U.S. Open Agronomic Diary: Day 8

U.S. Open Agronomic Diary: Day 8

Pinehurst No. 2's Kevin Robinson provides an exclusive behind-the-scenes turf maintenance dispatch from the U.S. Open Championship.

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June 16, 2014

Editor's note: This exclusive editorial content is made possible through a parternship with the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association. The following dispatch is from Sunday, June 15.

One down. One to go. In 2010, when I found out I was going to be superintendent at No. 2, I got butterflies thinking about getting the chance to host the U.S. Open. I couldn’t have imagined it going any better. And now we get to host a Women’s Open. So I guess we’ll just show up at 4:30 a.m. and get everything mowed all over again.

There was a really cool moment late in the day as we were coming down the 18th with the last group. (Pinehurst owner) Mr. (Bob) Dedman and (president) Mr. (Robert) Padgett were walking and looked at each other and shook hands. Honestly, it put a tear in my eye to see those two men share a moment like that because they really deserved it. They made some huge, ballsy decisions to do what they did to this golf course.

According to all the data from the firmness meter, the moisture meter and the stimpmeter, we were perfectly dialed in on what the USGA wanted. It’s pretty crazy when we get an inch of rain on one night and water the greens on two of the other three and yet they played like they did. It just shows the health they were in.

Believe me if we wanted people (golfers) to cry “uncle,” they would have been. The greens were so strong that we could have gotten them like concrete and still had them in shape for another week of tournament play. But I think the USGA did the right thing. The greens honored good shots and to hear comments from people like Phil Mickelson after it was all over about how great the greens were was really gratifying.
 

I heard some criticism from some of the broadcasters about the USGA’s set up and I just don’t get it. Without Martin Kaymer we’d be getting ready for a playoff now between the only two other guys who finished under par, one under par. That sounds like a typical US. Open result and yet these guys played so many more different shots that they typically do when there are two and three inches of rough. They got to show why they are professional golfers, with what they were able to do out of the junk.

I was with my mum and dad out on No. 13 today and we were right there when Phil pulled off his magic through the trees. And it hit me then that that is why all these thousands and thousands of people want to put up with all the traffic and the dust and the hassle to be on site just for a moment like that. And so many people witnessed moments like that this week because the golf course and the set up created those opportunities.

I also got to take my girls Sadie, 13, and Grace, 11, down to the driving range. It was wonderful for them to be able to see all the men out there with the women right there in amongst them doing the same thing. It is historic and such a positive thing. The girls didn’t last too long after that, though, so I took them home and let Sadie drive the golf cart so that is probably what she will remember as her highlight of the day.

Speaking of highlights, all the crew and volunteers got to have our picture taken with Martin Kaymer under the scoreboard after play. He was head and shoulders the best performed golfer on the course and a great guy off it. A real gentleman.

We will give the greens a drink again tonight and put some water on the surrounds to keep them alive, but we want to keep them pretty dry and firm. We will run some water on tees and fairways too. We may not be as lucky with the weather next week. They are calling for temperatures in the mid- and high-90s, so we’ll probably see some pop-up storms in the afternoons.

The women are going to get a great golf course. I know some people wondered about divots, but I don’t see that being an issue at all. People were worried about the waste areas merging into the bunkers too, but nothing came of that. I think the same thing will happen when it comes to divots. It’s not like the men were digging holes. They don’t exactly take your resort-golfer, rental-club kind of divot when they hit a shot.

I feel great. I was able to squeeze in about a two-hour nap in the Fair Barn today from about 10 a.m. I found an empty couch and laid my hat over my eyes and I was out. It was really good for me. A real recharge, although I spoke with my wife Laura very soon after I woke and I know she heard some delirious babble until I got my wits about me. She’d say that it’s probably not the first time she’s heard that from me though.

I am going to let myself have a couple of beers tonight to celebrate. We’re not going out anywhere, just very happy to be home and relax with the family. I don’t know what’s for dinner, but I am hungry.

Editor's note, late breaking news: “Laura surprised me with some steak from Outback Steakhouse!”

Trent Bouts assisted in the creation of this article.

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