Grass growing greener as Senior Classic nears

Rain helps consistency, look at Hobbit's Glen

June 26, 1999|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The drought-ending rain that swept through the area last weekend was greeted with welcome relief by Hobbit's Glen Golf Club's maintenance crew.

The Columbia club will be host to the second State Farm Senior Classic, a Senior PGA Tour event, next week, and there was plenty of work to be done.

However, with the lack of rain, extra time had been devoted to watering tees, fairways and greens.

"The course itself was already in great shape before the rain, but we ran into problems, because we spent so much time watering, we were not able to get other work done," course superintendent Bill Neus said. "The rain allowed us to drop the hoses."

Improved appearance was a byproduct of the rain. "It let the unirrigated areas, the rough in particular, look a lot better," Neus said.

Given a year's experience, Neus knows he and his team are better organized, and knowing what -- and what not -- to worry about has made a big difference. Also, the workers are better informed about what's going to happen.

"Last year, I had to rely on others with tournament experience, such as Dean Graves [Bethesda Country Club] and Glenn Smickley [Robert Trent Jones Golf Club], to tell me what they knew, and they were helpful in what to expect."

The tour puts out a comprehensive guideline book, too, and the tour agronomist comes in early to go over the course.

Last year, 11 straight days of June rain produced inconsistencies between the greens on the front and back nines.

With some adjustments in materials, Neus says the surfaces now are consistent.

Additionally, sand in the bunkers was replaced, and the recent rain helped it settle.

For the tournament, the intermediate rough will be 1-inch tall, the primary rough 2.5 inches.

At the moment, Neus, a Catonsville native in his 18th year at the Howard County club, has a staff of 25.

He expects to add 30 to 40 volunteers next week, including some experienced superintendents and some from neighboring Fairway Hills, who will do their regular work first.

"Last year went really well, and I would expect this one to go as well or better," Neus said.

Pub Date: 6/26/99

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