As director of golf course maintenance at TPC Sawgrass, Jeff Plotts oversees a full-time staff of 85 – a contingent that will grow to 175 during THE PLAYERS Championship thanks to the addition of 90 volunteers from around the world.
What are your primary duties and responsibilities as director of golf course maintenance at TPC Sawgrass?
I’m responsible for the daily operations of the Golf Course Agronomy and Landscape Department at TPC Sawgrass, which includes staff management and financial strategies as well as the day-to-day and long-range agronomic planning for the facility.
You joined TPC Sawgrass from TPC Scottsdale. Are there significant differences between maintaining a golf course in Arizona and maintaining one here in Northeast Florida?
Weather patterns are the biggest difference. In Arizona, we averaged six inches of annual rainfall and in my first month at TPC Sawgrass we had close to 20 inches of rain. I’m originally from the southeast, so I know what the weather is like, but that was not the welcoming that I was looking for on my return.
You joined the TPC Sawgrass team less than a year before the Stadium Course underwent sweeping changes. What was it like taking on that challenge?
We are extremely blessed to have a very talented and dedicated Design and Construction Service Department whose lead I could follow during the renovation. Fortunately, I had worked with everyone on previous large projects, which helped me get up to speed with the process.
Did Hurricane Matthew impact the course renovations and if so, what adjustments did you have to make to ensure the Stadium Course would be ready for this year’s tournament?
Hurricane Matthew was big storm with a great deal of wind and rain, but we were extremely lucky. Twenty miles south or 20 miles north and it could have been a whole different story. We received 14 inches of rain and had better than 300 downed trees on the property. Again, we were blessed: We had two great contractors on site – MacCurrach Golf and JB Coxwell Contracting – which could help with the clean up and get us right back on track to open the course on target.
Can you give us a sense of what’s involved in keeping the courses in tip-top shape throughout the year?
It all starts with having a great team and working for a pinnacle organization like the PGA Tour.
How big a staff do you have, and what role do volunteers play in your operations – particularly during THE PLAYERS Championship?
Our staff for both courses, landscape and shop is 85 full-time employees. During the week of the THE PLAYERS Championship, we will have 90 volunteers from 14 different countries around the world.
What will your schedule be like during THE PLAYERS Championship?
The morning will start at 4:30 a.m. and we will likely end the day around 9 p.m. If there is bad weather, those hours will only get worse.
How do you enjoy spending your free time?
Family – I cherish spending time with my wife of 21 years, Missy, and my son, Cooper.