By Ken MacLeod
Four frosts in the last two weeks is not what you want when trying to grow in warm-season Bermuda grass for a major championship that starts in just over five weeks.
That’s what superintendent Russ Myers has been dealing with as he prepares Southern Hills to host the 2022 PGA Championship May 19-22.
“The Bermuda gets up and running, but each frost is like a hard slap,” Myers said. “Or like a boxer taking a shot to the head. You’ve got to get moving forward again, but each frost slows it down for about three days.”
Nonetheless, Myers said Southern Hills is rounding into great shape from an agronomic standpoint and he expects nothing short of near perfect conditions for the world’s best to display their prowess.
“I’m very happy with where we are at,” he said. “The fairways are being cut at playing heights and we’ve already had three mowings, which is pretty good for this early. We’ll probably do two next week and a third by a week from Sunday.
“The roughs still show some dormant grass at the top but underneath they are growing and coming in. We will have whatever height that Kerry (Haigh, chief championships officer for the PGA of America) wants but they won’t play like a real Oklahoma Bermuda rough until about July 4. They’ll play more like a cool season rough.”
The immediate forecast for the next 10 days calls for highs ranging from 62 to 81 with nighttime lows ranging from 38 to 57. Not the nighttime temps needed for intense Bermuda growth but good enough to keep the train moving in the right direction, Myers said.
“The PGA guys have been unbelievable to work with,” he said. “I am getting more and more excited. I don’t want to jinx anything because you never know what can happen, and I hope we don’t get any more frosts, but everything is coming along very well. We just have to trust that the earth keeps spinning and we’ll be fine.”