April 2 2013
TPC San Antonio will have a different look for competitors in 2013. (Carroll/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
A pre-Masters date has TPC San Antonio looking a little different for this week’s Valero Texas Open. Superintendent Tom Lively is up front, though, when asked about how well the AT&T Oaks course will prepare entrants for Augusta National.
“We’re just such a completely different golf course than Redstone and Augusta,” Lively said. “We couldn’t do those things here.”
Houston has served as the Masters warmup in recent years, with Redstone Golf Club earning kudos for its work to simulate Augusta National conditions.
But a quirk in the 2013 schedule wedged the Valero Texas Open between Houston and Augusta, and the terrain of Texas Hill Country is too dissimilar.
“You can’t make any comparison from San Antonio to either of those golf courses,” Lively said.
The AT&T Oaks will feature a lusher look for its fourth edition as host, with a ryegrass overseed not undertaken in the previous three years. Though the date is just three weeks earlier than last year, officials decided not to risk dormant summer grasses leaving a parched look.
It hasn’t been easy, though -- especially because that part of Texas is parched.
Water restrictions have been in place for more than a year, with current rules forcing a 30 percent reduction in usage. That meant TPC San Antonio could overseed only the AT&T Oaks -- its Canyons layout remains au naturel -- and had to do so with great care.
“We overseed at a much lighter rate initially,” Lively said. “The time it takes to get 100 percent (coverage) is a few weeks longer. But when you get to this time period, it’s the same as any course that has gone out and seeded heavier.”
Lively’s crew also has undertaken a cleanup project in some of the AT&T Oaks’ native areas, removing dead material and small trees that had taken root since the construction process.
“Now if errant shots get to the native areas, it gives (players) a chance to find their ball a little bit faster,” Lively said. “And they might have a shot out of it, depending on what it’s underneath.”
Four greens also underwent renovations in the past year, softening undulation and creating more options for pin placements. The biggest change comes at No. 12, where the entire green wound up being rebuilt.
The weather forecast calls for a chance of thundershowers late Tuesday and Wednesday, but sunny and dry for the four tournament days. Highs could approach the low 80s.