If the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, the setting for the upcoming Ryder Cup, is a work of art, a great deal of credit will go to a smiling 33-year-old pregnant Spanish woman named Lara Arias. As the superintendent of the grass, she has dedicated her energy and love to every single blade of grass on the course since arriving in Rome in 2020.
The much-awaited moment is now upon them, and they are currently completing the final touches to the manicure. This includes activities like raking the bunkers, perfectly cutting the green and fairway grass, and more. The field is in great shape, thanks to the exceptional quality of the grass.
Lara Arias, statements
Earlier this summer, the hardest part of the work had been completed; however, Arias needed to integrate her group of 40 persons with 100 additional volunteers to prepare for the Ryder setup (the dress rehearsal).
"The field has withstood the summer heat quite well. We were fortunate that the grass retained its density, particularly in the rough zone," Arias explains. The Dollar Spot fungus, which destroys the grass and typically appears between September and October, did not appear.
The final thing to do is to change the holes, and then the arena of dreams will be ready. In Arias' opinion, the most picturesque holes of the Marco Simone are the eighth and ninth holes, while the 16th ("a par 4, it is possible to reach the green with a single swing") is the most challenging and complicated spot in the course.
During these summer months, numerous precautions were implemented to maintain the vast green carpet's health. In July, a graden (grass removal technique) operation was performed to remove overgrown grass (known as 'touch').
Sand was then spread to aid water infiltration in the event of rainfall. From Monday to Thursday, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Lara and her team work in the field (with a lunch break during the summer months).
The Ryder Cup will leave an incredible legacy in Rome and Italy, and Arias is completely aware of this.
"With 45,000 people expected, the course will become a city, and the infrastructure, such as the road doubling along Via Marco Simone, will remain even after the competition." The hope is that Team Europe will accomplish the remarkable feat of winning.
"It would be the perfect ending, as we've strived to make the course more challenging for the Americans."
In late November, Arias and her partner, Alejandro Reyes (agronomic consultant), will welcome their first child; however, she shows no signs of weariness.
"I don't feel exhausted; I don't even realize how tired I am," she says with a smile. To become who she is today, she studied hard. After receiving a degree in forestry engineering in Spain, she took a lawn course (first in Malaga and then in the United States).
She spent 18 months studying golf courses in Virginia, Arizona, and North Carolina. She also worked in a nursery and on golf courses in France and Spain.
Arias advises those who want to follow in her footsteps to "learn the basics by working as a gardener." She herself followed this approach, having parents who worked at a post office and as a tailor.
As a woman in a male-dominated and conservative golf world, Lara Arias is unfazed.
In the past, amateur players who came to play for the first time saw her on a tractor and assumed she was a gardener, not a superintendent, but she didn't lose heart. "The world of golf is male chauvinistic and conservative, but year after year, it is improving.
All you need to do is set an example, and then players will see with their own eyes that a woman is as capable as a man."
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