PGA Tour veteran enjoying duty as host

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:23 PM ET

Kerry Watkins — the golf superintendent, not the CFL receiver — has had three mornings off since March 4.

His family think about calling the cops on the rare occasion that they see him in their house.

That’s how much he’s been at work, getting the St. Charles Country Club’s tees, fairways and greens ready for this week’s CN Canadian Women’s Open.

All the hard work that Watkins and his staff have put in on the Ross and MacKenzie nines since May 2009 finally gets to be shown off to the world.

“It’s been an action-packed year,” Watkins said Saturday during a break in the preparations.

“It’s been thrilling, and it’s been great.”

Watkins, who became an accredited golf superintendent in the spring, has worked as a volunteer at every PGA Tour major, hitting the 2000 British Open, the 2001 U.S. Open, the 2002 Masters and the 2003 PGA Championship.

“Now to be able to be a host, to take what I’ve learned, it’ll be an absolute professional and personal highlight,” he said.

Being the man in charge at a top level professional tour event, however, will be a whole new ball of wax.

“No question,” said Watkins, who has been at St. Charles for five years. “As soon as we see players and caddies, it’s going to be a feeling like no other. You’ll get some criticism.

“We’ll go from 1,000 members to 156 players, and they’ll be just as vocal as the 1,000 members. There is some rub of the green out there, though.”

Watkins, along with trusted assistant superintendents Braydon Gilbert and Shawn Major and equipment manager Dave Gyryluk, didn’t have to do many significant alterations to the MacKenzie and Ross nines that will be used for the tournament.

Several bunkers were added to the MacKenzie nine, and a few trees were removed as well. The rough is about three inches long, which is an inch longer than normal, and the course will play at a distance of 6,572 yards with generously wide fairways.

“It’s 18 holes of pure golf,” Watkins said. “It’s right-in-front-of-you golf.”

Watkins wasn’t sure when asked what kind of scores he is hoping to see from the world’s best female golfers.

“Part of me says I want to see birdies and eagles like crazy, but a minus-9 to win it over four rounds, that’s a good test of golf,” said Watkins, who will have his usual staff of 40 plus another 20 or so part-time volunteers working with him this week to keep the course in immaculate condition.

“At the end of the week, if they came away saying it was a treat to play a traditional country club course it would make me feel great.”


Videos

Photos