Trainee green keeper Mark Shuttleworth cuts the approach to
the 18th green yesterday at The Hills. Photo by Christina
It is beginning to look spectacular, but that does not
mean it is not spectacular all the time.
This week, the number of groundsmen priming The Hills golf
course for the New Zealand Open swells from 22 to 36 and
working hours will become more unsociable.
The Hills superintendent Brendan Allen, who works year-round
at the course, described the tournament as ''the pinnacle of
what we do''.
Mr Allen is well aware of the pressure placed on him to
deliver a course to an exceptional standard for the Open.
The course is cut and watered every day and on Wednesday the
groundsmen will start work at 4am, raking bunkers in complete
darkness and using headlamps to see if they are mowing where
they are meant to.
''If you miss [mowing] a stripe at 4.30am, it's completely
wrecked a week's work,'' Mr Allen said.
The tournament was last held at The Hills in 2010.
This year's tournament is being co-hosted by The Hills and
neighbouring Millbrook (first two rounds only) from Thursday
Asked how the course has changed since it last hosted the
tournament, Mr Allen said there had been some subtle changes
to strategy, including realigning the 18th fairway and
changes to the long rough lines.