June 13, 2000
LES UNGER: This is your opportunity to find out about the golf course. On your left is Eric Greytok, G-r-e-y-t-o-k. And Tim Moraghan, another tough name, M-o-r-a-g-h-a-n. Eric is from Pebble Beach and Tim is our guy in Golf House at the USGA. And I'm going to turn this over to them, and one of you or both of you can describe what's out there and then take questions, if you'd like.
TIM MORAGHAN: Why don't you go ahead, it's your golf course.
ERIC GREYTOK: Well, I guess since 1992 is really when the change started, after the last Open. That's when everybody decided what they would like to see for the new Open -- or the Open in 2000. So a lot of changes have been going on, I guess, happening over the last five years. Working closely with Tim Moraghan and Tom Weiskopf with the USGA. Some new tees have been built. Moving fairways, the new 5th hole, obviously. Mr. Nicklaus's new 5th hole is a gem. The seawall bunkers on 18 and 17, 9 green and 10 greens. But basically what you saw for the Amateur is pretty much what's going to happen for the Open, the widths of the fairways. The rough is not quite as tall as the Amateur; it's at four inches. The greens are running ten-and-a-half to 11. Everything is nice and firm.
TIM MORAGHAN: From the United States Golf House -- the United States Golf Association, for those us of at the Golf House, we couldn't be happier than with the last two weeks. I'd like to thank a lot of people. I think previous ownership got the ball going from the start. I think they should be congratulated with going forward with such a great spot in the Golf World. Paul Spengler and Ted Horton, I think you remember Ted from the Westchester days. It's wonderful to be back here. It's hard to believe -- I sat in the Championship Committee Meeting in 1992, and they said, "We're going to have the 100th Open at Pebble in 2000," thinking, "there's no way I'll be here." But here we are. I will say this; that yesterday we had the best Monday for the players to practice and kind of get in tune for what we'll have on the weekend than what we've had since 1994. We've had some issues with weather, '95 and '96, Congressional. We had some problems with putting surfaces, El Nino in '98 up at the Olympic Club. A little cold and wet weather last year. Eric and his staff took the ball over from Mark Rashad (ph), who is now at Shinnecock, have done a great job, and I think the guys had as close to Open conditions yesterday as they will starting Thursday morning at 6:30. Also from the -- our friends at the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, they have a fact sheet. I'm sure the media up front will be able to provide you with all the necessary information. And again, as we all know, golf course superintendent does not get enough credit for what they do for us as a organization, and for every tournament site and day-to-day operations in every club throughout America. I open it up for questions for the good looking one on my right and me.
Q. When was it decided that the rough would increase in height? Specifically, when was that?
TIM MORAGHAN: A little history on the rough grass. If you look at the old photos in the U.S. opens, the rough was up to your knees. But last year at Pinehurst, the bermudagrass grown at five inches would have been a little bit unforgiving, not only would you be not able to play; you probably would not be able to find your golf ball. So we started to look at it and say, wait a minute, are we here to embarrass these guys or give them an opportunity to make a shot and stay in the game? And that proved to be very effective last year. We took that philosophy out to Pebble and asked Eric to keep the rough grass to three and a half inches. And there's a little bit of concern, because you have daily fee resort guests that you want to enjoy their round, and get what they paid for, and get ready for the U.S. open. At three, three and a half inches, it didn't bring out the half-shot penalty we like to see. I talked to Eric about three or four weeks ago and said let's go to four, four and a half inches; do you feel comfortable if we go to a height. And we ask you to commit, or come in and say, go up, go down, but Eric felt -- no problem with that. We set it at four, four and a half. Fred was in, we went out and looked at it the last couple of days and they feel comfortable. We will mow every evening for the time being. It is dense; it is thick. You have to remember that at one time what is now the four to eight yards of primary rough inside the ropes for the players was once fairway. So the density is a little thicker. The grass is a little tighter. Once it gets up around four inches, it's going to be hard to get out. We're going to have a variety of shots, and the dropping balls and throwing balls, some disappear, some get half-buried, others sit up. It's the luck of the draw. And, you know, you're supposed to hit it in fairways, anyway.
Q. Is that four , four and a half inches uniform all around the course or are there places it's thicker than that? Any particular places, Eric, you say are really, really dense?
ERIC GREYTOK: No. It's uniform throughout the whole rough, especially around the greens and the fairways. We worked hard to make sure we had a consistent playing surface.
Q. Is there a sense of when you're working on this course, the changes you're doing, things like that, that you're -- the whole kind of history of Pebble Beach and the facility, itself, is it in your minds just another golf course? In your mind, how do you work with that?
ERIC GREYTOK: I definitely think there's a sense of tradition here. You actually walk out to the 7th hole and you look out there, and I don't see how you can't fall in love with it. Everybody, all my crew and my staff and volunteers are very proud to be here. It's a great place to work, and they love it. They love it. They take such a sense of pride in what they do.
Q. Could you comment on the conditions of the greens? Tim, I think that's been a concern in the past Opens here; they haven't been quite what you want them. Where are they, and how do you see them playing out during the week?
TIM MORAGHAN: That's correct, and I was not here in '82, but I had read previous green section reports and some reports from the PGA and the rules and competition staff, and I don't think the level of maintenance was as intensive or at the level that we have evolved into currently. As you can see, the golf course superintendent is getting better, the education, equipment, et cetera, is better. '92, that transition year from old management to new management, the condition of the golf course was not as good as it could have been and it required a little work. And it was something that was easy to fix, "easy" being a relative term for tees, fairways and bunkers. Putting greens had several years of misuse, neglect agronomically. And it's something you can't roll into three weeks out and expect to have it to U.S. open condition. I think we did an exceptional job. Now, since the week after the 1992 U.S. Open, they've been on the turfgrass program for eight years and it's evolved into a much better playing surface. That being said, also the opportunity to have a professional in here in February, there's really two different golf courses. You get a feel for what can be done and how fast it can be done. Agronomically we are a few percentage points away from being where we want it for Thursday through Sunday. And that goes to a lot of advance work and advance planning and experience over the last four or five years. I don't think we'll experience any of the problems we had in 1992 with putting surfaces. As you can see, when it gets windy around here, there's going to be a little evaporative transportation through the plants. Water is going to go up through the surface, into the air. The plants may get wilty or puffy, but that's where Eric's experience comes in. I don't have any problem with it at all.
Q. Eric, what particular problems do you face in getting the U.S. Open course ready under a daily fee situation, where you have daily fee golfers playing all the time. Are there any set of problems that you face that you wouldn't if it were a private club that wouldn't get as much play?
ERIC GREYTOK: No, I don't think there are any particular problems. With the new ownership coming in and everything, they've been great to work with. They've been very cooperative, given me what I needed, the time I needed, especially prior to the Open, giving the greens a rest. I would have to say there are no particular problems. It's just something that we take on that we try to strive to give our guests the best daily conditions possible, and I think they're pretty close to U.S. open conditions. So it's not out of the ordinary for us.
TIM MORAGHAN: You have to remember the clubs that really have the wherewithal to do that, at least the clubs that I visit with our championship sites, they really are a rough height adjustment away from being ready for any of our championships. That's a credit to the golf course superintendent as well as the host club.
Q. I recall that in '92, the final round, the conditions were quite difficult with the winds coming up and everything. Are you preparing the course that if the winds do come up that the conditions are more bearable, or how do you take that into consideration when you're putting together the conditions for the course?
TIM MORAGHAN: Again, it goes back to the condition of the putting surfaces. They were not really ready to handle the cultural abuse that we did to prepare them for the Open in 1992. Since then they are "trained", so to speak, to be prepared on short notice. You really have two different green situations, as opposed to from '92 to 2000. Again, in '92 you have to remember, majority of that week was overcast, foggy and it was moist. So it may have been a little off-color through cultural, extra mowings, extra vertical groomings, things like that. That's not the case this year. Sunday, when the winds did pick up about mid-morning, we're in a position, okay, what do you do? Do you want to go out and try to hand-water greens, keep them cooled off; it puts you in an interesting predicament, because, one, you have 30,000 people, and you're limited to how you're going to get around the golf course, you have the big puddle of water on the right and private homes down the left. So at that time Ed Miller was the golf course superintendent. We decided: Are you okay with not watering? Yes. We wanted to make it the same for every competitor. How would you feel with one group having to hit a shot in a perceived hard green, and let's say it's not something you expected, and you go around the next tee, and you see Eric and I come out with a hose, and say, those guys are going to have a soft green. We try to make it the same for everybody.
Q. Are you watering regularly, every day?
ERIC GREYTOK: Basically, right now with our maintenance practices, we put down enough water for what the green needs that day. That's the cultural practice I like to use. So we're ready to go.
LES UNGER: Thanks. We appreciate you coming.
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