Players say Stadium greens in perfect shape

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — The early reviews are in and TPC Sawgrass superintendent Jeff Plotts and his staff should be pleased.

 

Monday arrivals at the Stadium Course to begin preparing for The Players Championship were met with emerald-colored fairways and greens that looked and felt good.

“It’s a 10 out of 10,” said Russell Knox. “Absolutely flawless.”

“They’re so good right now,” said Blayne Barber. “The condition is just superb.”

Billy Horschel was so pleased he posted his own 38-second video to Twitter.

“TPC Sawgrass is looking pure! Director of Course Maintenance Jeff Plotts and his staff have done an unbelievable job!” Horschel tweeted.

It’s acoincidence, but this week has been designated “Thank a Golf Course Superintendent Week,” by the Golf Course Superintendents of America.

The greens were re-surfaced last year with Tifeagle bermuda, a strain of grass that holds up better to extremes of heat and cold. The winter and spring have been mild, and Plotts said there were only three nights of frost — which occurred, oddly enough, in late March.

Two years after a handful of the Stadium Course greens were nearly lost before the tournament because of a combination of a cold, grey winter and a misapplication of chemicals, all is well.

“Our staff has worked very hard to give the best players the best course we could,” Plotts said last month. “We think they’ll be happy.”

The conditions at the Stadium Course has been a familiar story on the PGA Tour this season. Weather during the run-up to most events has been relatively dry and the only Monday finish so far in the winter and spring phase of the Tour schedule was the Zurich Classic two weeks ago.

“We’ve been playing these kind of conditions for months now,” said Jonas Blixt. “It’s been a good year of weather.”

At issue is the fact that Plotts and his staff have to water the fairways and greens, since there has been little rain in recent weeks and none forecast through the rest of this week. That is combined with the conventional wisdom that renovated greens are firmer.

“They have to be careful not to let it get too firm, because it will be impossible with the heat coming. They will get dried out super-quick,” Knox said.

Jerry Kelly said a premium will be placed on driving accuracy because of the firmness of the greens.

“You will have a hard time accessing the pins from the rough, because the greens are so firm,” he said. “And you might have a hard time accessing the greens from the rough. You’re going to have to be in the fairway this week.”

hOWELL WITHDRAWS

Augusta native Charles Howell withdrew from The Players Championship on Monday, without citing a reason to the PGA Tour. That leaves the number of entries at 146, and alternates won’t get in unless the field falls below 144.

The first alternate is Ollie Schneiderjans, followed, in order, by Kelly Kraft, Bud Cauley, J.J. Spaun, C.t. Pan, Camilo Villegas, Kevin Tway, Morgan Hoffmann, Dominic Bozelli and Michael Thompson.

– Florida Times-Union

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The Players

When: Thursday-Sunday

Where: TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, Ponte Vedra Beach

Defending champ: Jason Day

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