July 08, 2014
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- The rough at this week’s John Deere Classic is a full inch higher than the setup in previous years. (Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
Rather than lament the downpours that fell on the TPC Deere Run two weekends ago, officials are treating it as a chance to experiment.
Wayward drivers, take heed.
The rough at this week’s John Deere Classic is being left at 4 inches this week, a full inch higher than the setup in previous years.
“We’ve been able to develop very thick rough for this week,” said Deere Run superintendent Alex Stuedemann. “So we’ve managed to take the good with the bad as far as the weather. Currently we’re in prime shape for tournament week.”
The additional inch of Kentucky bluegrass, Stuedemann said, translates to 25 percent more resistance on recovery shots as players swing their club through the thicker mass. That’s likely to temper scores in which the winner has reached at least 20-under par in four of the past five years.
The change wasn’t in the original plans, but comes as a byproduct of 7 inches of rain that fell on Deere Run in a 3 1/2-day span to end June. “It was just one successive rain event after another,” Stuedemann said.
The deluge washed out Deere Run’s bunkers and kept mowers off the course for two days. It also gave Stuedemann and the PGA TOUR’s agronomy team a chance to assess some very healthy rough that followed a mild spring.
“We thought this was a great opportunity to explore a taller rough,” Stuedemann said, “and see how the golf course played with it.”
The excessive rain did create additional work for Stuedemann and his 25-man staff, who put in a pair of 11-hour days rebuilding the 84 bunkers on the D.A. Weibring layout.
“The bunkers all drain very well, but the sand all washed to the bottom,” Stuedemann said. “We just had to put our heads down and get after it. Eventually we hit the finish line.”
Stuedemann, in his first year heading up Deere Run’s turf operations after similar stints at TPC Twin Cities and TPC San Antonio, said the course suffered little effect from last winter’s harsh temperatures.
The only problem was a slow thaw that kept the course closed until March 29, about two weeks later than usual. “It was more a matter of getting people out playing,” he said.
Forecasts this week call for unseasonably cool temperatures until late in the week, with highs around 80 degrees and lows dipping perhaps into the high 50s. A warmer weekend will push highs into the mid-80s, with a slight chance of isolated storms.
“The chance of rain is minimal and definitely manageable,” Stuedemann said. “We love it. [Cool conditions] give us a lot more freedom in what we can do with the greens and preparing our golf course for a great event.”