Golfs Boom and Its Effect on Turf

Thursday, August 17, 2023

by Scott Griffith, Associate Director of Agronomy, Assistant Golf Course Manager

A close-up photograph of someone lining up a golf club with a golf ball on the grass. Grey shoes can be seen towards the top of the photo, and the grass to the right of the ball is scuffed.

I have a feeling that I do not need to tell you that golf is doing really well right now. I am sure you are having to be diligent when booking your tee time since they are in such high demand. The increased traffic on the course presents some unique challenges for us. One of those challenges is the stress placed on the turf from increased cart and foot traffic.

Here is a list of strategies we employ to create balance and prevent loss of turf while maintaining patron satisfaction:

  • Ropes and stakes are used to divert traffic away from areas that are susceptible to turf loss due to wear that is created. You may notice that #12 and #13 greens have them. Since these greens have a design that funnels people into one area, the ropes and stakes encourage our patrons to spread out the wear. This strategy has been very effective when employed year-round.
  • Alternating cart path only weeks on holes #5, #6, #11 and #15. We make two holes cart path only one week and the other two holes on the opposite week. These particular holes are our most challenging when it comes to turf quality. The challenge is created by the narrow width of the hole, shade from overgrown trees and the tree roots that can reach the full width of the hole. We have seen amazing results from restricting the carts on a limited basis.
  • GPS on the carts has been a game changer. The ability to control the cart traffic in areas like the green surrounds and other key areas has allowed us to maintain high quality turf. Anytime we receive rain, every hole is inspected for its ability to received cart traffic. GPS on the carts allows us to restrict carts on only the holes that need it. We also perform a midday recheck of the holes that are cart path only and the GPS allows us to make immediate changes if the conditions change.

These are just a few things we do to offset the challenge of increased traffic. Golf’s boom has certainly put a smile on all of our faces. We love our patrons and strive to present the best playing conditions possible on a daily basis. As we look forward to golf’s continued success, we will continue to look for ways to protect our greatest asset which is the course itself.