Players move on, cleanup begins as Heritage winds down

tbarton@islandpacket.comApril 16, 2012 

The final scores have been tallied, the tartan jacket has been bestowed and spectators have shuffled back home.

But for some associated with the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, the work is just beginning. Grounds crews, media and Heritage Classic Foundation employees are among those who awake this morning to important tasks.

Some of the longest days for tournament operations manager Andy McMillen and his staff are spent cleaning up after the tournament. CBS Sports and many caddies and players are off to San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open.

And Tuesday tee times beckon to the Harbour Town Golf Links grounds crew.

Head golf superintendent Jonathan Wright looked like a man ready to collapse Sunday morning.

He and his crew of 18 have put in 16- to 17-hour days for the past 10 days -- on top of the 10- to 14-hour days they clocked the week before -- readying the course for tournament play. Now, it starts all over -- cutting, watering, aerating and fertilizing greens and raking bunkers.

"The crew is pretty much spent," Wright said Sunday. "I'm spent. We'll close the course (today,) but we open back up Tuesday with the first tee time at 7:20 a.m. ... After the tournament, it puts stress on your greens and your grass. We'll be irrigating heavily this evening and tomorrow evening. We'll try to soften them up a bit because they are quite firm."

As soon at Carl Pettersson and Colt Knost made the turn onto the back nine Sunday, McMillen and a throng of interns, staff and volunteers began cleaning: Picking up litter, removing waste and recycling bins, taking down bleachers, ropes and signs, and packing up trailers and tents.

"It took us a month to slowly set up and we'll be taking our stuff down in three days," McMillen said. "(Today), Tuesday and Wednesday will be my longest days. We pride ourselves in how quickly we clean up after ourselves and get things back to normal."

Once the final shots of Pettersson donning the tartan jacket are beamed to televisions around the globe, Steve Gorsuch is pulling the plug and packing up.

"Three hours after we're off the air, all the trucks are on the road going to San Antonio," CBS Sports' director for golf operations said.

In three hours, a crew of about 60 pulled up yards of fiber-optic cables and microphones, collapsed broadcasting towers and antennas, and packed up cameras, generators, catering trucks, editing trailers and RVs.

Steve and Mary Hulka already will have gotten a head start in their 26-foot trailer loaded with 200 pieces of PGA Tour player luggage and golf bags.

The Hulkas haul everything from suitcases to portable cribs and playpens for players and their families from one PGA Tour stop to the next.

Steve Hulka, a freelance caddie, began Hulka's Overland Players Express in 2003, after getting frustrated with the difficulties of navigating airport security and luggage restrictions.

First item on the agenda for Keith Nolan, who caddied for two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen: Catching up on European soccer and doing laundry before catching a direct flight from Atlanta to San Antonio.

Player Charles Howell III made a fast break from the scorer's trailer Sunday afternoon to a golf cart to make a flight home to Orlando that was to depart in an hour. Howell, who finished one-over par for the week, will skip the Valero Texas Open and use the week to improve leading up to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at the end of the month.

J.J. Henry, who finished the tournament at 2 over par, also rushed to catch a flight home to Fort Worth, Texas, for a quick breather before heading to San Antonio.

"Personally, I'll be playing quite a bit, but we're rushing to get home and be a dad and be a husband for a couple of days," Henry said. "I'm not sure what's more difficult, trying to keep (the ball) out of the hazards out here or go home and mess with the kids and the wife, right?"

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeonHiltonHead.

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