January 29 2013
The par 4 18th at TPC Scottsdale, shown before the final round in 2012. (Petersen/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM contributor
In a winter already notorious for its weather extremes, Jeff Plotts thinks the hand he’s been dealt just might wind up taking the pot.
The director of golf course maintenance at TPC Scottsdale spent most of December and January battling a long cold stretch, some of which never saw temperatures get above the high 40s. Then last week brought two days of record highs.
Last Saturday, more than two inches of rain fell on the site of this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.
“So in two weeks’ time, I had three records here – cold, heat and rain,” Plotts said. “We got the royal flush of them all.”
Despite all the wild fluctuations, though, the Stadium course appears to be no worse for wear. Golfers might find the ground a bit soft and the rough a little thinner than usual – a factor of minimal consequence on a desert layout.
“I don’t think it’s going to be noticed that much,” Plotts said.
As with TPC West, where the Humana Challenge was conducted two weeks ago, frost has been a big issue since early December. Before this week, Plotts said, TPC Scottsdale had endured 42 days of frost delays in a seven-week span.
“On some of those days the ground was frozen, which is very unusual for us here,” he said. “When we got into frozen-ground situations, we were delaying [public play] until 12:30 or 1 o’clock in the afternoon.”
Forecasts this week call for mild temperatures, with lows in the mid-40s that hopefully will keep competition from being held up by frost.
“Our big challenge is always just getting [rounds] complete,” Plotts said. “I’m hoping we paid Mother Nature off with what we’ve [already] had.”
All things considered, Plotts said it’s easier to deal with Arizona heat – even when summer temperatures occasionally climb northward of 115 degrees.
“Cold is always the most difficult, because you just lose your ability to grow grass,” he said. “On top of that, think about the revenue loss for us as well [from frost delays]. Record heat is just stressful for me. Record cold makes it stressful for operations and revenue – and for me.”