National championship golf is truly different compared to regular playing conditions. Building on the outstanding conditions presented to the competitors at the APL and WAPL by Ken Nice, Eric Johnson and Scott Hundley, the last three weeks have been spent at two other national championships in the Northwest Region. Although both are completely different in location, weather patterns and championship size, both put on full displays of resourcefulness and professional ability of the golf course superintendents. Let’s start first with the U.S. Women’s Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.
For Fred Dickman, director of golf course maintenance, and Mike Sartori, East Course superintendent, the prospect of preparing for another Open Championship (2008 U.S. Senior Open) was fresh in their memory. Having a supportive volunteer group to call on, along with a highly motivated staff, expectation levels for course preparation were solid, and they delivered. From the putting surfaces to the roughs, the golf course was ready to challenge the best female players in the world, but Mother Nature decided to not cooperate. In 2008 the weather was unseasonably hot, with problems created with irrigation system weakness, yet the maintenance staff came through in a big way. This time, despite beautiful, clear skies in the mornings, virtually every afternoon a series of severe weather events occurred. Play was stopped every day for lightning during the competition, with the maintenance staff put in a position of completing all course preparation the next morning prior to shotgun starts at 7:30 AM. Based on how well they handled the situation in 2008, there was never any question that the staff would have the course ready for the early start times the next day. Every part of the golf course was ready to go when play began, proving once again that these guys are good!
The final chapter in this three-part play was completed on Saturday, July 23 at Gold Mountain GC in Bremerton, Washington. For the first time in the 64 year history of this championship, it was conducted on a municipal golf course. As such, the greens were not mowed with walking mowers, they did not have multiple fairway mowers at their disposal, and the overall preparation was completed in the mornings with only 10 staff members along with Superintendent Ed Faulk. However, in this case Mother Nature gave back with a very mild week before and during the championship, allowing the staff to create outstanding conditions for the entire week despite their very small size. The combination of two triplex mowers, one roller, two fairway/green surround dew sweepers, two hole changers, one tee mower and two bunker rakers worked perfectly. The afternoons were spent mowing fairways, filling divots, mowing green surrounds, mowing remaining tees, and raking bunkers. Due to the cooperative weather, the only required bunker raking the following morning was for animal tracks (there are a lot of them in this natural site); no rough was needed to be mowed during the entire 13 days, and hand watering was not needed during the championship. Green speeds topped out at 12’6” with overall firmness reached following a 0.5” rainfall incident the second day of practice rounds. To the men and women of the Gold Mountain maintenance staff – you are good!