Home Uncategorized Greenkeeping Update With Greg 8/4/2019

‘Augusta Syndrome’ is a term used widely in the golfing industry and comes as a result of the unrealistic expectations it sets, with many golfers across the UK asking the question “Why isn’t our course like that?”.I believe though, that golfers are becoming more knowledgeable these days and that ‘Augusta Syndrome’ isn’t what it used to be.Here’s a few reasons as to how they get Augusta to look the way it does on the television.
1) Climate. Augusta is on the other side of the world with a totally different climate than us. In fact spring type conditions at Augusta have been prevalent since the beginning of January giving good growing conditions leading up to the tournament. So to compare it to here, it’s a bit like late June here in the UK, when our courses begin to reach their peak.
2) Resources. With an almost unlimited budget, the lengths taken to achieve the desired results are mind blowing. Here are some examples:

One of my favorite times of year is Masters week. So much excitement is created at the Iconic Augusta National.
I personally love the Masters and the exciting golf that it brings to our screens. However, it is the exception in course conditioning rather than the rule and certainly at completely the other end of the spectrum compared to our course maintenance philosophy.
We are seeing some really fantastic results on our course with increasing wildlife as a result of our environmentally friendly management, something that wouldn’t be the case if we tried to emulate Augusta style conditions.
I thought I’d return to a newsletter I wrote 2 years ago, which offers some insight into the lengths taken to achieve the ‘perfection’ at the Masters.

  • With over 100 greenkeepers and countless volunteers, any work needing doing is covered. 
  • The sub air system (a bit like under soil heating) keeps the greens firm despite the enormous amounts of water used to keep that artificial green look. 
  • Huge fans are used to increase airflow around greens.
  • Lighting rigs are used to make the grass grow through the night (you may have seen these on football pitches in the Premier League). These cost around £60 a minute to run on a football pitch which is only half the area of the greens the Augusta. 
during a practice round prior to the start of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 4, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.

3) All year the focus is on the Masters week. Therefore the course is prepared with that week only in mind.

  • The course is closed for several weeks before the tournament and is then closed all summer afterwards. Even members of Augusta are restricted to only a hand full of rounds per year.
  • No trolleys or buggies are allowed on the course at anytime.
  • The greens are cut below 2 mm in height and mown 4 times a day during the tournament. This could not be sustained over a longer period.
  • Imperfections on the greens are hand painted, and divot sand is also painted green.
  • The ponds have blue dye added and if the famous Azaleas aren’t in bloom at the right time, hundreds of plants are brought in and planted that are flowering.

4) Even if we could have Augusta conditions, would we want them?

  • Would you want crazy fast greens at 15 on the stimp meter? Club golfers couldn’t cope, Inducing three and four-putts all over the place. Play would grind to a halt and who wants that?
  • The amount of chemicals, fertilisers and water required to maintain the course are astronomical. Hardly sustainable and also why golf is looked upon so badly by environmentalists.

Many greenkeepers dread this time of year, but not me. I enjoy all the hype, great TV and the excitement of the tournament every year without exception. Then when it’s all over I come back to reality and enjoy the beautiful course I work on, warts and all!


I hope you enjoyed the read and that you continue to enjoy our ‘natural’ course, but it’s also still OK to watch the Masters and dream of being able to play a round there too 😉

Greg

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