PO’IPU — As always, it’s a sunny day in Po’ipu in the month of July, but for C.J. Rebb, superintendent of the Po’ipu Bay Golf Course, and his crew, the countless work hours begin to prepare for the 23rd PGA Grand Slam of Golf, which begins tomorrow and runs through Wednesday.
It’s the 12th year the Grand Slam has been at the Po’ipu Bay Golf Course and Rebb has been there from the start.
“I say my prayers before the event every year. Dear Lord, give me sun tomorrow,” Rebb said. Although Rebb is a veteran at preparing the course, every year seems to present different challenges. The amount of crew members he works with, changes every year and to Rebb, the more the better.
“I started out my first year with 41 in my crew and every year it seems to go down,” Rebb noted.
But despite the tight crew schedule, the event seems to be a special one for Rebb.
“The most rewarding part is the day after. I just want the players and the people to enjoy the course, but it’s exciting for us to hear good compliments,” Rebb said. This year also marks the first Grand Slam as director of Golf at the Po’ipu Bay Golf Course for Craig Sasada.
“I’m hoping for a big crowd and I’m glad to be here to actually see it in person this year,” Sasada said.
The former head pro at Kapalua Resort’s Plantation Course on Maui handles the merchandising aspect of the tournament.
“Most everything else is handled by the PGA. It’s their event, so they handle almost everything,” Sasada said.
He also mentioned that T-shirts, caps, posters, accessory items, and anything easy to sign as the biggest merchandise sellers at the event.
For Rebb though, the course is his biggest selling point.
“I don’t sleep usually around this time. Even my crew only rests when the tourney is going on, but after that it’s back to business,” Rebb said.
As far as intense preparation goes, the crew starts up at about 60 days before the event. The ruffs grow up to four inches, the fairways are narrowed and brought in around 20 feet, the tee boxes are firmed up, and the bermuda greens are cut lower than .125 inches.
“A lot of it depends on the weather. The greens are the biggest challenge. Games are won or lost on them,” Rebb said.
New to the Grand Slam of Golf this year is the new tee on the ninth hole. The tee was moved back about 15 yards.
“It should make it a little tougher. We also changed a few minor cuts around the green, but it’s basically the same layout for the past four to five years,” Rebb said.
As Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Michael Campbell, and Vijay Singh roam the course tomorrow, Rebb will finally have time to rest — but only until they get off the course, because the preparations continue.
- Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or firstname.lastname@example.org