Golf Course Management

MAY 2019

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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05.19 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 39 can take until Memorial Day, into June, for greens to bed in again after that (winterkill). Sure, we've had years of winterkill where we couldn't imagine having a PGA Champi - onship in May, but nine out of 10 years it's going to be good." Hadley is hopeful that May will be, well, May. "Grass really wants to grow in May, which is a good thing. You can be a little more aggressive in May as far as mowing heights and whatever you want to do to the greens. You haven't had the wear and tear by May," Hadley says, "and, leading up to it in April, you should be getting recovery with whatever you're doing, whereas in Au - gust, you have to be more gentle because you have to get through the season leading up to it. Being in May, hopefully we won't have to drag hoses around at all for the tour - nament." e main concern in May, according to Hadley, is fescue, which depends on how wet or dry spring has been, and seedheads. "It's a somewhat prime time for seedheads to come out, so hopefully our protection works well, and we time it right and stop the flush of seedheads and have dense, smooth Poa surfaces," Hadley says. A May major at Bethpage Black intrigues Cornell University's Frank Rossi, Ph.D., who has worked extensively for several years with Bethpage golf courses. "You've got an island sticking out in the middle of the At - lantic Ocean. It's a complicated time of the Since Bethpage has five golf courses, Wilson and Hadley have plenty of help on-site for the tournament, including superintendents Erik Feldman, Hamilton Lopes, Eric Newell and Shawn Brownell. They will oversee a golf course that hasn't changed much (eight acres of mas - sive bunkers remain) since hosting the U.S. Open in 2009. The 7,436-yard, par-70 layout's new look includes a green extension at No. 11 that features 500 square feet of new turf on the green to make it more cup-able. A new tee on No. 12 adds 15 yards to the hole. Hadley says the staff will go to great lengths to ensure the Black Course is ready for this momentous occasion. "It's a major. It goes down in history," Hadley says. "It also shows that our course is relevant around the world." — H.R. year," says Rossi, recipient of GCSAA's 2018 President's Award for Environmental Stew - ardship. "(Conditions) are more predictable in August. What becomes the biggest issue (in May) is if the greens aren't actively grow - ing. Last May, when Michael did the run- through, he mowed them (greens) lower and altered the watering, and it was absolutely perfect, as perfect as it could be for that time of the year." Haigh likes his chances with Wilson and Hadley in charge. "Both of these gen - tlemen have had a lot of experience on the Black Course under championship condi - tions and know and understand its nuances better than anyone else," Haigh says. "We anticipate the fairways, roughs and greens to be healthy and actively growing here in the springtime rather than has been the case with our previous August date when we have been simply holding on to whatever health of cool-season grass we had." Practice rounds, maintenance style Bethpage Black was on trial the last two years. It passed the test both times. Hadley staged practice runs in 2017 and 2018 leading up to May. He did not aerify at all in spring but did increase rolling. By last fall, the staff was deep into preparations for the PGA Championship. Bethpage Black, the first public facility to host a U.S. Open 17 years ago, costs New York state residents Top left: Director of agronomy Andrew Wilson with Bethpage State Park director Betsy Wintenberger. "Being a municipal facility that is hosting a major championship is something I personally take a lot of pride in," Wintenberger says. "It sheds a pretty good light on our state park." Middle: It takes a team — and the Black Course will have all hands on deck for the PGA Championship. Director of agronomy Andrew Wilson will have more than 100 volunteers coming for the event, including some coming from as far away as Australia and Slovenia. Right: Director of agronomy Andrew Wilson (left) and Black Course superin - tendent Michael Hadley provide veteran leadership as Bethpage hosts its first PGA Championship ever. Wilson has been a full-time employee since 1997; Hadley came aboard in 2000.

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