SAN FRANCISCO — Rumors have swirled for several months that the greens at Harding Park, site of this week's Presidents Cup, are not up to snuff. Chris DiMarco told the San Francisco Chronicle in March, "They've got a lot of work to do. Obviously, they're gearing for the Presidents Cup, and I'm sure by that time the course will be in good shape. When we played, it was not in good shape."
Then, in July, maintenance workers accidentally over-fertilized several greens on the course, killing the grass and creating brown areas on holes 1, 3, 7, 11 and 13.
But on Tuesday, as the United States and International teams played practice rounds, the greens appeared to be in excellent shape. Ed Ibarguen, a GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher based at the Duke University Golf Club in Durham, N.C., has been one of Michael Jordan's golf coaches for years. With Jordan here as an assistant captain to Fred Couples, Ibarguen has come to Harding Park too, and he had a chance to play the course over the weekend with members of the United States team's entourage. "They were a little bit slow," he said. "They were smooth, but slow."
Fortunately, the weather forecast for the Bay Area is absolutely perfect, 65 to 70 degrees and sunny for the next week, so tournament officials should be able to cut, roll and maintain the greens to make them play faster.
To compensate for the slow surfaces, Tiger Woods applied an extra layer of lead tape to the bottom of his putter as he waited to tee off on the third hole.
While power off the tee will certainly be helpful, Ibarguen thinks that the greens are where the Presidents Cup will be won or lost.
"The rough is not too long, and I don't think it will be penal, and the fairways are fairly generous. So you are going to see a lot of shots hit to about 12 to 15 feet," he said. "Guys that have a good stroke and a good feel for the greens are going to be at a huge advantage. And we [the United States] have got a good putting team." Follow David Dusek on Twitter(Photo by David Dusek)