Ask Questions Now, Answer Later

By Chris Hartwiger, senior agronomist, Southeast Region
May 15, 2013

The 2013 growing season is in full swing and there is much to do but golf course superintendents should take the time to evaluate how the course is playing.

Another growing season is in full swing in the Southeast. A plan for how each of the playing areas will be maintained is in place and the final few crew members are being added. As the maintenance team moves into high gear, now is a good time to formulate a few questions that can help each facility evaluate the success of the 2013 season.

  • Were the resources (staff and equipment) sufficient to carry out the course management plan?
  • How did the golf course play?
  • Was the course setup enjoyable for the majority of golfers most of the time?

These questions are posed now so that key decision makers can record observations throughout the entirety of the growing season. It is also important on the front end to acknowledge that a plan can be implemented flawlessly from an agronomic point of view, but if the resulting golf conditions do not result in the highest amount of golfer satisfaction, changes are warranted for next season.

As more golf courses compete for members and rounds of golf, an assessment of the third question has never been more important. In our experience, the third question can be the most difficult to answer because there is not a clear understanding of how a typical golfer plays the game. Below are a series of facts found in various USGA publications that provide a fair representation of how about 50 percent of the golfing population play the game.

Male Golfers  

  • 50 percent have a handicap index between 7 and 16 (Male Handicap Index Range).
  • The median handicap index is 14.5.
  • Male golfers with a Course Handicap of approximately 20 hit the ball an average of 200 yards off the tee with carry and roll. The longest par 4 these golfers are able to reach is 370 yards (see “bogey golfer” at Average Male Driving Distance).

Female Golfers  

  • 51 percent have a handicap index between 16 and 31 (Female Handicap Index Range).
  • The median handicap index is 27.
  • Female golfers with a Course Handicap of approximately 24 hit the ball an average of 150 yards with carry and roll. The longest par 4 they can reach consistently is 280 yards (see “bogey golfer” at Average Female Driving Distance).

One of the great qualities of golf facilities is their uniqueness. Each one is different and every golf course can be setup to varying levels of difficulty. Finding the setup that satisfies most of the customers is the real challenge. For a further discussion of how course setup can influence golfer enjoyment, please read The Fun Factor or contact either one of us to schedule a USGA Turf Advisory visit at your golf facility.

Source: Chris Hartwiger (

Information on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service

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