Thursday, June 12, 2014

The 2014 US Open gets under way this week at the famed Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.  The resort consists of an amazing 8 courses that all have their unique character but it is No. 2 that will host the worlds best players.  It will certainly be a very different looking course than anything we have seen a US Open played on before.  In 2010 golf course architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw (designers of The Lost Farm course in Tasmania) set about restoring the course to its former glory and large areas of the course were returned to waste areas which has coined a few descriptions such as; "maintenance up the middle" and scruffy is the new neat".

Before last years Open at Merion GC the host Superintendent was interviewed and said "I don't know if Tiger has ever even seen Clover let alone played off it - but he will this week!!" That was the way the course was prepared with the membership and the USGA happy for there to be some imperfections and use more "natural looking" courses.  That is in essence what the restoration at Pinehurst has achieved.
Playing from the "rough" at Pinehurst
Such sandy waste areas always brings the comments about what is a hazard and the grounding of clubs and no doubt that will be a major talking point this coming week. 

Interesting comparison of the old (1930's) and new
A few facts and figures about the course and a comparison to what was there prior to the restoration;
Total area of Pinehurst No. 2 (only) - 80 hectares,  Cool Tweed - 101 hectares
Area of fairways now 17H, 11H prior to restoration. 
(Cool Tweed area of fairways 36H total)
Area of maintained turf now 25H, 35H prior. 
111 bunkers.  (Cool Tweed 85 on West and 81 on River) 
Area of greens 1.068H.  (Cool Tweed 1H West and 1.2 H River)

The greens at Pinehurst were originally Couchgrass and in 1987, in an attempt to secure a US Open on the course, they resurfaced the greens on No. 2 with Penncross bentgrass which was the predominant grass at the time.  The greens were resurfaced again in 1996 when the then new variety of Bentgrass Penn G-2 was used.  This resurfacing included a complete rebuild.  Penn G2 is the variety that is on 17W green at CTHGC.  It is interesting to note that the greens on No.2 will be resurfaced again starting this July following the Open's to a new Ultradwarf Couchgrass in a similar operation as was proposed at CTHGC 2 years ago.

And yes "Open's" is correct as the ladies US Open will be held the week after the men have played.  They will obviously play a different length course and the greens will be softened for the ladies. There will be 21,000 seats available for spectators in grandstands and they are expecting in excess of 50,000 spectators each day for the mens event.
When in Pinehurst, don’t forget to have a go around the hugely entertaining Thistle Dhu putting course.
The famous "Thistle Dhu" practice putting green at Pinehurst.
And below are some links to some very good information about the restoration and the results and an interview with Adam Scott.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Another week of glorious weather on the courses including 2 lots of rainfall with 18mm in each.  The storm on Tuesday was the most impressive with the 18mm falling in about 10 minutes and fortunately we escaped any major damage to the courses, particularly the bunkers.  The grass is still really growing and 6 fairways were treated with growth regulator this week to slow them down which is amazing for this time of year.  The weather bureau issued a "special climate statement" this week relating to the recent warm weather with the key points being; 
  • Numerous records approached or set for temperatures above thresholds. For example:
    • Melbourne13 consecutive May days above
      20 °C (previous record 11)
    • Sydney19 consecutive days above 22 °C (previous record 9)
    • Adelaide16 days in a row above 20 °C (previous record 15)
  • Warmest May on record for South Australia and third-warmest nationally 
  • We have now recorded above-average national mean temperatures for 21 of the last 22 months
  • Year-to-date (January to May) temperature anomaly for Australia is +0.84 °C. 
 The full statement can be viewed here

There is not very much to report off the courses this week although once again damage to the greens by players was clearly evident.  The photo below shows the damage caused by an early morning player dragging their feet and scuffing the surface but thankfully they were playing the River course with the Couchgrass greens as the same action on the West course Bentgrass greens would have caused severe damage.

Scuff marks across 17R green

The West greens will be aerated with the "Verti Drain" machine next week which is a deep solid tine aeration where we should be able to get 150 - 200mm depth.  The greens are rolled immediately after and there should be little or no surface disruption.  The River greens will then be done with the smaller "Pro Core" machines to help allow some much needed air exchange.