Fiji's biggest sporting event, the Fiji International, is fast approaching and final preparations at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course are well underway.
With Fiji set to become the focus of the golfing world from 6-9 October, the Fiji International team are working hard to ensure the tournament is something Fiji can be proud of.
ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia General Manager Simon Butterly recently conducted the final inspection of Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course.
This was the last of a number of visits the Tour conduct throughout the year to ensure the course is prepared to international standards.
Working with Steve Lalor, the Course Superintendent at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course, a number of changes were implemented this year.
Butterly's visit was the final opportunity to make sure these changes were on track to be ready for the tournament week.
This year the course has experienced a lot more rain, 350ml to be exact, than in previous years. This will result in a lot more growth, particularly in the rough.
"This year we are clearing a lot of the vegetation along some of the fairways. The increase in rain will likely make the rough and vegetation thicker than what we have experienced before. Clearing it out helps make the course more playable and will also help with the speed of play," said Butterly.
"Fiji in October has a limited amount of daylight and with 132 players in the field, we need to make sure they all finish their rounds before it gets dark."
Also underway is the shaping of the fairways and the cutting program. Butterly is very happy with the work being done by Lalor and his team.
"I am very happy with how the course is progressing. I think Steve and his team are on track to have Natadola Bay in the best condition we have seen it. The rain has really helped; the course is definitely looking very green and lush."
"The Fiji International attracts a huge international TV audience and the course is going to look beautiful on the broadcast. I think it's something that Fiji should be very proud of."
As for what the players can expect when they tee it up in the first round of the Fiji International, Butterly believes it will be a fair challenge.
"The course will be a challenge again this year. The rough will be thicker than last year but we are doing our best to ensure it doesn't grow too long. We want Natadola Bay to be a balanced challenge," added Butterly.
"I think the local, Aussie and Kiwi players who have played the course before will have an advantage this year. Their course knowledge will definitely come into play."
"We will have a lot of European players in the field and American Brandt Snedeker who have never seen Natadola Bay before. That does make playing well a tough prospect, but not impossible. Matt Kuchar won the Fiji International last year in his first time playing the course."
The Fiji International will be played at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course from 6-9 October.
Tickets can be purchased at the gate and children under the age of 18 are admitted free when attending with a paying adult.
Stay up to date with the Fiji International on Facebook and Instagram. Interact with us using our official tournament hashtag #Fijiintl.
For more information about the Fiji International please visit www.fijiinternational.com
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