Staff getting Oaks ready for tourney

COVINGTON - The Oaks superintendent Curtis Singleton and head golf professional Andy Bowman could not be happier with the condition of the golf course as everyone prepares for the 13th annual Oaks Open, which begins Aug. 2.

"Everyone wants to know what it's like playing in a professional event," Bowman said. "You'll be able to have that experience at home without the regulations, other than having a handicap."

At the recent U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, Singleton said the speed of the greens measured at 12 on the stimpmeter. By the time the Oaks Open begins, Singleton said his greens will measure an 11.5.

"They're going to be unforgiving," he said. "We mow our roughs to keep them about an inch and a half. We're hoping to get them up to two inches for the open."

The grounds crew has also been working hard to make sure that every aspect of the course is peaking for the weekend of the tournament.

The championship greens, which were planted several years ago, are maturing, making them fast and hard while allowing ball spin. The tees and fairways, which are Bermuda grass, are also in good shape.

"The course is in the best shape its been in the past five years," Bowman said.

While Singleton could have made the course tougher by making the roughs higher and the fairways narrower, he likes the way the course is set up.

"Right now, it's possible for a good player to shoot par to win. I don't want to make it so tough that a person that shoots in the 80s shoots in the 90s. If I did that, then they wouldn't want to come back," Singleton said.

There are currently 50 players signed up to play in the two-day event.

Bowman is hoping to reach their goal of 108 players by Sunday's deadline.

"We had 30 people preregister, and we're hoping to have a good turnout," he said.

The players will be broken down into flights based on handicaps where a net and gross winner will be selected.

"There is also going to be a senior division where those players over 60 will play from the forward tees. So far, we have five seniors and we're hoping to have 10 or more to have a senior flight," Bowman said.

Two former winners include current Nationwide Tour player Jonathan Fricke and Joe Grady.

Grady may not be present as he is scheduled to play in the Your Community PhoneBook Georgia Open at Barnsley Gardens Resort.

The cost to play in the open is $175. The price includes two tournament rounds, a practice round Friday with cart included, an Etonic glove and shoes, breakfast on both days of the tournament, Saturday lunch and other gifts and prizes.

For more information contact Bowman at The Oaks pro shop at 770-786-3801.

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.