There are three main criteria for putting surfaces during a tournament which are, in order of priority:
• Smoothness of putting surface which will allow a ball to run straight and true and remain in contact with the putting surface at all times.
• Pace of the greens should be as fast as possible provided that the surface smoothness is never sacrificed in order to produce speed. Obviously each venue will vary in pace depending on putting green construction, grass type, machinery available and climatic conditions but speeds between 9'6” and 10'6” are desirable.
• A good green will be firm – not hard – and will accept a well struck iron shot and reject a poorly struck approach shot or a shot from the rough.
Firm and fast greens provide the best test for both approach shots and putts. A sound programme of using as little water as necessary can help produce championship greens and a well struck medium iron from the fairway should be able to grip and hold.
The mark of a really well-prepared venue is indicated when the condition of the course on the first practice day is virtually identical to the last tournament day.
This is especially important in relation to putting surface. A player is entitled to study the ‘exam syllabus' on the practice day and expect similar conditions during the tournament ‘examination' itself. It is inadvisable to allow putting surfaces to be cut a higher height in the evening and a further double cut in the morning. Not only is this unfair on the competitor, but it risks causing long term damage to the greens.
The fairways should be cut at a height of 10-12mm (3/8”-1/2”). Fluffiness in fairway turf is undesirable for professional golfers and the tendency should be toward firm, tight turf.
Ideally all fairways should be cut in a diamond pattern. If contour mowing is agreed by all parties, the cutting lines should not be permanently established until the week of the tournament, i.e. cross cutting and alternate cutting directions should be the norm up until this time as this reduces significant amounts of nap.
Filling Divots on Fairways
A complete programme of divoting should be carried out at least 4 weeks prior to the tournament. Certain areas of the course, particularly short holes and driving areas on par 4 holes, require the filling of divots.
If any fresh sand is required in the bunkers, it should be applied at least two months in advance of the tournament so it may become well settled. If there is inadequate rain to pack the sand, it must be watered artificially.
Sand in the face of bunkers must be shallow enough to prevent a ball from becoming plugged in it and sufficient to ensure that the ball will remain in the bunker. We would recommend that the loose surface sand depth be no greater than 25mm (1”).
It is preferable that bunkers be maintained by hand raking during the tournament. Bunker rakes should be provided at all bunkers. (These should be positioned OUTSIDE the bunkers in a position least likely to interfere with play). If machine raking is necessary, hand raking should follow, thus removing any irregularities and making sure that exit points do not become untidy or worn. Grass on the banks of bunkers and round the edges should be mown as short as possible, and then removed.
Bunkers should be carefully edged so that there is no question as to whether the ball lies within the bunker or not. Please ensure no loose sand is left around bunkers (remove by brushing).
For the modern Touring Professional, a well-prepared and well-run practice range is now essential for the hours of preparation and fine-tuning required to be competitive in the international arena. It would be no exaggeration to state that they consider the preparation and operation of this facility to be as important as that of the golf course itself.
In summary, when planning preparations for a tournament, the Club must carefully consider the use of the course in the month leading up to the tournament, and the eventual course closure date to its members. In our experience, every 24 hours before the players arrive that the course can be completely rested, allowing the staff to ‘repair' and ‘prepare', can make an enormous difference to its condition for the event and therefore the image of the Club worldwide.