After a rough go at it in yesterday’s first round, Lee Westwood had a go at the rough, claiming that the maintenance team had made the grass unfairly penal by brushing the blades toward the tees. “I can’t think of a reason why they would do it other than to irritate the players,” said Westwood, after a seven-over-par 77. “[The rough] is five inches long. Why brush it back at us? It makes no sense.”
Actually, it makes perfect sense, says Matthew Burrows, the superintendent of another rough-choked monster, Winged Foot Golf Club.
“I think it is a legitimate practice, and a really intelligent practice,” Burrows said this morning. “The idea is to have nice, dense upright rough, particularly at a major, and raking the rough provides a good amount of consistency.”
Raking, or brushing, he added, is all but a necessity given the number of spectators, golf carts and maintenance vehicles that trample the grass of a major site throughout the week.
Burrows was not the Winged Foot super when the U.S. Open visited the club in 2006, but he was on the Winged Foot team when the club hosted the PGA in 1997, when, he said, “We definitely had some guys raking up some rough.”
Steve Cook, the Oakland Hills caretaker, wasn’t available for comment — out brushing, no doubt.