Turf Talk: The OSU GC -- Scarlet

Courtesy of Ohio State University
The Scarlet course is having a busy season, but the conditions are expected to be excellent.
September 11, 2013
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM contributor

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Now that the Nationwide Children’s Championship has become part of the Web.com Tour Finals, Dennis Bowsher can rest a little easier about how his greens will stand up to summer’s stresses.

Good thing, because Ohio State University’s Scarlet course has a full plate this fall.

The third stop of the Finals is the first event in a six-week stretch on the Scarlet that also features the Nicklaus Invitational collegiate tournament and ends with the Ohio state high school finals on back-to-back weekends in mid-October.

“I’m more comfortable about maxing out conditions now,” said Bowsher, superintendent at OSU’s two-course complex since 2006.

The NCC’s first six editions were played in late July, leaving the bentgrass greens vulnerable to whatever heat August may bring. The complex is home to OSU men’s and women’s teams, so the courses had to be ready for their return in the fall.

Now, Bowsher said, maintaining tournament conditions for six weeks in cooler temperatures will be easier than backing off and bringing the greens back up again.

“Because of the time of year, it’s not going to be an issue,” he said. “I’d get real nervous getting [the Scarlet] to tournament conditions in July, knowing we still had the rest of the summer with the stresses I put it under during the week of the tournament.

“We’d really back off after July. We won’t have to do much now, just because the weather typically will be more favorable and the course will be able to handle it.”

As fate would have it, practice rounds have been played in a heat wave that saw the thermometer threaten 100 degrees on Tuesday. But Wednesday night was forecast to bring a cold front, dropping highs into the upper 60s by the time Friday’s rounds are played.

“We know the days are getting shorter, nights are longer, cooler temperatures are coming,” Bowsher said.

A wet June and July has generated thicker rough this year, and Bowsher is hoping the cold front doesn’t bring too much rain that would keep the Scarlet from playing firm and fast.

If there’s one drawback to the new date, it’s that Bowsher has fewer daylight hours to make sure the course is well prepared. Complicating the matter is that much of his crew is made up of OSU students, who have classes that must be worked around.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that come in at 5 [a.m.],” he said, “but they might have to leave by 7:30 to get to class. And some of them might have an afternoon class or a lab and might not be able to get here until 5 or 6 p.m. to help us on the back end.

“But we’re fortunate; the kids we hired this year all seem pretty anxious to help out. They’re making room in their schedule to get here early, then go to class.”