You arrive at the golf course around 45 minutes before your tee time with the rest of your foursome. You pull up to the bag drop, where a friendly member of the course’s staff taps on your trunk, which you open, and removes your group’s golf bags. While you sign in with the friendly head or assistant professional in the golf shop, your bags are loaded onto two fully charged, clean carts. The starter points you to the practice area where you warm up on fresh turf and the freshly mowed putting and chipping greens. The starter alerts your group that you are next on the first tee and you spend the next four to four-and-a-half hours enjoying a beautiful day on a great golf course.
In order to create this seamless, enjoyable, repeatable experience, the course’s day must begin long before the player’s does. The superintendent and his staff are usually the first to arrive, generally between 5 and 6 a.m. Depending on their own rhythms, learned from the golf course’s agronomic habits, they will mow tee boxes, fairways, roughs and/or greens, all before the day’s first tee shot is struck. Parts of the golf course that are due for irrigation are scheduled for it in a way that interferes with the day’s play as little as possible, if at all.
The professional staff arrives at or around dawn as well. Those based in the shop will assess the day’s tee sheet, begin to prepare for any lessons they are scheduled to give and assess the inventory in the pro shop. They open up their computers’ point-of-sale systems and get ready for what promises to be a busy but profitable day of greens and golf cart fees, shirts and hats purchased and perhaps a putter or driver being picked up by a golfer frustrated with his or her own.
Meanwhile, at the bag drop and cart barn, the starters are in constant motion in service to the dozens of customers arriving for the morning’s rounds. Those customers include your own foursome. The starters have been making sure all the course’s carts are clean, charged and stocked with full bottles of divot fill.
The course’s food and beverage facility is also in high gear early in the morning. Comfortable chairs sit neatly around pristine tables, bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches are being prepared, coffee is brewing and beer is cold. The bar is well-stocked.
It comes time for the first tee shots to be struck, usually between 7:00 and 7:45 a.m. From that moment until the last players leave the course at dusk, the machine runs. Live oaks hung with Spanish moss and stately palms sway in the Southern breezes. Laughter echoes around the course, as do the sounds of titanium and steel on golf balls. This continues until dusk sweeps over the golf course and night comes on. A few hours later, the process begins again.