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TOPIC: What are your expectations from a golf course on playing conditions?

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Nickesquire
What are your expectations from a golf course on playing conditions?
GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
    August 11, 2007


Favorite Golfer:
    Jack, Freddie, Tiger
Favorite Golf Course:
    Maderas Olivas Sherwood


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Friday October 4, 2019 11:10 AM
With notable exceptions (RGM2525, Weber, Sixpez and 24hourgolf), I play as much golf on as many different courses as about anyone who posts on GK. I have now played golf for over 45 years. Now that I have lived in the desert for several full seasonal cycles, I find it interesting how my perceptions and expectations have changed. This is meant to provoke discussion on GK among players and to provide feedback to courses so they can better meet our golfing expectations.


What do you expect from a golf course on playing conditions?


The greens? I think most would agree that good greens make or break a course. But what constitutes a good green to you?

I'll start with aesthetics. Golf courses: Take the time to manicure the edges of the fringes and greens. Lazy employees who do not mow around the edges of the greens is REALLY apparent when there are zig zags that are fringe height that the mower has missed around the edges for multiple straight mowings. It takes about a minute per green to actually mow nicely the dividing edge between the fringe and the green every time the green is mowed. At least monthly, edge around the greens/fringes to keep the creeping grasses out.

For me, putting smooth and preferably medium fast is what I am looking for. Around 10.5 on the stimp to me is a desirable/acceptable speed. Below 9 is woefully slow, and above 12 can be almost unplayable on sloping greens or on windy days.

Firm preferable over soft. Soft enough you can hold a well struck iron, but not so soft that craters are made in the green with every approach shot to create a maintenance nightmare.

All the type grasses utilized on greens have their advantages and disadvantages. Some are usually slower than others and the amount of break you can expect varies by grass type. Now that I am moving back and forth between the different types on a regular basis, it is more challenging than just adjusting to a change in speeds.

Consistency from green to green is highly desirable. And honesty in announcing when maintenance is done. Want to lose my business? Deceive me and try and get full price when you sand, punch or otherwise perform maintenance that affects the way the ball rolls when I do not find this out until I am on the first green!

Also, have someone who is actually a golfer or can at least use common sense set your pins. Pins set about 1 pace from a ridge where a putt 18" by the hole taking a slope can result in 40' coming back is ridiculous! As are pins set where it is almost impossible to have the ball stop around the pin.


Tee Boxes? Flat with coverage throughout at a bare minimum. Grass, not weeds. Preferably lush, but not so lush that a long tee can barely clear 1". If there are bare areas, throw out some seed or resod them! No issue if they are aerated, that should not affect playability.

#1 pet peeve of mine toward a golf course? Courses that do not provide divot mix on par 3 tee boxes and short par 4's where many players will likely be hitting an iron. You are basically telling your paying customers that I have no pride in the condition of my tee boxes and you should expect them to look like crap.

#1 pet peeve of mine toward fellow golfers? The guy who has to take 3-4 divots with his practice swings on the tee box. My experience has been that those mentalities rarely will take the time to fix those same divots they never should have made to start with.

Golf courses: Take the time to manicure the edges of the tee box, make it look neat. PGA West Norman has huge tee boxes that are maintained low, are firm and look like they have gardener service every day as an example. Use an edger and keep creeping grasses out, it looks like crap when a tee box basically looks like an afterthought.


Fairways? Good coverage is paramount. No one wants to hit a good drive down the middle and be playing off worse conditions that you would expect if you missed the fairway by 20 yards.

If they are kikuyu, maintain as low as possible, otherwise golfers get minimal run out and the course plays hundreds of yards longer than you would expect.

Bermuda or one of their lateral spreading cousins can play well all year, the main difference is the color. Brown in the winter can actually play almost as well as green in the summer. A good pad where it feels like you can take a divot and not break your wrist is a must.

Rye and the other vertical grasses it is much more critical they are regularly mowed at the proper height. Also more critical that divots are filled in, since the surrounding grass will not eventually grow over it. Low enough that you can still get decent roll but high enough that it is not thin is perfect in my book.

My favorite fairway grass? In the warm weather months, the Paspalum used @ Olivas and Buenaventura looks like artificial turf and is usually immaculate other than recent divots for hundreds of square yards in any direction. IMO, the perfect combination of look and playability.

And to me, I have no issue if the fairways are aerated. Should not affect playability short term unless there are thousands of plugs left over for weeks. It actually sends a great message to your paying customers that you are trying to improve things!


The rough? It should be a penalty for missing the fairway. However, there is a fine line between overly punitive rough that results in lost balls and creates POP challenges and rough that is not really much more of a challenge than the fairway. Maintain at the height you must for POP and cost reasons. However, if you have to be within 10' of the ball to see it, it is probably too deep for the regular daily fee player and is going to create POP challenges.

I realize many courses do not have the budget to replant, overseed or heavily water their rough areas, and some need to be more natural. Fine, but even on those courses, mow or weed whack the really deep stuff down to a reasonable level, definitely no higher than 6". Definitely NOT a fan of courses where the rough can be hardpan and 2 paces away be knee deep.

After having experienced courses like Mission Lakes and the two Mountain Vista's where most of the year everything within the walls of the boundary fences are lush and mowed uniformly several times a week, it is hard for me to stomach playing off hardpan barely off the fairway @ many courses.


Sand traps? Probably the hardest area for the course to get right. Regardless of the courses sand budget, it is definitely NOT too much to ask that they be churned regularly and raked every day the maintenance staff works. Thin, hard packed traps around greens are NEVER a good thing. And I should NEVER find my ball in a footprint that was obviously from a previous day where multiple watering sessions have since cycled.

Sand quality is obviously important, but to me not as much as sand depth. I'll take an adequate amount of freshly raked dirt that I can actually get the club under any day to a trap that looks okay but is hard as cement to play out of greenside.

And unless you are trying to be a British Isles links course, get your crew out and routinely mow and edge the lips. 2' creeping stringers and more than 6" tall grass right outside your trap is neither desirable nor attractive.

Also, too much sand is a bad thing. I recently played a course that the amount of my visible ball was less than a dime after a drive into a fairway trap. Too much of a fried egg even for PGA Tour players = a no. If even 1/2 the ball can easily bury, it is probably too much for the recreational golfer routinely playing your course.

Fluffy sand in an amount you can actually hit an explosion shot out of is preferable greenside. Firm, almost hardpan is fine/preferable on fairway bunkers.

Thoughts from other players or golf course superintendents?

[[Edited by Nickesquire on Sunday October 6, 2019 11:31 AM]]
REPLY
The goal is long and straight! But since I can no longer hit them long, could I at least hit them straighter?
 Message #92528
Rat-Patrol
RE: What are your expectations from a golf course on playing conditions?
GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
    April 20, 2013


Favorite Golfer:
    My Grandpa was
Favorite Golf Course:
    Balboa Park GC


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Friday October 4, 2019 12:45 PM
Playable and consistent all around with greens being most important, then fairways, bunkers, rough, warm up area, tee boxes in order of importance.

Snack cart, restaurant, clubhouse are of no importance.
REPLY
 Message #92531 - This was a reply to message #92528
sngernz
RE: What are your expectations from a golf course on playing conditions?

GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
    January 24, 2005


Favorite Golfer:
    Bubba!
Favorite Golf Course:
    Spyglass Hill


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Friday October 4, 2019 3:46 PM
For a course I play regularly, I know what I'm getting into and hope for consistency. Greens #1.
New courses, I hope they match what I read on GK, my go to site for new course research. And, expectations also vary with fee charged.

BTW: Nick, I think you have too much time on your hands
REPLY
 Message #92532 - This was a reply to message #92531
Nickesquire
RE: What are your expectations from a golf course on playing conditions?
GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
    August 11, 2007


Favorite Golfer:
    Jack, Freddie, Tiger
Favorite Golf Course:
    Maderas Olivas Sherwood


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Friday October 4, 2019 4:36 PM
QUOTED  BTW: Nick, I think you have too much time on your hands


Beats working most days!
REPLY
The goal is long and straight! But since I can no longer hit them long, could I at least hit them straighter?
 Message #92533 - This was a reply to message #92532
FirstFlightFX-101
RE: What are your expectations from a golf course on playing conditions?
Member Since:
    August 29, 2019


Favorite Golfer:
    Dave Stockton
Favorite Golf Course:
    Calimesa Country Club


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Saturday October 5, 2019 12:07 AM
Amen to you Nickesquire! Muchos gracias for sharing your expectations; and what is obviously just a summary of your experience and observations. This is being added to my forever growing, digital folder of golf wizardry. This is why I joined greenskeeper dot org!

My expectations were only a fraction of yours....till now! ;-)
Cheers
REPLY
 Message #92534 - This was a reply to message #92528

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