BENNETT: Scott Davidson, Parkersburg Country Club ready for West Virginia Open

For the first time since 2013, Parkersburg Country Club will act as the host site for the West Virginia Open, now in year No. 86.

One person who is extremely excited for that opportunity is head golf pro Scott Davidson.

Although the official start of the three-day championship event gets underway at 7:50 a.m. on Wednesday, there’s the Pro-Am taking place at 1 p.m. Monday and the Coca-Cola Shootout at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, which is also the practice round day.

Perhaps one of the biggest differences this year compared to 2013 will be hole No. 16 playing as a par 5 instead of a long par 4. That means the field will be competing on a par 73 layout which features for most golfers what would be an unusual five par 3s, six par 5s and obviously seven par 4s.

“The golf course is going to play completely different than in 2013,” Davidson stressed. “Our green speeds are miles faster.”

In order to pull off an event of this magnitude it takes a lot of work from the community and especially the members at PCC.

On top of that, several of the golfers I’ve talked with who are in the field touted Pat Maher, who is the course superintendent.

“The greens have been better than they have ever been at the club, period,” said PCC member Kenny Hess. “They’ve been keeping them faster than most greens in the entire state. They are so fast right now.”

Of course, Mother Nature could have something to say about that before the week is over.

Davidson gave plenty of props for how great of shape the course is in to Maher, who is now starting his sixth year at PCC after coming from the famed Merion Golf Club in the Keystone State.

“Merion was hosting the U.S. Open when we were hosting in 2013,” Davidson said. “There are two courses, the championship and the members, and Pat was in charge of the members course, but had a pretty large role in course preparation for the championship course.

“He’s redone all the greenside bunkers the last few years. As good as it was in 2013, it’s not even comparable now. It’s so much better.”

Davidson welcomes the public to come out and watch, but wanted to make sure people understood there are no carts allowed on the course for spectators.

A new twist this year will be “live” scoring as Davidson will have a person at every hole and fans can watch updates through the wvga.org website.

“The competitors are going to be told there are live scorers out there and they need to cooperate and be nice to my scorers,” Davidson added. “They’ll do it through their smart phone, which is something they haven’t gotten close to in the past.

“In 2013, we were able to do every three holes. A lot of Opens they will try every six or every nine. It’s something they wanted to do and bring to the fans around the state for the people who follow the event.”

It’ll be exciting to see what unfolds this week in Vienna, but there’s little question the Parkersburg Country Club is already a winner.

“It wasn’t just the golf course, but our membership has really gotten behind these events,” Davidson added. “Players were really impressed in 2013 with the amount of volunteers. It was as professional as any event they ever got to participate in and they quickly wanted to come back.

“The members were as proud as the participants were impressed to host the event and help out. We’ve got 50 volunteers lined up for this week.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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