Preparing Congressional CC For The U.S. Open: Above And Below The Ground

By Stanley J. Zontek, director, Mid-Atlantic Region
May 10, 2011

A close-up of a DryJect column of sand.  This is a firming technique and is not a substitute for core aeration. 

Most observers of the game of golf see only what is happening above the ground, on the carpet of grass upon which the game is played.  After all, it’s that surface of turfgrass that affects all we see --- how the ball nestles into the longer grass of the rough, sits down into the intermediate cut of rough, bounces on the fairways, and rolls on the green toward the hole.  Interestingly, there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes and under the canopy of turf that affects all that happens above the ground. 

This regional update will take a quick look at one of the course preparation practices being used at Congressional CC, along with numerous other golf courses that are placing importance upon playability as it pertains to firmness. 

At Congressional, firmness is a goal as they prepare for this year’s U.S. Open championship. It began with selecting a more angular sand when the greens were rebuilt two years ago.  The course uses a unit called the DryJect to inject sand into the soil on the greens and approaches to the greens.  It is important to note that this operation must be used in conjunction with traditional core aeration, along with backfilling the holes with fresh topdressing. 

There is a tremendous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to prepare courses for championship golf.  When you watch the U.S. Open you will know just a little bit more about what went on in the preparations. Agronomists and golf course superintendents provide the technical know-how to produce the desired playing conditions. 

This spring the southern half of the Mid-Atlantic Region where bermudagrass is grown has enjoyed a good spring.  The bermudagrass greened-up early, and while it has not grown all that much, it was at least green. 

In the northern half of the region where cool-season grasses are grown, it has been a more challenging spring.  It has been only this week where the trees have finally leafed-out much later than normal.  This delayed green-up, along with periods of above-average, followed by below-average temperatures, has resulted in questions about the best timing of control application for the Hyperodes weevil.  These weather patterns may suggest an extended period of adult emergence and less-than-desired level of control for this insect pest.  Unfortunately, there is just no way to predict what will happen next.  Monitor DuPont’s Weevil Trak , use your best judgment on preventative insecticide applications, and talk to your USGA Green Section agronomist. 

REMINDER:  There is still time to save $600 on the cost of a Turf Advisory Service visit for 2011 by prepaying before May 15th

The Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists are part of your agronomic support team.  If you have a question or concern, give us a call or send an e-mail.  You can reach Stan Zontek ( and Darin Bevard ( at 610/ 558-9066 or Keith Happ ( at 412/ 341-5922.


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