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January 22 2013

1:45 PM

Turf talk: Torrey Pines

By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor

Thanks to a change on the Torrey Pines maintenance calendar, this week’s Farmers Insurance Open can expect its most consistent terrain in several years.

In years past, the two Torrey Pines layouts were first on the overseeding schedule at the five courses operated by the City of San Diego. That tended to leave the new ryegrass thin in spots, unable to take root properly in the warmer days of late September and October.

City officials switche the schedule last fall at the PGA TOUR’s request, moving Torrey Pines to the end of the schedule. By seeding in mid-October, it has produced a lusher ryegrass.

“That small adjustment in the program made a big difference,” said Jay Sporl, the PGA TOUR agronomist in charge of monitoring Torrey Pines’ setup.

Both courses are a mix of kikuyu and bermudagrass in the summer. If the warm Santa Ana winds blow from inland, the higher temperatures make it difficult for the overseed to compete with the summer grasses.

While the ryegrass would take hold in shady parts of the course, sunnier spots would provide less opportunity.

“The warm-season grasses wake up and crowd out the juvenile ryegrass,” Sporl said. “By virtue of going later in the season, we caught cooler weather that makes the warm-season grasses more dormant. Now we’ve got a more consistent overseed.”

Conditions still aren’t quite ideal, with cold temperatures over the Christmas holidays slowing development of the rough. Sporl said the rough currently measures 3 inches, about a half-inch shy of their target.

“I’d have to say the conditions here are as good as they’ve been in many years,” Sporl said. Greens on the South course are running near 12 1/2 on the Stimpmeter, with the North holding at 10 1/2 to account for the sharper contours on its putting surfaces.

The South course also will have new sand in its bunkers, installed about four months ago. Extra moisture is being applied this week in an attempt to keep fluffiness down.

“But keep in mind -- they are hazards,” Sporl said with a laugh. “In this case, I’d advise (players) to stay clear of the bunkers.”

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