U.S. Open Agronomic Diary: Day 10

U.S. Open Agronomic Diary: Day 10

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

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June 18, 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 Tuesday, June 17.

Everyone left happy tonight, but I hope they are as happy in the morning. Thunderstorms kept us off the golf course from about 5 p.m. til we called it a night at 7 p.m. with lightning pretty much all around us. As much as it threatened, though, we only had one burst of rain – not quite 1/10th of an inch - in that time. So I guess we’ve been lucky again ... so far. I just hope we don’t turn up to a mess in the morning.

There was a good cheer from everyone when (assistant superintendent) John Jeffreys made the announcement to go home and guys were happier still when he announced that the USGA had bought ice cream for everyone.

It was great to hear some of the women speak so highly of the greens and the golf course again. Michelle Wie, in particular, spoke very favorably of the greens. We have our eyes on the 10th, 12th and 14th greens. There’s just a quirky little wind corridor through there and they dry out a bit faster than the others. They got a little hot at times last week so we’re staying on top of them.

Outside of that maybe the scariest thing still is mowing greens in the dark each day. We didn’t get to mow them tonight so we’ll double-cut and double-roll tomorrow. But you really have to be careful. We have some guys serving as spotters, but even so we have had one or two instances where guys have mowed on into the Bermudagrass on their clean-up laps. It’s nothing significant. We might be the only ones who would notice.

Jon Jennings (CGCS at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club) was here helping during the men’s Open and he said it is so different up there because there is enough daylight at that time of day. It was a bit tougher still last week because it was so dry there were really no dew patterns to help guide you. This week is a little different because it’s so humid. We’d love it to be just as dry as it was last week, but if we had to have a humid week, we are better off with it being the second one.

The logistics of getting everyone where they need to be are not such a challenge this week. People know the routine pretty well now. We still have a couple of watchers out there, though, to make sure people are getting where they need to be at the time they need to be there.

One new task we had to take on was cleaning up where the USGA removed some of the grandstands and other infrastructure that was in place for the men’s Open. The crowds won’t be as big this week. We had to mow those areas of course, but only after we got rid of all the trash that had fallen through to the ground and from the takedown.

I like to think I have a pretty good eye, but I only found one quarter amongst it all. I was poking around for a few minutes while Andy Caddell (equipment manager) was bringing out a piece of equipment I didn’t even know we had. It was a magnetic roller and you wouldn’t believe all the metal that thing picked up, the washers, screws, staples, you name it.

I wish I’d known we had that when I lost my first wedding ring during sprigging on (course) No. 5. We were putting out fertilizer and it was clumping up so I was breaking it up in my hands and at some point it slipped off.

Speaking of losing things, we had an interesting moment this afternoon right before our daily set-up meeting with the USGA folks. (USGA agronomist) Chris Hartwiger walked in and announced that his cart – and putter – had disappeared while he was taking some readings on a green. It turned up later in the day, along with his putter. We’ve stressed to the guys from day one that they need to take the keys with them if they step away from any equipment. I think that’s the only hiccup Chris has had all week. He and Pat O’Brien (USGA agronomist) have both done a fantastic job.

If the rain holds off, the extra few hours with the family tonight is going to be a real bonus. I guess we’ll find out in the morning if there was any price to pay for it.

Trent Bouts assisted in the creation of this article.

Kevin Robinson's Day 9 diary

Kevin Robinson's Day 8 diary (with links to Days 1-7 at bottom)