Ernie Palladino reports on how it's all good over at Winged Foot even though it's really drenched. And unfortunately, it appears Tim Moraghan isn't allowed to talk to the media about agronomic matters, which leaves the task up to Marty Parkes.
Winged Foot doesn't drain well because the course is built on a rock ledge base as opposed to, say, the sandy underpinnings of Pinehurst, last year's Open venue.The various bleachers, TV booths, and other Open-related buildings could block the water's few escape routes.
That means a lot of liquid will be hanging around the fairways, rough, bunkers and greens, making it difficult for the bigger machines to get in there.
No problem, though, Parkes said. Can't use a big, honkin' ride-about? There are always hand-mowers."It'll be slower to do the maintenance," Parkes said. "The bigger machinery might not be able to get through because it'll create ruts and tear up the turf. For the short-term gains, the repairs won't be worth it. You have to use lighter, smaller equipment, and that will take longer."
Some might assume in reading this that the dreaded walk mowers may return to mow fairways. Surely that won't be the case?
The rough was scheduled for a final cut Sunday, anyway. But the USGA, accused in the past of making its championship courses beyond challenging, has already decided that the deepest rough will be cut at 5 inches instead of the originally planned 8 because the season's precipitation has caused the grass to grow in thicker than anticipated.
That won't make mowing any less of a task.
"When rough gets wet, it's hard to cut it to the length you want it," Parkes said. "We can hand-mow it. You won't see much of a difference."
Hand mow rough. Supers out there, any thoughts on how that would work?
Mowing may be the biggest job just because of the vast area involved, but tending to the bunkers may present as large a challenge. The rain could pack the sand into a harder surface.
Good for the golfer. They'll love it.
Bad for the USGA.
"It doesn't create the penalty we'd like for getting in there," Parkes said.
[Mike] Davis sounded a little more optimistic about the bunker situation, however.
"The ones at Winged Foot are built as well as any could be built," Davis said. "Starting in 2004, they rebuilt them more along the lines of what they originally were, and they've got all new drainage."
The greens may receive the least attention, aside from a little squeegying and normal cutting. Parkes said Moraghan and Greytock probably won't spray the putting surfaces at all. Even at that, Mother Nature may not dry them out enough to obtain the desired Stimpmeter reading of 11 or 12 — a moderate speed.
A group of exempt players taking a practice round Monday found the greens at a relatively slow 10.
"We won't touch the greens right now," Parkes said. "It's a bit early to speculate on what would be done Sunday. But there's some mowing patterns and rolling we can do early in the week to help them out."
Assuming the rains stop by Sunday, Parkes saw no chance of any practice-round cancellations Monday. At worst, they might ask players to steer clear of certain wet areas. But that's only if another deluge hits after Saturday night.
"Put it this way," Parkes said. "In '96, we had a heck of a thunderstorm in Oakland Hills on Wednesday, and we started on time Thursday. The course wasn't in the greatest condition, but it was in U.S. Open condition."
The course wasn't in the greatest condition, but it was in U.S. Open condition. Sort of Meeks-esque, don't you think?