July 17 2012
By David McPherson, PGATOUR.COM contributor
Al Osteen, director of golf course operations at Annandale Golf Club in Madison, Miss., says, despite a combination of downpours and droughts, the course is in great shape and ready for the True South Classic this week.
Flash back one month. Osteen’s crew was busy cleaning up the course following a storm that downed trees and washed away two bridges. The week before that, 5 inches of rain fell in one day. Mother Nature sure can be cruel.
On Monday morning, however, the superintendent was happy the sun was shining. His crew was ready and working hard to do 90 percent of their normal maintenance practices that night to catch up.
“We still need one more dry day before the competition starts on Thursday, so we can mow everything we normally do,” Osteen said.
Mother Nature is always the biggest hurdle, according to Osteen, who this week is in charge of his 13th TOUR event.
“You feel like you’ve got all your ducks in a row and then a big rain washes out all your bunkers and throws your well-laid plans out the window,” he said. “Then, you need to start all over again. Other than that, there’s not much that surprises me anymore.”
The only other challenge for the seasoned superintendent is coaxing his staff to break out of their routines a bit.
“You need to do things differently for the TOUR and they sometimes don’t understand it since many of them are not golfers,” he explained. “It just requires a bit of extra coaching.”
The rough is deep and the greens are rolling right around 12 on the Stimpmeter, Osteen said. Since Annandale is built on heavy clay, the grass dries up fast, so TOUR players will also get a lot of roll on their drives.
Since last year’s tournament, there have been few changes to the course other than a new tee complex on No. 10. And, working with architect Nathan Crace, the club added a new short-game practice facility, complete with two chipping greens and five bunkers.