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.
As we prepare for the RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf and Country Club, what’s really new to me is the grandstand construction.
It’s amazing what they’re doing to 18 right now. The members say, `Wow, is it ever busy,’ but this is only one of about 10 companies that will soon be on site.
From the agronomic point of view, what’s interesting to me is that I have to think about preparing a golf course for PGA Tour players as opposed to members.
For example, last week we close off divot areas that will impact PGA Tour players, but won’t impact the average member.
Some heavy divot areas for members, I’m not too worried about other than filling them with seed and moving on. For the Open, I’m protecting landing zones by roping them off. Even if it isn’t in a high divot area, but a high cart traffic area, I’m roping them off now to preserve the quality of the turf.
When we topdress now, I’m focused on the PGA Tour players’ landing zones, which is 280 to 320 yards out from the tee, and the approach shots.
We’re always working on bunkers and the reason for that is that I don’t want to be moving a lot of sand during advance week. I want them to be consistently at the right depth, so they can firm up.
With the greens, I’ve backed off the height at which I normally cut. I’ve raised the height because I want to make sure I have grass to work with in the middle of July.
We have some poa bio types here that are shallow-rooted by character and it’s been a hot, dry and stressful spring, The roots have shortened up to what they typically would, so I need to make sure that I have some grass with which to work.
My focus becomes very short term. We’re thinking about the details right now. When I get to about three weeks out, I’ll be roping more of the rough off.
We’ve stopped cutting rough and it will be topped off at three-and-a-quarter, three-and-a-half inches. We have our men’s two-day on Thursday and Friday, so the guys are going to be playing in three-and-a-half inch rough or more.
By the time we top it off in a few weeks, it will be just over four inches. The PGA Tour will come in and they’ll want to make sure it’s consistent throughout the golf course.
What’s new for me since we’ve announced that we’re hosting the Open is going around the golf course with PGA Tour rules officials and agronomists and getting their thoughts.
For example, we’ve done so much topdressing on sand. The players don’t want mud on their golf balls, so I want to make sure we have enough sand on so, even when it rains, they’re not going to get mud on that golf ball when they hit it in the proper landing zones and on the approaches,
The members have been good about all the work that’s been going on. They knew this was coming and none of this is a surprise.
Some of them are surprised that we’re not roping off other landing zones, but as I mentioned earlier, they’re not in the PGA Tour players’ landing zones.
For example, the 150-yard mark on the 15th hole. It’s a big landing zone for the second shot, but the PGA Tour players aren’t even going to be looking in that area,
They’re going to try and go for it in two. They’ll probably miss it left and be chipping on to the green for their third shot or hitting it 30 yards short of the green and that’s where there’s a little chip area that I have to watch, but that’s a small area.
There’s another area on four that’s a members’ divot area, but the PGA Tour players won’t even be looking at that either.
The tour rules official gave me a lot of this information and they’re just confirming certain par three set-ups and pin locations. This week, I’ll start preserving sections on the part threes and that’s just with tee block placements.
This gives you quite an entirely different view that you normally don’t see.