Working championships for the USGA gives me a chance to observe how different maintenance teams go about creating championship-level conditions. Although the end goal is generally the same, there are certainly different approaches.

One constant at every championship is painting the exposed soil at the top of the hole white. Painting the inside edge of the hole might seem simple but there are a few things that can go wrong. One of the most common issues is paint being inadvertently sprayed or dripped onto the grass just around the hole.

Many of you have seen or own some of the boards or templates used to keep the area around the hole clean. Some courses use a towel for the same purpose. I saw a technique that I have never seen before while working at the 2021 U.S. Open. Pedro Martinez, the hole cutter for the back nine, has been doing this same job for over 20 years at Torrey Pines. He found a way to keep the grass around the hole clean for virtually no cost.

Martinez uses a manilla folder with a cutout that is the size of the hole. The folder serves the same basic function as other templates but at a fraction of the price. Martinez estimates that he needs to use a new folder every few days, depending on the level of dew on the surface or other normal wear and tear.

If you are contemplating painting hole edges but the price of the setup and operation has you thinking twice, consider using something as simple as a folder or similar piece of paper for the perfect edge every time.

Northeast Region Agronomists:

Adam Moeller, director, Green Section Education –

Darin Bevard, director, Championship Agronomy –

Elliott Dowling, agronomist –

John Daniels, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service

Contact the Green Section Staff