Jun
15
2011
Get Those Greens Some Rogaine!
By Stephanie Wei under US Open

Got Miracle-Gro?

For those who have taken a close look around some of the greens at Congressional this week, especially the back nine, it’s nearly impossible to miss the brown, dried-out areas on and around the putting surface. See above for Exhibit A. Needless to say, when we walked up the 17th green on Monday (yes, Monday!), the players and their entourages looked horrified when they saw the condition of  the grass — or lack thereof — around the fringe. My first thought was, ‘Oh, maybe they’re just really firm and burnt out from last week’s heat wave.’ Which was likely the cause of the areas where there wasn’t any grass, but it wasn’t because they were “rock solid” — otherwise, we would be seeing brown splotchy patches splattered across the green.

The telecast won’t possibly zoom in on the greens in question, will they? I’m sure they’ll do their best to avoid showing the dirt-infested areas. Maybe they’ll paint over them? (As other tournaments that will remain unnamed have done, but they weren’t majors.)

But I thought conditions were supposed to be immaculate* at the US Open! (*In case the exclamation mark wasn’t enough to imply sarcasm. That was sarcastic.) It’s the US Open! Here’s another look at the browned-out patches.

Fringe on the 17th green: heat-stressed

To combat the poor conditions, the USGA has announced these areas will be marked as ground under repair and players can take the nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole, within a club length!

Just kidding.

More browned out

Beautiful! HD camera will bring the best out of the dirt.

It wasn’t just 17 that had problems. Quite a few other greens on the back nine also have a fair number of bare areas because of the recent heat wave that swept through the east coast. But the 17th was by far in the worst condition at first glance on Monday afternoon. And I know I wasn’t crazy because other players and caddies brought it up when asked (on condition of their anonymity). The course is just very stressed from the hot weather, resulting in a lack of grass in some areas.

Firm greens? Or just dead grass?

That’s not a fringe, that’s dirt! Perhaps they’ll pull a Bay Hill and sprinkle green paint/powder around those areas?

Yuck

In all fairness, it’s not really the superintendent’s fault. Last week’s scorching temperatures combined with preparing for a major championship probably strained the grass, causing it to die.

The greens were rather receptive during Tuesday’s practice round — even more so than Monday — because groundskeepers are watering them down so much because they’re so bare.

While the greens on the front nine are in better shape, they’re not immaculate. According to guys who played practice rounds last week (like Rory McIlroy), the greens didn’t look like they did in the photos above.

The USGA says by the end of the week, they plan to have the greens rolling at 14.5 on the stimpmeter. Um, good luck? I’m told they felt closer to a 10 today! (Perhaps a slight exaggeration.) I understand they increase the speed of the greens as the week goes on, but can they keep them alive and run them that fast?

The forecast calls from a chance of thunderstorms on Thursday and Friday. I guess that’s a good thing? It’ll make the course softer and more receptive than planned. But seriously, are they going to show the awful browned-out plots of dirt on the telecast??

Players are already complaining about the conditions of the greens on Monday and Tuesday!  I wonder what they’ll look like when tournament action kicks off on Thursday. I can’t even imagine how they’ll look on Sunday, especially if officials stick to the plan of running them at 14.5. This could get real interesting.

I can’t help but look forward to hearing (and watching) player reactions after the 72nd hole, or hell, after the first 18.