U.S. Open Agronomic Diary: Day 12

U.S. Open Agronomic Diary: Day 12

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

June 20, 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 Thursday, June 19.

I guess the history is made now that the women’s Open is under way. The leading scores aren’t too different from the men after the first round. I tell you, I hope we can keep the leaderboard looking like it is with names like Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer and Stacy Lewis up there. Bailey (15-year-old son) got to be standard-bearer for (world No. 1) Stacy Lewis’ group which also had Inbee Park (No. 2) and Emma Talley (reigning U.S. Amateur champion). He was thrilled.

We are in for a little earlier start in the morning after they had to suspend play for the day a little after 6 p.m. with groups still on the last three holes on each side. We’d already started the evening shift and were on the fourth hole raking bunkers and filling divots when they blew the horn. We might have been further on but the pace of play was a little slow which held us up a touch. We saw some good streaks of lightning, but the rain stayed away.

The USGA called it off at 8 p.m. which makes two early nights for the guys in a row so that’ll help keep the batteries charged. We pretty well knew before then that we were done. We’d been waiting around the shop, but we’d seen vans from the back nine bringing players back and we knew that wasn’t a good sign. There’s still a chance of storms through to midnight so I’ll be sleeping light. We’re planning to give the greens a little drink, but if it rains before then, it’d be nice to catch it and shut it off.

Our guys running the moisture meters had to wait until they could get back out there. We also had to wait to get out there and pick up the remaining flags and tee markers, but the moisture meter readings were what mattered most because that’s what we base our watering decisions on.

The greens continue to hold up amazingly and the players were really positive about them. I almost think we could do the senior Open next week if we had to. If there was one thing I might have done a little differently, it would have been to spray a wetting agent on the Monday after the men. We’d been doing it every two weeks for a while. It just helps the water pass through the surface a little easier. One of the reasons we’ve been able to keep the greens so smooth is the finer sand we’ve used for topdressing. But it almost seals the surface off with all the mowing and rolling.

If we get through the night without any weather, we should be able to play catch up pretty easily in the morning. Like I said, we’ll have to get out the door a touch earlier than the normal 4:30 a.m. start and we’ll have to turn some things around. At 6:45 a.m., we’ll have groups finishing up on the seventh, eighth and ninth as well the 16th, 17th and 18th, and we’ll have to have the first and 10th ready too for those groups starting their second round.

The hardest thing I think will be finding their ball markers in the dark. The USGA have them mapped out just in case they get hit or picked up by someone. Their mapping is pretty precise, so even if the markers disappear for whatever reason, they can help the player replace their ball in the right spot.

Right now I’m looking forward to stepping in the door at home. The dogs will be all over me again. We have a golden retriever and a Boston Terrier, and I think they’ve noticed I haven’t been around as much. I’ve kind of been missing them too. One of the other things I am noticing is not being to run or go to the gym. And the food we’ve had has been so darned good it feels like if I’m not working, I’m pigging out. The good news is that the pants are still loose, so I’m burning off whatever I’m eating, I guess. Still, I am looking forward to getting back to the gym. But all in good time. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than what we are doing in these two weeks.

Trent Bouts assisted in the creation of this article.

Kevin Robinson's Day 11 diary

Kevin Robinson's Day 10 diary

Kevin Robinson's Day 9 diary

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