have taken those renovations to the next level. Now we’re ready for everyone to see the finished product.”
When the PGA of America announced in 2019 that PGA Golf Club had been selected to host the 2021 PGA Professional Championship, PGA Senior Director of PGA Golf Properties Jimmy Terry was ecstatic. Terry is now devoting most of his time and energy to the new PGA Frisco development in Frisco, Texas, but he sees the 2021 Championship as a unique opportunity for PGA Golf Club to show off its courses and amenities in the globally televised event.
“What’s significant about this and for everyone affiliated with PGA Golf Club is that the facility will complete the circuit of hosting every PGA of America Member Championship,” says Terry. “We’re excited to welcome Golf Channel and the eyes of the golfing nation to Port St. Lucie, which will provide a picturesque backdrop to crown a worthy PGA Professional Champion.”
Interestingly, PGA Golf Club’s Dye Course will be open and operating during PGA Professional Championship Week, meaning its “tournament ready every day” motto will be utilized to its fullest.
But its “major moment” will come on the Wanamaker and Ryder courses, where the Golf Channel cameras will be pointed at the finest 312 PGA Professionals who will be competing.