2009 Tour Championship: East Lake Is Waterlogged

(Editor’s note: The below course report was filed before 15 inches of rain drenched the Atlanta area this past weekend, bringing East Lake to the saturation point. The course was closed today but the Tour Championship is still scheduled to begin on Thursday.)

Contributed by GCM NewsWeekly

2009 Tour Championship: East Lake Is Waterlogged 1DESPITE A COOL, RAINY summer in Atlanta, East Lake Golf Club’s bermudagrass greens should still play much firmer than the bentgrass greens at the first three FedEx Cup Playoffs events this year, according to course superintendent Ralph Kepple, who has prepped East Lake for this week’s season-ending Tour Championship.

“The greens won’t be as firm as last year,” Kepple said, “partly because it’s been so wet this summer and partly because they are a year older and therefore have a small layer of thatch under them now.

“The players are going to come through those first three events on greens that receive shots pretty well, and then they’re going to come here and these greens are going to be pretty firm.”

Kepple, who is in his 18th year as superintendent at East Lake, says the rough will be a healthy stand of bermudagrass, thanks in large part to more than nine inches of rain received in August. While the rough will be cut at 2 1/4 inches again as in the past, it will be much thicker this year.

No Major Changes

After completing a year-long renovation last year that was highlighted by replacing the bentgrass greens with bermudagrass prior to the Tour Championship, there have been no major changes made to East Lake this year.

Kepple switched to MiniVerde, an ultradwarf bermudagrass, because it is better suited for Georgia’s hot summers. It provides an excellent putting surface, and Kepple expects the greens to measure 12 feet on the Stimpmeter for the championship.

Nearby turfgrass students, area superintendents and assistant superintendents, as well as various vendors from around the region, will make up a group of 72 volunteers aiding Kepple’s staff of 27 during the tournament this week

For more information about East Lake and the Tour Championship from a golf course management perspective, visit GCSAA.org.

(Image: Dan Perry/Flickr)

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Neil Sagebiel

9 thoughts on “2009 Tour Championship: East Lake Is Waterlogged”

  1. We have had a lot of rain this past week, but not ALL areas got "15 inches" of rain. Those areas are west and northeast of town. (I dumped 11" out of the rain gauge since Thursday)

    East Lake drains very well, and they have Sub-air under all the greens, so with a couple of days of no rain, the course will be fine, though the greens probably won't run the 12.5 they were hoping for.

    The course is still closed, though the players might be able to get out on the range later today if this letup continues. (It hasn't rained in almost 8 hours !)

    Unfortunately, we may get isolated storms popping up for the next several days.

  2. That would be a fitting end to the season, really.

    Now the question becomes: will we see a surprise winner that no one picked coming in? That would, of course, happen after one of the favorites faltered and let the tournament (and the FedEx Cup) slip away.

  3. That's just a horrible forecast and the weather could def play a factor in the tourny. The scattered showers make it so hard to predict , could just as easily get a day or so break and the course can recover some.

  4. Just got back from East Lake. The place is gorgeous. Spoke with one of the chairmen and the biggest concern was getting the walkways cleaned up so the galleries wouldn't be walking on muddy paths.

    Bunkers were mostly repaired, greens were soft but quick. Fairways were still a bit on the soggy side, but you had to do a little work to raise casual water.

    The sun came out around noon. There were players on the range and heading out for practice rounds.

    PLEASE – whoever decided to post that East Lake is waterlogged – do a little research before writing this sort of thing. Dougie Ferguson wrote a piece 2 years ago – FROM CHICAGO – declaring the greens completely dead and unplayable. This naturally sent the players into a lather…until they showed up and found out that some of the greens were damaged around the collars, but there was plenty of good grass to putt on.

    Yes – we will probably see a few showers or even thunderstorms through the weekend, but those come in late in the day – and nothing like what we had on Sunday is expected.

    ALL of Atlanta didn't get off as easily as East Lake. There are some badly flooded areas – some of which made it to the national news – and those geniuses declared that the entire city was as flooded as Six Flags Over Georgia – the amusement park that has 4" drains on concrete, so the water had nowhere to go.

  5. Thanks, Court. Great update. Appreciate the information.

    As far as the "waterlogged" title, yesterday it was reported by Bloomberg golf correspondent Mike Buteau (who is in Atlanta) that East Lake was closed due to water issues. Buteau quoted a PGA Tour official as saying that East Lake had reached the "saturation point" and that "there's nowhere for the water to go." Saturated with water is a definition of waterlogged.

    I'm glad the course and the grounds crew have responded in heroic fashion.

  6. These grounds keepers and crews often do just amazing jobs getting everything in playing shape even in horrible conditions and they seldom get the credit they deserve. Another case of excellent behind the scene's work !


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