U.S. Open Agronomic Diary: Day 13

U.S. Open Agronomic Diary: Day 13

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

June 21, 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 Friday, June 20.

That was a good day that seemed to go awfully fast. We did well locating all the ball marks from the day before when they suspended play with groups still on the last three holes of each nine. We used flashlights and the maps the USGA gave us and it went very smoothly. Things went off without a glitch.

We did get a little rain burst at about 3 p.m., but again we were fortunate. There was no lightning involved so it didn’t interrupt play. Obviously we were concerned when the weather came up but we got through OK. All in all things went really well and we were done with our evening shift and out of there by 8:30 p.m.

So they're now ready to cut the field in half and find a U.S. Women’s Open champion. Some big names are up there, which is great. Michelle Wie played great again, and with her in the last group with Lexi Thompson, that should generate some real excitement. Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer are up there, too. They are all top of the line players so there should be a real buzz, I think.

We have two players under par, but if you remember Saturday, was a tough day on the men. And if the women are paying attention to the set up and pin placements over the first two days, they will have noticed a lot of similarities. I think they can probably expect that trend to continue tomorrow. So if it wasn’t the women’s Open you’d probably say tomorrow’s a day to sort the men from the boys.

There will be one difference. The women are starting earlier than the men did: 7:20 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. It helps with television windows apparently, and I’m sure the women won’t mind getting out of the heat earlier. Today was probably the hottest day we’ve had. We’ll give the greens some water tonight.

I like the early tee times. It really won’t affect us because we can just stick with the routine and get everything done at the same time we have been. But what it does is extend the chances of getting play in if we do have a weather interruption. And they are expecting things to brew up around 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. tomorrow. There’s supposed to be a cooler front coming in. Hopefully, Sunday will be pretty pleasant.

Little Lucy Li has been phenomenal for an 11-year-old shooting 78, 78. I watched her some during practice and have seen her a couple of times during competition. She is impressive, not just how she hits the ball, but how she takes a bad hole in stride and doesn’t get frustrated. I have an 11-year-old and she gets distracted doing putt-putt.

On a purely selfish note, the food continues to be excellent. We had New Orleans-style catfish tonight followed by a lemon-iced cake. The guys from Syngenta provided the food and it was great. I actually think the quality of the food has contributed to our performance.

Two weeks’ worth of providing U.S. Open Championship conditions is taxing, no doubt about it. The food matters in keeping your energy up for sure. But it’s also something the guys can look forward to after working so hard. So when it’s good, it plays into morale. And I think the atmosphere amongst the guys has been outstanding from start to finish. Not that we are quite there yet.

Everyone was feeling a little sluggish today. It’s starting to catch up with us. (Assistant superintendents) John Jeffreys and Alan Owen and even the guys from the USGA  like (championship director) Ben Kimball and (agronomist) Chris Hartwiger. It’s not like we stood around and had a conversation about it, but over the course of the day it just came up here and there.

I actually had two naps today. One just before lunch and one just before the catfish. I was in my office with John and Alan and we worked on some things, and then when they were walking out, they turned the light off and closed the door. So, I was out in no time.

Trent Bouts assisted in the creation of this article.

Kevin Robinson's Day 12 diary

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)