Hole By Hole
It's about golf.
Much ado about poa annua
July 2, 2010
Sometimes it’s a little bit startling to discover that misguided notions about golf course conditions continue to hold sway over a large segment of the golfing population.
This year’s United States Open championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links provided yet another example, especially when the discussion centered on the famous golf course’s greens.
The turf on these eighteen relatively tiny greens is poa annua, a playing surface with which the members of Shawnee Country Club and other Delmarva golf courses are intimately familiar. These local courses use this same grass for their greens, as do many other golf courses throughout the country.
Poa annua has its own peculiar qualities and conditions to recommend it, but a beautiful uniform green color is not among them. That kind of perceived perfection is reserved for other bentgrass and other specialty hybrids, such as those seen each spring at Augusta National during the Masters Tournament. By contrast, poa greens are often a mix of mottled hues of green and brown, depending on turf health, the particular strains in use, and the course conditioning practices of the green superintendents.
Poa can be a challenging surface to play on, and not just because of the distracting colors. The surface can become progressively bumpier as the day goes on, leading to complaints by some golfers. Tiger Woods complained about Pebble’s greens early in the tournament, reportedly calling them "awful".
Other folks did not take kindly to these remarks.
Former USGA official and TV commentator Frank Hannigan wrote that Woods’
criticism was "petulant and without meaning". During the television
broadcast, USGA Executive Director David Fay also responded to Woods, as
reported by the Associated Press: "As far as the greens are concerned, he’s
wrong," Fay said. "That old statement that you’re entitled to your opinion?
He is entitled to his opinion, but he’s off on his facts. These putting
surfaces have never been better."
She noted the greens’ mottled appearance, clearly visible to the television audience, and admitted that the sight could have been alarming to some.
Gross also noted, however, that "The U.S. Open is not about cosmetics; it's about providing a challenging and rigorous test to identify the best player. Producing a cosmetically attractive golf course would have been the easy task: a little more water, a touch of fertilizer, and we would have had green, pretty putting greens and soft conditions, but that was not the goal."
In the same email, the USGA also suggested that the current difficult economic conditions should also provide an additional incentive to re-think what it means to provide a high-quality playing environment: "[I]t is foreseeable that the golf industry in North America will see a paradigm shift toward focusing on golf course playability rather than lush conditions and overindulgent cosmetics."
I think they have a good point.
KINGS CREEK COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP TOURNAMENT
On Friday, June 25, dozens of members of Kings Creek Country Club and their guests gathered to play in the second annual Lett’s Play Golf tournament, named in honor of Steve Lett, a longtime and successful club president.
As with the first year’s event, the money raised in the tournament was dedicated to fund a college scholarship award. "We raised about $3,000 last year, and this year we brought in over $10,000," said Kevin Weist, head golf professional. "As we keep going, our plans are to raise enough money to meet our goal of awarding four scholarships each year."
Patricia Conlon won this year’s first college scholarship grant, totaling $2,500. The 2010 Cape Henlopen High School graduate was a varsity volleyball player and member of Cape’s 2009 state champion lacrosse team. She is entering her first year of college this fall at High Point University, North Carolina. Conlon and other applicants were first nominated by club members, and then interviewed after completing the application process.
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