Word had already reached the offices of the Wells Fargo Championship on Tuesday that Tiger Woods had decided to bypass the tournament, but there were more urgent matters to deal with.
Two greens at Quail Hollow Club – Nos. 8 and 10 – had no grass on them.
With less than a week before players arrive for the Wells Fargo Championship and no hope of getting the two greens into playable condition, officials took the dramatic step of stripping the dead surface away and resodding both putting surfaces just nine days before tournament play will commence.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I’ve never done this,” said Cal Roth, senior vice president for agronomy for the PGA Tour. “We’ve had to patch parts of greens a lot of times but this is the first time we’ve done entire greens.”
On a course that is in spectacular condition otherwise, the eighth and 10th greens failed to respond to efforts to generate suitable grass cover. Several weeks ago, both greens were tented in an effort to generate growth. When it didn’t help the 10th green, it was resodded.
When the first resodding failed at No. 10, the decision was made to redo it, this time using a different cultivation approach.
Thin patches on parts of the 12th and 13th greens have responded well in recent days and tournament officials anticipate no issues on those greens.
Roth and others stood off the edge of the 10th green Tuesday afternoon after the sod had been laid, watching a worker roll a machine across the new bent grass surface to begin smoothing the seams in the rolls of sod.
Not far away, the par-4 eighth green had nothing but a sand base until workers began spooling out the sod on the redesigned putting surface.
“What we had was not getting better and everyone came to the decision over the weekend that our best chance was to do this,” Roth said.
Quail Hollow has had issues with its putting surfaces the past two summers, and the club will close one week after the Wells Fargo Championship to begin an immediate conversion to more heat-tolerant bermuda grass. The conversion was originally planned for 2015 but recent issues led to the transition this year.
The new bent grass sod came from Sandhill Turf near Pinehurst and arrived in rolls 48 inches wide and up to 60 feet long. After it was installed, a steady pattern of rolling and watering is expected to make the greens playable next week, though they may lack a bit of speed and firmness compared to the other greens.
“The reason we’re doing this is it has the absolute best upside for the situation,” said PGA Tour official Dillard Pruitt, who is in charge of the tournament set up. Pruitt was already rolling putts on the new 10th green Tuesday afternoon.
“The greens will be fine for the tournament. Obviously, doing this is not what we want but somebody is still going to be happy next Sunday afternoon about 6 p.m.”
Five swing thoughts
• Webb Simpson gave his wife, Dowd, credit for helping him rediscover the lost spark in his golf game prior to the RBC Heritage.
Simpson said talking to Dowd helped him clear his mind, which had become a problem for him this season. She helped him get back to seeing shots and hitting them, getting rid of some of the mental clutter that had crept in.
Were it not for an unfortunate wind gust that blew his golf ball 7 feet past the hole on the first extra hole at Harbour Town, it might be Simpson rather than Graeme McDowell sporting a new tartan jacket this week.
• Tiger Woods’ decision to bypass the Wells Fargo Championship this year raises the question of whether he will play at Quail Hollow in the future, assuming the tournament is extended beyond 2014 when the current contract expires.
Woods prefers taking three weeks off after the Masters, which was the reason cited for his decision not to play this year. On the 2014 PGA Tour schedule, the Wells Fargo will again follow the Masters by three weeks. Tournament officials have been told they shouldn’t rule out Woods returning next year despite the scheduling issue.
With a redesign to the 16th and 17th holes plus the conversion to bermuda greens in place for next year’s event, much will be different.
• Still no word from the PGA Tour on a possible suspension for Vijay Singh for his admission earlier this year that he had used deer antler spray, a banned substance. Tour bylaws require a public announcement when a player is suspended under its anti-doping rules. No announcement is necessary if a player is not suspended. Hard to believe the tour won’t discipline Singh in some way, even if he was unaware he was using a banned substance.
• There has been speculation that a decision on the proposed anchoring ban could come this week. Though the PGA of America has aggressively fought the proposal and the PGA Tour has come out against it, the guess here is the USGA and R&A will adopt the ban effective 2016.
• Work continues on a contract extension that will keep the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte beyond 2014. No announcement is expected next week, though officials are optimistic a deal will be struck later this year. It’s expected the event would move to Eagle Pointe in Wilmington in 2017 when the PGA Championship is played at Quail Hollow.
Ron Green Jr. is senior writer at Global Golf Post (www.globalgolfpost.com) and he writes weekly golf columns for the Charlotte Observer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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