Wednesday, August 10, 2011

No train? No pain.

One photo I have not -- and will not -- get at the PGA Championship is the "fairway mower train" shot that I'm so fond of.

You know the photos. A string of 8 fairway mowers or more, chopping down a fairway in one fell swoop. Like the first photo, taken this year at Congressional CC during the U.S. Open.

All you'll see out here at Atlanta Athletic Club are shots like the one below that I took yesterday of our friend on the John Deere... one man, one fairway, one mower.

The reason, according to the staff here at AAC, is this: the Diamond zoysia fairway grass needs the exact same cut throughout or else there will be a subtle, visible difference in the cut. The crew doesn't want to risk there being the slightest difference between two mowers that end up on the same fairway.

"You can put these all up on lifts, but the fact is that no two mowers are exactly the same, reel to reel, bedknife to bedknife," says Tyler Andersen, first assistant on the Highlands Course at Atlanta Athletic Club. "On this specific turf, at these heights, you can see the slightest imperfection. We don't want to risk one mower being even 1/5,000th of an inch off."

Indeed, Tyler took me along for a ride to watch the maintenance unfold yesterday afternoon. The fairway mowers were as scrutinized as the crew syringing greens.

Mangum has six fairway mowers total mowing fairways this week. Three for the front nine, three for the back nine. They can get all the fairways mowed in one hour and 45 minutes.

But does that mean absolutely no maintenance train photo for me? No worries. I took a video of every single piece of equipment pulling out of the maintenance facility. One way or another, I will have my maintenance train!

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