golf courses are designed for experienced golfers.
These golfers like the challenge of long enough holes,
approach shots requiring careful execution, fast contoured greens
and the rest. Such
layouts are great at keeping these golfers coming back and in that
way benefiting golf in general.
the demands of full-sized course can discourage some people
interested in becoming golfers.
In recent years in the U.S. the total number of
participants has plateaued. Beginners, golfers of any age in formative stages and those
of limited playing skill can find most holes impossible for them
to reach in regulation, their approach shots must carry hazards
and greens often cause them to three-putt or worse.
reason why far too many people might quit is because at first they
feel overwhelmed by regular courses.
Somewhat kinder playing requirements would not seem so
hostile, maybe meaning more beginners remaining with the game long
enough to get hooked.
downhill skiers almost always start on slopes appropriately
labeled as “Very Easy” and “Easy”, before eventually
moving onto those designated “More Difficult”.
If they become good enough skiers, some might one day go on
to the “Most Difficult” rated slopes.
These latter slopes could be compared to “championship”
golf courses. We
typically all learn things more effectively at simpler levels
before advancing to the complex.
This way we are more likely to stay with the learning
process until we gain competence and more confidence.
The golf holes most starting golfers play should be the
same way. With
alternative greens in addition to their regular greens, any golf
course can provide more suitable conditions for learning golfers.
Let me explain further.
greens have been used at most courses during times when regular
greens are not ideal for play, need to be repaired or should be
protected. In the Sun Belt this can be related to overseeding and in the
North due to winter weather.
Temporary greens usually are mowed-down, small, round areas
short of regular greens. An
interim rule of a maximum of two putts can be in effect because of
the bumpiness, abundance of weeds and inconsistency for putting on
alternative green of better quality than typical for temporary
greens could be established on each hole of golf courses.
These like temporary greens would also be short of the
regular greens in suitable places in the fairway, at the edge of
the fairway or to the side just into the rough.
A free drop off these greens would be given for play to the
regular greens. These
areas could be improved through long-term maintenance practices or
built with accepted green construction methods. They would not have severe slopes, not be as fast as the
regular greens, nor require particularly demanding approach shots.
In large measure these greens would be designed and
maintained to be easier than the regular greens.
They could even have an accompanying sand bunker or two,
but nothing in number or difficulty as around regular greens.
These would be alternative greens that are permanent,
serving in a superior way the same functions and a lot more than
temporary greens. These
could be called Amicable Greens since they would be friendly in
nature to golfers just learning the game and to experienced
golfers occasionally playing them when regular greens should be
short of the regular greens would of course shorten holes.
From the forward tees this is even better for beginners,
learning golfers and very short hitters.
Scoring is almost directly proportional to the length of
golf holes, which is why all handicap systems are based on this
element. People of
lesser golfing skill could complete these holes more quickly due
to them being shorter and easier.
By playing alternative greens, anyone lacking knowledge of
proper course care could never scuff up the regular greens by
dragging their feet or through other carelessness.
a regular green is damaged, being worked on or should be closed
for any reason for a time, these greens would be used by all
golfers. If decided,
this could also be during and for a while after aerification,
verticutting, topdressing, even spraying and other major
maintenance operations on greens.
These alternate greens could be valuable at overseeding
time in the fall in the South and then during the transition
period in the spring. In the North for some winter months they could keep golfers
off regular greens altogether while permitting the continuation of
play. During those
times, for experienced golfers each set of their tee markers could
be moved back equal to the shortened distance to regular greens.
That is except for those men who normally play from the
tips and, fortunately, there aren’t a large number of those
are several important questions when a course is considering or
has decided to install alternative Amicable Greens.
Where is the ideal location for each?
The type of hole and contours short of each regular green
are key to their best location.
Then, as with regular greens, what individual size and
shape is most fitting for each?
There is how to prepare them and estimating how much the
different options would cost?
can vary widely according to how basic or elaborate would be their
could be done a few at a time to spread out their cost into
several years and allow a course’s maintenance crew to do as
much of their installation as possible in the off-season.
There should not only be a program spelled out for such a
project, but a budget to anticipate its cost.
A golf course architect who believes in the advantages of
Amicable Greens to a course and for its golfers can provide
valuable assistance in accomplishing this project correctly.
Amicable Course could easily be included while designing a new
traditional-type golf course.
More often it would be done at existing courses which want
to make conditions more inviting to starting golfers and provide
acceptable greens anytime the course’s regular greens should not
be used. Amicable
Greens will be appreciated by avid golfers during those times,
give a favorable friendly welcome to beginning golfers all of the
time and allow the maintenance crew to do certain essential
operations to regular greens without significantly interfering
with anyone’s play, so benefiting everyone at a golf course and
golf in general.
of “Winter Greens”
provided by the USGA Green Section)