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

    Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

    Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

    “I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

    To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

    “More punishment,” he said.

    Getty Images

    DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

    Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

    Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

    It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

    With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

    Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

    Getty Images

    TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

    • Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

    • This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

    • Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    • In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

    • At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

    • Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

    • My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.

    Getty Images

    Woods fires shot into crowd: 'I kept moving them back'

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:14 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It added up to another even-par round, but Tiger Woods had an eventful Friday at The Open.

    His adventure started on the second hole, when he wiped a drive into the right rough. Standing awkwardly on the side of a mound, he prepared for a quick hook but instead fired one into the crowd that was hovering near the rope line.

    “I kept moving them back,” he said. “I moved them back about 40 yards. I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I was very, very fortunate that I got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”

    Woods bogeyed the hole, one of four on the day, and carded four birdies in his round of 71 at Carnoustie. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 30th, six shots off the clubhouse lead.

    It’s the first time in five years – since the 2013 Open – that Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds of par or better. He went on to tie for sixth that year at Muirfield.