Despite being shrouded by a San Francisco typical cool and foggy summer that is not preferred for bentgrass, Kappelman and his staff have methodically been checking enhancement projects off their list in the months leading up to the Presidents Cup. A bunker renovation completed this year not only replaced drainage and sand, but re-sodded all the bunker edges and installed additional irrigation to repair turf buried under the sand splashed out by the 60-70,000 rounds played annually at Harding Park. Kappelman also re-sodded the collars around all of the greens, lowering the soil to the same level as each green to remove any lip that had formed. He has had 35 trees removed over the past six months, mostly Monterrey Pines and Monterrey Cypress stricken with disease, and he has aggressively been overseeding.
Then, 10 weeks before the main event, nine of the greens suffered fertilizer burn, as a result of human operator error, and temporary greens had to be used for five of the greens that were closed for repair.
'It has been blown out of proportion a little,' Kappelman said. 'It was repaired within a week. All 18 greens are in great shape and the whole course is where it should be. Every course has something happen, this was just unfortunate timing. It seems that to dwell on those issues would discredit the three years of preparation and hard work. After everything that has gone into getting ready for this event, it seems rather minor in comparison.'
As the fog has lifted and the sun has come out the past few weeks, both metaphorically and literally, the bentgrass has thrived during San Francisco's best weather of year. The Kentucky bluegrass/perennial ryegrass/fine fescue rough is three inches high and the bentgrass/Poa annua greens will be rolling 11 ½ feet on the Stimpmeter. The city's recreation and parks department has increased Kappelman's staff from 23 to 29, and a group of 20 volunteers, made up of nearby superintendents and assistant superintendents, as well as various vendors from around the region, will be on hand to help as well, illuminating the camaraderie of the profession.
'For the past three years the PGA Tour agronomy staff has worked closely with Wayne and his team at Harding Park to prepare this beautiful and historic venue for the 2009 Presidents Cup,' said GCSAA member Cal Roth, PGA Tour senior vice president, agronomy. 'Although certainly challenging due to the very popular and always busy facility, Wayne has remained diligent in his efforts to incorporate all of our requests for required turf management programs, staff development, and landscape improvements. Wayne remains positive at all times and creates an upbeat atmosphere for his staff to meet the challenges of preparing for this prestigious event. We are grateful to the city of San Francisco for all it has done to help make this year's tournament a success.'
Harding Park is a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program and is working toward certification. Kappelman works closely with the San Francisco Department of Environment on Harding Park's integrated pest management plan, using mostly organic methods or the least intrusive chemical processes. He has converted 90 percent of landscaped areas back to native California plantings, which benefits the wildlife population. Kappelman also established a six-acre quail habitat of non-landscaped native California plantings. Construction begins immediately after the tournament on a 900,000 gallon reclaimed water tank for golf course irrigation.
Weather: Sunny skies and temperatures in the low to mid-70s, with a slight breeze. Just another Autumn day in San Francisco.
Yardage: 7,127 yards, par 71
Fun fact: Harding Park is just the second course in the U.S. to host the Presidents Cup. The other four Presidents Cups in America have been staged at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va.