Golf Course Management

APR 2014

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

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88 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 04.14 After a day of frustration off the tee, you fnally strike a good drive down the middle of the fairway. Your confdence is on the rise, your chin is held a little higher, and your stride be - comes a strut. You expect to follow the drive with an 8-iron into the par-4, landing close enough to the fagstick to leave a makeable birdie putt. As you approach the ball, your heart sinks. It's nestled down in a divot hole resting on a bed of sand. Your fellow competitor sees your predicament, but shrugs it off as no big deal. His cavalier attitude doesn't ft the dilemma. The way you see it, the ball is resting on a sand box at the base of the Grand Canyon. Your thoughts shift from "sure birdie" to "hope for par." "Surely," you say to yourself, "there must be some sentence buried in the plethora of sen - tences within the Rules of Golf that allow relief from this unfortunate circumstance." You'd be wrong. One of the principles of the Rules is to "play the ball as it lies" and this is outlined in detail in Rule 13-1. Although it may seem unfair to hit a good drive only to be rewarded with a poor lie, that's just part of the game. One could make an argument that a divot hole is "ground under repair." "Ground" has been violently removed from the area, and an attempt is usually made to "repair" the void by flling it with some type of divot mixture to encourage turf growth. The Rules, however, do not address divots or divot holes in the defnition of ground under repair. Furthermore, Decision 33-8/34 indicates that a local rule cannot be created that allows relief from divot holes. The diffculty lies in defning what qualifes as a divot hole. What if it is 80 percent covered by turf — would relief still be allowed? Who makes the call? Is a rules offcial required to make the subjective judgment on each occasion? Superintendents can help make divot holes more bearable for golfers. Besides promoting good etiquette, including divot fll mix on par-3s and carts, and having employees fll divots when needed, here are some other considerations. • Sand alone is not necessarily the best ma - terial for flling divot holes. An 8:1:1 mix (sand:compost:soil) was recommended by Illinois researchers who found it resulted in faster creeping bentgrass divot recov - ery than using sand alone (GCM, October 2005, Page 82). Conversations with USGA agronomists revealed that they prefer a divot mixture for championships that will frm up relatively quickly, which means avoiding the use of straight sand, but also not includ - ing so much soil that there is potential for streaking of the turf when it becomes wet. • Divot holes should not be overflled with divot mix; otherwise, golfers' lies will be compromised to a greater degree, and mow - ers may be damaged. • Including seed with the divot mixture is particularly important where bunchgrasses, such as perennial ryegrass, are growing. Creeping bentgrass seed included with divot mix has also been shown to speed its divot hole recovery. Including seed is really not an option for divot mixes for vegetatively propa - gated warm-season grasses. If you use seed in the divot mix, match the species and cultivar to those that are in the existing stand. Oth - erwise, you may get an objectionable non- uniform appearance to the turf over time. As a superintendent, you have options at your disposal to help golfers more easily toler - ate the consequences of ending up in a divot hole. As a golfer, don't forget that bad shots are sometimes rewarded with good bounces and good lies result. When your ball ends up in a divot hole in the middle of the fairway, just think of it as golf 's cruel way of getting even. Step into the sand box, use a lofted club, and pop that ball over the canyon rim and onto the green. Then, maybe golf will think twice about trapping your ball in a divot hole. 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 17-year educator member of GCSAA. Jack Fry, Ph.D A divot dilemma When your ball ends up in a divot hole in the middle of the fairway, just think of it as golf's cruel way of getting even. (through the green) 088-089_April14_TtGreen.indd 88 3/18/14 2:53 PM

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