Jack Nicklaus does it in a private jet, caddie Bruce Edwards does it in a well-traveled van, CBS does it in a line of 18-wheelers. All of them move in a strange and sleepless caravan called the PGA Tour.
Every week from January to December roughly 700 golfers, caddies, wives, salesmen, concessionaires, PGA staffers and one occasional zealot named Rockin Rollin -- he's the guy with the multicolored wig and the "Jesus Saves" T-shirt -- converge for a golf tournament. This particular week the site is Congressional Country Club for the Kemper Open.
A week ago, many in the caravan began descending on stately Congressional. The trailer rigs started going up; TV technical crews raised towers and stretched cable across the fairways; and another stop on The Tour was being readied.
"It's a high-class circus, with 18 rings," said Tom Place, director of information for the PGA Tour. "One hole is one stage, and the players come on and do their act. Then the next act comes on. Then we tear it down and start all over again someplace else."
Executive Sports is the company that helps organize and manage many PGA tournaments, although not the Kemper. It is a corporate entity that specializes in directing everything from communications, traffic, leader boards and marshals to the placement of the tents and trucks.
"Golf has become sophisticated," said John Montgomery, president of Executive Sports. "When I started 15 years ago, we didn't even have radios. Now we have 175 walkie-talkies. I carry two sets. It's so complicated we have to set up communications control. Sometimes I think they cause more problems than they solve. It's grown to a point I never thought I would see. I always knew something like the Masters got huge galleries. But I never thought I would see something like this (crowds) on regular tour stops."
Chuck Clark has been on the tour since 1968. He is a supervisor for Amusement Enterprises, which sends 18 concession stands, striped tents and cooking stoves to 15 tournaments a year, including the Kemper. Clark can tell from the number of hot dogs sold how many people have come to the course; he is so reliable some tournaments use him for their official head count.
"We all have to work together," he said. "Most people don't realize what goes on in the background. The production starts at 6 a.m. and goes until 9 p.m. It's amazing what's involved. It's a gypsy life. If you like it, then you love it. If you don't, then you hate it. Some people can take it, some people can't."
Hospitality tents are the keys to creating an ambiance at a tournament. And if you don't have an ambiance, you'd better get one. Mid-America Expositions Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, which also does presidential inaugurations and conventions, helps manage and decorate facilities at about 21 tournaments a year. It provides press rooms, large corporate tents, bleachers, signs, scoreboards, umbrella tables and even air conditioners.
Lodge Weber, president of Mid-America Exposition, walked with walkie-talkies in each hand across a tent dominated by hanging ferns, a fountain and big screen TV. "The reason we are so successful," he said, "is attention to detail."
Bob Lohr is the leading rookie money winner on the Tour. He is playing in only his 13th tournament as a professional and intends to play in about 15 more this year. He stays with friends or rooms with other rookies to save money. The Tour is a wonderful thing to a 21-year-old from Ohio.
"Every place is a new experience," he said. "You set that alarm whenever you want. You never have to look at a three-piece suit.
"I've gotten off to such a good start that needless to say, it's a lot of fun. They say you shouldn't play more than four or five at a stretch. But if you're playing good and you're up there, it seems silly not to."
His alarm rings here today. So does Chuck Will's.
Will, associate producer of golf for CBS, strolls into his trailer office at the center of a 10-truck compound. A brigade of rented golf carts, spools of cable and heavy machinery are scattered about the small city. There are four main trucks, two storage trucks, a video truck, two telephone trailers, a graphics trailer, a food tent and various trailers for lounging and office work. CBS uses 18 cameras, four videotape machines, two graphics generators and 75 production and technical people to create a golf show.
"Our biggest problem," Will says, "are the carts. The crew steals the production carts. Production steals the crew carts. They end up lost, on highways, in lakes, in the woods. It's crazy."
Will enters his trailer and is confronted with a ravaged tray of food. "What are we doing here, attracting flies?" He turns to a young production assistant whose role in life is to follow Will. "Richie. Humble yourself. Take it away."
Will's phone rings on the average of once every five seconds. Most people are looking for credentials to the tournament. When the phone doesn't ring, his PGA Tour radio or Executive Sports summons him with questions about production. At one point, someone realizes there is a typo on a schedule. "Here's what we're going to do," he says. "We're going to blame this on the girl. We're going to say, 'The girl did it.' "
Amid the curiously organized chaos, one thing is obvious about the CBS crew. They are passionate about television and golf. The network employes, who broadcast 17 tournaments this year, are some of the most familiar faces on the Tour.
"It's a big family," Will said. "We all get along, We have to. The bottom line is that we're all out here to earn some money and keep the wolves away from the door. But we have one common denominator: 99.9 percent of us love golf. Writers and caddies and officials and TV guys out here tee it up at 7:30 in the morning before work just to play. As a result, it all sort of intermeshes."
Will has been with CBS golf for 17 years and is on the road about seven months a year. Home is a sometime thing in either Philadelphia or Florida.
"Everybody thinks it's a lark," he said. "But we have the same problems and we have to pay the bills. We need clean laundry, enough sleep to work. Still, a lot of people would like this life. I don't mind the road because I love my work. When you go home, you don't want to do anything but rest. But you get there and you have to see the accountant, the tax man is waiting, you have to get a haircut, go to the dentist. All that nonsense. The anticipation is better than getting there."
Barbara Nicklaus is a veteran of family travel. The five Nicklaus children have all roamed the PGA in various stages of development and summer vacation consisted of following the Tour. But the country club life becomes less glamorous when it is a job.
"You go to nice places, sure," she said. "But a lot of the time that's all you see, the hotel, the golf course. Home always looks good, let's put it that way."
Most of the wives agree with Barbara Nicklaus.
The traveling PGA staff consists of about 30 traveling employes. There are usually four or five rules officials who inspect each course, mark the hazards and oversee the preparations. A two-man video crew called PGA Tour Productions goes from tournament to tournament in an outfitted truck taping the tour's weekly show that is on ESPN. There is even a traveling agronomist, who advises tournaments on how they might improve their courses.
The electronic Vantage scoreboards have been moving with the tour since 1981. Diesel-engine tractors travel the country pulling trailers filled with 20 scoreboards, two digital computers, a crane and 30,000 feet of cable. Two-men crews travel with the boards, doubling as truck drivers and computer experts. They aren't used at Congressional, and some other courses that feel they are too commercial.
One of the newest, flashiest additions to the tour is a traveling fitness center. The workout truck is driven by therapist Paul Callaway and trainer Gene Lane, both of whom went to truck driving school to learn to manage the 18-wheeler. The mini-spa includes weights, a whirlpool, exercise bicycles, diagnostic electronics, a vitamin store, wet bar, stereo, TV and video. About 15 or 20 players use the center each day.
Craig Stadler is used to the constant shuffle of luggage. He travels with wife Sue and two small sons. He is sixth the money list, having earned $252,248.
"Mondays are a little bit of a hassle with the packing and unpacking," he said. "I've gotten used to it. I've seen all the places many times before. I enjoy the Tour, and the travel is part of it. I can easily put up with it."
Bob Green, the golf writer for Associated Press, is a master at putting up with it. He purportedly lives in Weatherford, Tex., but attends as many as 40 tournaments a year. His record was 48 in 1970.
"It beats the hell out of working," he said. "There's a lot of freedom, you aren't chained to a desk; you are your own boss. It would be very difficult for me to work in a bureau again."
Fugazy Travel, a service that specializes in sports itineraries, handles the arrangement for most of the PGA staff, players and press. Travel agent Ray Peck is a relative newcomer, having worked the tour two years. He arranges some itineraries for players on the road for as long as two and three months, and sometimes fills whole planes with his clients. He goes to about 30 tournaments a year, doing his business in the locker room, on the driving range or the putting green.
"You have to like your job to do it," he said. "I'm from Connecticut, and I like going to Palm Springs at the first of the year."
It is hardest on the veterans who happen to be struggling. For every brightly colored tent and hospitality room with full banquet, there is the profound frustration of a good player gone sour, the indignity of a missed cut. Bill Rogers, the 1981 British Open champion, has survived the tour since 1974.
"I hate the travel," he said. "It's the part of the game I hate the most. I'm sick of it. I don't enjoy airplanes, I don't enjoy airports. I was just home for two weeks and I never really completely unpacked the suitcase. That's sick. Vacation for golfers is going home. The perfect description of a golfer is one who never unpacks."
The same can be said for his caddie.
About 150 caddies travel regularly. Many have arrangements with golfers, others float from tournament to tournament picking up work; their battle cry is: "Can you use me next week?" Will makes it a point to hire caddies whose players have missed the cut. He uses them as spotters and runners so they can earn enough money to cover expenses and get to the next stop. Last year he was presented a plaque inscribed with his name and the legend, "Caddies Benevolent Society."
Edwards has carried clubs for Tom Watson for 12 years. He works about 23 tournaments a season. Caddies generally receive five percent of their player's earnings, but out of that they pay their travel and living expenses. Edwards has one of the best deals. Watson is one of the most successful players on the tour, and he gave Edwards a van to use.
"You make the money on your percentage," Edwards said. "So the more money your player makes, the better off you are. It's not a problem for me. For other guys, it doesn't meet their expenses."
Mike Lealos caddies for T.C. Chen, who is 113th on the money list. He travels with Jeff Medlen, caddie for John Mahaffey, to cut down on expenses. They go by car, from Westchester to San Diego, staying in the less expensive motels. "Or cheaper," Lealos said.
"You get old spending all that time in the car. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. You come out ahead with the good times. People complain a lot, but they keep coming back out.
"It beats a real job."