Monday, August 16, 2010

Stimp readings

I have recently been asked a number of questions regarding what the stimp meter is and how it is used. Well, let me share some of the "mystique" about this tool that the USGA uses to measure green speeds.

In 1935, successful amateur golfer Edward Stimpson developed the first version of what would later become known as the stimpmeter. Stimpson's device, basically a straight aluminum rod nearly one yard on length with a "v"-groove running its entire length, created a uniform way to roll a golf ball onto a putting surface at just about the same speed every time. Thus, the further a ball rolled from the end of the device, the faster the speed of the green. A desirable speed for a green measures anywhere from 7 to 12 feet, with championship speeds on the higher end of the scale.

The key to the device is releasing the golf ball at nearly the same height every time. This will ensure that the speed of the ball leaving the Stimpmeter is consistent. To do this, a small notch was added onto one end of the device. By placing the ball in the notch and slowly raising the end closest to the ball, the ball will release at approximately the same angle to the putting surface, i.e. height above the green, every time.

This measurement is performed on flat areas of putting greens. First three balls are rolled in any direction and the average is measured. Then you roll the balls back to your last starting point, measure the distances again and average them. You will then roll the balls perpendicular to you previous two direction and in the same fashion. After you have the average for all 4 directions (12 balls rolled) you will add up the four averages and divide by four to get yet another average, which is then your Stimpmeter measurement.

The Stimpmeter reading has no true useful value to it unless you have a dial indicator implanted into your chest that allows you to change your putting ability with the turn of a dial. The USGA and golf superintendents alike use the Stimpmeter readings as a way to maximize consistency. Our attempt to ensure that the first and 18th greens and each green in between all roll about the same speed. Each golf course should determine what it's "ideal" greens speed or Stimpmeter reading should be based upon budgets, customer expectation, green undulations, environmental factors, and health of the turf. It can often times cost more to maintain quick greens as this means a lower height of cut (well below 1/8th of an inch) although "rolling" greens can produce quick green speeds while increasing height of cut and improving plant health.

If your customers are not used to playing quick greens or if you have severe undulations in your greens your average pace of play on the course may increase, thus decreasing satisfaction. No two golf courses are the same in length or layout. And each of them has a different climate, soil structure, irrigation quality and construction, turf types, plant needs, pests, etc. Some courses even have multiple micro-climates and construction methods on the same 18-holes!

That being said I don't know how often I hear a golfer state that the greens are slow or "Our greens roll about a 12!" These statements are usually followed by another golf stating that the greens are too fast or "Our greens roll 14!" (I feel for the superintendent managing this type of course) My question to golfers asking me about green speeds is typically, "Did the greens roll true?" or "Was the 4th green slower than the 16th?" As long as the greens are consistent from one to the next and they roll "true" then we should all be able to figure them out by say our 2nd or third green, right? Especially since our mechanics and skills are so precise.

I hope that this sheds some light on the Stimpmeter. The next time you are out playing don't worry about if the greens are rolling a 13.5 like the commentators claim about the greens at the prior weekend PGA Tour event. (Often times those statements are not always correct or verified which only perpetuates this curiosity about green speeds) Try to adjust your putting swing to the speed of the practice green and trust yourself on the first few holes. The plight of many superintendents across the Eastern half of our Country at the direction of Green Chairmen or Board of Directors to increase green speeds is proving detrimental when combined with this summers' heat and humidity levels as indicated by the number of courses closing due to turf loss on greens. There is a saying that "speed kills" and this is definitely true in the case of putting green maintenance.

Friday, August 13, 2010

What Can Golf Do For You?

Have you ever been asked about the game of golf or why so many people spend their time trying to hit a little ball into a hole so far away? Or maybe you've heard, “Golf is not a real sport!” Well next time, educate the individual about the mental aspects of golf and physical endurance that is required to play at a high level or any level for that matter. Not to mention the health, social, aesthetic, and competitive benefits that golf has to offer.

Golf for the Health of it!

One of the best things and a great beneficial by-product of playing the game of golf is the exercise that you will receive. Walking a golf course from hole to hole, and tee to green is approximately 5 miles. There are basically two types of overall exercise categories. Those categories are moderate and vigorous. Golf can be considered as a moderate type of workout activity.

Golfers who walk 36 holes per week will burn approximately 2,900 calories per week! It has bee shown that burning 2,500 calories per week improves your overall health by lowering your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. A person, who weighs between 150-200 pounds, will burn between 2,000 to 2,700 calories by walking 18-holes of golf. You must burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound of weight. So playing 3 rounds of golf can burn from 1.7 to 2.3 pounds in one week!

A Sport for the Ages

Another benefit of playing golf is the friendships and interactions that are developed on the golf course. Generally, golfers team up in pairs or play their golf game with three other individuals. This foursome provides an excellent opportunity for individuals to interact with each. Golf is possibly the only sport that can bridge generations by allowing a foursome of golfers to include four generations all competing against one another on equal ground via the handicap system. This interaction is usually highlighted through the telling of jokes, the sharing of stories, conducting business, getting to know each other in an informal setting, etc. All of this is conducted in a non-threatening, but competitive environment. This type of interaction will prove to be therapeutic as well as an opportunity to bond with other individuals.

Aesthetically Pleasing

Golf provides you the opportunity to walk on some beautifully manicured properties and take in all of the natural surroundings. On a golf course you can start to really take in the beautiful scenery that surrounds you, plus breathe in the fresh air while having time to think and clear your mind. While playing golf you have the ability to witness all of the beauty that Mother Nature affords us. Wildlife abounds on most golf courses and you can witness the many marvelous creatures as you stroll the fairways in a serene environment while just enjoying the day or deep in thought.

Walking the golf course can give you a chance to start to focus on some of the simple things in life. Golf provides an opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind. It gives you time to reflect on what is really important. It allows you to shed all of the stress that you may harbor from your workplace or in other stressful environments. Some of the stress could be from work or can even be problems that you're facing at home. Being outside and enjoying the game of golf is an ideal way to relax and recharge.

Even though the game can provide its own challenges you can really reflect on what is important to you. Walking the beautiful green grass, enjoying the surrounding environment, breathing in the fresh air, allows a person to clear the mind.

Competitive Spirit

If you are a competitive person then the game of golf could be for you.Golf is about improving your skills and beating par. The competitive person will always want to add some distance to their tee shots, try to have fewer strokes during a round and always chasing a hole-in-one. The game of golf definitely fulfill the needs of a competitive person. You do not always need an opponent to compete in golf as you can set personal goals for yourself and these goals can be different for each golf course you encounter. The beauty about golf, and maybe the fascination, is that no matter how well you play you always leave shots on the golf course that would have made your score that much better.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Where there is smoke there is fire!

If you have played Dairy Creek recently you may have noticed the charred ground to the right of #4 or the right of #17. This burned area was not part of our regularly scheduled plans, but rather a surprise happening on a Friday afternoon. The fire began on the 4th hole about 150 yards from the green. The origins are not known, but it has been speculated that it may have been a spark from a club on a rock or possibly a cigarette ember. The wind was blowing quite a bit that afternoon and within minutes the fire spread down the hill-side and back up toward the 4th tee boxes. luckily the fire did not spread laterally very much and continued back up the hill behind the 4th tees on its way to 17. Once it hit #17 the fire ran out of fuel (dry grass) once it butted up against the maintained turf. Irrigation heads were turned on to protect the course and trees along the edge of the rough and Cal Fire and their crew were quick to answer the emergency call. They arrived with the full arsenal of fire trucks, fire crews, a large dozer, and helicopters and airplanes dumping fire retardant. Crews began back burning the blaze to control its path by removing any additional fuel material and overhead aircraft began dumping the retardant materials to knock down the flames. Once the fire was under control crews began walking the area and turning the soil over to extinguish any lingering smoldering plant material as well as operating the dozer to turn over the soil at the perimeter of the burned area in an effort to contain any flames that may have reignited. The crews did a fantastic job and were tireless workers in their full gear on this warm day! Here are a few pictures from the days events. Our hats are off to the fire crews and the amount of time they spent assuring our community that the fires were extinguished. The fire began around 2:30 and crews were still on site until dark! Thank you.

The scene as you entered the drive to the parking lot.

The clarity as you reach the 18th tee box overlooking the 17th hole.

Not exactly crop dusting...but similiar! One of these white Cal Fire trucks was turned pink from this activity. They appreciated the free car wash from our irrigation system near the cart path.
The unsung heroes! These guys were present start to finish and were there until dark or a bit after. Thank you SO much!!

The perimeter clean up to make sure the fire did not spread any farther to the north. They brought this big dozer on sight with a low boy trailer right through the same area you take your golf carts to the parking lot. If you saw the huge ruts in the lawn that weekend this guy was the reason. It was an amazing job by the driver not to do any more damage as I was expecting cracked concrete. My hats off to a job well done!