Keith Bartlett, superintendent for the St. George’s Golf and Country Club, will be a key man in the weeks leading up to the 2010 RBC Canadian Open. As the Open gets closer, Keith will be contributing a regular blog on GNN, describing his experiences and what goes into preparing the course for a PGA Tour event.
When I first toured the course with PGA Tour officials, they weren’t even looking so much at the golf course. They were looking at the logistics of everything associated with the tournament.
There were a lot of hurdles – the need to close Islington Avenue, the traffic flow of spectators, the movement of players through the property and so on. There were a lot of things that we didn’t even talk about until the Open was approved at St. George’s.
Coincidentally, we were just finishing off our golf course improvement plan at the same time, so my thoughts were focused on what’s most important and what we can do within this very short time frame.
If you consider that some clubs have five years or more to prepare for an event, we had two years. There were a few objectives that I saw as critical, one being consistent playing conditions.
Our rough was something of a concern because, as an old golf course, there was a variety of different turf species, so I wanted to make sure we were consistent.
We were also able to resolve some minor issues with bunkering and surface drainage and add some irrigation, specifically making sure the turf is healthy on the bunkers without over-watering the sand.
Then, we looked at tee decks, mainly to make sure they were big enough for the PGA Tour on the black decks for a variety of set-ups throughout the week.
However, we also wanted to make sure that we did the entire complex so that we weren’t just addressing things for the Open, but it would also be a part of our whole golf course improvement plan to make tee complexes better – move cart paths out of sightlines, make tees bigger and so on.
Another thing was tree health. We had completed a strategic tree management plan in 2008, but we wanted to make sure everything was safe, so there was a lot of pruning and a lot of removals to get the rest of the dying trees off the property and focus on replanting, tree health and aesthetics.
That was very time-consuming, but I think we did a good job.
We also worked on service roads. We wanted to make sure that we could get people around the property safely, so we had a couple of dirt paths that became paved roads and the main service road from the 10th tee out to Islington was resurfaced because it was very uneven with broken asphalt.
Also, there might be a long-term plan for our poa greens, but my goal right now is to make sure the poa is as strong as possible for the Open.
We’ve done a lot, but all the work that we’ve done has really just accelerated our golf course improvement plan.
All of my meetings and conference calls with the PGA Tour outlined what we wanted to accomplish and meet their objectives, as well. It did, so we weren’t building anything that was unnecessary.
We wanted to make sure that we had our members in mind in regards to accelerating our golf course improvement plan and it’s worked out very well.