Monday, June 17, 2013

Merion Course Conditioning - USGA

Course Preparation for a USGA National Championship — What’s All the Fuss?

Course setup begins from the first and tenth tees at first light during practice rounds through the first few days of the competition. Setup crews proceed from tee to green on every golf hole. 
Golfers raved about course conditions after the recent club championship. The greens were smooth; slick as ice. And how about those impossible “never been there before” hole locations? Fairway striping patterns rivaled the intricate mowing patterns of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Bunkers have never been firmer or more consistent. Perhaps you hear the ultimate compliment in the clubhouse…“we could have hosted the U.S. Open today."

Assume the playing surfaces could indeed challenge the cream of the world’s professional and amateur golfers. Could you sustain this high level of course conditioning throughout an entire week of competition? Before answering, let’s discuss the scope of maintenance practices associated with hosting a typical national championship. To put it another way, just what is so special about course conditioning for a USGA national championship and why?

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So You Think You Want To Play Championship Conditions All The Time?
Why we can’t and, perhaps more important, why we shouldn’t

Daily tasks are accelerated for championship events by adding additional staff for each area of the course.
Golfer education is more important today than ever. Golf courses everywhere are facing decreasing budgets and increased scrutiny of product use and water management. Superintendents and course officials are obligated to work within the variable parameters of nature and increased legislation. Allied golf associations need to help golfers understand the amazing commitment of time and resources it takes to provide championship conditions. Numerous factors need to be considered before a course even starts down the “championship conditions” road.

We all love what we see on television. It is important for golfers to realize that for most championship events, a year or more of preparation has been devoted solely for that four or five-day period, for one week in a given year. The playing and, more important, the maintaining of championship conditions is much more difficult than it looks. It is hard on a course’s wallet, and it can be even harder on golfers’ egos.