Monday, August 19, 2013

Course Etiquette

On course etiquette: It's everyone's responsibility

Presented by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

A famous college basketball coach once said that recruiting was like shaving -- miss just one day and you look bad. It could be said that golf course management personnel, especially superintendents, feel the same way about golfer etiquette on the course.
Golf course etiquette is an all-encompassing term that refers to demeanor, adherence to course maintenance rules, and dress, among other issues. However, most associate golf course etiquette to the concept of ball mark repair, divot replacement and raking bunkers. Take a moment and consider what a course would look like if patrons were excused from any of these activities for just one day. A well-managed facility would look like a battlefield.
Golf course personnel are unanimous in stating that, as a whole, golfers still do not do an adequate job in repairing their ball marks and divots. Despite the presence of posters, notes in newsletters and announcements in meetings to serve as reminders, most facility managers believe the message can never be repeated too much.
This becomes an even bigger issue as the game expands to include more juniors and those who have recently picked up the sport. Instructors and experienced golfers should be diligent in teaching the how and why of golf course etiquette. Failing to teach golfers the proper techniques now creates future problems.

Why it's important

The basis for ball mark repair and divot replacement is for competitive and agronomic reasons. Balls that land in unrepaired divots place a golfer at a disadvantage, just as having to putt over a ball mark. By leaving turf damaged (unrepaired), it becomes susceptible to disease and/or infestation of weeds, resulting in a lower quality of playing surface. This necessitates the need for attention by golf course superintendents and their staffs, thereby taking them away from more pressing duties. As a general rule, a ball mark repaired within 10 minutes will heal with a smooth surface within two to three days. An unrepaired ball mark may take as long as three weeks to heal, but the result will be an uneven surface.

Replacing divots

Because grass varieties differ from course to course, and from fairways to the rough, the best rule to follow in replacing divots is to check with the golf course superintendent for the particular policy. As a general rule, replace any divot on the course unless there is a sand or sand/seed mixture provided in a container on the golf car. Typically, the divot is replaced on any course with bentgrass or bluegrass fairways. If you are playing on a course with bentgrass fairways and bluegrass rough, you must pay particular attention to the materials in the container. If just sand is provided, then fill the divot hole and tamp down the sand with your foot. If a sand/bentgrass seed mixture is provided, divots in the rough would not be replaced so as to not contaminate the bluegrass with bentgrass seed. In bermudagrass fairways, generally sand is just used.
In replacing a divot, the policy is to replace the divot so the grass can send down new roots. If so, replace the turf in the same direction it came out, and tap down firmly so the mower won't pull it back out. If you are walking and no sand is provided, smooth the divot hole with your feet, gently pulling the sides of the divot hole to the center.

Raking bunkers

Bunkers pose enough trouble themselves. Imagine playing from them when they are left unraked. To avoid leaving a poor playing surface, follow these tips:
  • Enter and exit the bunker at the point closest to your ball.This will ensure you do not displace too much sand.
  • Alternate between pulling the sand toward you and pushing it away from you to make the surface even. This will make the bunker surface even without sand displacement.
  • All holes and footprints should be smoothed over upon exiting the bunker.
  • Be sure there are no indentations in the previously disturbed sand.
  • After rake completion, the USGA recommends that the bunker rake should be placed outside the bunker laying flat and facing the direction of play.
  • USGA reminds golfers that the proper term is “bunker,” and never “trap.”

Monday, July 15, 2013

Green Speed in extreme heat


Presented by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

Years ago, there was a man named Edward Stimpson who loved golf and craved to create more fairness in the game. To further his passion, he invented a device intended to ensure that all the greens on a course were of relatively equal speed. The idea was to give superintendents (then, greenkeepers) a way to compare the speed of the 4th green with the 13th and take steps to equalize them. This was, no doubt, a sound and noble idea.
But sometimes bad things happen to good ideas.
Today, his simple tool, the Stimpmeter, is often misused to compare the speed of greens from course to course and unfortunately, to establish a benchmark of putting difficulty. Golfers are sometimes heard to say, "Hey, Hickory Hills was 'stimping' 13 last week." This essentially means that the greens were as fast as the linoleum on most kitchen floors.
From a purely competitive standpoint, that's OK. However, this quest for fast greens has serious consequences in terms of cost, environmental quality and the long-term health of the green. In short, speed can kill. Here's why:
A healthy, vigorous green can be maintained at a very short cutting height (as low as 1/8-inch) for short periods of time without serious consequences if it's been prepared properly and weather conditions are acceptable. Courses hosting tournaments often take months (and spend significant extra money) to bring greens up to an ultrafast speed for PGA Tour players. For example, the greens at Augusta National or Oakmont may "stimp" up to 14 when properly prepared and dry.
However, fast greens are extremely fragile. If you compared them with human beings, it would be fair to say that their immune systems can be very weak. They become susceptible to diseases and pests, and therefore may require more chemical treatments. Weather can also quickly destroy the health of an ultrafast green. High temperatures and lack of moisture in the air are deadly to greens that are maintained at very short cutting heights for any length of time.
The risks of maintaining fast greens -- even with the best professional management by superintendents -- were apparent in the summer of 1995 when golf courses across the eastern United States lost greens during an extended period of drought and high temperatures. Many of the world's best-known courses suffered serious damage and were essentially unplayable for the last half of the year. Many of these had to be reseeded or completely rebuilt at a cost that was high in terms of budget, playability and reputation.
The solution to the dilemma of fast greens is twofold. First, the golf industry is sponsoring and promoting research and development of new grasses that are more tolerant of fast speeds under adverse conditions. Organizations such as the USGA and GCSAA are investing millions of dollars in this effort.
On the other side, golfers should understand and accept the limitations of these living systems we call greens. Golfers should also heed the advice of superintendents who manage, nurture and protect these ecosystems. And finally, many golfers must change their attitudes about the competitive aspect of green speeds. They should, in the footsteps of Mr. Stimpson, strive for fairness, not fastness

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Golf Terms

12 terms for golfer

Presented by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

Although there is no standardized formula or single maintenance program for every golf course, there are some basic agronomy terms you can use to communicate with the golf course superintendent at your facility. In fact, if you're more aware of what your superintendent is doing to the course, you'll have a much better understanding of how it might affect the turf you're playing on -- and your round.
Here is a sample of turfgrass terms:
  1. Aeration: The working of a turf soil without destruction of the turf by coring, slitting, grooving, hole punching, forking, sliding, spiking or other means to reduce compaction and improve water and air movement through the soil.
  2. Blend: A combination of two or more cultivars of the same grass species.
  3. Cultivar: A variety, strain or race that has originated and persisted under cultivation or was specifically developed for the purpose of cultivation.
  4. Desiccation: Winter injury sustained on exposed turf areas when subject to high winds or loss of moisture from a plant because of hot, dry weather or chemicals.
  5. Foot printing:
    • Frost: Dead leaf tissue formed by walking on live, frosted turfgrass leaves.
    • Wilt: Temporary impressions caused by walking on grass plants that are unable to spring to upright position because leaves lack sufficient moisture.
  6. Hydroseeding: A high-pressure spray technique for applying seed, mulch and fertilizer in a water slurry over a seedbed.
  7. Leaching: The removal of materials dissolved in the soil solution caused by the movement of water down through the soil, past the root zone.
  8. Localized dry spot: A dry area of sod and soil that resists water infiltration.
  9. Matting: To work topdressing, fertilizers or other materials into a turfgrass area with drag mats, usually made of steel.
  10. Plugging: The vegetative propagation of turfgrass by means of turf plugs or small sod pieces.
  11. Scalping: The term for removing more of the green leaf surface than is good for the plant, leaving a stubbly brown turf.
  12. Syringing: Light sprinkling of water on turf usually done during the hottest part of the day to prevent wilting