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August 14 2012

6:06 PM

Turf Talk: Wyndham Championship

By David McPherson, PGATOUR.COM contributor

Sedgefield Country Club oozes history. The Donald Ross course in North Carolina opened in 1926, and this week's Wyndham Championship marks the 31st PGA TOUR event it has hosted. Despite these deep roots, this week the 7,130 yard course will feel a bit like a new track.

turf-talk-200 The greens, which were converted from Bentgrass to Bermudagrass to help regain the architect’s original design and intent, are the biggest story.

“We sprayed out the Bentgrass, fumigated the greens on May 14, and then sprigged them with the new Champions Bermudagrass on May 28,” explained golf course superintendent Keith Wood. “The last couple of summers in North Carolina have been really brutal and managing the Bentgrass for firmness and speed has been difficult.

“With the advancements they have made in these ultra-dwarf Bermudagrasses, we felt this turf was going to give us the best opportunity to provide our members a true Donald Ross golf course that plays firm and fast, especially around the greens.”

Due to a late spring and a mild start to summer, it took a little longer than expected to get the greens growing. “It was a bit of a struggle initially,” Wood said. “The sprigs just kind of sat there and didn’t get going until we finally got some heat the last week in June and July -- then they just took off like gangbusters.”

The putting surfaces are set to roll well this week, according to the superintendent, and, the green surrounds are also nice and firm. “The only thing I’m a bit worried about is since they are only 10 weeks old that mat layer that is so crucial to having a very firm surface on Champions Bermudagrass is still a little immature,” Wood said.

For three days in early August, Sedgefield reopened. Members gave it a test run to rave reviews before it was closed again for final tournament preparations.

“Our members were pleased with the way the greens putted and how they held their approach shots,” Wood said. “For the pros this week we will want them to bounce a little bit more; hopefully we get some dry weather this week, so we can really dry them out and further firm them up.”

Besides this extreme greens makeover, the entire club grounds received a facelift since last year’s Wyndham Championship. McConnell Golf bought Sedgefield Country Club last March and even before the TOUR left town, the company opened its purse strings.

“Mr. McConnnell has invested oodles of money and time into dressing this place up,” Wood concluded. “They’ve built a brand-new fitness center, the club grounds have been completely landscaped, we have a new warm-up green, and we’ve added some additional bunkers. This should be a new place for the touring pros and for spectators. They are going to be blown away by the difference from last year to this year.”

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