CPCC students helping keep Quail Hollow's grounds green for PGA Championship

What goes into the PGA championship?
Published: Aug. 4, 2017 at 1:39 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 7, 2017 at 1:08 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - If you're not standing on it, it's almost hard to believe it's real. Blankets of pristine green flow across the course at Quail Hollow in south Charlotte. But days before the start of the PGA Championship, the Greens and Grounds crew is figuring out how to exceed perfection.

"We put so much time and so much effort into everything that we do out here," Bernie Rodriguez said.

Quail Hollow has hosted major tournaments in the past, but nothing like this.

"I think I'm pretty well-prepared for anything that happens," Golf Course Superintendent Keith Wood said.

Crew member Dylan Farber has been putting in overtime with the rest of the staff.

"If we screw something up, it's going to be on national TV next week - so nerves are pretty high," he said.

The turf on display at Quail Hollow is not your front yard's grass. It's nurtured and obsessed over.

"It's not normal for grass to be mowed down to an eighth of an inch or to be maintained the way golf courses are maintained," Wood said.

Farber and Rodriguez have spent a lot of time getting to know this grass. In fact, they have a degree in Turfgrass Management from Central Piedmont Community College.

"People don't really understand what we do and that there's so much that really goes into it," Rodriguez said.

John Royals is a CPCC instructor. He says they have about 60 people in their Turfgrass Management and Technology program.

"It's not just cutting grass. There's the fertilizer, the soil. Charlotte is the hardest place in the country to grow grass," Royals said.

Many students start working at a golf course before graduation.

"A lot of times the students are hungry to earn a dollar. They want an education but they also want to work as well," Wood said.

With the championship fast approaching, the CPCC grads are spending even more time examining the fairways and putting greens.

"Their best learning is taking place when they're working in the field," Royals said.

And when the biggest names in golf tee off on Quail Hollow's turf, the crew hopes and prays not to spot any imperfections.

"If I see it while I'm watching the tournament, I'm just going to give myself one of these, ya know, way to go Dylan," he joked.

The Championship kicks off Sunday and is expected to bring 200,000 people to Charlotte.

For more information about CPCC's program, visit https://www.cpcc.edu/turfgrass.

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