A river ran through it.
At 5:30 p.m. Sunday a 6-foot creek trundled down the steep fairway on No. 18 at Aronimink Golf Club. It collected into a pool that ran from the left side of No. 18, through the ninth fairway and ended at the right edge of No. 10. A trout would have been at home.
More than 5 inches of rain fell over the weekend, postponed the final round scheduled for Sunday and threatened to wash out the BMW Championship, the third of four events in the lucrative FedEx Cup playoffs. If the course wasn't playable by Monday morning it likely would be shortened to 54 holes. It was a race.
John Gosselin's rain men and women reported to the maintenance barn at 3:30 a.m., three hours before sunup, as the rain began to lessen. By 4:30 the entire 80-person workforce — led by Gosselin, Aronimink's course superintendent, and comprised of groundskeepers from courses all over the country — had formed squeegee brigades, hopped onto mowers and grabbed rakes to attack the sodden bunkers.
By 7:30, when Dustin Johnson teed off on No. 10, the course had been transformed. When Keegan Bradley walked off with the win, he wasn't the star of the day.
The star was the course, and the crew.
"I was surprised [it] was as playable as it was," said Tiger Woods, whose 5-under score left him tied for sixth. "The greens weren't really that slow. We were surprised they were as fast as they were."
Justin Rose, who lost to Keegan Bradley in one playoff hole, agreed.
"It was incredible," said Rose, who ascended to No. 1 in the world. "I thought we'd just be out there slopping around. All the areas where our balls were hitting in the fairway were incredible. Only had to take casual water relief twice today, which was unbelievable. Everyone's done a great job to get us around today."
As Rose noted, the course wasn't completely dry. The low area that runs from No. 18 through No. 9 was addressed by a nine-person squeegee line until about 30 minutes before the first groups came through. (Threesomes began on No. 1 and No. 10 to speed play and escape later rains.) The tees on No. 9 were moved forward 89 yards to give players a chance to fly upwind over the wettest areas, and the tees on the downwind No. 10 were moved back to keep them from hitting into standing water where tee shots normally would finish. There were a couple of puddles on No. 11, too, which is a chronically moist area, one member said.
"I thought there were going to be way more puddles," said Tony Finau, whose 5-under Monday left him at 16 under and in eighth place, which sealed his chance to be the final Ryder Cup selection for American captain Jim Furyk. "Kudos to the staff and grounds crew and the volunteers. I didn't think this would be a playable golf course. That couldn't have been further from the truth."
When the club addressed its bunkering during its face-lift — it went from 74 bunkers to 176, to replicate the original design — it incorporated a 2-inch layer of slick pebbles beneath the sand to make drainage faster.