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It is my intention to give the readers a better understanding of what we do to maintain The Farms Country Club's 18 hole championship golf course and grounds.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Greens Maintenance Quandary or Epiphany?

Stimpmeter which measures green speed to compare consistency from "green to green"
I experienced something today that made me think a bit differently. It's a good thing. It should actually happen more often. As I passed through the grill room, some members were making the turn and asked why the greens were slower than they have been. They were used to consistent stimpmeter readings between 9.75' and 10' as a normal daily speed. We have had tremendous positive feedback on the playability of our greens all year. I explained that we had three employees that were out for the last two days and we were unable to roll greens but still changed the pins and markers. It dawned on me that maybe I am stuck in a place, where in the last twenty-two years as superintendent, I am just used to the fact "The pins must be changed between Saturday and Sunday!" Maybe I should be thinking differently? I know our labor budget has been cut by more than 30%, but maintenance priorities must be adjusted accordingly and those changes must be communicated. If I were the player, maybe I'd rather putt greens that were mowed and rolled instead of playing a course that had a different set-up between Saturday and Sunday. How many members actually play both days and would notice? How often will this actually happen? I decided to drive the course and ask several groups this very question. Every single group unanimously voted for the greens to be at the speed and consistency they have become accustomed to all season.

When you manage something for a long period of time, it's not easy to get yourself to think out of the box. Inevitably, as a long time manager, it’s easy to stay with the "Status Quo". It's not that it's hard to change; it's just a different thought process to get the light bulb to turn on. It opens a door to an exciting area of your position that makes you re-evaluate everything. We have everything from trade magazines to university professors, whose scientific studies spew cutting edge data that help us guide our turfgrass maintenance programs at our own unique courses. Believe me... every course is unique! Always even unique within their own confines!

Superintendents are incredibly good at using that readily available knowledge for proper agronomical management. The hard part of managing a golf course at a high level is staying on the cutting edge of how we manage the health of turfgrass in conjunction with our member's priorities and consistently balancing the two. Today I was enlightened and reminded that I should continue to repetitively re-think my maintenance strategies to balance what is right agronomically while always narrowing the gap between our member satisfaction and those important turf health goals.
In conclusion, I should have skipped changing the pins and markers today. I should have mowed and rolled to keep the consistent green speeds. Survey Says!!!