Taking Green Expansion To Another Level

By Larry Gilhuly, director, Northwest Region
October 15, 2013

Notice the expanded area to the front left of the newly planted number 13 green. The expansion is in a perfect location next to a large bunker that is normally 20 yards in front of the green on this long par 4.

With the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay looming in less than two years, Director of Agronomy Eric Johnson and Superintendent Josh Lewis are faced with the daunting task of preparing the first all fescue course to host our national championship. However, with over 11,000 rounds of golf in July and August, the combination of excess wear and invading grasses (Poa annua) resulted in the decision to strip the weak surfaces and hydroseed two of the greens during September. The project was completed in mid-September with outstanding germination on both greens within 21 days and expected good growth during the coming winter. 

Another strategy being employed to better handle heavy summer play is the expansion of many of the greens perimeters to create more hole locations. All of the greens at Chambers Bay are maintained over .210” with the surrounding area slightly higher. Since all of the grasses are the same, Eric and Josh decided to expand the edges of every green possible (14 of the 18 greens) where hole locations can be used. Since the areas that surround the greens are comprised of sand and fit the contours, traffic can be diverted to these expanded areas when needed. This practice will be utilized in addition to periodic overseeding to increase the density of the stand. At the same time, all of the areas that have been expanded will receive regular sand topdressing and aeration to keep these locations at or near the same firmness as the greens. 

The combination of more traffic and these practices will greatly improve firmness leading into the spring of 2015 when mowing heights will be raised back up for the 2015 U.S. Open.  Stay tuned as occasional Northwest website updates will include progress on this topic and others pertaining to the first U.S. Open to be conducted in the Pacific Northwest. 

Source: Larry Gilhuly (lgilhuly@usga.org

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