Beau Pré provides challenges

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 14, 2001

Fast greens, deep rough and tough pin placements. That’s what it’s all about – at least for the staff at Beau Pr\u00E9 Country Club as they prepare for one of the largest golf tournaments held in Mississippi each year.

The Beau Pr\u00E9 staff has worked this summer to make the par-72 course tough enough for the state’s top amateurs and professional golfers. Beau Pr\u00E9 is the site of the 2001 Farm Bureau Invitational, which will be held next weekend.

Club Manager Mark Powell said the greens, already lightning fast, will be a little faster and the rough a little higher when the field of 160 hits the course on Thursday for a practice round.

&uot;The rough is about 2-inches deep now,&uot; Powell. &uot;We’ve stopped cutting it until after the tournament. It should get to about 3-inches by Friday.&uot;

Powell said he and course superintendent Ricky Maher have a few more tricks up their sleeve for the tournament that will keep the golfers off balance throughout the tournament.

By moving tee markers and pin placements &uot;up,&uot; or closer together, accurate distance and strategy will play a larger part in how the players play.

&uot;When you move tee markers up and bring pin placements to the front of the green, that leaves about 280 to 290 yards on most par-4s,&uot; Powell said. &uot;Most of these guys can go for that, and that’s what we want them to do.&uot;

There are birdie holes at Beau Pr\u00E9, but Powell said there won’t be any easy holes those four days.

Normally, the superintendent rotates pin placement to produce easy holes, holes moderate in difficulty, and hard holes.

Next weekend, they’ll all be hard.

&uot;Normally, we have six easy, six medium and six hard holes,&uot; Powell said of the 6,900-yard course. &uot;We’ll have 18 hard ones for the tournament.&uot;

However, everything Powell and Maher will do between now and Thursday won’t make the course harder.

Powell said mowing an intermediate cut of rough, a level between fairway grass and deep rough, into the course will help keep stray balls away from the deepest rough, but not prevent it.

Powell, as he stretched a tape measure across the 7-feet-wide path of 1-inch bermuda, said &uot;When a ball hits this it will soften it up a little and keep it from going so far in the rough.

&uot;It’ll help tighten up the back nine some.&uot;

Robert Garner, executive director of the Gulf States PGA, said from a governing standpoint, the course must be consistent and tough at the same time.

&uot;We want to make it the same each day,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s got to be consistent. We want to give players a good look at the course, but it can’t be too tough one day and not tough enough the next.&uot;

He said fast greens can reward players for making a good approach and punish others who put their balls on the green, but further from the pin.

Garner carefully calculated the greens’ speed on Friday using a Green Speed Meter – a device that measures the distance a ball rolls after it leaves the device.

Garner said Beau Pr\u00E9’s greens were shaping up nicely and will flirt with the speed of greens at a Master’s or U.S. Open Championship.

&uot;I’ve measured five greens so far and they’re averaging above seven,&uot; he said. &uot;We want to get them around nine.&uot;

Garner said a measurement under six is slow, but between six and eight is medium and above eight is fast. &uot;A U.S. Open is around 10 or 11,&uot; he said. &uot;We want them around nine.&uot;

The architect’s design also affects the way a course can be set up for a tournament, Garner said.

Tournament directors and superintendents must pay careful attention to hazards and how the designer wanted those obstacles to play.

For instance, if an architect wanted a tree limb to protect the green or a bunker to guard a pin placement, officials must try to help those hazards come into play.

&uot;You also want the way the architect designed it to come into play,&uot; he said. &uot;You need to make sure his hazards come into play.&uot;