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There is already a British Open, I don't see the need for another links venue. The course looks real nice in the promos (read green and lush). Why the USGA feels the need to dry out the greens and fairways is beyond me. You can have fast greens that are actually green. The USGA did the same thing to Pinehurst last year. I can't imagine the members of Chamber's Bay like to see the course looking like that in front of millions of viewers.
It also depends on how much lump is burning when you decide to change the vent. I'll start my fire with vent wide open, and after the fire gets going, I'll adjust my vent to what I think should be right for, say 350. If the fire is large by the time I adjust the vent, I'll make the opening much smaller. If the fire is not so large, I'll adjust the vent to say half way. So it is about air flow, humidity, etc. but also about the quantity of charcoal lit... IMHO.
I have used the high temperature gasket (nomex felt?) for years and it is still in great shape after 20-30 pizza cooks. Also, I cook pizza with the plate setter legs up, which seems to minimize the amount of flames the gasket takes.
Sometimes the damper on the fan needs to be closed more. Check and see it's position. If it is all the way open, sometimes that can let too much air in when the fan is off, and your temps can rise. Choke the damper down to half way open and temp control should improve.