Green Speeds: Let’s Talk CONSISTENCY!

This guest article is written by Tom Margetts, Innovative Agronomics. Tom is an Independant Soil and Turf Consultany, working with many Turf Managers in Ontario. We currently retain Tom's services in order to enhance our agronomic programs.

How do we measure our golf experiences? What do we look for when we search for a round of golf? Maybe it is the hot dog at the turn, but more often than not it is the quality of the greens.

Fade to Monday morning at the water cooler…                                                                                                

Question: How was the golf course yesterday?                   

Answer: Great, the greens were fast!

Question: How did you score?

Answer: Let’s not go there, too many three putts. Although we would all like to think we love fast greens, in reality our games do not support this type of challenge. A bigger reality is the price that we pay to play golf does not support the expense and inputs of maintaining greens with high speeds on the brink of death! I would suggest that it is time we lose the “need for speed” and start to measure our golf experiences in other ways. I would suggest that the CONSISTENCY of a putting surface is a much more definitive way of describing the quality of a golf facility and its’ greens. Achieving fast green speeds on a consistent basis is definitely a precise combination of art and science, but in a nutshell it can be simply achieved through lowering the height of cut. Any golf course can adjust their height of cut and increase their green speed, but there are only few golf courses that can truly sustain the expense and effort it takes to maintain “fast greens” without long term risks. These are golf courses that have large capital and operating budgets and accept the need for more aerating, topdressing and cultural practices. They have large construction investments and maintain optimum environments for turf growth by controlling shade issues. These are golf courses with high membership rates or green fees. In this era of environmental stewardship or sustainability we will need to support more traditional methods of maintenance, and begin again to tolerate traditional conditioning. Golf is a game of adapting to the environment and the conditions. Unlike most other turf related sports, we are not regulated by area sizes, slope, mowing heights, etc. We need to treat every golf course as a unique experience and learn to adapt our games to the property and conditions at that time. I believe we have become spoiled as golfers with modern maintenance technology and the illusion of “televised golf” on Sunday afternoon. CONSISTENCY is the name of the game! As a former Golf Course Superintendent, I can attest to the challenge of achieving consistent playing conditions on a daily basis.

I want to belong to the Club that strives to achieve consistency of its putting surfaces from #1 to #18. I want to belong to the Club that strives to maintain the practice green and facility to the exact same degree as the rest of the course. I want a golf course that provides a challenge everyday and improves my skill level. I want a golf course with no three putts…

Let’s replace the “need for speed” with CONSISTENCY of our greens.