If we call the week before the SHO Advance Week, then we might call this week coming up Advance, Advance Week. We are now 2 weeks out from SHO Week and we are all excited for what it is going to bring. This coming week is the week for us to get ready for the PGA Tour officials that come the week before the event to set everything up. We make sure all of our projects are complete so when the officials get into town we are ready to concentrate solely on grooming the course for championship conditions.
One key piece of making a course look good is the landscaping. It really doesn't mean a thing to playability, so we want to make sure the majority of this work is done this coming week. This would include freshening all mulch and pine straw throughout the course. We have a number of wood chip paths that are used by spectators throughout the course and we want to make sure these are fresh. We are in the process of putting out new pine straw in all tree beds as well. Fresh flowers around the clubhouse and touching up all landscape plants will take place this week. We also make sure all landscape areas including mulch, pine straw, and landscape rock areas are all edged and manicured. We will also be finishing up removing dead trees that have died over the past year. This has been a huge process this year in recovery from the drought and we have been cutting trees since October.
As far as the grass is concerned, we will continue lowering heights of all short grass areas to get us closer to our final heights for the event. Lowering these heights too soon can cause serious damage long term to the turf as these heights are very stressful to the grass and require extra fertility, water, mowing, etc. These extra inputs are not recommended year round. We will continue rolling fairways and approaches to continue the firming process. This will help with ball roll and playability as well as help firm the surface for water runoff in the event of rainfall during the SHO. We will also be making one last spray fertility application on the short grass. This fertility along with a growth regulating product will help the grass fill out and create that carpet like surface we are all accustomed to.
We will increase our frequency of cut in all areas. We will start mowing roughs a couple times a week instead of weekly like we do throughout the season. This will increase even more during advance week to the point of mowing roughs daily for about 12-13 days. All short grass areas will also increase from 2-3 times per week to around 4-5 this coming week, with eventually going to daily Advance Week. This is all geared to grooming the turf for consistency and prime conditions. It always seems like the week before the first part of spring the grass starts to take off and really explode. We normally fertilize the course the first week of March (we did this year on March 5th) and this coupled with the soil temps warming into the mid 60s creates an explosion of turf and color unlike anything you see during the winter. People are blown away during the winter at how green it is, but it goes nuclear during March! This increased growth is the main reason for the extra mowing.
This coming week we will be doing the same things to greens to get them in prime shape. We are still open for play so we can't do the morning and afternoon mowings and rollings just yet but we will increase our frequencies of cut and rolling. The heights will come down a couple levels this week as well. Our topdressing of greens also picks up during March before the event. We have been doing a light dusting every other week to keep up with the growth, but now with grass growing a little more we will apply sand this week and next week. We do this with push spreaders that we use for fertilizer with kiln dried bag sand. It is the same sand we use throughout the year but we got them to bag it for us during the months leading up to the SHO. We try not to drive any equipment (topdressers, sprayers, dragging sand, etc) across greens for 3-4 months leading up to the event to keep the surface smooth and firm. We put on just enough sand to work down into the profile without creating sandy playing conditions on the surface or too much sand that we would pick up with mowers the next day. We are also spraying fertility, growth regulator, wetting agent, and any needed fungicides to meet the needs of the turf for the week. During March we try to monitor our fertility levels through tissue samples to see what nutrients the plant is taking up. We only target products that will help us overcome deficiencies - we aren't putting nitrogen or phosphorus on just because. Typically our soils are deficient in potassium, calcium, and magnesium and we try to apply products with these elements. A healthy, well balanced plant will perform better for you in highly stressful times.
Other than work on the course, we also have to complete the planning process and make sure we have all supplies needed for the coming weeks. The little stuff like making sure you have cups, flags, poles, stakes, bunker rakes, etc. is easy but takes planning to make sure you have it all on hand when you need it. The other part of it is making sure you have the needs of your 80 man crew for those weeks taken care of when they are working 16-18 hour days. Uniforms, meals, payroll, parking passes, schedules, equipment, living quarters, are just some of things that have to be well thought out when dealing with that many people. Also, making sure you keep all relevant parties up to date on your practices and course conditions to make sure it is just right for the players.
There are so many things that have to take place before the event even gets here and we will be working before daylight and well after dusk to get these final details squared away.