The Masters should start on a dry note Thursday. After that, however, it could be a damp three days at golf’s first major of the season: The forecast calls for rain and storm chances Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with the heaviest precipitation predicted for Sunday afternoon, right when the chase for the Green Jacket is at its peak.
But if there’s any course that can handle such precipitation — the area also received three inches of rain early this week — it’s Augusta National, which not only employs a grounds crew that more resembles an armada but also uses something called the SubAir system, the product of a company founded in 1994 by Marsh Benson, the longtime senior director of golf course and grounds at Augusta National.
As told by Forbes, the SubAir system is, in essence, a giant vacuum cleaner. It can either suck the moisture out of the grass and into the existing underground piping system or blow it out the other way. Augusta National also can make adjustments to the SubAir system on the greens, making them as slow or fast (usually the latter) as the officials desire.
A number of other classic courses, including Pebble Beach and Congressional, employ the SubAir system, as do Major League Baseball’s New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.
But no system is going to get all of the moisture off the course when it rains, and the damp grass “reduces roll in the fairways and makes the greens slightly more receptive to shots coming in at steeper angles,” GolfWorld’s Matthew Ruby reports, and it’s more of an issue for the game’s shorter hitters than its bombers off the tee.
“When you don’t get anything in terms of roll from your tee shot, a slight mis-strike and you know you’re a couple of clubs longer into the greens,” Tommy Fleetwood, who ranks 42nd on the PGA Tour in driving distance, told Ruby, “That adds up.”
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