Golf Course Management

APR 2013

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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Through the green Jack Fry, Ph.D. Playing your greens by the book Cliff Dipman, the longtime GCSAA Class A golf course superintendent at Manhattan (Kan.) Country Club, stepped down in January after 32 years at the same course and 49 years in the golf industry (congratulations, Cliff!). Last summer, while preparing the course for the "Superintendent's Revenge" tournament (after 32 years, Cliff is allowed all the revenge he wishes), he cut the hole on one putting green just two feet from its edge, and on a slope. Is this allowed in the Rules of Golf? Most superintendents would agree that the putting green is the most important part of the golf course. Success in this career often depends on the quality of the putting surfaces you manage. In the Rules of Golf, the putting green is defned as "all ground of the hole being played that is specially prepared for putting or otherwise as such defned by the Committee. A ball is on the putting green when any part of it touches the putting green." Defnitions in the Rules also address the size of the hole (4.25 inches in diameter and at least 4 inches deep), guidelines on using a hole liner (it must be sunk at least 1 inch below the putting green surface) and specifcs about the fagstick. So, to work in accordance with the Rules, superintendents simply have to: 1) Defne the putting surface well so the golfer knows when the ball is resting on it (note: the higher-mowed collar and approach areas are not part of the putting surface); 2) Cut the hole the correct size and depth, and install the liner, if used, properly; and 3) Insert a conforming fagstick. There is nothing in the Rules about dimensions of the green, where the hole should be located, green speed or quality of the putting surface. So, as much as superintendents fret over the condition of their greens, the Rules of Golf have little to say about their maintenance. Rule 16 is "The Putting Green"; however, this rule contains little that directly affects the superintendent. Included under this rule are "Touching Line of Putt" (16-1a) and "Lifting and Cleaning the Ball" (16-1b). The superintendent can have a direct effect on 16-1c, "Repairing Old Hole plugs, Ball Marks, or Other Damage." Obviously, by training staff to properly fll old hole plugs, the superintendent can avoid putting the golfer in a situation where the trueness of the surface is impacted. The golfer who voluntarily and properly repairs 92 GCM April 2013 ball marks is often a luxury, but education should be a priority at all courses. The superintendent does have an indirect effect on a number of Rules that are relevant on the putting green. For example, height of cut and green speed may affect Rule 18, "Ball at Rest Moved," particularly on windy days. Natural objects, such as leaves and sticks, are often picked up or blown off, and are "Loose Impediments" (Rule 23). Likewise, "Obstructions" (Rule 24) on the putting surface might include immovable So, as much as superintendents fret over the conditions of their greens, the Rules of Golf have little to say about their maintenance. (e.g., a sprinkler head) or movable obstructions (e.g., trash). Poor drainage or damage to greens may require the golfer to take relief under Rule 25, "Abnormal Ground Conditions, Embedded Ball, and Wrong Putting Green." Although they're not part of the Rules of Golf, the USGA does publish guidelines for placing the hole on the green. So, although Cliff's hole location may have been acceptable under the Rules, it did not fall under widely accepted guidelines. Putting green maintenance may not be a focal point within the Rules of Golf, but it clearly infuences the golfer's actions relative to the Rules. GCM Jack Fry, Ph.D., is a professor of turfgrass science and the director of the Rocky Ford Turfgrass Research Center at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. He is a 16-year educator member of GCSAA.

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