Sample golf course maintenance standards

SAMPLE Golf and Country Club Golf Course Maintenance Standards

February 3, 2010

SAMPLE Golf and Country Club Golf Course Maintenance Standards

Mission Statement:
To prepare, preserve and maintain the golf course as the major club asset and to afford the opportunity to provide enjoyment to its members and guests.

To protect, understand and fulfill the golf course architect's vision and goals for a firm, fast and fair golf challenge for all levels of player abilities.

To plan and execute programs and procedures that maintains a superior golf experience as well as enhances and protects the environment, property and aesthetics of the club.

The course will be maintained such that excellent playing conditions exist for both the championship and the average golfer. The golf course should play near championship standards, within weather limitations, on a continued basis and at championship standards for certain events. These events will be determined annually by the Golf and Green Committees.

The goal of maintenance is the least amount of interference and inconsistencies as possible. Environmental stewardship and resource management will impact selecting and applying products to the golf course.

These objectives will be met within an overall annual capital and maintenance budget prepared by the Green Committee, General Manger, and Golf Course Superintendent, approved by the Board of Directors.

“In our future, we will enrich the heritage and prestige of The Sample Golf and Country Club. We will maintain and manage our financial resources, club assets and equipment to provide an exceptional golf experience to all members. We will offer state-of-the-art golf facilities and continually strive to effectively communicate with the membership. We will protect the original golf course design and make changes in carefully measured increments with approvals based on membership consensus and keeping mindful of original golf course architects design philosophies.”

The objective is a putting surface with smoothness, firmness, limited grain and with an overall uniformity. The greens will be closely mowed with good to excellent speed.

Green Standards:

  • Greens will be mowed daily during the growing season. Spring and late fall heights of cut will be .140 of an inch with smooth rollers. The heights will be lowered on or about Memorial Day to .125 of an inch. Health conditions permitting, the height will be lowered to .1 of an inch and will remain throughout July and August with a separate clean-up band cut at 1/8.'
  • Greens will be hand mowed weekdays and after heavy rainfall. They will be double-triplex mowed on weekends cut to maintain relative speed objectives. Grooming and / or verticutting will be used periodically to control grain and keep it at acceptable levels.
  • Greens will be rolled on Saturdays and Sundays, if needed, to maintain minimum speed objectives.
  • Greens speed will be measured Wednesday and Friday via the Stimpmeter in order to maintain minimum speed objectives. These readings will be included into the Superintendent's monthly quality report.
  • Growth regulator will be applied as an aid to increase green speed, reduce excessive growth and increase turf density.
  • Relative Green Speed Minimums (weather permitting):
  • Regular Play: 120 inches of roll in methods prescribed by USGA minimum.
  • Weekend Play: 132 inches of roll in methods prescribed by USGA minimum.
  • Tournament Play: 138 inches of roll in methods prescribed by USGA minimum.
  • Greens will be topdressed bi-weekly for smoothness, firmness and to control thatch. Additional topdressing may be required for preparation of tournament conditions.
  • Greens will be aerated as follows: All eighteen holes will be aerated in the spring using .25 of an inch hollow tines and will be completed within a three day period (weather permitting). Late fall aeration will consist of .5 x 10 inch deep drill tines covering all eighteen holes over a three day period (weather permitting). Topdressing sand will be fully and carefully incorporated into the aerification holes.
  • Greens will be irrigated as little as possible to promote deep rooting, drought tolerance, and minimal disease problems. Greens will be firm and the soil dry whenever possible.
  • Greens will be checked daily with hole-cups being changed as needed.
  • Greens will be monitored throughout the winter months (November to March) to determine if they can remain open for play. All efforts will be taken to ensure a minimum of nine holes will be open for play during the winter months (weather permitting). The general rule is that the greens will remain open whenever possible. Alternate greens will be required when weather conditions dictate that severe damage will occur if greens are played on.
  • Greens apron and collars will be maintained with adequate and consistent cushion of rough from collar to bunker. Collars will be mowed at .437 of an inch during the spring and will be lowered to .375 of an inch on or about Memorial Day. The collars will generally be 30 inches wide.

The objective is a teeing surface that is smooth, firm, level and without weeds. Tees will be closely mowed and consist of predominately bentgrass. Ryegrass will be introduced in high wear areas. A conscientious effort will be taken to maintain our tees to resemble greens only cut slightly higher.

Tee Standards:

  • Tees will be mowed at .437 of an inch during the spring and lowered to .375 of an inch on or about Memorial Day. Tees will generally be mowed four days a week depending on growth.
  • The turfgrass quality will take priority over competition from tree roots, shade and restricted air circulation. Trees will be thinned and pruned on an as needed basis to ensure the highest quality of turf.
  • Divots will be attended to daily; accessories will be checked daily for service.
  • Tees will be aggressively aerated in the spring and fall using a John Deere 1500 Aerator with .75 of an inch hollow tines. Topdressing sand will be incorporated into aeration holes.
  • Tee blocks will be checked daily and changed as needed to utilize the greatest amount of teeing space.

The objective is to use various flagsticks and tee block placements that challenge the golfers thinking and maintains quality of turf by spreading wear and reducing stress over various cupping and tee block areas.

Course setup:

  • Greens will be checked with cups being changed daily in-season and off-season as needed. The course will be setup with an overall balance between the cups and tee position to maintain appropriate yardage. On weekends and during special member tournaments, tee blocks will be located at or near the monuments.
  • Tournament setup: Tournament Coordinator will be given the option of choosing flagstick / hole-cup placements utilizing a standard form used for such placements. Tournament Officials may leave it up to the Green Department for placements, these decisions should be made well in advance of the event (5-10 days) to avoid these areas leading up to the tournament.
  • Tee blocks will be checked daily and changed as needed to utilize the greatest amount of teeing space. A balance between the tee blocks and flagstick / hole-cup positions will be maintained (6 Forward, 6 Middle and 6 Rear).

The objective is fairway turf predominately populated with bentgrass with good density, uniformity, smoothness, firmness with a minimum of thatch while exhibiting good drought tolerance. The goal is to play 'summer rules' at all times excluding the immediate scheduled aeration recovery periods.

Fairway Standards:

  • Fairways will be mowed at .437 of an inch during the spring months and will be lowered to .375 of an inch on or about Memorial Day.
  • Clippings will be collected during June, July and August.
  • Fairways will be aerated aggressively in the late fall with the John Deere 1500 aerator at a 3 inch depth removing a soil core of not less than .5 of an inch.
  • Growth regulators will be used in the summer and fall months to enhance bentgrass density and to reduce irrigation and clippings.
  • Fairways will be irrigated for turfgrass health only, not for color. Fairways may be dormant throughout the summer months.
  • Fairway divots will be maintained throughout the season from at least 200 yards and into the green. All carts will be fitted with divot mix provided by the Pro Shop.
  • Sand topdressing will be applied to fairways to improve firmness, drainage and aid in thatch reduction.
  • All necessary chemical applications will be applied as early as possible so as to cause as little interference with play as possible.
  • All chemical applications will be applied under the direction of a state licensed applicator.
  • Every effort will be made to apply the most effective and safe products into the disease suppression and control program.

The main objective of the rough is to maintain at minimal levels while not compromising the aesthetics, severity of penalty, and speed of play.

Rough Standards:

  • The rough will be maintained at a height between 2.25 and 2.5 inches with rotary mowers. The primary or intermediate cut of rough (area roughly 15' around fairway) will be maintained at 1.75 inches and be mowed two times a week.
  • The rough bordering fairway bunkers will be maintained regularly to maintain proper turf buffer between the bunker and fairway.
  • The rough will be mowed at least once a week when actively growing with perimeters of fairways cut a second time if needed. Growth regulators will be used in the spring and fall, to slow the growth rate of the grass around the fairway perimeter.
  • Large remote areas of rough will be cut monthly.
  • Broadleaf weeds will be controlled as needed to promote aesthetics, playability and uniformity.
  • Edges and O.B. areas of course will be mowed monthly: these areas include wooded areas with turf, fence edges, and out of the way native / meadow areas.

The objective is to have bunkers with the proper amount of sand and be well distributed without rocks or other loose impediments. The bunkers should aesthetically complement the architect's original design and vision.

Bunker Standards:

  • The bunkers will be checked daily for smoothness. Raking will consist of hand raking when needed depending on amount of play. Mechanical raking machine will be used periodically (weekly) to loosen compacted sand and to control weeds.
  • Fairway bunkers will be hand-raked at all times to ensure sand firmness.
  • The bunker edges facing the green will be maintained with a crisp edge consisting of a 2 to 3 inch lip. The rear edges will be maintained with the sand reasonably flush with the turf.
  • Stone and debris removal will be tended to daily with regular maintenance.
  • The sand depth will be maintained at no less than 4 inches. A report of sand distribution, which includes regular depth measurements, will be included in the Superintendents monthly quality report.
  • The bunkers will have adequate rakes around them. Large bunkers will have at least 3 rakes and small bunkers will have at least 2.
  • The edges of bunkers will be over-seeded annually with drought tolerant turf or re-sodded as needed in the fall.
  • The edges of bunkers will be regularly fertilized with organic products in addition to the regular rough fertilization program.
  • A preventive insecticide will be used along with fairway spray applications.


  • Trees in high traffic areas (Club House, walk paths, etc.) will be checked regularly for weak limbs, and hanging limbs and maintained as necessary.
  • Key trees will be fertilized and or mulched annually. Poison ivy and vines will be controlled as needed.
  • Evergreen trees will be limbed up for aesthetics, maintenance, and ease play and finding lost golf balls.
  • Trees will be pruned as time permits.
  • Large areas of woods will be thinned to enhance turf quality, aesthetics and the overall health of the other trees in the area.
  • Most tree work will occur in the winter months.
  • Deer repellant will be applied to young trees and shrubs as needed.


  • The practice tee will be mowed twice a week at .437 of an inch.
  • The Greens Department will not be responsible for distributing traffic or the safe separation of the golfers.
  • The short iron practice area will be maintained to the same standards as the golf course.


  • The department will comply with OSHA regulations pertaining to safety meetings and equipment operations.
  • Equipment will be maintained in safe operating condition.
  • The department will have monthly safety meetings concerning first aid procedures, safety, etc. Accurate records of topics and signatures of attendees will be kept.
  • Safety glasses will be required for all tasks where eyes may be exposed to any hazards.
  • Steel-toed shoes will be required for specific tasks: especially rotary mowing and chainsaw operation.
  • New employees will be instructed on safe operation of all equipment.
  • No individual without a valid driver's license (or of age) will operate any equipment.
  • Pesticide applications will be performed under the direction of a state licensed applicator.
  • Hard hats will be worn at all times when working in or near play.
  • No employee with points on his or her license associated with alcohol will operate vehicles off the property.
  • The Superintendent will provide regular reviews of each employee (at least every six months) and will include the review schedule in his monthly report to the Committee.


  • The course will be developed and maintained to accommodate cart usage.
  • Wet condition tracks will be developed in out of way areas to make it possible to provide minimal cart restrictions because of weather conditions.
  • Carts will be expected to use paths wherever possible.
  • Rope and signage will be used to direct cart traffic wherever necessary.
  • Cart traffic will be allowed to roam (except under extreme wet conditions). During July and August carts may be restricted to the rough on a day to day basis; this decision will be made by the Superintendent.


  • Flowerbeds will be maintained, edged and mulched as needed.
  • Grass areas will be mowed as needed.
  • Entire clubhouse area will be checked daily for trash and other unsightly debris.
  • Annuals and perennials will be planted in appropriate areas. Also, an assortment of other planters will be located throughout the area.
  • We will have an ornamental horticulturalist on staff with a landscaping background.


  • Turf areas will be maintained as needed.
  • Flowerbeds will be maintained as needed. Annuals will be planted as needed.
  • Fences, gates and other hardware will be kept in proper working condition.


  • The turf watering system will be maintained in like new condition.
  • The system will be programmed to operate during non-play hours as weather dictates.
  • All leaks will be repair as soon as possible.
  • The systems pump station will be inspected by trained professionals prior to season activation.
  • Sprinkler heads will be inspected and adjusted to maintain proper watering patterns.
  • Irrigation audits will be performed systematically on portions of the golf course each year to assure system efficiency.
  • Ponds will be treated to eliminate unwanted odors and aquatic weeds.
  • Every effort will be made not to overwater and cause wet areas on the course.


  • Members will be informed of maintenance activities through bulletin board postings and periodic articles in the club’s newsletter and club’s website.
  • The golf course will be closed according to the stated weather policy.
  • Integrated Pest Management (utilizing many options for pest control) will be a continued goal.
  • Staffing: we will continue to develop a well-organized and efficient team-oriented staff, conscious of the cost/benefit aspects of our operation. The staff will be compensated for consistent and or above local industry standards consistent with their work ethic, dedication and efficiency.
  • Bathrooms in the shop will be cleaned week

While implementing these standards, efforts by the golf course maintenance staff will be greatly enhanced by members and guest who practice proper golf etiquette. These efforts by all who use the golf facilities include:

  • Divots made or observed by a player must be carefully replaced and pressed down. Use divot mix in the fairways and tee boxes only.
  • Each player should repair at least one ball mark on every putting green.
  • Players should be careful not to scuff the putting green while walking. Upon the completion of a hole, scuff marks (especially those near the hole) should be repaired out of courtesy to following players.
  • Remove and replace the flagstick carefully to avoid damaging the hole or the putting green. Refrain from dropping the flagstick on the putting green.
  • Footprints and club marks made in sand bunkers should be filled and raked smooth. Players should refrain from walking up the faces of sand bunkers. Enter and leave sand bunkers from the low or flat side.
  • While players may assign caddies to do any of the previously noted tasks, it is the player’s responsibility to ensure they are done and done properly.
  • Do not litter the golf course. Place trash in the containers provided.
  • Parents must not permit their children to run at large on the golf course or the practice putting green.
  • Dogs are not permitted to run at large on club property.
  • All matters relating to the golf course and its upkeep are the responsibility of the Green Committee. Suggestions, questions and / or complaints should be made to the Chairman in writing. Please do not contact the Green Superintendent or his staff directly.
  • Obey all cart instructions especially during extreme conditions. Carts should remain on paths on all par 3s. Try to use cart paths wherever they are provided and always exit fairways to the side of the cart path.
  • Keep carts at least 25 yards from front of greens. Do not drive carts in areas that are steep and dangerous, use caution and common sense.

Unlike many sports, golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the Rules.

All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be. This is the spirit of the game of golf.

The above standards will very greatly for course-to-course. Use these samples as a starting point and fashion a set of golf maintenance standards specifically for your golf club. The best designed standards are formulated with input from the green committee, golf course superintendent, and board of directors. Your clubs’ standards will serve your membership well if annually the standards are adjusted to meet specific needs, programs and projects.