Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Players Championship Weekend 2011

All the hard work has finally paid off... The tournament started on Thursday through to Sunday and it was a great success. The course was in spectacular condition and the players loved it. Maintenance kicked off in the mornings at 4:30am and we would have the course prepared and ready for play by 8am.

All fairways , greens , approaches , tee's , hole's were cut in the morning as well as all the bunkers hand raked. The greens were hand watered and the rest of the course was watered at night with over head irrigation.

Players could be seen on the range early in the morning getting ready for the days golf and again in the afternoon working on their game for the next day.

Play kicked off in the mornings at 7am and we had the course back in the afternoon to clean, cut and prepare for the next day of golf. Divot's needed to be filled as well as pitch marks needed to be repaired.

More then R1 million ($150 000) was spend on flowers and landscaping to make the course ever more special for The Players Tournament.

More than 2000 volunteers got to assist in marshaling the spectators on the golf course for the week as there were talks that over a 100,000 people will be attending on Saturday and Sunday.
The parking next to the stadium course could hold between 20-30 thousand cars. This area is for when they want to build a third golf course one day.

Saturday afternoon a big storm came through and the course was closed for 2 hours. A strong wind blew a few tree’s down and left the fairways , bunkers and tees full of pine needles from the trees lining the fairways and the course was unplayable. 75mm of rain fell but this was the least of our worries as when they did the R420 million ($60 million) revamp in 2006, they installed drainage and capped all the fairway and tees with sand as well as constructed the greens to USGA specifications with sub air systems that sucks all water out of the greens to firm them up. We had an hour to go out and clean the course and we just did it in time to everyone amazement that we got through before play. The time that was lost by the players had to be made up the following morning with an early tee off time and this put us under a lot of pressure to go out late Saturday evening in the dark and clean to get the course ready.

The morning after the storm came through the course was back to its pristine condition and the player head out early to finish the tournament.

Tim Clarks name is on the wall at the circle of champions and our flag was on the pole for a year because he won in 2010, let's hope it happens again soon.

Congratulations to K.J. Choi for winning The Players championship 2011 by beating David Toms on the first playoff hole no. 17.

Thanx to everyone at TPC Sawgrass - Tom , Clay , Andy , Jack , Jeff etc for having me there and thanx to DCC for giving me the opportunity to go and attend this prestige event.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Final preparations done !

The last three days has been spent preparing and putting on the final touches in for the tournament. A team of 130+ head out every morning at 4:45 cutting , cleaning and getting everything ready. We do it again in the afternoon after all the players have finished there practice rounds smoothing of greens by rolling, fixing divots and pitch marks.

The Staduim course as they call it was design by Pete Dye and has a lot of rolling mounts witch makes it hard to maintain. Most of the mowing around greens and bunkers needs to be done by hand and not just on any ride on.

Rotary mowers are the choices for this type of work and does the job well.

Millions of rands where spent on extra landscaping for the tournament. The area that was especially targeted was the 17th par 3 as it is the worlds most famous golf hole.

Here you can see on the banks surrounding the 17th and how the take annuals across to the island. This makes the place every more special.

Alligators are common around the course and this make looking for you ball close to the edge of the water very interesting...

The stages it now set... The players will tee of today and play for the biggest purse in golf and my the best South African win !!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Players Championship preparation week

I arrived at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday the 8th of May after a long 19 hours of flying and was once again amazed at the scale of operations for The Players championship. The stands, tents and marquee's has taken four months to be erected and after a weather friendly spring the course is in great condition.

With the tournament starting on Thursday all preparations and procedure's for the course needs to be in place to make sure the tournament runs successful. With more then 130 people being part of the agronomy team , nothing less then perfection is expected.

Monday through Wednesday are practice rounds for the pro's and for us the agronomy team the time to prepare the course for the weekends tournament. This entail the following:
Morning 4:30 am - 10 am. Cut all fairways, tees, greens, semi rough, rough, surrounds, approaches, driving range. For the first time ever we are hand raking the bunkers for the tournament, for those who don't know there are bunkers in excess of 250 m long. Divots gets done togethers with cleaning the course from litter and pine cones , blowing of all clippings, cut of new holes, moving tee markers, rolling greens, watering of the course etc...

Afternoon 4:00 pm - 8:30 pm. WE DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN !

Greens get checked twice a day for moisture and compaction to make sure the don't burn or dry out but still maintaining tournament speeds and standards.

YouTube Video

The agronomy team gets split in half for front 9 hole and back 9. This video shows the team leaving the maintenance yard for the front 9 holes afternoon shift.

Keep checking back for more updates on behind the scenes of the 2011 Players championship.

Location:TPC Sawgrass,Jacksonville,United States

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass

Who will forget Tim Clarks win last year at The Players championship with -16 under par. Tim Clark ended his 204 tournaments of frustration and finally won on the PGA Tour. Clark played the final 26 holes without a bogey. He set a Stadium Course record with the largest 36-hole comeback. And with an 8-foot par putt on the final hole for a 5-under 67, he no longer had the distinction as the richest player without a PGA Tour victory. With our the best South African field ever let hope we can bring it home again.

The strongest field and the biggest purse in professional golf history.

I am very fortunate to be invited to go and assist the Agronomy team of Superintendents preparing and hosting the 2011 Players Championship being held at TPC Sawgrass in Jacksonville Florida USA. TPC Sawgrass redid all there greens 7 years ago and installed the same Mini Verde greens as we currently have. By going over there I will learn as much possible about this grass and come back with great knowledge and experience on how to prepare the greens for everyday play as well as tournament golf. I will be there on Sunday the 8th of May assisting the guys through the week and during the weekend in preparing the course for the tournament.

 Please follow me on this blog as i will keep it up to date on what is happening behind the scenes.

Weed eradication program part 2

Grab grass (Iron grass)
Crab grass or as we call it Iron grass because of the hardiness of this plant, is and will always be a problem on golf course. Iron grass is a perennial lawn and considered lawn pests. They are very hardy and need very little to start growing and sustain any growth. They will grow any where and are more commonly be seen where other grasses are struggling due to traffic , weather or any types if stress that they can handle.
Crabgrass seed has a long germination period, if conditions are right, it can germinate throughout the growing season. Crab grasses occur in tropical and subtropical regions.

We have done some test with certain herbicides and i found that mostly hand weeding does the job for getting rid of iron grass as we don't have big issues with it but it can only be quite labour intensive. As we are now into winter and the growth has slowed down and we can get going with all the winter projects and spend more time on attention to detail work like weeding etc.