Friday, September 20, 2013

The TOUR Championship 2013

 I once again this week had the privilege of volunteering for The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.  The hospitality shown by Ralph Kepple, CGCS and his staff, including assistants Kyle Johnson and Shaune Achurch was great.  They genuinely enjoy having the volunteers around and are more than willing to answer any question thrown their way.

This year was my fourth year volunteering and it was made even better by my good friend Gary Weller of Council Fire Golf Club, who I worked for for several years, join me in the fun.  Everyone works hard but we still have a great time. 
I have always loved being on a golf course early in the morning when the sun is rising and being at East Lake early is no different.  Everything is so well maintained and manicured, it is just amazing to see in person.

 Here is an early morning shot of the bunker raking crew getting a tutorial on how to properly rake bunkers the way the Tour officials want them done.

Great pains are taken to get the bunkers just right with some of them raked several times so that you don't hear the dreaded, "RERAKE ON HOLE #12" come over the radio.

In the afternoons the bunkers are watered down and packed with a squeegee roller to make sure they are firm and consistent.  The caddies at East Lake take care of the bunkers during the tournament and they did a fantastic job of making sure the bunkers could pass the test of the world's best golfers.

One of the best parts of volunteering at East Lake, besides getting to eat Allen Weed's gourmet hamburgers, is the new people you get to meet.  I had the pleasure of working with Billy Bagwell of Callawassie Island Club in Okatie, SC for both days.  Billy (in hat) is talking with a gentlemen from the Turfgrass Department of The University of Georgia as he is taking firmness readings of the green. 

Of course Tour players like the greens to be firm and fast so they can sink those 30+ foot putts.  One of the determining factors in how well the greens perform for the players is the amount of moisture in the greens surface.  Too much moisture and the greens become soft and slow, too little moisture and they turn into bricks and even the best golfer can't stop a shot on them.  To the right Assistant in Training Ben Thompson is checking the moisture of the greens with the TDR 300 moisture meter.

The desired amount of moisture in the greens varied from day to day depending on the weather forecasted and what the tournament officials wanted.  Based on the desired reading Ben used different numbers of marking flags to pin point areas on the greens which needed additional water.  With this marking technique, which we are going to incorporate into our process, only the areas that need water get it.

After Ben had checked all of the green and flagged it so he wouldn't have to remember exactly which area of the green needed how much water he went through and watered only those areas for only a specific amount of time.

End result...firm, fast, beautiful greens.  Not all thanks to Ben's handy work but he did his part.

The afternoon cleanup of the golf course consisted of mowing the fairways and walkways as well as rolling the greens.  The fairway mowers are set with a slow forward speed to increase the clip rate giving the zoysia fairways a super tight cut.  Line them up and let them eat.

This is a close up picture of some of the turfgrass mowed at East Lake.  If you think it is a picture of a putting surface you would be incorrect.  This is the fine cut of the fairway grass following the afternoon cut.   So sweet!!!

I loved this shot of the head equipment technician setting the heights and contact on all the greens, tees, and approach mowers during the mid morning break.  Looked like a row of soldiers all lined up getting their marching orders for the next day.

At a golf club like East Lake it is all about the fine details of the property.  Although the turfgrass gets most of the glory on the course I was very impressed with the landscaping and the attention to detail in the out of the way areas.  No stone is left unturned and no bed is left unmulched to produce the championship product.  Details. Details. Details.

I got a good laugh out of the distance the marketing people went to brand everything on the course with the Coke logo. After all the tournament is presented by Coca-Cola.

My last job for this year at East Lake was to put, what I think are some of the coolest tee markers in golf today, out.  What better way to brand the tournament than with these great tee markers.
Thanks again to the East Lake Agronomy Staff!!!
See you next year!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment