The pelting sound on the roof of the media tent yesterday at the RBC Canadian Open might have been bringing back memories of a year earlier for Glen Abbey superintendent Scott Bowman, who only started his position the previous March.
That meant Bowman was the man who was large and in charge for the 2008 edition of the Open, which was also held at the Abbey, where the skies opened up and made an ark a seemingly necessary piece of equipment for the greens staff.
“Looking back, I don’t honestly remember much of it,” said Bowman. “It happened so fast, even the preparation.
“The first couple of months, everything just happened so quickly and that Sunday (before the tournament), obviously it started to rain and basically, never stopped.
“We were just in survival mode, so honestly, looking back, I don’t remember what we did last year,” he said.
Given the amount of rain that fell, nobody could blame Bowman for blanking out a forgettable experience.
It’s not as much of a whirlwind this year for Bowman, who now has more than a year on the job and favourable conditions to get the Abbey ready for this year’s Open.
“We started very slow out of the gate this year. We didn’t have a lot of ice damage, which was nice,” he said.
“The fairways, the rough took a long time to come out of dormancy. The soil temperatures were very cold, not a lot of growth in the springtime, so it took a little bit of extra work in the rough to get it where we’re at today,” said Bowman.
That rough is thick and juicy. If you’d like a player’s perspective on the density, check out Kyle German’s daily contribution in ‘Kyle’s Blog’.
“It’s at three-and-a-half, four inches, but it’s a dense three-and-a-half, four inches, so it took a lot of work to get there,” said Bowman, who doesn’t expect the rough to change much before the Open gets underway on Thursday.
It’s the 25th playing of the Open at Glen Abbey, a facility that has different challenges for a superintendent between the upper holes and the picturesque valley, where holes 11 through 15 are located.
“It’s about a four-degree difference, doesn’t sound like a lot, but those days where you’re watching the whole golf course as it begins to dry out, you’ve really got to keep your eye on what’s going on down there,” said Bowman.
“Of course, morning sunlight and wind movement up top is a lot better than the morning sunlight and wind down below, so it’s a little bit different management style down below, but not too much different than up top,” he said.
Bowman says the course should be able to hold up if the rain continues.
“The fairways were starting to show that little tinge of purplish brown, which gets them very firm and fast,” said Bowman. “It’s going to take this rain right now. The greens are quite firm and it’s going to be able to take this.
“Last I checked, we only had four or five mil (of rain) so that’s not a lot. It’s obviously not going to be as firm as it was, but if we get another dry day, it’s going to firm back to where it was,” said Bowman.
So, barring the deluge that plagued the 2008 Open, this year’s national championship may be a tournament to remember instead of a tournament Scott Bowman would rather forget.