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Keeping the greens at Southern Hills, green

Posted at 7:38 PM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 12:53:30-04

TULSA, Okla. — As we anticipate the PGA Championship coming to Tulsa next week, we wanted to know how the greens stay green all year long.

“I had worked with it previously at Augusta National, it had been in use there on a couple greens when I worked there in the late 90s and really just needed to come up with the best way to do it here in Tulsa for this site,” says Russ Myers, Southern Hills Superintendent

Russ Myers has worked as the superintendent of Southern Hills for 10 years. The course is his responsibility so when he started looking for a system to keep the greens at Southern Hills, green all year long, he found an Oklahoma company Rae Corporation.

The Pryor-based business has created an underground water system to keep the greens the same temperature year-round.

“We proposed a heat pump which can do both heating and cooling so we can cool in the summer and heat in the winter," says Kevin Trowhill, Rae Corporation VP.

Each green has a loop of pipes between 6 to 8 inches apart.
Tubing is buried underground, and feeds each green.

“We use the hot gas off our machine to generate warm water in the winter, and we use the cold gas off our machine to generate cold water in the summer,” says Trowhill.

Myers says this system is crucial in the summertime – when the state can reach triple digit temperatures.

“Creeping bentgrass which is the preferred grass that you would have on your green in the heat of the summer in july and august is a high risk heat and traffic will take it over and it’ll die. If it dies, it’s a major loss,” says Meyers.

Myers also says the system saves him, and his employees time, and money.

“Its totally changed my job. Normally in the summer we could have as many as 6 staff, walking on the greens from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. checking them. We at most, will maybe send a person around to check them in the afternoon now. It's cut our labor costs, reduced our watering in the summer its made the conditions of our greens better and its allowed me to take a day off in the summer and enjoy the lake instead of having to be here making sure the greens are alive.”

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