The greens at Colonial Country Club are expected to be firm and fast this week. (Martin/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
Course preparation is all about balance for Scott Ebers, which may explain why Colonial Country Club’s superintendent isn’t all that concerned that rough isn’t thriving or uniform at this week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational.
As with other recent stops, the unusually cool spring has hindered bermudagrass growth at the longest-tenured regular stop on the PGA TOUR. But what’s troublesome for bermuda has been a boon for the bentgrass greens.
“That’s always one of the challenges at a mixed-grass golf course like we are,” Ebers said. “We’re trying to keep the bentgrass happy, but as it gets warmer the bermudagrass gets happy.
“Rarely, if ever, are they both wonderful. There’s a range in there where one is going one direction and the other is going the other way. But the cool spring really helped the greens out. They had a very good start because it’s been cooler.”
It’s far better, Ebers said, than some editions of the Invitational where the thermometer approached 100 degrees and crews were challenged to keep the greens from wilting.
“We’ve had some really rough ones,” he said, “where we’ve had to really work.”
With optimum growing conditions for the past 10 days, Colonial’s rough is expected to reach the prescribed 3 inches in many areas. In general, though, the median length is likely to be about a half-inch lower.
In addition to the cool spring, other factors come into play such as shade, high traffic and other grasses that have mixed in with the bermuda over the course of decades.
“It’s kind of a hodgepodge,” Ebers said. “But I don’t think it’s going to be something where players say, ‘My gosh, there’s absolutely no rough at all.’ Like most years, there’s a little rub of the green in where you miss and what kind of rough you find.”
No matter what the conditions, he added, the byproduct ends up being something of a mixed bag. Shorter rough would encourage low scoring – but firmer greens could neutralize that to a certain extent.
The strong thunderstorms that brought deadly tornadoes to Oklahoma are forecast to reach down into Texas today, so it could be an anxious day for Ebers and his men. If they can avoid damage, the rest of the week calls only for isolated storms during Thursday’s opening round.