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.
In preparing the golf course for the RBC Canadian Open, there have been two issues, one being that we had some winter injury on fairways – four, five and nine being the key holes – due to the early ice cover last December.
It wasn’t as bad as I first anticipated in December, based on the amount of ice that I saw when it first formed. We had a great melt on Boxing Day, but the ice that remained was where we had damage and it’s in historical locations.
The question was what to do with it?
Most years, I would say feed it and nurse it back and by June, the poa is back as well as whatever you’ve overseeded. Sometimes, and it’s evident at some clubs this years, it doesn’t always fill in – it’s going to be a season-long frustration and you’ve got to keep working on it.
That was a risk that I didn’t want to take because if I get into June and I have to start sodding those patches, I’m into a problem with the Open being in July.
I made the decision to sod those areas earlier, but then, I also know that sod coming from a sod farm is a challenge to establish in the first year.
I’ve been fighting that and it’s a busy golf course, so we’re just having to make sure we divert traffic around those areas because they are in PGA Tour landing zones. We need to protect divot areas and landing zones from cart traffic in the months leading up to the Open.
The rough is up to about four inches now and some of the poa greens are used to shady locations, but we’ve been through some tree removal and the poa isn’t used to that much sun, so we’ve got to really watch them.
It was a stressful spring with little rain. The poa is shallow-rooted to begin with, but that’s just turf management and we’ve got to manage through it.
We’re well-groomed on the greens, but we’re not super low and I want to make sure we have grass to work with in July.
We’re into our final applications of sand on fairways and tees and greens over the next couple of weeks and we’re doing a lot of grooming, brushing things just to get the bent standing up to get a nicer, cleaner cut.
The guys are being really diligent when it gets hot and dry. They’ll be here until 7 p.m. handwatering to make sure nothing is under stress. If it could somehow stay below 25 C, that would be great, but as we all know, things don’t always go according to plan.