Baltusrol Preps for 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur: Q&A with Andy Stock

Baltusrol Golf Club hosts its 16th USGA event this July, when golf’s rising stars from around the world compete in the 2018 U.S. Junior priminAmateur Championship. Since the USGA announced Baltusrol as host in 2014, the club has been mapping out the necessary logistics for a successful hosting. Member and MGA Secretary and Treasurer Andy Stock was appointed as General Chair of the Championship and shared the inside scoop on how the club is working with the USGA to plan the event.

Related: U.S. Junior Volunteer Information, Application

EXTRA:  As General Chair of the championship, what is your main role?

Andy Stock:  My responsibilities include helping to recruit the Executive Committee, which is made up of both club members and employees; serving as the primary liaison between Baltusrol, the USGA and Octagon Sports—who is helping to manage the championship; ensuring that the planning for the Championship remains on schedule and that we meet our collective goal of providing a world-class experience for the 156 players who will join us in July.

EXTRA: We’re just several months out from the Championship – what aspects are becoming finalized at this point?
AS: Right now, we’re working on volunteer recruitment, fundraising, course preparation—mainly tree trimming at this point—and critical operational planning including evacuation, parking, security, food and beverage, and medical, among others. We regularly have meetings with the USGA team to help ensure that we execute our plans appropriately over the next several months.

EXTRA: What can the players expect when they arrive at Baltusrol in July?
AS: At our first Executive Committee meeting I stated that the one principal that should guide all of our decisions is to provide the players with the best experience possible. When each player arrives, he will be welcomed by a Championship Ambassador, who will guide the player through registration, conduct a tour of the clubhouse and grounds, and provide a brief history of Baltusrol.  We will strive to make the players and their families feel as welcome as possible through positive interaction with our registration team, volunteers and staff.  Director of Grounds Mark Kuhns and his team will ensure the players can expect a very challenging yet fair test of golf on both the Lower and Upper courses. Hosting major, national, regional and state championships is part of the very fabric of Baltusrol’s history and of its place in golf.  We are very honored to host the world’s best junior golfers and proud that this is our 16th USGA event.

EXTRA: Do you have an estimate on how many total volunteers will be used for the US Junior? In what capacities?
AS: We estimate that we will need approximately 300 volunteers for the Championship. Volunteers will help us in virtually all aspects of the event, including marshals, walking scorers, scoreboard operators, player registration, practice area operations, evacuation, parking, hydration, etc.

EXTRA: Although the U.S. Junior is quite a different event, are there certain things you/the club learned from hosting the PGA Championship in 2016 to prepare you for hosting this event?
AS: Yes, we are very fortunate at Baltusrol to have a wonderful staff that is very experienced regarding hosting major national championships. I cannot speak highly enough of the team at Baltusrol including Kevin, our Director of Golf Ryan Fountaine, Director of Grounds Mark Kuhns, our entire Food and Beverage team led by Brian Baldwin, Security Director Mitch Fenton, our merchandiser Leigha Turner – the list goes on and on. Every member of the staff has the experience and confidence to ensure we provide the competitors two world class golf courses as well as a most memorable overall championship experience. 

EXTRA: What is the club most looking forward to in hosting the U.S. Junior and from your perspective what are you looking forward to the most?
AS: I think most of us at the club are most looking forward to meeting and interacting with the players and their families. Watching these world-class players test their skills on the courses we play every day will be special.  Personally, I am looking forward to the first tee shot of the Championship – I think I will have more butterflies in my stomach than the competitors!  Shaking the champion’s hand at the end of Saturday’s final match will be special as well.

EXTRA: Any advice for these juniors as they tackle the Lower and Upper courses?
AS: Keep it out of the rough and in the fairway and take plenty of putts during practice – particularly on the Upper Course!  And remember that No. 9 Lower plays a half club longer than the yardage might suggest.