JACKSON, Miss. – The first time Brandon Wu went to The Country Club of Jackson last year, he was scared of the greens.
When he arrived at the Sanderson Farms Championship, he’d heard plenty about the putting surfaces. How fast they were. How punishing they could be if you were in the wrong spot. Making only his second start as a PGA Tour member, Wu was intimidated.
A year later, his thoughts on the greens have changed. They have also gained his respect.
“I think they’re just perfect,” Wu said. “They’re super pure, so if you are hitting good putts, they’re going to break the way you think they are and they’ll go in. These are some of the best on Tour, for sure.”
The Sanderson Farms Championship is the second event of the PGA Tour’s 2022-23 schedule. Hosted at The Country Club of Jackson since 2014, the tournament has a knack for producing first-time winners, but it has also built a reputation for having tremendous greens. As many players put it, arguably the best on the PGA Tour.
When thinking of courses known for their greens, Augusta National comes to mind. Other venues get thrown out there, too. But The Country Club of Jackson has earned the respect of the best players in the world, and it’s one of the reasons many enjoy playing Mississippi’s lone Tour event.
“I’ll bet you could walk across that whole putting green and ask guys about this course, and they’ll tell you some of the best greens all year,” said Davis Riley, who grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. “It’s an awesome place.”
Golfers play the ninth green during the Sanderson Farms Championship at the Country Club of Jackson in Jackson, Miss., Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Photo: Barbara Gauntt/Clarion Ledger)
So, what makes a good green for the best players in the world?
Stanley Reedy has been the golf course superintendent at The Country Club of Jackson since 1997. He has been in charge of play and course conditions for not only the Tour event but also day-to-day outings for members.
There are numerous things that it takes to make the course’s greens as popular as they are, but Reedy said it’s all about his team’s attention to detail.
“They have to be built right,” Reedy said. “And then it’s the weekly maintenance. We may do things a little bit different, but our membership also has to let you do those things. And ours does.”
Monday is the normal maintenance day for the course, but if it happens to rain, Reedy said he will push it back to later in the week. It takes away a day of play for members, but it allows him and his staff to properly manage the course.
The greens are Champion bermuda grass, and many players say they’re so good because of how true putts roll.
“The greens are obviously really fast, but I think if you get in the right spots, you can make a lot of putts,” defending champion Sam Burns said. “The greens roll so pure.”
Part of the reason for the pureness is how they’re cut. Reedy said The Country Club of Jackson doesn’t use a vertical mower, instead using a groomer, which has tighter blades. When mowing, Reedy and his crew will never cut in the same pattern twice, which helps eliminate a noticeable grain pattern. After using the groomer mower, they use a walk mower that also has a groomer.
The green complexes for the Sanderson Farms Championship are fairly flat, so the strong, quick greens are the course’s natural defense. Reedy said someone who is a strong putter or has a good week on the greens is more likely to raise the trophy come Sunday.
The greens at The Country Club of Jackson reward good shots and penalize bad ones. They roll pure, require a good read and a solid strike, but those who manage the tricky complexes will find their way to the top of the leaderboard.
Every year, more and more of the best players in the world come to agree on one thing: the greens at the Sanderson Farms Championship are some of, if not, the best on the PGA Tour. And it brings a smile to Reedy’s face for each compliment he gets.
“It’s gratifying,” Reedy said. “You work your butt off all summer long. For your members, too, but when the best players in the world tell you your greens are in the top three or whatever, with Augusta National and U.S. Opens, it’s good.”