Turf & Rec

News
Golfers need to lend more of a helping maintenance hand


August 8, 2016
By Mike Jiggens

A recent visit to Otter Creek Golf Club in Otterville, Ont. to attend the first leg of a four-course turf academy series was rather educational in more ways than one.

Wearing my hat as editor of this publication gave me an opportunity to gather information for an account about dollar spot: how, when and why it occurs, as well as suggestions that might explain why it is so aggressive in the fall.

A report about visiting Penn State University pathologist Dr. John Kaminski’s thoughts about dollar spot and its treatment can be read on page 6.

What I also found interesting—this time wearing my hat as an avid golfer—was how far out of synch philosophies between golfer and superintendent seem to be.

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As a rule, golfers demand nothing less than perfection when it comes to course conditions. Unfortunately, the reality is that they contribute little or nothing toward helping that cause. They take out a divot and don’t bother to replace it or cap the wound with divot mix. They don’t fix their ball marks on the green. And they’re often too lazy to rake up after hitting from a bunker.

Several golf courses, including Otter Creek, have experienced staff reductions in recent years as a result of dwindling revenues. With everything else that needs to be done to maintain the playing surface, superintendents cannot afford to assign their limited personnel to address the faults of golfers.

At Otter Creek, weekly bunker raking is a thing of the past. The golf course has left that responsibility to its golfers, but only few are willing to take the time to fulfill their obligation.

“When you really think about it, is it not the golfer’s responsibility to rake when they’re done?” asked Otter Creek superintendent Randy Booker.

The lack of bunker raking among golfers is more of a public golf course issue than it is at private clubs where the matter is much better enforced. Members have a stake in the course ownership and consequently have a greater sense of pride.
Many golfers also cannot fathom why greens need to be aerated and topdressed when, in their opinion, they are already looking pristine and rolling to their satisfaction. Stepping up the lines of communication between superintendent and golfers should help to effectively explain that the work is being done to ensure the putting surfaces remain pristine in the years to come.

Once again, we’re preaching to the choir here, but golfers need to understand that the simple act of practising good course etiquette can go a long way toward keeping costs in check.