Firm greens at East Lake


Sean Dudley

With the FedEx Cup reaching its conclusion at East Lake next weekend, the thirty surviving players will face a very different challenge to the last three weeks.

Despite a cool, rainy summer in Atlanta, East Lake’s MiniVerde bermudagrass greens should still play much firmer than the bent greens seen in the first three playoff events.

"The greens won't be as firm as last year, 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," said course superintendent Ralph Kepple. "The greens will still be firmer than these players have seen the last few weeks though, because all of the events coming into this were played on bentgrass greens in August and September. I would expect those courses to have a certain level of softness, just because of a limited root system this time of year. It’s hard to maintain a good, dense root system in September. 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 eighteenth 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 2.25 inches again as in the past, it will be much thicker this year.

After last year’s extensive renovation led by architect Rees Jones, 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. He expects the greens to measure 12 feet on the Stimpmeter for the championship.