This week is The Players Championship from Ponte Vedra, Florida. The TPC at
Sawgrass is most noted for its Stadium Course and the Seventeenth Hole, an
island green that was famously designed by Hoosier Pete Dye. The Players has a
purse of $10 million and equals the PGA Championship as the richest tournament
in professional golf. The winner's share is $1.8 million and will be awarded on
Mother's Day. Somebody's mom will be happy late Sunday afternoon.
In a spring when many golf courses suffered turf losses from severe winter
weather TPC at Sawgrass has five greens that are suffering from the application
of a growth retarder. Early in the week these greens were closed in practice
rounds and no doubt they will be a topic of conversation all week here at The
Players. It just shows that even with the best of management and healthy
budgets, things can still go wrong.
Across the country many courses in the North have experienced severe cases of
winter kill. A story last week out of Chicago indicated that 65 percent of
greens in the Chicagoland area had been effected and 80 percent of tees and
fairways were hit with winter kill. Some courses in Northern Indiana have
suffered the same fate, but to date I have not heard of any significant damage
in Central Indiana.
Two of the most devastating cases of winter kill that I am aware of involved PGA
Vice President Derek Sprague from Malone, NY and Jim Remy, former PGA President
at the Okemo Valley Golf and Ski Resort in Ludlow, VT. Sprague had to reseed all
40 of his putting greens and hopes to open in early June. Losses are estimated
at near $300,000. Remy had to reseed 15 of his 18 championship course greens.
One of the biggest problems with the massive winter kill will be a seed
shortage. This speaks to the magnitude of how wide spread and torturous the
winter kill has been. We have seen some effects of this at The Legends in terms
of a shortage of ryegrass seed that we would use for fairway divot mix. Imagine
a golf course who had its turf wiped out and now you can't buy grass seed to
restore your course. These are very tough circumstances, so appreciate the good
quality turf at your local course.
On a positive note, if you are looking for a way to get your kids or grand kids
involved in golf look no farther than the PGA Junior League which is being
offered locally at Dye's Walk CC, Hillview CC, Gongaware Golf Academy and The
Legends Golf Club. This program is for boys and girls ages 7-13. The season will
involve six round robin matches at the four facilities mentioned.
The format is 9-holes and the matches are played as a Scramble in three-hole
segments. Players can be substituted in and out. There is a weekly practice
between matches and a social component that makes this a great interaction for
parents and family. If you are looking for some competition, golf instruction,
fun and a very welcoming environment the PGA Junior League is it.
The cost of the program is between $75-$150 per player depending on the
facility. Each kid gets a golf shirt with a number on the back and some other
goodies besides golf lessons and competition. Last year the PGA Junior League
had almost 10,000 kids participate nationwide. To the credit of PGA pros in
Indiana, we led the nation with 60 teams and it looks like that number will
double in 2014.
Don't let the fact that your favorite kid hasn't played golf or is
inexperienced. In the case of The Legends and Gongaware we have enough kids for
two teams and will be setting up a "JV" schedule for those that fit the mold. I
encourage you to reach out to these Johnson County courses and be part of the
PGA Junior League.
Finally, thanks to all of the moms out there. Most area courses are running some
kind of promotion for Mothers Day. The weather looks good and what better way to
top the day off than playing 9-holes with your family!