Game on at the 2020 PGA Championship

Aside from a missing phone, the golf course maintenance team at TPC Harding Park is in top form and ready to usher in major play in this unusual year.


TPC Harding Park green
The ninth hole at San Francisco’s TPC Harding Park on Monday, Aug. 3. The course, site of the 2020 PGA Championship that will get underway Thursday, features creeping bentgrass greens (007 and Tyee) that average 7,000 square feet in size. Photos by Almar Valenzuela

If Tiger Woods — or any golfer entered in this week’s PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park — finds a cell phone on the premises, it probably belongs to Kevin Teahan.

Teahan, golf and turf manager at the San Francisco municipal course, still hasn’t located the phone he misplaced a few weeks back. He thinks it may have vanished into one of the course’s 46 bunkers, but he can’t be certain. What he does know for sure is that this week is the biggest week of his professional life.

Teahan, superintendent Almar Valenzuela and managing agronomist Geoff Plovanich are overseeing the first major in TPC Harding Park history — and, because of coronavirus, the first major of 2020.

Originally slated for May 14-17, the 2020 PGA Championship would have been the year’s second major, but the pandemic, as it has done with so many things, triggered a change of plans. The event was pushed back to Aug. 6-9 and will be contested sans fans. The Masters in Augusta, Ga., was moved from April to November. The U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., was postponed from June to September. And the British Open, scheduled for July at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Kent, England, was canceled.

As players conduct practice rounds today ahead of the first round on Thursday, sunshine and morning temperatures in the 60s were a welcome break from the norm. “We hadn’t seen the sun for more than an hour a day for a while, and we’ve been fogged in a lot,” Teahan, a seven-year GCSAA member, told GCM via his replacement phone.

TPC Harding Park crew
Operated by the city and county of San Francisco, TPC Harding Park is being tended this week with the help of 10 volunteers, which include crew members from nearby Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, Calif., and employees of the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department.

Teahan is certainly upbeat about how the course is dialed in, and the par-70 layout will play at more than 7,200 yards. “We’re excited. We feel the golf course is in a great place,” Teahan says. “We’re just maintaining it, beautifying it.”

The maintenance staff, including volunteers from other Bay Area courses, amounts to nearly 60, according to Valenzuela. The pandemic calls for the crew and volunteers to undergo temperature checks each morning before they are cleared to work. There were no issues on that front Monday, Valenzuela says. “We’re plugging along. We did dry runs of course protocol leading up to this week, so we had a plan,” says the five-year GCSAA member, who played TPC Harding Park as a youth.

Asked about Teahan’s missing phone, Valenzuela laughed and revealed the incident isn’t unique. “He’s lost two phones out here. Not sure where — maybe a bunker, a hillside. He’s famous for it,” Valenzuela says.

Teahan, meanwhile, has heard all about it. “The guys have been teasing me. If it’s in a bunker, it’s down there deep,” Teahan says. “We till them once a week.”

Howard Richman is GCM’s associate editor.