U.S. Open Golf 2010: ESPN and NBC Need to Stop the Poa Annua Talk Already

Ron FurlongAnalyst IIJune 17, 2010

PEBBLE BEACH, CA - JUNE 17:  Phil Mickelson watches a putt on the tenth green during the first round of the 110th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 17, 2010 in Pebble Beach, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Okay, I've been watching ESPN's first day coverage of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach for about an hour now, and I've already heard nine different conversations about the poa annua greens. Nine in an hour.

One of many irritating problems with this is the guys talking about it don't know what in the hell they are talking about.

The main thing I keep hearing is how "this particular green really has a lot of poa."

First, the greens are all poa. They have many strands of poa, yes. On older golf courses, like Pebble, there can be, on any given green, literally hundreds of strands of poa. Usually about 20 to 30 strands will become dominant.

That is the problem with poa compared to, say, bentgrass.

But it is not a new problem. Why is being discussed like it is a new thing, like the new grooves?

Twenty years ago golf course maintenance was about to enter a new phase. Things were about to change. The way greens are kept now compared to the way they were kept two decades ago is simply astronomically different.

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Poa greens—which, by the way, can be found on many of the great golf courses in this country—are now managed to such an extent that there is little difference between a well-maintained poa green and a well-maintained bentgrass green.

This is especially true in the morning. As the day wears on and evening sets in, that is indeed where poa greens, because of the many strands, can get bumpy. But talking about the greens' bumpiness at noon is ridiculous.

Poa annua greens maintenance practices for a major golf event include verticutting, light topdressing, rolling, double mowing, use of plant growth regulators, and many more practices. All of these things promote smoothness.

Chris Dalhamer is the certified golf course superintendent at Pebble Beach, and he has done a remarkable job with the course and with the greens.

Poa greens have been around as long as golf courses have been around, and they are not going away any time soon. In fact, with more environmental regulations coming in the future, many of the bentgrass greens in the United States will have to stop fighting it and let them transition to poa.

This is not an issue, and it does not deserve or need to be given the amount of coverage ESPN (with the NBC crew) is giving it.

Johnny Miller's talk of grain this weekend will be another thing that will drive some of us batty. The height these greens are cut at and the double rolling in the morning eliminate any grain factor, especially in the mornings.

One thing they can talk about with poa, if they feel compelled to keep talking about it, is how it does start to wilt quicker than bent when you can't hand water and you have a lot of traffic on them, especially at this height of cut (.120).

Okay, back to the coverage. No doubt I'm missing some great poa conversations...

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