Installed in 2007, a hyper-sophisticated underground ventilation and suction system – developed by the company SubAir – makes it possible to dry the water in the greens on demand.
Moved from April to November due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 84eMasters edition seems to be unlucky. Several observers had expressed their doubts about the autumn storms likely to hit Georgia at this time. It didn’t take long for tournament organizers to see these fears confirmed.
This Thursday, November 12, a short half hour of play was enough for the course of the Augusta National Golf Club to be the target of downpours of torrential rains. Kicking off at 7:10 a.m. local time this morning, the competition was halted around 25 minutes later, when the first drops fell from a sky laden with dark clouds and completely leaden. Organizers recalled the players to the clubhouse, fearing the storm. And, while the meteorologists had promised scattered showers, this little rain really intensified to the point of taking the appearance of a deluge an hour later!
Immediate consequence: the greens of the Augusta National Golf Club found themselves submerged by the downpours. And the images shot by some colleagues on the spot show real flooding in certain places of the course. A situation that Thomas Levet, who is one of the eleven French who played the Masters, had anticipated this week with Julien Xanthopoulos, in “The eye of the pros”, broadcast of the channel Golf +. “In Augusta,” he explained, “when it rains a lot, the greens can be flooded in a few minutes. They then put their system into action and in a few seconds, the greens become hard as wood again! ”
In his explanations, Thomas Levet alludes to the SubAir system, installed under the greens of the Augusta course since 2007. This underground installation activates an ingenious combination of ventilation and hyper-sophisticated suction, which starts the drying of the greens. on demand. “The goal is to be able to agronomically manage the temperature (of the grass), details Stéphane Rouen, greenkeeping consultant in Dinard, Deauville or Granville. There is a ventilation system when needed, but also a vacuum system when it rains. “
This United States-born system has conquered several prestigious golf clubs: Pebble Beach, Quail Hollow, East Lake, Colonial, Wentworth and Adare Manor, to name a few. It is also present under the lawns of the New York Red Bull stadium, that of the Chicago Fire or, closer to us, under the grass of Wembley stadium, in London. Its installation cost is only estimated “on a personalized estimate”, explains the manufacturer’s website.
But the installation cost per green is estimated at around $ 1 million. Thanks to this technical gem, Augusta’s greens remain of the same quality, whatever the weather conditions. But can also quickly regain their best outfit after bad weather conditions. It is indeed this combined vacuum and fan solution that should be used in the next few hours in Augusta, so that the tournament can come to an end this week, or even early next week.
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“In Augusta, the conditions are so perfect that the course is magical”, notes Thomas Levet. It must be said that if the venerable members of the club remain very discreet, the number of employees dedicated to the maintenance of the course is estimated at nearly 300 people. What to activate, in addition to the SubAir system, an accelerated fitness of the playing conditions, these coming hours.