I recently came across this old aerial photo of the clubhouse circa 1960. One of the things that immediately stood out in this photo was the massive size of the practice green in the foreground. Today, the practice green has been shrunk down significantly and is by far the smallest green on the property and on top of that is the most heavily trafficked, it measures a total of 3284 ft2. As a general rule of thumb a practice green should be double the size of the greens on the course, In order to maintain healthy turf the USGA recommends a practice green should be a minimum 10,000 ft2 and larger if impacted by poor growing environments.
Given the current growing conditions, extensive traffic and subsequent performance challenges we began to look at different management strategies that could potentially improve turf health. Discussions during the off-season lead us to the idea of implementing the use of pin sticks rather than cups. The pin sticks offer great flexibility, they can be moved daily and even more frequently if necessary. This allows traffic to be spread across the green on a more frequent basis. In addition, it may encourage more members to practice at the learning center and use the putting green strictly to warm up and gauge the ball roll pior to heading to the first tee. The decision to make this change was not taken lightly. My personal preference would be to have cups, but more importantly I strive to provide consistent healthy turf. Other changes to the management of this green include additional fertilizer applications and bi-weekly venting practices have been implemented
Other alternative management strategies that could be considered by GC&G committee include:
-Utilize putting sticks on a daily basis and cups for certain club events.
-Increase mowing height, mowing frequency, and reduce rolling.
-Limit use of green (close green occasionally)
-Enlarge green surface and improve growing conditions.
The Green’s Committee will be reviewing these options and determining the effectiveness of the putting sticks as a tool to improve turf health and conditions of the putting green. A long term strategy will also be discussed.