COURSE CARE
An Innovative Way To Manage Traffic May 7, 2015 By John Daniels, agronomist, Central Region

Retrofitting existing stakes with pvc pipe is a simple and effective approach to create taller stakes and ropes – a useful tactic in dispersing concentrated foot traffic. 

Being a successful turf manager is all about managing stress. Traffic is a prime example of one stress that must be routinely accounted for. On a golf course, turf is exposed to mechanical traffic from day-to-day maintenance operations and golfer traffic. Cart traffic can be effectively managed with directional signs, stakes and ropes. However, managing foot traffic can be more challenging.

It can be quite frustrating to see golfers walk right up to a roped-off area and step directly onto the grass you are trying to protect from traffic. Most golfers subconsciously take the path of least resistance to their ball, with little regard to turfgrass health. If stakes and/or rope are at a low height they offer a minor inconvenience at best.

During a recent visit to a golf course in central Texas, I witnessed a novel approach to traffic management. Custom-built stakes measuring approximately 3.5 feet tall were being used to divert foot traffic away from areas of stressed turf on putting greens. The taller-than-typical stakes discouraged players from simply stepping over the rope like you often see with shorter stakes. By increasing the height of the rope you can force golfers to make a conscious decision to go left or right around the barrier. 

 

To increase the height at which the rope hangs, sections of pvc pipe were placed over existing wooden stakes. The pipes were then secured to the stakes with screws and painted green. Instead of using a typical nylon rope, elastic shock cord – e.g., bungee cord – was used between each stake. Elastic shock cord has a rubber core that allows it to dramatically stretch, resulting in fewer crooked stakes and sagging ropes that have to be frequently adjusted. You can find elastic shock cords in a variety of colors, diameters and lengths from cordage suppliers.

Source: John Daniels (jdaniels@usga.org)

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