Old Chatham, Pinehurst #2 and Championship Playing Conditions

A fellow North Carolina course, Pinehurst No. 2 has the honor of hosting the best players of the game during the U.S. Opens this month. Maintenance and grass changes in the playing surfaces of Pinehurst #2 will make for a much better game in contrast to when the course hosted the Open in 2005.

Brian Powell, President of the Carolinas Golf Superintendents Association, shares a few thoughts on why top courses like Pinehurst No. 2 and Old Chatham operate with a philosophy of maintaining a dry, firm, fast playing surface versus soft, green fairways.

“While having a course filled with green turfgrass is pleasing aesthetically, clubs must also insure that the grass is providing the best playing conditions,” said Brian Powell, head golf course superintendent, CGCS, at Old Chatham. “Specifically, letting some grass become firm by reducing the water available in its root zone – also known as moisture stress – allows for faster play by golfers. For example, it improves putting while avoiding leaving ball marks and footprints, as you will find with greens that have been watered too much.”

There are several other reasons for letting grass become firm, including:

Longevity – To avoid having turfgrass die out, you need to let it go firm as part of its natural dormant phase.

Water conservation – At Old Chatham, we are self sufficient in our water usage. Our sources are our wells and natural runoff from rains collected on site. We want to use this precious resource most efficiently, so why waste it on irrigating turfgrass when it can lessen playability and affect our ability to use water in more crucial areas of the club?

Energy cost reduction – It takes electricity to irrigate turfgrass constantly. To do that over 18 holes adds up expenses that we believe are unnecessary and curtail our ability to provide members with better features paid by their dues.

Old Chatham takes the same tactic to the maintenance of our course, in addition to employing areas with North American native grasses and pine straw as a substitute. Typically our golfers see little difference, and they all enjoy playing the course that we offer them.

At Old Chatham, we manage our course to provide members with a great golf experience above all else. We are pleased to see that our commitment in this area is being reflected by the way this year’s U.S. Open course is being maintained, and that other professional golfers believe it is the right approach as well.

Both Pinehurst #2 and Old Chatham were selected as having the top golf courses with the highest ranked greens complexes in their respective regions of the state.

To learn more about Old Chatham and apply to become a member, contact us here.