Trying to make your greens faster? Think twice before listening to those members who have a need for speed. Their desire could be your demise. What is it about fast greens that is directly related to manhood?
Nearly everywhere I go, no matter the geographic region, I meet supers who have been tasked by members to make the putting greens faster.
But the non-agronomic individual, typically a low-handicap player, doesn’t understand what he is asking of his superintendent, of himself, or of his golf course. Saying he wants the greens a foot faster, does he understand what it will mean to his game, let alone to lesser-skilled golfers? I doubt it.
And by trying to comply with this request, the superintendent could very well be his own worst enemy. Of course, you want to keep your job and please the members. But where do you draw the line?
I’m tired of seeing superintendents playing green-speed chicken, trying to outdo one another, with or without the resources and at the risk of losing turf. You know who you are. You’re not doing the rest of us any favors by swinging for the fences all the time.
Compare the superintendent who lives at the edge with the one who has been around for a while – and wants to stay around – who wants his customers/members to come back, play again, and enjoy themselves, and who doesn’t want to put any unnecessary stress on his course, especially in the hot summer months. Who do you want to be?
There’s a big difference as to where holes can be placed on the green – depending on pitch and slope – when you go from 10.5 to 11.5 on the Stimpmeter.
Speeding up greens takes away good-quality hole locations. That makes the game easier for the better player since most holes will eventually end up near the middle of the green. And while we’re talking about the Stimpmeter, just who is taking the readings? Does this person really know what he’s doing? I can speak with authority on this subject…as can my knees.
On fast greens, you hardly need to tap the ball to get it moving, so you’re usually putting defensively. Slower greens require determining how hard to stroke the ball, how far will it roll, how much affect break will have – in short, the skills of putting. I don’t know about you, but I like to be responsible for my putting success (or failure), rather than be at the mercy of super-slick greens.
Furthermore, the practices necessary to achieve and maintain these conditions are invasive – cultivation, coring, sand top dressing, regular heavy rolling – all need to be conducted when the turf is healthy and growing. So, the faster the greens, the longer and more often the course will be taken out of play. How will your low-handicappers like that?
One more point about resources: Maintaining firm, fast turf requires labor, equipment, and resources means more money. Enough said.
There was a popular expression when I was growing up that sums it all: Speed Kills. In our industry, it can get you fired.
So slow down your greens for healthier turf – and your sanity.