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U.S. Open: Trees And Grass Don't Always Mix On A Golf Course

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The grass on the 10th green (left) and 18th green (right) have to contend with scorching sun every summer. Congressional's groundskeepers have to constantly manage the course's grass and trees to maintain the turf.
Matt Bush
The grass on the 10th green (left) and 18th green (right) have to contend with scorching sun every summer. Congressional's groundskeepers have to constantly manage the course's grass and trees to maintain the turf.

Grass -- its quality, and getting it to grow -- is the top priority at a golf course. Because of that, the turf can also be a course's biggest problem.

There are several reasons for the difficulties, and at Congressional, the biggest is typically the hot summers the D.C. area endures. But trees also cause problems says Mike Giufre, the course superintendent at Congressional.

"The tree creates shade. The turf needs sunlight to go through the photosynthesis process," he says. "A lack of sunlight slows that system down."

But Montgomery County has very strict laws regarding the removal of trees. (It's something the electric utility Pepco is more than familiar with.) For every tree cut down, others must be planted. So, while Congressional may want to take some trees down, Giufre says he and his workers must operate within the county law.

"We're looking at the property all the time to see if there are changes that we need to make," he says. "And maybe we need to go off-site and do some off-site planting within the county."

But with temperatures expected to hover around 90 all weekend, there are likely to be plenty of fans happy to take shade under the trees that were not cut down.

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