Greenkeeping Update With Greg 10/4/2017

Greenkeeping Update With Greg 10/4/2017

After more beautiful weather and with the Masters on, it’s been the perfect weekend for us golf enthusiasts.
 
I personally love the Masters and the exciting golf that it brings to our screens. However, as for the course itself, it is the exception to the rule when it comes to course conditioning.
‘Augusta Syndrome’ is a term used widely in the golfing industry and comes as a result of the unrealistic expectations it sets, with many golfers across the UK asking the question “Why isn’t our course like that?”.
I believe though, that golfers are becoming more knowledgeable these days and that ‘Augusta Syndrome’ isn’t what it used to be.
Anyway, I thought I’d highlight some interesting things about how they get Augusta to look the way it does on the television.
Augusta1

1) Climate

Augusta is on the other side of the world with a totally different climate than us. In fact spring type conditions at Augusta have been prevalent since the beginning of January giving good growing conditions leading up to the tournament. So to compare it to here, it’s a bit like late June in the UK, when our courses begin to reach their peak.

2) Resources

With an almost unlimited budget, the lengths taken to achieve the desired results are mind blowing. Here are some examples:
  • With over 100 greenkeepers and countless volunteers, any work needing doing is covered.
  • The sub air system (a bit like under soil heating) keeps the greens firm despite the enormous amounts of water used to keep that artificial green look.Augusta2
  • Huge fans are used to increase airflow around greens.
  • Lighting rigs are used to make the grass grow through the night (you may have seen these on football pitches in the Premier League). These cost around £60 a minute to run on a football pitch which is only half the area of the greens at Augusta.

3) All year the focus is on the Masters week

Therefore the course is prepared with that week only in mind.
  • The course is closed for several weeks before the tournament and is then closed all summer afterwards. Even members of Augusta are restricted to only a hand full of rounds per year.
  • No trolleys or buggies are allowed on the course at anytime.Augusta4
  • The greens are cut below 2 mm in height and mown 4 times a day during the tournament. This could not be sustained over a longer period.

4) Even if we could have Augusta conditions, would we want them?

  • Would you want crazy fast greens over 13 on the stimp meter? Club golfers couldn’t cope, inducing three and four-putts all over the place. Play would grind to a halt and we already hate slow play as it is.
  • The amount of chemicals, fertilisers and water required to maintain the course are astronomical. Hardly sustainable and also why golf is looked upon so badly by environmentalists.
  • Even Augusta isn’t perfect either, here you can see them hand painting imperfections on the putting greens!Augusta3

b

Many greenkeepers dread this time of year, but not me. I enjoy all the hype, great TV and the excitement of the tournament every year without exception. Then when it’s all over, I come back to reality and enjoy the beautiful course I work on, warts and all!
 
So don’t all get green with envy of Augusta and have a great week!
 
Greg

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