|Staff finishing course prep during the Ladies Invitational|
The course has been maintained purposely dry for playability. The new grasses have kept fantastic color despite soil moisture levels being very low, which is one of the main reasons the turf conversion was done. It hides the fact that the soil is very dry. But you put a lot of traffic on this grass, and it will eventually thin out and die like any other grass. You may have seen all the small sprinkler sets out on the course that take care of these small dry areas. They are time consuming for the staff, but are the best way to avoid over watering. We do have staff to do this work and keep up on the mowing rotations, but we have very little margin for error. That makes for more stress for me.
|Small portable sprinkler set on the 13th tee complex|
Ultimately golf courses are for golf. Another statement that seems obvious, but if you think about everything else a course provides it describes another part of a superintendents job. Golf courses boost real estate value, and attract people who may not even play the course, for dinners and special events based on the vibrant colors and pastoral setting they provide. There are times when the course may not look its best, but it is playing the best. If you are confused about this, just think of the U.S. Open last week, or possibly the British Open.
The extreme playing conditions of the "Opens" are not sustainable, even for Merion and St. Andrews. Go there most of the year and they are mostly green, and the Superintendent is doing his best to provide the combination of playability and color. It is no different for me. It is very difficult to ride that line of really good playability and loosing grass for months at a time in our summers. The closer you are to that line the better the playability and the more stress for me. Providing a great playing golf course is much more difficult than providing a green one, and when you have both; that is when you know you are doing a really good job.
For the next few months I am going to talk about some of the things are done to provide a playable golf course, and give you some insight on the decision making process.