Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Stimpmeter: Friend or Foe

Although the 2010 season is coming to an end, a recent USGA article prompted this blog update.


One of the most common questions I may hear from members, friends who golf or just about any stranger that discovers I care for the golf course at The Sagamore Club  is "So, how fast are the greens?" I try to shy away from providing an exact distance reading taken with a stimpmeter because most people only understand a speed (distance) that they've seen or heard on TV during a professional golf tournament. Also, because what one person feels are fast greens, another may view as slow. Therefore, I feel it is more important to promote the message of turf health while maintaining smoothness and consistency.





I do measure green speed via the stimpmeter daily from May through October. The main reason is to provide me with data that I can use to evaluate the impact of my turf maintenance programs and practices. This information also helps me respond to the comment "The greens were much faster the other day!" You'd be surprised how many times the recorded measurement differs from the perception. What I've learned seasons while collecting this data is that greens speeds can fluctuate from day to day without rhyme or reason. Or that one green can be faster or slower than the rest. It can be frustrating. But, acquiring this information helps in the decision to make adjustments in mowing or rolling practices to achieve a targeted green speed and desired consistency.





The most important thing to remember is that a golf course is living entity. It is important to understand that the grass on a putting green is placed under a lot of stress such as low mowing heights, rolling, dry soil, brushing, vertical mowing, disease pathogens, insects, heat, ice and whatever else Mother Nature decides to throw at it. Turf management programs should be designed to maximize the turf health while providing great playing conditions. By not taking these factors into consider and solely focusing on making the greens faster, faster, faster…we could end up "browns" rather than greens.

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