Officials walk tightrope at Aussie Open

Heavy rain in Sydney this week has put a level of uncertainty over the opening round of the Australian Open Championship at the Lakes Golf Club in Sydney.

Despite the golf course being built of mainly sandy, free draining soils, the high water table in this low lying area adjacent to Sydney's Kingsford Smith airport will put tournament officials to the test as they prepare for further rain in the Sydney area over the next few days and predicted high winds.

The need to keep the holes cut in locations which avoid any issues with saturation might open up another can or worms if they are located in exposed areas of the undulating greens. While the conditions eased this afternoon the winds are expected to reach 35 kilometres per hour tomorrow morning and rain periods are expected.

Twelve months ago the Australian Open was delayed on day two due to high winds making some areas of the nearby NSW Golf Club golf course unplayable and although conditions are vastly different this week tournament officials will be keen to ensure they do not get a repeat.

Green speeds for the tournament are expected to run at a maximum of 10 on the stimpmeter although today they were at 9. That is the average distance three balls roll out from a specially constructed device for measuring such things. The greater the speed of the greens, the greater is the distance - and vice versa.

Golf Australia's Tournament Operations Manager Trevor Herden perhaps best described the issues he and his team face. "There are a lot of collection areas. It is crucial you stay away from those but you also have to have a position on the green where the putts aren't too ridiculous. We don't do the hole locations too early for this tournament. You have to do them as late as you can, based on the forecast you have and the actual conditions."

Today's Pro-Am was cancelled due to the course being unplayable in certain areas but by mid afternoon there was greater optimism amongst tournament staff as the skies cleared partially and the water began to drain away.

The field is complete and the leading world ranked player in this week's field, Adam Scott, remains the favourite to successfully defend the title he won by five shots last year.


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Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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