|The Old Course, St Andrews Scotland|
The earliest 'keepers of the green', including Old Tom Morris, relied on the natural vegetation to hold the links land together, and continued to topdress sand onto the surfaces creating firm and fast golf courses that facilitated an ever expanding variety of options for shots. Opportunities to play balls along the ground and in the air are found on the greatest courses in the world. These surfaces, then and today, are what create interest, variety, and make golf great.
The key components to great surfaces: the selection of optimal varieties of grass for the climate, having a sand based soil, and then maintaining the turfed surface in a way that accentuates the course architecture, and maximizing the choices that the golfer considers while playing the course. The judicious use of water, fertilizer and pesticides are critical to balancing the negative effects of too much of these inputs; which are disease, soft surfaces from thatch accumulation, and water retention at the surface. These inputs need to balance the need to recover from damage due to play, otherwise natural resources and dollars are being wasted.
|Verticutting approaches, Lahontan G.C.|
The commitment to produce great playing surfaces for the game of golf is not as obvious as it may seem. The physical shortcomings of many soils, water quality, climate, and adequate equipment create cost barriers, and the short term disruption of the course playing conditions during aerifications and topdressings are inconveniences to play, and can impact revenue. A firm surface often times has a variety of shades of green, and brown, that influence player satisfaction, and can impact real estate sales, which drives alot of the golf market. All these are considerations for an individual facility to evaluate.
|Fairway peat topdressing, Waterville, Ireland|
As a modern 'greenskeeper' who enjoys playing golf, and has visited many of the top courses in the world, I have a great appreciation for the work and dedication to producing these surfaces. They do not happen by accident, and they are truly magnificent.