A course doesn’t have to be all green

I grew up on a golf course in England, the game that we played in those days was significantly different from the game we play today.

To be specific, the game then was played much more on the ground than in the air, while now the opposite is true.

To illustrate this point, it was not unusual at all for the stronger players to consistently drive the 350- to 400-yard holes, and, I assure you, the ball was not in the air this entire distance.

The desire to create and maintain fence-to-fence, park-like conditions, took over.


More and more irrigation systems were designed to cover the entire acreage; and, in a way, the game became easier.

Balls that were struck off-line would no longer roll to the water hazard or to the sand bunker or out-of- bounds but would hit the ground and stop.

I remember in an Open qualifying event, a player hitting a ball a little thin, the ball hitting the dry front of the green and going out of bounds, with modern irrigation it would end up being on the green, probably in good shape.

As a personal opinion, I see nothing wrong with having areas of great contrast on a golf course.

As a matter of fact, I think it gives a very striking effect.

I adhere to the philosophy that the playing areas of the course, namely greens, tees and fairways, should be absolutely perfect, but the other areas should not be improved and should be very penal in nature.

At this point, I think the superintendent should understand that the way he maintains his golf course has a strong influence on how the game is played.

There is no denying this responsibility; it is the reason why some clubs have a large percentage of low-handicap players while other clubs have very few. The quality and condition of the golf course produces good players.

The idea that a good fairway is one that is soft and covered with lush green grass is a misconception.


The influence of the unknowing member has become notorious in American golf.

Unfortunately, there has been a tendency in recent years to produce softer conditions for play by encouraging more vigorous grass growth than is necessary.

The production of fast-growing soft greens and fairways should always be avoided at all costs.

They result in unnecessary maintenance problems and are not really ideal for the game.

The truly proficient golfer relies on back-spin to stop his shot, not a hose.”

Too often the superintendent comes under heavy pressure to water the greens so that they will hold a shot.

This unfortunate advice must frequently be followed.

Wet greens are easily damaged by spikes, ball marks and mowing equipment.

Shallow grass roots develop, and before long, all damaging consequences of poor water management catch up with the turf, the superintendent, and the membership.”

The most significant aspect of all that we noticed during the drought was that our golfers enjoyed the game as much as ever.

Ladies and senior men were thrilled with the added yardage on their shots while the better players found the tight, firm fairway lies ideal for hitting their approach shots to the greens.

With the amount of backspin they could put on the ball, they could stop it even on the firmest of greens.

After this discussion, many people would argue that a greener golf course is aesthetically much more pleasing, and I agree that a drought condition is an extreme.

But green is a poor excuse for overwatering.

With proper levels of well-timed fertilization, the grass will maintain a very attractive colour and will be much more durable and vigorous than a grass that gets its colour primarily from water.

Certainly we have come a long way from that first course I played on in England.

Our knowledge and technology have taken us great lengths from having a brown, dry golf course.

There must also be a happy medium; the part of the game we have lost can easily be found again.

No one could suggest that this brown, dry course would provide the best in playability or looks, but at the same time, with prudent management, we can provide an aesthetically beautiful course suitable for good golf.

Paul Adams is the PGA director of golf for Rosewood Tucker’s Point.


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