I would like to say thank you to all who presented feedback regarding our future direction with golf course ball washers. Most were of the opinion that they rarely, if ever, used the existing ball washers and that washers on carts or simply a damp towel issued by the starter is a more practical solution. With this in mind, for 2018 we will be reducing the number of ball washer locations adjacent to tees. We will place them on the Par 3 holes and the 1st and 10th tee. This will allow us to gradually condition players to this change over a period of years. Indeed, change is something that I think is needed in many facets of the golf industry. What has worked in the past is not what will necessarily work in the future.
To provide a little background regarding my own experience on golf courses, I started out working on a private club in 1984 when I was 16 years old. I was a superintendent by the time I was 25 years old and have been at private, municipal, and resort golf courses throughout my career. I can say that I have seen a steady change in the way players view their responsibilities on the golf course.
As an example, let us look at divot repair. Seed/soil mix used to be a given on all Par 3 tees at most golf courses throughout the 80’s, 90’s, and into the 2000’s. Players actually used these boxes for their intended purpose. This has, sadly, changed as the picture below illustrates:
In response to this, we removed these boxes from the Par 3 tees and used the time and energy we saved by not servicing the boxes anymore to do a more thorough job of making the repairs ourselves. This has worked very well for the golf course-our divot program on tees is working better than ever. I now wonder if we could apply this same principal to bunkers.
Before reading on, please visit the link below from Golf Digest explaining a point of view that actually makes a lot of sense:
Bunkers at the Wilderness consume huge amounts of man-hours in routine maintenance. As I contemplate how we are currently doing things and ways in which we can improve our efficiency, I begin to warm to the concepts posed by the Golf Digest article.
Bunker rakes, I have noted, are becoming less and less a functional player aid and more and more unused tools that just get in the way for both players and maintenance-interfering with playability and adding to golf course clutter. After the first six groups of the day, the rakes are pretty much scattered everywhere both inside and outside of the bunker. I know that many players simply do not bother to rake after themselves at all. Applying the same principle as with divots on tees, I wonder if instead of expending the energy/man-hours placing or replacing rakes to bunkers each day, we simply use this labor to rake bunkers with greater frequency-or use the labor savings for other tasks. Another option might be to add a rake attachment to our carts:
Have a wonderful Christmas season and I look forward to seeing you all in 2018.