Define Desired Conditioning As You Engage 2011

By R.A. (Bob) Brame, director, North Central Region
January 4, 2011

Last year is over, and we give thanks and gratitude as we engage a new year.

Maintenance standards offer an excellent means of engaging what lies ahead.  Over the last few months there have been several calls from superintendents and course officials about establishing maintenance standards to guide daily course conditioning, as well as budgeting and cash flow.  Without question, establishing a detailed maintenance standards document is a worthwhile pursuit to maximize budget efficiency and reduce the politics that commonly engulf golf course maintenance.  Remember, a maintenance standards document is dynamic; not static.   The committee or individuals charged with course maintenance are responsible for establishing, implementing and adjusting the standards as things change.  The superintendent and key staff must provide professional input, but they are ultimately responsible to the policy makers and not the policy.  In other words, policy makers must become immersed in the process and take ownership.  If it is the superintendent alone who writes the standards, they will not have the same value. 

Detailed maintenance standards spell out a targeted putting surface speed range (i.e. not a specific number).  There are simply too many variables to make one specific number realistic.  Even an appropriate window can be rendered unobtainable when weather conditions are extreme.  It is also appropriate to outline a desired surface firmness range.  This can be done for the greens alone or include other surfaces like approaches and fairways. 

To accurately outline appropriate and sustainable speed and firmness ranges some history is needed.  Spend some time measuring, recording and applying applicable variables and available resources.  There is both science and art involved in the process and the combination requires the input of a qualified superintendent.

It takes time and commitment to establish standards that serve the golf course’s best interest, but the end results can improve dependability, playability and economics, while offsetting politics.  Your local Green Section agronomist is a great resource for facilitating the process of establishing superintendent-recommended, committee-compiled and golfer-agreed upon standards.

The next stop on the conference circuit with an excellent line-up of presentations and trade show is the Indiana Green Expo ( in Indianapolis on January 17 – 19th.  Hope to see you there.

We look forward to working with you and your golf course in 2011.  A mailing will be sent out over the next six to eight weeks to all courses in our database, outlining the visit options for the coming year.  However, the scheduling process can be initiated anytime with a call or email. 

All the very best in 2011.


Source:  Bob Brame, bobbrame@usga.orgor 859.356.3272 

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