New Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen and his caddie Zack Rasego were not the only partnership celebrating on the 18th green of St Andrews last week. The St Andrews Greenkeeping staff, supported by STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute), celebrated a successful Championship after receiving glowing reviews from players about the condition of the course and the performance of the greens.
Despite testing weather conditions the St Andrews Greenstaff and the STRI team put the STRI Trueness Meter, along with other objective measurement tools (to measure firmness, speed and soil moisture), through their paces early every morning and late into the evening, to ensure all 18 greens were consistent and of optimum quality.
It was the first time these measurements, including the use of the newly developed STRI Trueness Meter, have been taken throughout an entire Championship since the system had been trialled at the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond in 2009. The STRI Trueness Meter, which was developed in conjunction with Sheffield Hallam University following funding from The R&A, is being hailed as one of the biggest steps forward in the agronomy industry in 30 years and the only accurate, effective and efficient method of measuring smoothness and trueness of a green.
Gordon McKie, Course Manager at St Andrews Links Trust, said: "The information provided during the lead up and throughout the Championship greatly aided my decision making process and helped perfect the consistency and performance of the greens. I believe the STRI Programme is a significant advancement in the preparation of Open Championship Venues as well as tournaments more generally."
Richard Windows, STRI's Turfgrass Agronomist, said: "Precise data was provided by the objective measurements, in particular from the STRI Trueness Meter, and was analysed together with Gordon McKie. The data provided guidance for Gordon's greenkeeping team, who then delivered expert 'green specific' maintenance, resulting in the smoothest and most true surfaces ever for an Open Championship at St Andrews. The feedback from the players was overwhelmingly positive."
Open Champion, Louis Oosthuizen said: "I thought the greens at St Andrews were fantastic. I think I only had two three putts in four rounds so that in itself is a testament to the quality of them."
The STRI Trueness Meter measures the amount of vertical displacement (smoothness) and lateral deviation (trueness) in terms of millimetres across each of the greens. This new technological advancement, used as an integral part of The STRI Programme, is set to improve quality and consistency on greens as it gives greenkeepers first-hand scientific data that accurately assesses current conditions of the greens and monitors the progress in quality over time.