GolfPass - The Approach | GolfPass Grass Guru - TPC Louisiana
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GolfPass Grass Guru – TPC Louisiana

Zurich Classic • TPC Louisiana

Hole 8 • Par 4 • 372 yds

By Eric MacPherson

Another week, another Pete Dye course. The Tour makes its way down to the swamps at TPC Louisiana to play the Zurich Classic. It’s one of the more unique events on tour and one of my personal faves. The twosome best ball/alternate shot Zurich Classic is a nice change of pace. The atmosphere here won’t be seen again this year until the Ryder Cup comes along.

TPC Louisiana exhibits all that is Dye, which should come as absolutely no surprise. Having come from a Dye course last week at Harbour Town, a lot of the bunkering motifs are the same. Think long, exaggerated bunkers hugging long stretches of fairway, large wasteland bunkers, railroad ties, etc. You get the gist. Just seeing “TPC” in the name is a dead giveaway that you’re likely seeing a Pete Dye course.

Normally, as in previous Dye courses, I drool over the those hundred yard bunkers, and the expanses of wasteland. It’s hard not to, they are so prominent. However, today, I’m picking up on a bunkering style that I touched on briefly last post – the small pot bunkers.  The small bunkers guarding the green on hole 8 illustrate this style perfectly. Huge mounds protect the front (or the back). As a greenskeeper, I tend to think of holes from green to tee. Typically, a normal person will think of the hole from tee to green. All my directions get jacked up. We’ll call it green side, to get rid of any ambiguity. The bunkers on 8, along with the rest of the course, all have the classic, large grassy mounds. They protect the green from anyone trying to get out of the bunkers. Pete tends to think – the smaller the bunker, the larger the mound.

Now, I talked about fly mowing those puppies last week. A task that people either love or hate, but what I didn’t talk about is spraying those mounds (i.e., with fertilizers, pesticides, etc.). Usually, fairways are sprayed from the comfort of a seat on a spray rig. The movable booms allow you to get surprisingly close to the curves and mounds on the playing surfaces. However, when you get closer to the greens, and the bunkers get closer to themselves, that comfortable spraying rig goes out the door. Now, you’re left with no other option than spray hawking them. Spray hawking might be the worst job of all on a golf course. Especially a golf course built in a swamp!

First, mix up whatever you’re going to spray to keep the grass green and alive. What good would those bunker face mounds be if the grass were dead? After, mixing up a couple hundred gallons of that good stuff, you hop in a Tyvek suit, put on some booties to protect your feet, slap on some latex gloves, and if you’re extra industrious throw a respirator on, all while under that Louisiana sun and humidity. Now you lug that vat, and a spray rig which is a couple of pounds in itself out to these mounds and proceed to hand spray all the hard to reach places that the sprayer couldn’t reach earlier. All of them, every hole, one by one, by hand. If you’re lucky you might get a hose man, but don’t get your hopes up, there’s a tournament coming and a lot has to be done.

And that is the glamorous side of greenskeeping. These mounds are beautiful and the grass faces are one of my favorite looks. But what looks good, only looks good, because of the ridiculous amount of work that goes into it.

To reiterate hole 8 and the rest of the tiny bunkers at TPC Louisiana have large grass mound bunker faces. They look phenomenal, but are a literal pain in the ass to care for. And that is why greenskeepers get that paycheck, woops, we don’t, but we get a ton of free polos, so I guess I got that going for me.

Cover Photo: Hunter Martin / Getty Images

Eric MacPherson knows a lot about golf, but even more about grass. Having worked in golf for what seems like forever, and going on to graduate school in turfgrass, he’s able to walk mow a green, and change the shaft in your favorite driver. He’s worked on some of the east coast’s primer golf clubs doing everything from washing carts to building brand new putting greens. He’s also volunteered at several high profile Tour events including a major and the President’s Cup. The only thing he likes more than pushing a walk mower on a beautiful crisp morning, would be teeing it off instead. Shoot Eric a message at eric@golfpass.co.

Eric MacPherson
eric@golfpass.co