2024 Pebble Beach AT&T Pro-Am - Volunteer Experience

2024 Pebble Beach AT&T Pro-Am - Volunteer Experience

2024 Pebble Beach AT&T Pro-Am - Volunteer Experience

On Sunday, January 28, Stu Leachman (Senior Assistant Superintendent), Natalie Russel (2nd Assistant Superintendent), Patrick Eden (2nd Assistant Superintendent) and staff member Ray Puczko headed to California to volunteer at the Pebble Beach AT&T Pro-Am PGA golf tournament. The four day tournament starts Thursday, February 1 and takes place at two different golf courses, Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. In this blog our team will be supplying updates through out their experience.



Good morning from Spyglass Hill, today was our second day on the course and thankfully we have had great weather, unfortunately that is about to change as storm front is slowly making its way into the northern coast of California. 

Our first day Stu and Tom Morison were doing data collection, our staff member Ray Puczko got the lay of the land while doing some tee setup, and myself (Patrick) wiped dew off 3 fairways(2 par 5’s and a par 4), because theses fairway were too wet to mow. The afternoon was a little easier as Stu,Tom, and Ray filled fairway divots, I was able to hop on to a tri-flex along with my morning partners to mow the fairways we had walked in the morning.

Today Stu took a party of six Japanese superintendents and translator from Accordia golf (they own 170 courses in Japan) around while doing his data collection on the front 9 of the course, Ray was the lone tee setter, and Tom and I did data collection on the back 9, where we were able to meet Tony Finau who used to hold the tournament course record at Country Hills, maybe he still does?

That’s it for today, thanks for checking in.

Patrick Eden
2nd Assistant Superintendent


Today was mainly overcast and windy, Stu and Tom were collecting data again and I was on bunkers for the morning shift, they definitely rake bunkers differently down here. We started a little after 5:00 am, and it’s pitch black out and the expectation was to rake towards the green in a straight line. Well, the first bunker I was in is about 55 yards long and my head lamp isn’t very strong, I could see about two to three feet in front of myself. This was definitely a challenge especially when working with other volunteers who don’t do this for a living, but I was able to give some advice to the others. One of the things I have learned in my time with Country Hills Golf Club, is when mowing fairways, you want to find an immovable object and focus on that to aid you in mowing straight lines, this is what I passed on to my parents for the morning.

My second task was to check some of the bunkers and do any touchups and some course cleanup, after re-raking the 9th fairway bunker, I was coming up to the 10th tee box when I saw three of the five Canadians in the field, they were gracious enough to take a picture with me (sorry I didn’t know what to do with my hand except to hold my belly), I told them I was from Country Hills Golf Club in Calgary, Alberta, and they said how much the enjoyed the course. 

The afternoon consisted of course cleanup in preparation for the upcoming storm, we did however, get lucky with the weather as we only had to deal with some moderate wind and only saw a light drizzle in the last half hour of our shift.

Well that’s all I have for you today, and we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Thank you for checking in.

Patrick Eden
2nd Assistant Superintendent


Today was the first day of tournament play and there was a lot of work that needed to be done as we had an inch and a half of rain overnight. As usual Tom and Stu were collecting data (moisture,firmness and stimp) while Ray and I were in bunkers. I’m not sure how much work needed to be done on the front 9 where Ray was, but I’m told the front 9 bunker crew had to re-rake the giant bunker on the first hole 3 times. Mean white on the back 9 I partnered up with one of the Japanese fellas and we were the advance team fixing wash outs ahead of the sand pro. Just about every fairway bunker had wash outs and a few green side as well, the wash out in the picture was probably the smallest one, unfortunately I forgot to take some of the worst, as all I think was oh my god this is going to take a lot of time to fix and just got down to business.

Once the morning jobs were done it was time for bbq and golf, I was able to see a couple of amazing shots from a couple of the amateur players, one was hit from probably 30 yards before the end of the fairway on 11 (which is located beside the maintenance shop just like us) the ball ended up hitting a tree to the left of the green and came to rest about two feet from the cup. The other was from one of the lower bunkers maybe 50-60 yards from the green, ended up in the cup.

Throughout the morning there was a mix of light rain and sunshine, the afternoon was mostly sunny, but there was a drastic change when out of nowhere a heavy downpour for about 20 min put a stop to our afternoon jobs, as fairways and greens quickly collected water, as you can see below on the 11th green.

Patrick Eden
2nd Assistant Superintendent


We’ll after receiving a little over a half inch of rain overnight the course was in pretty decent condition, with very little wash outs in bunkers, greens were rolling around 11.5 and the fairways were pretty good. The rough however still pretty wet, it wasn’t uncommon for your feet to sink an inch or three especially in high traffic areas. With Stu and Tom doing their normal duties, Ray and myself were in charge of putting out the tee blocks and blowing off the tee mounds, with the most emphasis on the first and tenth tees as they would be the most prominent, as it was a crossover start. Ray was on the front and I was on the back. I probably spent over an hour blowing debris off the entire tee complex along with the caddie path, after that it was mostly smooth sailing, I had just finished just after the the first tee times. Once out tasks were done it was time for breakfast and let me tell you they spared no expense, there were burritos, steak, and ribs along with all the fixings. Most of the afternoon consisted of eating, watching golf and making new connections. Since this was the last day of tournament play on Spyglass, our afternoon tasks consisted of pulling rope and stakes for Tom,Ray and myself, meanwhile Stu got to set the pins for our round of golf Saturday after we put in a few more hours in the morning. To thank all the volunteers Bob and his team treated us to a pizza party at a restaurant called Gianni’s, this is by far the best pizza I’ve ever had, and if you are ever in Monterey I highly recommend it. That was about it for our day as we are all wiped out after a long week and will be turning in for an early night.

Patrick Eden
2nd Assistant Superintendent


Today was our last day at Spyglass, and our tasks were to finish the tear down, mainly stakes and garbage cleanup. The weather started out decent low winds and sunshine, so I took an opportunity to take a picture of a fairway of the ultra exclusive Cypress Point from behind the 4th tee deck. After we were done cleaning we grabbed a quick breakfast before enjoying a round of golf at Spyglass. When we teed off it was overcast and we got through about 8 holes before the rain started to come down, with wet feet and cold winds, we decided to finish the round. With that being said I would like to thank you all for checking in with us throughout our journey here.

That’s it from Spyglass. 

Patrick Eden
2nd Assistant Superintendent


Hello, Members! I’m so thrilled to be able to connect with you once again while I’m away. Collectively, we decided Pat would be your regular blog host this week, as you’ve already heard from both Stu and I about some volunteering experiences. However, I still wanted to pop in to share a bit of my week with you as well. 

This week, I have also been in sandy, sunny California preparing for the AT&T Pro-Am. Differently though, I am working once again at the beautiful Pebble Beach Golf Links. My journey to the tournament began a relatively short two months ago when Assistant Superintendent Cole Petrick reached out to me and two of my friends (all of us former volunteers from the USWO) to see if we’d be interested in joining the team again. Funnily enough, my friend Kassidy had already agreed to help out Bob Yeo at Spyglass. Our third friend, Julian, was unable to make it due to the American golf superintendents conference. But happily, I was available. I was able to book some last minute-ish flights, and the team here is generously putting me up in housing again. Within a few weeks, I was headed back down to reconnect with this beautiful place. 

I enjoyed volunteering so much during the USWO. It was a very easy “yes” to come back down for this event, for me. I found immense value in being here last time and was excited to experience something different this time. Large scale tournaments like this are not something we see very often in Canada. Of course, the men’s and women’s Canadian opens, as well as some PGA Tour Americas events, or the Shaw Charity Classic come on our radar, but this is a whole different beast. To gain the knowledge of tournament prep, see the inner workings, and learn tips for handling these high stress situations, we really have to travel to a new environment. I also enjoy networking at these sorts of events immensely. Not only have I been able to connect with the crew here at Pebble on a much more personal basis this week, but I have also met volunteers from around the world again. This has given me a really valuable opportunity to learn about their clubs and golf seasons, as well as share my own experiences. Not many people in an area like this understand what it’s like to work a golf maintenance job seasonally. Everyone wants to hear about what we do during the winter, what kind of grass we grow, how long our season is, and more. It really gives me an opportunity to sing Country Hills’ praises to a large number of people in the turf community. I’ve heard countless times this week how unique it is to work at a 36-hole facility, and how lucky we are to have such a large membership supporting us. So, thank you, dear reader, for allowing us the opportunity to detail our amazing golf club to the world! 

The scale of this tournament is also vastly different from the USWO. The build out is so much larger, as this is really a fan-forward spectacle of an event. Being the Pro-Am, players and celebrities alike have descended on PBC property to enjoy the week. Fan favourites such as Josh Allen, Tom Brady, and Pau Gasol are in town. But the format of the tournament has changed for this season, meaning not as many amateur players. The tournament is now also a PGA signature event, meaning the purse is quite large ($20,000,000), and the pros can earn Fed-Ex Cup points by competing. This has brought out the best and the brightest of the PGA: Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, Viktor Hovland, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas (who is VERY nice, by the way), Colin Morikawa, and many more golf all-stars are here to take on Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill for the week. This has brought out the fans in droves, and the PGA is prepared with stadium seating on almost every hole, and a huge number of merchandise stores, restaurants and beer gardens on the grounds at Pebble. 

The preparation for this tournament is also very large-scale on the grounds side of things. The crew has dealt with the monumental task of keeping the course in championship condition while receiving well over 7.5 inches of rain in the past few weeks. The rain has led to wet conditions all over the course, constant bunker R&M, and the occasional tree cleanup. 

Despite the challenges the weather has brought, the course is possibly more stunning than I remember it. She’s absolutely “pinging” (a word I’ve learned from my British fellow volunteers this week). She’s loved the rain and is even more lush and green than in July. Though we’ve seen some rainy patches, the weather has really held out for us so far this week (knock on wood). It’s given me the chance to see something I didn’t see in July: Pebble in the sun. I truly think this is the way the course was meant to be seen. Walking the course, it feels that this must have been the ultimate vision for what things would look like when the course was complete. Like it couldn’t get better than this. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I have this week. My camera roll is so full that I’m almost out of phone storage - and I still have three days of the tournament to go - yikes! 

It hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows this week, though. The rainy spells have created some work for us. The shift schedule for this week is also incredibly different from the USWO. I was also hoping to be on a different job than on a ride-on mower all week. I maybe should've been careful what I wished for, as I’ve walked over 84,000 steps in the last 4 days. But I’ve really tried to be a jack of all trades, jumping into whatever is asked of me with enthusiasm. I’ve set tees, raked and cleaned bunkers, filled divots, been on stand-by for greens squeegeeing, and did some R&M on hazard and OB stakes and lines, just to name a few things. We’ve worked pretty regular, full days. No split shifts anymore. I get on the shuttle at 4:30 am and have finished my days anywhere from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm. 

As the week progresses, I look forward to taking as many more photos as my phone will allow, watching some world-class golf, meeting fantastic people, and enjoying every last moment I have here this week. Even though it’s incredibly long hours and hard work, being in this environment and getting to enjoy the beauty of this course is rejuvenating in its own way.  

Well, our week came to a tumultuous end here, but it wasn’t without some last minute good times. 

We were truly lucky about the weather we had during the week. Given the forecast, we should’ve been underwater for the entire time we were there. Things really only changed on Sunday, when overnight on Saturday we received 3 inches of rain. The wind picked up to be gusting over 100 km/h, and basically every on-course structure was blown away or damaged in some way. The trees in the area, Monterey pines and eucalyptus mostly, do not have very deep root systems, and with the saturated grounds, trees were blown over on all the roads leading to and around 17 Mile Drive, as well as on the golf course.  

This left us with a pretty boring last few days of the tournament, as we waited on rules officials to make a call about play for the final round of the tournament. In the meantime, we watched as Wyndham Clark broke the course record on Pebble. There was some debate about preferred lie play, but going back to the past record holders, it wasn’t uncommon to find preferred lie play that had been granted the record. So, it stood and he tallied an impressive 60! Play was canceled for the remainder of the tournament, which was unsurprising, given the course conditions. What was surprising to me was the public outcry from fans. 

Every social media post announcing the cancellation had a slough of comments saying things along the lines of “Wow, the Tour just wants people to tune into LIV”, or how the sport has gone so soft, and things such as “Let them play, it would make for great tv!”. I understand the sentiment of frustrated fans, however, I feel the conditions we were working in were really downplayed. The course was soaking wet, standing water everywhere, preferred lie play wouldn’t have offered much relief. And that’s just the beginning. The winds were so bad, the San Jose area saw their first ever hurricane warning. Monterey Country had a shelter in place issues, and for those who were in bigger threat zones, multiple evacuation notices around the country. The house I stayed in was without power for over 26 HOURS before I left. “It would make for good tv!” There would be no tv. Tv stands were blown over, shot trackers were blown over, and people could not safely make their way around the course without the threat of infrastructure coming loose and injuring them. 

It was unfortunate to not be able to see the tournament come to a true close. But it was definitely for the better of the staff, volunteers, and golfers.

Despite the tough weather on the last day, the remainder of the week could not have gone better. One of the bigger highlights for me was being able to connect with the crew at Pebble much more closely than I was during the USWO. That week, there were 100 grounds crew members between the PBC staff, their invited volunteers, and the women in turf attendees. This week, there were only 10 volunteers plus the Pebble staff. I was able to get to know the crew, learn more about their experiences working with the company, and share my experiences working in a very different climate with them. They are a very passionate, kind group of men and I really can’t thank them enough for the great week we all had together. 

My final days there consisted of lots of work, some shopping, lots of golf watching, and enjoying the course and area as much as I could before leaving. I was also able to spend lots of my free time with my friends. Kassidy and I went whale watching, we joined Julian for a hike, and we tried to watch the sunset on the beach every night, which we worked around our dinner plans. My recreation for the week wrapped up with a gorgeous drive back from Monterey to San Francisco on Monday before boarding my flight home. 

Following the tournament this year, my hope is to continue to work incredible events like this when I have the chance. Being at these tournaments is very eye opening and gives me a chance to connect with such incredible people. I have a few things cooking, so keep your eye out for updates! Thanks so much for checking in, hopefully we’ll see you on the course soon! 

Natalie Russell
2nd Assistant Superintendent

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