Target green speeds and 4:30am starts - what exactly has gone into preparing Royal Porthcawl for the Senior Open?

Matthew Southcombein Golf

Being selected to host an Open Championship, whether it be the senior edition or otherwise, is no small matter.

It's an honour that has been bestowed upon Royal Porthcawl Golf Club for a second time this week as Wales welcomes back some of the legends of the golfing universe for the 2017 Senior Open Championship.

What those legends will find as they arrive this week is a golf course in pristine condition - and that's no accident.

Course manager Ian Kinley and his army of greenkeepers have been working up to 17-and-a-half hour days to make sure everything is as it should be.

After all, this is no Sunday Stableford and you sense that fact isn't lost on the man who has been tasked with overseeing the maintenance of this gorgeous links for the last eight years.

But there's a calmness and a confidence that tells you things are going to plan.

"We're as relaxed as we can be I guess," said Kinley, "we're fairly comfortable with where we're at.

"Last Friday we had a deluge, it was a boating lake at times, it was torrential.

"Then we had the same again on Sunday morning, when we had eight millimetres in 40 minutes, which is stair rods.

"Despite those two downpours, we've hit target green speeds with ease, the feedback from the golf course has been very positive."

Those target green speeds are set by tournament organisers, though images of an overbearing tournament director or reams of instructions regarding course set-up are misplaced.

Such a list of requests does exist, but it's nothing to rival the Dead Sea Scrolls and it was the same the last time the venue hosted the Championship in 2014.

The fact the green staff aren't forced to make a mountain of changes to the course perhaps speaks to the challenge that it poses year around and the success of the event three years ago.

The Rest Bay links difficult enough and, as Kinley explains, there's no great desire to change it.

"We will protect tees and landing areas in the fairways as we lead up to the event and they'll ask for a specific green speed and that's it. How we achieve that green speed is up to us."

"I guess they're relatively confident that they'll get what they ask for off the back of 2014, but even before that they weren't putting pressure on us saying 'do this and do that'.

"Their expectations are documented but it's not pages and pages, it's very short and sweet.

"Beyond that, they'll take the golf course as they find it.

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