home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


August 11, 2011

Ken Mangum


KELLY ELBIN: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for joining us here at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
As you are aware, there were incidents last evening that occurred on both the 14th and 17th greens during golf course greens maintenance here at the Atlanta Athletic Club in preparation for the opening round of the 93rd PGA Championship.
We've asked certified golf course superintendent Ken Mangum, who is the director of golf courses and grounds here at the Atlanta Athletic Club, to join us and discuss the situations that occurred last night. Ken?
KEN MANGUM: Thank you very much. It's good to be here. Welcome to the Atlanta Athletic Club. It's good to see a lot of friends out there. I couldn't be more proud of the way the golf course looks. Once I see it on TV, it is a beautiful place. We've worked for the last five years, our staff, working with Rees Jones and the architecture end of it, we've got a great staff of people who have worked tirelessly for over five years to get this golf course the way it is today.
But I've got to tell you, last night we felt like our hearts had been ripped out. Something occurred that I've never seen before, and I, like you, can only speculate what happened. Nothing mechanical. No operator error. It occurred almost simultaneously to two mowers; and we've checked the mowers, we've checked the people, we've checked everything. They've already mowed the rest of the golf course, so it's a little mystery to me why it happened.
We went back and looked at the weather because some guys noticed it got really hot and sticky after such a dry day we had and the wind blowing.
So my only -- the only answer I could come up with was that the humidity changed and the brush grabbed and dug into the green and caused the problem. So that's basically all I know about it.
I wish -- it would have been a lot easier if I could have found something broken that we could say, that's it. That would have been much easier. But everything is fixed, everything is fine. It will not bother the play of the tournament this week.
It's a little bit like cutting yourself with a razor on your wedding day. That's kind of the way we felt. But it'll be fine, and our guys, our team did a great job of repairing it last night, and I've got to tell you, my two people on that golf course, I think I spent as much time consoling them because they've put their heart and soul into this place, and it was tough to watch them suffer.
We've taken care of the -- we've taken the brushes off. We cut greens this morning. No issues whatsoever, and I think we'll be fine the rest of the week.
We are trying to manage the green speed to a good championship speed, and that does require mowing and mowing multiple times sometimes, but we're very proud of the way the golf course is. The greens are really good, a good speed, fairways are great, and the rough is not the place to be.

Q. Can you describe how this brushing works? Is it ahead of the mowers, or is it a separate piece of machinery?
KEN MANGUM: It's a rotating brush in the front of the mower. For this type grass, brushes and groomers are typically used to keep the grass standing upright. It's a part of our routine we do every week, practically every day we mow.
So it's not something we just did for this event.

Q. Ken Casey was saying pretty much you jumped on it quickly yesterday. It took maybe an hour or so. Can you kind of take us through as soon as you found out and actually how long it did take and some of the things that went on as far as getting things taken care of?
KEN MANGUM: We just scrambled, got the sod, brought it out, replaced it. Really quick and simple.

Q. Obviously that happened yesterday, but all week players have just been raving about the course. How overwhelming has that been for you to hear everything you've heard because they've said some things that I hadn't heard in pressrooms in a long time about the golf course.
KEN MANGUM: I'm really overwhelmed, and I'm really so proud for the membership, because the membership has spent a lot of money, a lot of time for these renovations. And to see the efforts of all these years commended like this is just -- just couldn't make us happier.
I'm so appreciative of that and really feel good for the club because of that.

Q. With this new way that you're cutting the green now, you're cutting all the greens now without the brushes; is that correct?

Q. Does that fundamentally change anything about the greens, the way they roll?
KEN MANGUM: No, I don't think it will. We're still maintaining the same speed we had.

Q. Could I digress slightly from the problems you've had. You've done amazing things here. The course looks absolutely stunning. I'm from a different climate obviously than you have here. Are there lessons to be learned? Could European green keepers, for instance, learn lessons from what you're doing here in terms of agronomy?
KEN MANGUM: Well, I think every part of the world has different climates that different things work in. I told somebody earlier, if you picked any oranges in Atlanta? Well, probably not because this is not a climate that they grow. So you have to take each specific site and see what will work. I'm actually doing a seminar in Italy in September talking about some of the grasses.
You just have to look each place and see if it will work. One size doesn't fit all. I mean, obviously the fescue works in England, Scotland, Ireland. Poa does great on the West Coast; bermudagrass, zoysia does good in the south. I started to say bentgrass does good up north, but this has been one of those years that that's probably not necessarily true.
And the bottom line, Mother Nature can slap us around any time she gets ready. Everything we do can be wiped out in one summer, one winter. I think that's one of the hardest parts of the job that I've had to get used to is you can do everything possible and then the weather can take it all away.

Q. Today they're going to play those two areas on 14 and 17 as ground under repair. Do you foresee that they'll do that for the rest of the week, as well?
KEN MANGUM: I would think so. I think that's the best way to make it not a play issue.
KELLY ELBIN: We have a statement from the PGA Rules Committee in regards to that and I'd be happy to read it. The areas of repaired turf on the 14th and 17th putting greens will, for the remainder of the championship, be played as ground under repair. That's under rule 25-1.
This will entitle a player free relief from those areas, including intervention on his line of putt when his ball is on the putting green.
In addition, when a player's ball is on or off the putting green, the player may repair these areas under the existing local rule for turf plugs, and we will make this ruling available to media as soon as the press conference ends.

Q. I understand you've got like 40 volunteers here and 30 or maybe more are past people who have worked for you in the past here. Can you comment on that, and tell us how much experience there is here that knows this Highlands Course inside out?
KEN MANGUM: We would probably have to get a calculator to add all that up. But I'm very -- I'm so honored that every superintendent assistant I've ever had on the Highlands Course came back to work this week. I got a few tears in my eyes with that one because that's really heart warming to knows that the guys you worked with 20 years ago, 15 years ago all came back, to watch them bond together like they did then because they've got a lot of sweat equity in the place, and they're really proud of it. It's where they started their career.
KELLY ELBIN: Approximately how many people would that be?
KEN MANGUM: That's probably 35 of the 40 volunteers we have.

Q. You and I have talked about what a science it is that you guys do. If this is a mystery, what's the first step? Are you going to call some of your compatriots and ask them if this has ever happened to them, and how are we going to learn from this going forward?
KEN MANGUM: You ask good questions, Ron. Good interview, though, the other day. I haven't seen it but I got a lot of good reports on it.
This is the first major championship this grass has been used in, so there's not too many places I can go for information, but we have studied the grass for the last couple years since we've had it.
I still think it was a weather, environmental issue, because we've just never had that happen before in the course of normal mowing and everything that we do.
When you have major championships, you're pretty close to the edge on a lot of things, and it seems like if anything is going to happen, that's when it does, unfortunately. But I think we've got everything set now so it will not be an issue the rest of the week.

Q. How much turf was replaced? How do you measure that?
KEN MANGUM: We didn't really measure it. It started on the right-hand side of the mower, so it was probably this much (indicating approximately two feet).

Q. How close to the edge of the greens on 14 and 17?
KEN MANGUM: The one on 14 was probably three feet off the green; the one on 17 was about the same distance, was on the right-hand side. And the thing about it, on 14, he had already made several passes. It wasn't like it was the first pass on the green. It really had us puzzled.

Q. The areas that were damaged, were they damaged to the extent -- we didn't see the damage, obviously, because you took it out so quickly. But to the extent that they were damaged, would you have been able to putt over them at all or were they discolored, or what exactly was wrong with them?
KEN MANGUM: The way the turf was torn up, the quickest way to repair it was just to replace the sod. That was the fastest way to do it.

Q. It was torn up enough that you could never have played on that green the way it was?
KEN MANGUM: No, you could have, but it would have been a lot -- you would have had to put a lot of sand in it, so we just felt like the quickest, easiest, best thing for the event was to take some sod off one of our nurseries and put it in there.
KELLY ELBIN: Mr. Mangum, thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297