Let me start by saying this — 3:20 a.m. comes just as early as you might expect it would.
And after rising at that time today to join the maintenance staff at Congressional CC for their morning rounds prior to the second day of the 2011 U.S. Open, I have a new appreciation for what the 100-plus members of that staff — full-time Congressional employees and volunteers alike — have gone through this week. I did it one day and am half delirious. They've been doing it for six days running now, with two more early wake-up calls on the horizon, and as far as I can tell, remain dialed in and focused on the task at hand (at least after a few donuts and a cup of coffee).
The USGA's official set-up and conditioning notes for round two should be available soon, and I will post those in their entirety when I receive them. But a few things to note from my time on the course:
- The course received between a quarter and a third of an inch of rain from the thunderstorms that began pushing through the area last night at around 10 p.m. How did that affect the Blue Course's greens? Green speeds were still on the money — can't reveal any state secrets, but the USGA update to come will have the official numbers — and moisture levels remain healthy, but the rain did soften the greens, so they'll be very receptive today to well-struck shots.
- The Sub-Air systems at Congressional were up and running on all greens before first-round play began in an effort to pull some of that extra moisture through the green profile. That will have little or no impact on green speeds, at least for today, but could help firm the putting surfaces up a little bit.
- Greens were double cut and single rolled this morning. A scattered few received a second roll following Stimpmeter readings. Greens on Nos. 3, 5, 6 and 11 were all rolled with the heavier Smithco units in an attempt to squeeze a little extra speed out of them.
- I got a chance to walk almost every green on the front nine, as well as the practice putting green, and I'll reiterate what I said yesterday — there are definitely areas of wear and stress that were leftover from the high heat and humidty that hit the Mid-Atlantic area the previous two weeks. They're generally limited to the collars and step cuts more than the putting surfaces themselves, but I did see a few spots — the back right of No. 9 green, most notably, where players generally exit that green — that have encroached onto the putting surfae. Do I think these areas will limit some potential hole locations over the weekend? No, I really don't, but obviously the USGA will make the final call on that.