Saturday, April 12, 2008

Getting Away From The Augusta Syndrome

This year we will be making some agronomic changes to the golf course that will make it more player friendly. The first change will be to the height of cut in the fairways.
For the last five years we have maintained an extremely low height of cut .300” in the fairways as a part of the Bentgrass conversion. Now that the process is over we will be raising the height to .400” making the lies in the fairways not as tight.

The next change that will be happening is a reduction in the water applied to the golf course to help improve the playability. Previously an emphasis was placed on having the entire course green i.e. looking like Augusta National. Both the Green Committee and Board have supported agronomic changes for the upcoming season with the color of brown being acceptable. At this time the current irrigation system does not allow for a separation of irrigation areas such as rough only or fairways only. What has been happening is that the rough has a higher water requirement than the Bentgrass fairways so heads have to be run that water both areas. The problem with that situation is that the rough is getting the water that it needs, while the fairways are getting too much.
This problem is being dealt with in the proposed new irrigation system design by creating separate watering areas. We will have the ability to water each area such as greens, tees, fairways or rough all separately based on the individual water requirements.

Golf Digest is making a change in this direction as well with how their course rankings are done. The old definition asked panelists, "How would you rate the playing quality of tees, fairways and greens when you last played the course?" The new definition reads, "How fast, firm and rolling were the fairways, and how firm yet receptive were the greens on the date you played the course?" This definition has nothing to do with the color of the grass or the perfection of a lie. It rewards courses that water less (but sensibly) and makes it easy for panelists to evaluate conditions on the basis of golf shots. This is a very positive step in the right direction getting away from the Americanization of golf.

There are a lot of things that are good about Augusta National, but there are also unrealistic expectations that are borne from the golfing nation watching the Masters every year.