Answers to the Atlanta Problem

By Brian HewittSeptember 12, 2007, 4:00 pm
The more time GreensGate spends under the public microscope, the harder it is to keep a sense of perspective on the agronomical/meteorological nightmare that, earlier this week, brought the putting surfaces at East Lake to within blades of their playable lives.
Most people want to blame someone and not understand the weather facts and conditions, says Ken Mangum. Bentgrass is a cool season plant that thrives in areas and times that have a temperature optimum of 60-75 degrees. That is not summer in Atlanta.
Mangums title is Director of Golf Courses & Grounds at the Atlanta Athletic Club. The Atlanta Athletic Club will host the 2011 PGA Championship in August. Its putting surfaces are Bentgrass.
East Lake, also in Atlanta, is the stage for this weeks TOUR Championship and the conclusion of the FedExCup Playoffs. Its putting surfaces also are Bentgrass. And because of an extended summer heat wave, East Lakes greens are on life support.
Mangum visited East Lake Tuesday and came away shaking his head. When I asked him how it came to pass that East Lakes Bentgrass greens were so stressed and other Bentgrass clubs in the area had relatively healthy grasses on their putting surfaces, Mangum said that was not necessarily unusual.
Growing conditions, he said, can vary widely from course to course even when the courses being compared are just a few miles apart. East Lake is even hotter because they are in town, Mangum said. They also do not have as much air and circulation because of the trees around the perimeter.
Mangum said he combated the heat at his club this summer by having two fans on every green. It is his experience, he said, that greens must remain cool to keep the soil temperatures as low as possible to promote healthy growing conditions. He said he hasnt been at East Lake on a daily basis and doesnt know to what extent they employed fans during the worst of the heat. But, he said, nobody should blame the weather on (East Lake superintendent) Ralph Kepple.
The average daily high temperature at the nearest weather station to the Atlanta Athletic Club between Aug. 1 and Aug 29 of this year was 96.25. The average daily high for that same period a year ago was 90.98.
The Atlanta Athletic already has begun experimenting with Bermudagrass green surfaces. And it could, Mangum said, convert to Bermuda by the time the PGA gets there in 2011. The PGA TOUR already has announced that East Lake has agreed to convert to Bermuda for next years TOUR Championship.
Bermuda putting surfaces are much more resistant to heat. But the flip side is Bermuda is more difficult to keep flourishing during the winter months. The good news, Mangum said, is that a conversion to Bermuda, under normal circumstances can take place, with full playability achieved, in less than three months.
As Atlanta golf official put it, There were four options here: Close the course; change the date; change the weather; or keep the greens cooler with more fans.
But the bottom line, the official said, is that Bentgrass is the wrong grass at this time of the year in Atlanta.
The FedExCup got a huge boost in credibility not long ago when The Masters announced it would invite the top 30 on the final FedExCup point standings to its tournament next year. This will be in addition to the invitations that go to the top 30 players on the final PGA TOUR money list.
The other three major championships'The U.S. Open, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship'havent exactly fallen all over themselves extending similar street cred to the FedExCup.
But the USGA could be moving in that direction. Executive director David Fay informed GOLF CHANNEL the USGAs Executive Committee will be analyzing the number of names on the FedExCup points list and the TOURs money list prior to its scheduled meetings in late October.
As a rule, we wish to have the majority of the Open field come from the qualifiers, Fay said. The openness of the Open, if you will. . . . We like having no fewer than about 80 of the 156 spots set aside for qualifiers versus fully exempt players.
Fay said he has advised PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem that the USGA will likely make a decision on this matter at its October meetings or at the 2008 annual meeting sessions at the latest.
The Solheim Cup matches will be played later this week in Sweden. The Cup itself weighs more than 20 pounds, stands 19 inches tall and is made of Waterford Crystal.
Meanwhile, Paula Creamer has played in every Solheim Cup event for which she has been eligible. That includes appearances in the Junior Solheim Cup in 2002 and 2003 and the grown-up Solheim Cup two years ago.
Morgan Pressel, playing in her first Solheim Cup, never lost a Junior Solheim Cup match, finishing with a 4-0-2 overall record.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - TOUR Championship
  • Full Coverage - Solheim Cup
    Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.