Originally published July 21, 2022
The annual PGA TOUR’s John Deere Classic was held from June 30 – July 3, 2022, at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois. Andrew Cooper, a Winter 2020 graduate of the Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School, is now the 1st Assistant Superintendent at TPC Deere Run.
To make this tournament successful, Cooper supervised a team of more than 59 staff members and volunteers. “John Deere UK has a great program that sends other individuals, like myself, to work professional tournaments in the US,” he explained. “This is a great opportunity for not only those individuals to see how other tournaments operate, but to allow our staff to meet people they would never have the opportunity to otherwise.”
The preparation for this year’s tournament at TPC Deere Run included a $1.2 million bunker renovation, which was completed last fall. The renovation included adding new drainage in every bunker, a new liner, replacing all old sand with new sand, and re-grassing all surrounding surfaces with Turf Type Tall Fescue. Cooper’s staff had to pay close attention to the details to ensure everything went according to plan. “We wanted to ensure this new sand was compacted enough to elevate any ‘plugging’ of golf balls during the tournament,” he said. “To resolve this issue, we Wacker packed every bunker from the floor up to the grass edge to ensure the Pro-Angle sand used was firm.”
As Advance Week approached, Cooper and his team turned their attention to the details. “The detailed work can be tedious, but the result is always satisfying,” Cooper said. This included edging all three miles of cart paths, trimming dead and broken tree branches, and all sprinkler heads around all tees, greens, and fairways. Finally, Cooper and his team contour striped the fairways.
Once the laborious work of Advance Week is over, the team can relax a little and enjoy the tournament. “Overall, tournament week is where we tell our guys, ‘relax, have fun, enjoy this week, meet new people and remember one thing, this is just a golf tournament! It’s not surgery.’ We are a very relaxed operation here that week,” said Cooper.
Although the tournament week was less stressful, Cooper and his team were still diligently working to ensure that the greens and turf were maintained to meet their highest standards. “My main task during every shift is ensuring everyone is coordinated while keeping an eye on all the small detail items that a PGA Tour Rules Official may see,” said cooper. Some of the small details Cooper and his team looked for and corrected each morning included removing grass clippings on the putting surfaces and dew from tees, fairways, and approaches.
The evening shift is when the majority of all grass gets cut. Other nightly jobs included filling divots in fairways with sand, fluffing rough, and hand watering bunkers to ensure the consistency of the sand is perfect. “We turn off all irrigation cycles from Saturday of Advance Week, all the way through the tournament,” Cooper explained. “Tour Rules officials like the greens and fairways firm and fast, so to achieve those standards, we essentially let the place go for a week. Any amount of hand watering should be done at night to allow the water to infiltrate over a longer period before the golfer steps foot again on that area.”
It’s the attention to these fine and small details that make tournaments like this a success.
We congratulate Andrew Cooper and his team for their beautiful job at the 2022 PGA TOUR’s John Deere Classic and their keen eye for details!
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