An extraordinarily interesting golf tournament

The KBC Augusta tournament (#KBCオーガスタ) is coming up, and as in past years, I find it extraordinarily interesting. There aren’t many tournaments like this one, from a grass and playing surface perspective. The greens are korai—a fine-bladed zoysiagrass—for one. That’s a rarity for professional golf tournaments.

For more background, see my post a lot more than your average tournament. You can follow along with the #KBCオーガスタ hashtag, or follow the superintendent Andrew McDaniel on Twitter or at his keyaturfmaintenance Facebook page.

And for a few things I’m especially intrigued about this year, read on.

Surface firmness

The greens at Keya Golf Club have only been sand topdressed one time in 2021. The total organic matter in the top 2 cm of the greens tested at more than 10% this spring.1 Will the surfaces be at a similar firmness level as they were in previous years?

I’ve been astounded at the firmness that has been maintained over multiple years at Keya with minimal topdressing (1 mm this year, 2 mm annually in previous years).

The weather

Will it finally be a tournament week with good weather? The course is saturated right now, after 688 mm (27 inches) of rain so far in August. Almost all of that (620 mm) fell in the past 12 days.

As an aside, the weather in a climate like this is why Keya is zoysia from tee to green. The low temperature hasn’t dropped below 20 °C (68 °F) since June 24. And the average temperature since June 24 has been 27.1 °C. The precipitation since June 24 has been 744 mm (29 inches). On 13 days during this period of temperatures above 20 °C, there has been less than 1 hour of sunshine. In fact, seven out of the past nine days had 0 hours of sunshine. These are the conditions in which zoysia performs well. High temperatures—especially high soil temperatures—and plenty of water.

I compare this to a place with a climate much less amenable to zoysia. California. At Sacramento’s airport, for example, there has been no rain since 0.3 mm fell on May 20.2

First KBCオーガスタ after the bunker project

Bunker renovation on hole 3 at Keya Golf Club.
Bunker renovation on hole 3 at Keya Golf Club.

The last KBC Augusta tournament was in August 2019. Since then, all but one of the bunkers at Keya GC have been rebuilt. Many bunkers were moved, quite a few were filled in, and the course is going to have a new look for the players.

Looking out at the Genkainada Sea from the 17th at Keya GC. **Photo by Andrew McDaniel.**
Looking out at the Genkainada Sea from the 17th at Keya GC. Photo by Andrew McDaniel.

With the new bunkers, a lot of recent rain, and my curiosity about the green conditions, this is a tournament I’ll be following closely.

  1. The average OM2 was 13.8%, to be exact. ↩︎

  2. Looking at that same time span since June 24 when it hasn’t dropped below 20 °C at Keya, there was only a single day at which the low was as high as 20 °C in Sacramento, reached on July 9. And the average temperature in Sacramento has been 23.7 °C since June 24. Compared to a place in Japan where zoysia is well-adapted, Sacramento has cooler summer temperatures, way less rain, is colder at night, and has a lot more sunshine. For more, see this post about zoysia in California. ↩︎

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