Newport Beach Country Club is reaping the rewards from the December rains as it prepares for the 17th Toshiba Classic March 7 through 13.
"The rain is good for everything but revenue," said Ron Benedict, the club's superintendent. "Salt builds up in the soil, so when the rain comes through, salt flows into the roots. It flushes the salt."
The course had some time to dry out in January, but this week's rains should give the ground some added cleansing.
Benedict said maintenance fertilized the entire course. He said the mowing schedule changes for tournament week.
Crews will mow three times a week during the year, but mow every day for two weeks for Toshiba.
The rough increases to three inches for Toshiba compared to 1 ¾ inches the rest of the year. Benedict said crews will mow the rough once inside the ropes during tournament week — on Tuesday — and then let the grass grow.
"The weather plays a major role," Benedict said. "If it's cloudy, [the grass] won't grow as much."
Greens speed up for the tournament to six inches per foot faster than for regular play, though Benedict said a few other tournaments during the year, such as the men's member guest, have green speeds similar to that of Toshiba, a Champions Tour event for players 50 and older.
The course will be open to members and guests right up to tournament week eve, March 6, Newport assistant pro Carlo Borunda said.
The Toshiba Classic organizing staff is seeking volunteers. Volunteers must make a $60 contribution; for those who are returning the base fee is $20.
The volunteer package includes: one golf shirt with the Toshiba Classic logo; one fleece pullover with the TC logo; one hat with the TC logo; preferred parking during your shifts; breakfast service and food vouchers on the days you work (value of $20 per day); one week-long badge for admission during the entire tournament (value of $100); two additional one-day tickets for guests (value of $50); an invitation to the volunteer appreciation party; year-round updates from the tournament newsletter Classic Chatter (all volunteers must have a valid e-mail address on file with the management office to ensure delivery).
More volunteer information and the volunteer application can be found at http://www.toshibaclassic.com.
Hale Irwin, Toshiba's only two-time winner, Paul Azinger, Tom Lehman and Nick Price committed to play in this year's tournament. They join Lee Trevino, who announced Toshiba will be his only Champions Tour event this year.
Irwin, Lehman, Azinger and Price have combined for 55 PGA Tour and 51 Champions Tour titles. Irwin has the most Champions Tour victories (45).
Lehman has first- and second-place finishes on the Champions Tour in 2011. He won last year's Senior PGA Championship and tied for third in his Toshiba debut. He placed in the top 25 four times on the PGA Tour last year.
Trevino has 29 victories each on the PGA and Champions tours. He played in four Champions Tour events last year.
Daily tickets are $20 if purchased before tournament week, March 7-13, and $25 at the gate. Tickets can be purchased online at toshibaclassic.com or by calling (949) 660-1001.
BRYCE ALDERTON is the golf writer for the Daily Pilot. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.