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USGA Sets Up Del Paso Defense Against Attacks From Best Players In The World

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento opens its doors today to 156 of the best professional and amateur senior golfers in the world. The club is hosting the U.S. Senior Open championship this week. 

Typically, the short grass of the fairways is about 50-yards wide. Today, each fairway is about half as wide with lots of lush green grass on either side waiting to swallow up a golfer's ill-placed shot.

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Event chairman Dan Spector says this week, water to the greens will be reduced to allow them to harden.

"In order for the firm and fast green to receive a ball and make it stop, it must have sufficient spin on it. The only way you can impart that spin is from the short grass."

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"If you're in the rough, the grass will interfere with the impact on the ball from the club and as a result, when it hits one of these greens, it will continue rolling into one of these bunkers or into the long grass."

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Spector says the club and the United States Golf Association have already set the mowing patterns, pin placements, and tee boxes for all four days.

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"USGA does not have a particular score in mind when they set the golf course up. Rather they want to make sure every shot that the golfer strikes requires a properly-struck golf shot or they pay a price."

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The USGA says the senior golfers should negotiate the course in 70 strokes. Spector says the course normally plays as a par 71.

"Historically, the winning score at the last several US Senior Opens has varied from a high of six under to 15 under. I think we'll be somewhere in the middle."

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This is the fifth USGA Open event held at Del Paso Country Club.

Practice rounds will be played through Wednesday. The four-day tournament starts Thursday.

Organizers expect 130,000 people to attend this week.

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The championship course is 7,000 yards long and a par 70. That's one fewer than what the course plays for members. The 508-yard 13th hole will play as a par four instead of a par five.

Players will map the course during their practice rounds through Wednesday. The tournament starts Thursday and ends Sunday.