August 13 2013
The greens at Sedgefield are expected to get faster as the weekend nears. (Martin/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM contributor
Tuesday was overcast at the Wyndham Championship. Alas, that’s pretty much been the overriding theme of Keith Wood’s summer.
In a year when Sedgefield Country Club’s still-maturing greens could have used the sunshine of a typical Carolinas summer, Wood has needed a deft hand to bring the putting surfaces through a damp, cool season for this week’s Wyndham Championship.
“We’ve just been fighting clouds, wet weather and cool weather,” said Wood, Sedgefield’s superintendent for the past six years. “But all is good. We have overcome.”
Though the greens may not run quite as fast as desired when players begin play Thursday to position themselves for the FedExCup Playoffs, a couple of sunny days could get them there by the weekend. Most importantly, the Champions bermudagrass kept its cover.
“When the sun hides behind the clouds for a week straight,” Wood said, “the grass tends to thin out. We have to be delicate and make sure we don’t overdo any one thing. You kind of take it easy and wait for the sun to come out.”
The course, designed by Donald Ross in 1926, replaced its old bentgrass greens in May 2012 and reopened just in time to host last year’s Wyndham Championship. Storms sent the event to a Monday finish, with winner Sergio Garcia remarking he was surprised at how well the greens held up in the downpour.
A full year would give the grass time to set its roots and mature, but summer has been a challenge. The Greensboro area has seen perhaps four days in the 90s, Wood said, while almost 16 inches of rain has fallen.
The course received rain on 15 of 30 days in June, followed by 10 consecutive wet days to start July.
“It was like Mother Nature just had a garden hose down in the Caribbean,” said Wood, a South Carolina native who has spent his career in the region.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this in the Carolinas at all with the amount of rain and cloud cover, and even the cool temperatures. It’s August and we haven’t had but a handful of days over 90 [degrees]. I think in 2008, we might have had 25 days over 100.”
If there’s one silver lining to all the clouds, it’s that Wood hasn’t had to devote nearly so many hours to managing Sedgefield’s thick rough. It’ll be cut to 1 3/4 inches for Thursday’s start, giving players a chance to take a shot at the green – with the risk of catching a flyer.
“What we’d like to see is a flyer lie and not knowing how it’s going to come out,” Wood said.