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updated: 7/24/2012 3:19 PM

Extreme heat testing Medinah's famed course

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  • The 2012 Ryder Cup is two months away, and the extreme heat throughout the area has forced caretakers to employ several methods to protect the course from damage.

      The 2012 Ryder Cup is two months away, and the extreme heat throughout the area has forced caretakers to employ several methods to protect the course from damage.
    Photo courtesy of The PGA of America


Hey, it's not the heat, it's the ...

OK, stop right there. It is the heat.

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Without a doubt.

And the nonstop baking the area has suffered through this summer is not making things any easier for the caretakers at Medinah Country Club as they prepare to host the 2012 Ryder Cup two months from now.

"The weather has been intense," admitted Curtis Tyrrell, director of Golf Course Operations at Medinah. "It's putting our management skills to the test, that's for sure."

Intense heat and hardly any rain until Tuesday's brief thunderstorm have made for quite the combo for any golf course operator, much less one preparing to host one of golf's marquee events.

And while a lack of rain that has led to near-drought conditions isn't helping, that's not the No. 1 issue at the historic course for Tyrrell and Co.

"The biggest threat we have right now is the soil temperatures," he said. "They're very high right now."

Tyrrell said the turf at Medinah does best when the soil temperature is in the 50-65 degree range, but …

"The last 28 days our average soil temperature has been 80 degrees," he said. "Once it goes above 70 you don't see any progress."

To combat the fury of heat, Tyrrell and staff have, in addition to prescribed watering, resorted to using fans to help mist the areas just above the grass in an attempt to cool everything down. They also have backed off on how often they mow the course.

A reduction in the rounds played on the course has also eased the stress.

"We had a plan in place to scale back cart and foot traffic starting July 1, and that's been effective," he said.

If Tyrrell had one request for Mother Nature it would be this:

"I want rain with cool temperatures on the backside of it," he said. "The rain we got last week worked out very well because we got cloud cover the next day (and cooler temperatures)."

But whether his weather wish comes true or the baking continues, count on one thing: Medinah will still look fantastic come late September.

"The course is holding up well," Tyrrell said. "We're still real excited about getting ready for the Ryder Cup."

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