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October 16 2012

5:03 PM

Turf Talk: Sea Island Golf Club

By David McPherson, PGATOUR.COM contributor

As the cliché goes, the “third time’s a charm.”

Berry Collett relates to this philosophy. This year marks the third year Sea Island Golf Club has hosted The McGladrey Classic, and the director of golf maintenance, who in addition to the tournament course oversees four properties, says preparing for the TOUR’s arrival this year was a breeze.

“The first year we were in the dark a bit … so it definitely gets a lot easier,” Collett said. “We get better at it each year and know what to do a little bit more. We also learn from our mistakes … we are actually having a little bit of fun now!.”

Water, and the lack thereof, was one of the major challenges Collett’s crew faced getting the course set up this year.

“We were really dry in the summer and then August and September we started to get a lot of rain,” he explained. “Being on the coast, we have a lot of sodium and salts in our irrigation water and we weren’t draining very well. When we were in a drought we were watering all summer, so we had some challenges with a couple of our fairways, but they are back ready to go now.

“It’s always weather. Knock on wood, it’s about 70 degrees today and we’ve dodged the rain so far, so we are getting firm.”

Staying within the approved budget and still making sure all the preparations are done prior to the TOUR arriving is another constant challenge. “There is always stuff you want to do and you can’t do," Collett said. "Being a resort course is also a challenge since we never close.”

The course only closes at 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, the weekend prior to the event. To keep the greens firm and fast, Collett’s crew is often on the course at 4:30 a.m. to verticut the putting surfaces ahead of play two or three times. 

Prior to last year’s tournament, several course changes were made -- such as sharpening the edges of the bunkers -- but not much was altered this year. The back tee on No. 6 was enlarged to give players another option since last year this tee was only used for one of the rounds.

With two days to the first round, Collett is excited; it’s all systems go.

“From green to tee, I feel really good about the weather,” he said. “We had our last bit of rain last week, so we’ve been able to measure the water levels on the greens. They are getting firm and the fairways are also firm. Last year we got pounded with rain on Wednesday. This year we’ve been dry for the last week.

“The weather has been real good for us and we have not had a lot of other obstacles … the good Lord has been taking care of us.”

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