June 2013

Thought I would take a break from the humdrum “why we aerify” and “golf course etiquette” theme and write about something golf related yet different.

I hope that many of you had the opportunity to watch the US Open this past week and the way in which a classic old golf course-Merion in Ardmore, Pennsylvania-protected par the way a tournament golf course was meant to. The US Open is the truest test of golf with some of the most difficult, specifically prescribed conditions. What very few people know is that preparations for a major tournament often start years ahead of the tournament date. USGA officials have a huge say in construction and maintenance in the days, weeks, months, and even years before the event. The preparations are meticulous but as seems to be the case when a golf course protects par, complaints from players abound.

Funny how early in the week players were bragging about firing up 62’s on a golf course that is relatively short-many were plainly not prepared for US Open conditions. Instead of acknowledging the difficulty of the golf course and recognizing that everyone plays on the same track, a few players choose to take the easier and more contemporary route of complaining about golf course conditions and setup. The same thing happens after British Opens if players are not under par. In all reality, a very sad way of trying to justify the fact that they just are not playing well enough to win. I think that this type of thinking has made its way into the mainstream golfer over the past 20 years or so. Some players have trouble acknowledging that they are simply not as good as they think they are-so they complain.

I often see this out here when players sometimes complain about pin placements. As many of you know, we have many multi-tiered greens on the Wilderness. The simple fact of the matter is that, on some greens, if you are on the incorrect tier on an approach shot you will almost certainly three putt (or worse). This is not unfair-this is simply difficult. I hope that everyone can understand the difference between unfair and difficult. Unfair is a pin placement on a slope that will not hold from any angle-it is impossible to stop the ball close to the cup without the ball going in the hole. There is nothing wrong with the cup being close to a slope as long as it is not on the slope. While tucking a pin placement close to a slope is difficult if you are on the wrong part of the green, it is not unfair. Next time, get the ball on the proper tier (and keep it there) and the chance will be there for par or better. Not every pin placement can be an easy one-especially on these greens. This becomes particularly true later in the year when greens are showing signs of excessive wear and we try to utilize as much surface area as possible on the green to distribute wear from players.

I you remember anything about this article it should be this: there is no shame in taking a beating from a golf course. I know that I have taken my share over the years and, in the end, have nobody to blame but myself.

Thanks and hope to see you out there,

Vincent Dodge CGCS