Clearwater clan pitches in for open

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012

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It's all hands on deck at the Clearwater golf course.

In a week the course will be swamped by players, fans and the circus that goes with the $400,000 New Zealand Open which starts on Thursday, but there is a power of work that goes into preparing the layout and its surroundings first.

So much work, in fact, that members, Clearwater residents and even the office staff are pitching in.

Talented Canterbury amateur and Clearwater member Oscar Cadenhead was spotted raking bunkers yesterday and on Monday will attempt to earn a spot in the field at the one-round qualifying tournament at Russley.

Club members were on course replacing and sanding divots and even Clearwater boss Andrew Bell was in on the act.

Tournament patron and Clearwater member Sir Bob Charles pointed out the grass on the practice fairway was a tad long for the professionals and with everyone else flat out, Bell swapped his office and paperwork for a mower.

"Everyone's busy and pitching in so why not me?" he said.

Sir Bob has even been known to don his waders alongside other members and help keep the lakes clean, a source told The Press.

"We've got residents and members alike volunteering so I should do my bit too," Bell said.

"But it really is a team effort."

Bell said the greenstaff were doing a great job and Clearwater had a "very good and detailed plan", but whenever other issues popped up, there was no shortage of people willing to help.

"Everyone involved out here wants the tournament to run smoothly and takes great pride in it and the course. We've got people that have taken time off work to help, it's inspiring."

Course manager Ryan Adams said his team of green staff had put in huge hours, including a handful of painful 2.30am starts.

But it'd all been worth it because the course was taking shape well, he said.

Adams and his team were under instruction to keep the rough short for the 144-man field, but the course won't be easier than last year when Australian Brad Kennedy won the title with a total of seven-under-par.

"We've been asked to keep the rough at three inches. A few years ago we were allowed to let it go and it got a bit tough, but this year they want it kept pretty short," Adams said.

"But we've made it a bit thicker so it won't be easy."

The greens are also being sped up from what members and green fee players are used to, adding another defence to a course that can be severely affected by wind, is littered with bunkers and where water is in play on 14 of the 18 holes.

"We'll have them about as quick as you can get them in Australia and New Zealand. We can't go as fast as they get them in the States, but they don't have the wind to worry about."

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- The Press

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