Sunday, August 28, 2016

THE 3 R's

Golf is a self governing sports that relies on your honor and honesty for it to be played with equality; respect for the golf course and fellow golfers is a major part of the traditions within the game.  These kind and honorable acts attracts many to the game and the industry....... but we are facing a growing problem as a lack of proper golf course care and etiquette is becoming a serious issue. 

The decline in etiquette and course care has me searching for reason why?
Is it generational?  Are we not passing down the importance of course respect?
Is it our fast paced society?
Is it Social Media?  Stupid acts caught on camera and trying to be outdone?
Regardless of the reason, I feel the only way to combat it is through education.... many of these folks that complete or don't complete proper golf etiquette may not even realize they are acting in a disrespectful manner.  

Knowledge is Power so here is my attempt at passing on the proper information.  

Repair Ball Marks

This one is simple... If you hit a shot onto a green in the air chances are good you left some sort of mark on the surface... Look for it and repair it properly with the proper tool.  Ball marks affect the true/smooth ball roll we strive for everyday on the Putting Surfaces.   

Doing the math (as this sign indicates) really explains the need for proper ball mark repair.  This is a serious issue at our facility; we have to send a staff member out every single morning to repair the ball marks on every green.  Some marks are not repaired properly but most are left completely untouched.  Take pride in the fact that you hit the green with your ball and repair your indentations. 

Replace Your Divots

Divots are part of the game and we as managers expect everyone to take them as they make a swing with their clubs on tees or in the fairways.  Proper golf etiquette requires you to fill the void after striking the ground.  Some Courses fill divots with sand/seed and some request that you replace your divot- Marquette Golf Club is a 'replace your divot' facility.  We live in a climate where divot survival rate is high so I favor replacing divots... Either way one must 'fill the void'.  Repairing damaged turf allows it to heal much quicker, so others playing behind do not have to deal with their ball coming to rest in a depression on the surface.  
Properly replacing the divot is simple: Go pick it up, walk back to your strike zone, put it down green side up and in the same direction that it was torn out then tamp the turf with your foot.  

We utilize signs on the property to increase our communication.  It is always frustrating as we make our morning rounds and see signs surrounded by divots that were not replaced properly.  Many of these signs are placed in collection areas where many balls tend to end up making it is especially critical to repair these zones.  

When divots are not replaced a depression is left in the surface that other will have to deal with, plus mother nature is now given an opportunity to fill the void with undesirable plants.  Pictured above is a thistle seizing an opportunity in a divot that was not replaced.  Weeds add to the cost of the game because they need to be managed with a herbicide application. 

Respect the Course

Walk properly on the putting surface by lifting your feet and not dragging your spikes across the turf; as seen in the picture above.  This scared turf redirects rolling balls away from the intended target and takes weeks to heal properly.  

Metal spikes are a thing of the past but I must say these new aggressive so call 'soft spikes' can also create some serious issue.  The twisting and dragging we see on our putting surfaces is very upsetting.  We witness more of this damage after periods of heavy rains and high humidity.   These issues can be avoided if more care was taken by golfers wearing these aggressive spikes. 

Never take a divot out of the putting surface; these areas are reserved for rolling the ball with a putter and everyone that learns the game should knows this fact.  Many daily hours and lots of money is spent on putting surfaces to maintain them with the high quality required for rolling the ball.  Anger after missing a putt must be controlled in our honorable game.  The ruthless act pictured above interrupted every single golfer that played behind this individual; this person made many enemies after their selfish act of rage. 

No matter how hard you smash the green with your putter after missing a putt I promise you it will not take a stroke off your total score.
Remember this kind of temper is not needed and affects every other golfer that is playing behind you.  Calm down, let go of your ego, smile and have fun.... The game is suppose to be fun.  

If you hit into a sand bunker you must always Enter/exit the bunker from the low side and rake your tracks smooth as you exit as pictured above
Climbing up a high side loosens the sand on the banks that we try to keep firm.  Entering from the high side risks personal injury and usually results in damage to the bunker liners.  If your ball is up there... by all means walk up and hit it, but if it's not... Stay low.  

Lay the flagstick down gently when pulling it out of the cup before putting- the top prisms used for range finders are very expensive and letting a flagstick slam to the ground can knock a prism loose and out.  Repeated drops will also break the epoxy bond holding the flagstick/feral together.  

Golf Cart Issues
The biggest issue we see in lack of Respect comes from reckless or careless cart driving habits.  Destructive behavior while operating golf cart should never happen and should never be tolerated; reckless driving is damaging to the turf and the carts plus it is very dangerous to your health; you can be severely injured. 
Locking up the brakes on steep slopes because you are traveling to fast for conditions can and does cause the carts to tip over.  Damaged turf, broken bones, cuts, bruises, broken carts and broken clubs are just some of the potential results.  Drive with care and watch your speed. 

Traveling fast and locking up the brakes while turning sharply does not impress anyone; remember this is a golf course that some people work very hard to maintain for all to enjoy.  Golf has no room for individuals that purposely damaging the playing field with carts. 

Golf carts were originally brought to market so those with physical limitations could enjoy the great game of golf.  Since that time carts have taken on a new life form in America and now dominate the golf landscape.  If rules are followed by cart operators negative impact to the game is reduced; unfortunately most cart operators think rules are for others and not them. 
The next four photos were taken in one single 10 minute trip through the golf course.
A group of golfers in carts that ignored the stakes/arrows at the approach line and drove their carts right up next to the green on number 1.  

A group of golfers in carts that ignored the stakes and 'cart path only' sign on number 8

A group of golfers that ignored the stakes/arrows way back in the fairway on 9 and entered a restricted cart area. 

A two-some that felt the need to drive their cart right past the stakes/arrows and right up next to the green to putt out on the final hole. 

All critical areas are marked with signs, stakes, arrows (or roped off) to eliminate traffic issues that golf carts can cause to critical playing surfaces
We do not want to completely rope off every critical areas for several reasons
1) It is unsightly
2) It does not allow access for handicap individuals (that have a proper blue flag on their golf cart) and need to enter these areas
3) It creates more maintenance costs and decreases mowing efficiency

Respect the course, respect the staff and follow directions  

We also ask that you please do not make your own paths through the natural/native areas on the golf course.  Tire tracks destroy the look of these areas and can also be very dangerous; you do not know if there are holes, stumps or large rocks hiding within the longer vegetation. 

Cart Speed
One very important fact that must be pointed out is the damage cart speed does to the golf course especially our cart path ends.  I'll never understand the need for speed while driving carts; especially on our busy days when all your doing is driving fast to go sit and wait to hit your next shot.  Carts that are going full speed off the asphalt and onto the turf bounce; that repeated bouncing in these traffic concentrated transition areas causes potholes that get bigger and bigger over time; after years these areas extend further and further out into the turf surface and have become a source of complaints. 
We attempt to repair these areas by closing them off, sodding or filling and reseeding.  None of these repair measure are sustainable unless cart speed is drastically reduced at these asphalt/turf areas.  Just because your automobile can go 120 mph when the pedal is to the floor does not mean you drive that fast.... the same applies to a golf cart so slow down, especially at these as traffic concentrated turf/asphalt transitions.  RESPECT the course

A couple other very important course rules to follow while utilizing carts on the property
-Two carts per foursome... Zero exceptions!
-Keep all 4 tires on the asphalt paths when on them (especially around green/tees) as this helps keep the turf alive along the edges.  If a cart arrives behind you let them pull around your cart.... don't assume that a cart is coming from behind while you are on a green or tee, because there is a slim chance that it will especially on the Greywalls course.  

What the game and all of our hearts really need is more groups out walking the landscape.  The true health benefits of golf are not taking place if your behind a wheel driving from shot to shot; if you can do yourself and the course a big favor and walk. 

Following proper golf etiquette so everyone can enjoy the game even more 
Be a friend!

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