By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- An unusually cool, wet spring has taken its toll on several of the greens at the Quail Hollow Club. So much so, in fact, that tournament officials made the unusual decision to resod two of them the week prior to the start of the Wells Fargo Championship.
Even so, Mark Russell, the PGA TOUR's vice president of rules, competition and administration, feels confident the affected greens will roll true throughout the week. And when the tournament is over, Quail Hollow officials will go ahead with their plans to replace all 18 bentgrass greens with Bermuda, which is more heat-tolerant and widely used in the south.
The two greens that were resodded are the eighth and 10th -- with the latter being done twice -- while patchy spots on Nos. 12 and 13 have improved as the start of the 72-hole event nears.
"These greens, first of all, it's their last week of existence," Russell said. "... And they just lived their life cycle. We have 12 very good greens out there. We sodded two greens and it's unbelievable how good they are for the sod just being down less than a week. The other two greens are going to be fine. They don't look as good as we'd like them to but they're going to putt well.
"They're going to be smooth. We're going to do everything that we can to make sure that they putt well and smooth -- they just aren't going to look like some of the other greens. So we're looking forward to a great week of competition here."
Russell, who has been on the rules staff at the PGA TOUR for more than two decades, said he can't remember ever having to take the drastic measure of resodding a green so close to the start of a tournament. On the flip side, though, he said "it's good to know that we have the technology that we can get that done" and he had nothing but praise for course superintendant Chris Deariso and his staff.
Several of the affected greens did not have pins cut in them during the practice rounds because tournament officials wanted to disperse traffic and avoid worn spots. Russell said he expects the ball to hold its line and roll smooth although.
"The staff has done a great job with those putting surfaces," Russell said. "The sodded greens are really good -- in a week, it's unbelievable. ... We feel very confident; no, we know, we don't just feel confident, we know that the greens are going to be fine this week and we'll get through it and then they are going to replace them with a much better putting surface with Bermudagrass for years to come."
Webb Simpson, the reigning U.S. Open champion who plays out of the Quail Hollow Club, says tee-to-green the Tom Fazio-redesign is the "best I've ever seen it. (But) all up and down the East Coast we've had a tough March. Usually March brings kind of some warm days, but it was significantly colder this year than most years. They just were up against a tough deal with this weather."
Simpson was home practicing last week but the greens were off limits so he'll get his first look on Wednesday during the pro-am. He doesn't plan to get caught up in speculation on how the rules officials will set up the course.
"Again, I think the tendency this week for a lot of guys will be to think too much about where to hit it, where not to hit it, what areas of the greens to avoid," Simpson said. "But I think we've just got to go play golf and try to get the ball in the hole."