As a builder of courses, I have had to observe closely through the years the subtle changes that have crept into shotmaking and to an extent, reconcile course design to new balls, and new shots, or rather it would be better to say, the passing of old ones. A.W. TILLINGHAST
The annual Golf Industry Show wrapped in San Diego and the mood certainly seemed positive. Perhaps it was the location--not Orlando--because I sensed the good vibes ran deeper than normal.
So many of the products and folks we talked to for Golf Channel's Morning Drive gave the impression that forward-thinking ways are finally leading to affordable sustainability solutions.
There were also a few first world solution solvers, like grass on top of irrigation heads and drones to detect turf health.
Here are the four GIS pieces shot and produced by Donald Goertz and hosted by yours truly.
Jessica Williams investigates Detroit's water shutoffs targeting some of the city's poorest residents not paying their bills while not targeting major businesses and golf courses who...are not paying their bills.
The segment (thanks reader Jeff):
"I'm honored to win this award, especially named for a guy who I'm almost as old as," Jenkins quipped in reference to Old Tom Morris. "It's terrific. I didn't know a lot about grass, but I knew a lot of superintendents all around town. The profession has made a lot of progress. Courses nowadays are so consistently wonderful with all the things they can do with them."
Even though I was here in February, the look and conditions of Pinehurst No. 2 exceeded my highest expectations Monday, which I noted with Gary Williams on Morning Drive.
The sandy areas of Pinehurst No. 2 are rightfully getting all of the attention because of the way they've transformed the look here. The recapturing of sand, interspersed with thousands of plantings, gives the impression of weathering and maturation even though it's only been a little over two years of growing time. (Toby Cobb spearheaded this effort for Coore and Crenshaw and deserves great credit for such an artisinal touch in the planting, followed by deft maintenance by the No. 2 crew).
But after walking the course again Monday of U.S. Open week, attention should turn to the transition zones from fairway to the sandy scrub. They should not pose a rules issue but these transitions will be noticed in HD, perhaps to a point that people think it's poor maintenance by super Kevin Robinson and crew. The opposite is the case: the pine scrub areas are the work of a master maintenance and irrigation design team.
To create a gentle shift from fairway to scrub takes artistry on a scale we rarely experience. How many times have you played a course lined by native areas, only to find the first five to ten feet more dense than areas well off the beaten path? All because of faulty irrigation design sending overspray into those natives. This is traditionally driven by the weird obsession with covering every inch of a property in irrigation "coverage," even at the expense of playability.
Pinehurst's return to a single row of irrigation heads that reduced the number by 700, has been key to the impressive playability of the transitions. The lack of a sharp contrast between fairway and scrub is beautiful to those who love their golf natural, though the look of the occasional exposed sand where there "should" be fairway may prompt cow pasture lines in 19th holes across the land. But we'd rather see a transition of sand and grass than tall stuff just off to the sides of play. The look also exudes naturalness. History tells us that the more natural a course seems or looks, the more we accept the arbitrary nature of things such as "waste" hazards.
So if you hear people criticizing the brown and rugged Pinehurst, remind them that it's all about accentuating the playability of Donald Ross's design. Even if the initial impression may not seem like the lush beauty that golf grew addicted to, to some of us the imperfection is just perfect.