124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Officials say Harding Park is on schedule for Presidents Cup

September 29, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO -- The countdown to the Presidents Cup is ticking away, and that means time is running out to make sure the greens at Harding Park Golf Course are going to be able to stand the test when the event begins next Thursday.

Both the PGA Tour and Harding's grounds staff have been playing catch-up since late July, when nine greens were damaged in an over-fertilization mistake, but with just over a week left, is there any question they won't be ready?

"We've had some thinning grass, but we've got the golf course closed now and we're starting to grow grass again," said Paul Vermeulen, the PGA Tour's agronomist who is on site at Harding and overseeing the condition of the course.

"There's a misconception that the course is going to be in championship condition this far ahead of the competition, but right now, we are where we wanted to be."

Vermeulen said that several of greens at Harding, a municipal course which sees as many as 60,000 rounds a year, had to be closed last week in order to protect them.  Rounds had been limited for the last two months, but Harding is now closed entirely until the Presidents Cup.

"We closed those greens just to give them a chance to be ready," Vermeulen said. There is a grounds crew staff of 29 working on Harding.  Most of their focus has been on the greens that were damaged July 23.  More than 300 square yards of sod was laid to repair the greens, with the most severely affected green the 200-yard par three 11th (which will play as the second hole in the re-routing for the Presidents Cup.)

Harding's condition was said to be no issue in a staff meeting Monday at PGA Tour headquarters at Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

-- Thomas Bonk