With three decades at Quail Hollow Club under his belt, equipment manager Jerry Blackwelder isn’t about to let health challenges keep him on the sidelines for this week’s PGA Championship.
Aug 07, 2017
Jerry Blackwelder wouldn’t miss this week for anything. Heck, he would not miss any week if it were up to him.
Blackwelder is cherishing a thrill of a lifetime. As the equipment manager at Quail Hollow Club here in Charlotte, N.C., his role is integral. After all, when the PGA Championship is at your house, you want to put your best foot forward.
Even if it pains him to walk.
Soon, Blackwelder hopes to trade in two bad knees and a limp that hampers his movement for a better quality of life. Blackwelder has the first of two knee replacements scheduled for Aug. 22. It will only happen that day, though, if his heart is ready for it. Ten days ago, Blackwelder underwent a cardiac catheterization after the doctor had informed him that his heart was out of rhythm. Currently, he is waiting to hear whether he needs a pacemaker.
In any case, Blackwelder hasn’t taken time off from Quail Hollow. No surprise, really, says superintendent Keith Wood.
“He’s the guy who doesn’t drink coffee but he’s here at 3 a.m. making the coffee. He keeps everybody going,” Wood says. “He shows how much he cares about Quail Hollow.”
Blackwelder, 67, has been on-site for more than three decades. He ran a garage in Concord, N.C., until he landed at Quail Hollow. He never imagined an event of this magnitude when he started.
“I’m blown away by it,” he says.
Although he has done it for a long time, the daily challenges keep Blackwelder’s motor running. “To me, it’s rewarding to fix a mower that’s not good, get it back out there, so it makes things look good. That’s what it’s all about,” Blackwelder says.
If Wood approves of his work, Blackwelder is satisfied. “If you keep the superintendent happy, you’ve done your job,” he says.
Blackwelder credits his assistant, Jason Vail, for handling a large workload and doing it in meticulous fashion. In the meantime, Blackwelder will take care of what is on his plate, even if it may hurt a bit.
“I’m here to do my job,” he says.
Howard Richman is GCM’s associate editor.