Spring is in full swing, and many golfers are heading out for their appointed rounds, although things are far from normal.
We've noted questions and comments from conscientious subscribers looking for guidance as many of them prepare to play their first rounds of the season amid the coronavirus pandemic. One of the hot-button topics: golf course maintenance.
Will my home course be in worse shape this year because of the pandemic?
What can I do to help out superintendents and maintenance staffs?
Golf Advisor correspondent Kira K. Dixon had a chance to chat with one of the experts on all things golf course care: Adam Moeller of the USGA's Green Section, which advises golf facility operators and superintendents on how best to present their courses.
The discussion centered on how golf courses are being maintained differently, often with skeleton crews and several potential objects removed.
One of these missing ingredients of the normal golf experience is bunker rakes. Though controversial among the rank and file, Moeller sees that loss as a potential gain for purists.
“Without bunker rakes, bunkers are really becoming the hazards that they were meant to be way back when," Moeller said.
Moeller listed other maintenance details that have had to be sacrificed in order to focus on the big-picture items, such as "less elaborate mowing patterns, fewer course accessories, maybe even slightly higher mowing heights and perhaps slower green speeds have to become the reality based on what we have available to maintain the golf course. And that’s okay," he said, because that priority adjustment will "allow superintendents to continue to be innovative and produce high-quality playing conditions but really focus on the most important areas.”
Another hot-button topic amid the coronavirus pandemic is golf carts. many facilities have temporarily banned them altogether, while others are only permitting one golfer to ride in a cart, rather than the usual capacity of two.
Without bunker rakes, bunkers are really becoming the hazards that they were meant to be way back when.
“For the courses that have a lot of carts, they’re seeing twice the amount of traffic," he said. "It just comes down to more wear and tear in high-traffic areas, especially around greens, tees and fairways.”
"The longer this continues, the more those high-traffic areas are going to get worn down,” Moeller said. “Later in the season, it may require some extra aeration and overseeding to try and get those areas back and healthy.”
Finally, Dixon and Moeller discussed ways golfers can make stressed superintendents' jobs easier and help keep courses in the best possible condition.
Moeller stressed the importance of patience, and of “adjusting expectations a little bit."
In these challenging times for the people who keep courses playable, general golf course stewardship and citizenship has never been more important. “Treat it like it’s your own grass,” he said.