Course Superintendent Hoping Rains Go Away

A six-month operation, preparing the Newport Beach Country Club for the Toshiba Senior Classic, can be washed away by a little more than a half-inch of rain.

That's the limit the greens can hold, according to course superintendent Ron Benedict. Tuesday at 1:30 p.m., the rain began. It is expected to continue on and off through the night.

"We have pumps ready to get the water out of the bunkers and squeegees to roll on the greens," Benedict said. "But if we get more than a half an inch we could have some problems.

"These greens were built in 1953 to meet USGA specs. There have been a lot of technical advances in 43 years."

As a result, the greens do not drain well, which has been a problem in the past.

The greens were top-dressed on Sunday, a process where sand is put on them to level the surface. Benedict said that is done up to 10 times a year to smooth the greens, which are used by approximately 70,000 golfers each year.

"It rains, then club members come out when they think it's dry enough," Benedict said. "But the greens are still soft. We top-dress them to smooth out the ball marks and the spike marks."

Other than the concern about the rain, the course is in excellent condition, according to Benedict. Senior PGA Tour officials inspected the club six months ago, then submitted suggestions on improvements to Benedict.

Officials returned six weeks ago to again check the course.

"They loved everything--the greens, the tees, the bunkers and the fairways," Benedict said. "The only concern they had was that we used summer grass. This being a March tournament, they were concerned the grass would still be dormant. So they had us over-seed the course, every green and every approach."

That leaves Benedict with no worries, except the rain.

"It's weather, you can't worry about it," he said. "You just have to be prepared."

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