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On & Off the Course

June 10, 2007

On and Off the Course: Set-up of course can have big effect

TERRE HAUTE — In baseball, there are things that the groundskeepers can do to a ball field to make the game play more to the liking of the home team, or at least be set up in a way that should favor the home team.

The length of grass and the amount of water used on the infield can affect ground balls and base running. In golf, how the greens keeper sets up a course for play has a great effect on how the scoring will go. Have you ever played a round and wondered if something out of the ordinary was added to the greens keeper’s corn flakes that morning? Those are the days when the pins seem to be in all the most difficult places.

A case in point was the set up for The Masters this year. This was the first time in Tiger Woods’ professional career that he had zero rounds under par for the tournament. The Masters is known for having slick, fast greens, placing great importance on a player’s short-game ability, but this year it had two extra ingredients to help defend the course from lower scores.

One, the weather, with cooler than usual temperatures (barely out of the 50s) and no rain since Tuesday night, was beyond the control of the greens committee. The other factor was manmade, via its new chairman of the Competition Committee, Fred Ridley, who is the immediate past president of the United States Golf Association. Not known for his compassionate nature where U.S. Open set ups were concerned, this year’s Master’s tournament stayed tough all four days.

What any greens keeper strives for in setting up a course, is fair play. That means allowing players to play the ball down as much as possible. They really don’t like marking up their course with white paint to mark ground under repair; someone might think they had been derelict in their duties!

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