Putting Green Speeds, Slopes, and "Non-Conforming" Hole Locations When selecting hole locations on your greens, there are a number of factors to consider. BY JERRY LEMONS
GREEN SPEED There have been numerous articles written on green speed since the Stimpmeter was introduced in 1976. Here are a few highlights: In 1976 and 1977, the years during which the Stimpmeter was first tested, the average speed across the country was 6' 6". Any speed at 7' 6" or more was considered "excitingly fast" by the Green Section agronomists. 3 Readings at the 1978 U.S. Open: Practice Round - 8'8". First Round- 8' 11". Second Round - 9' 4". Third Round - 9' 5". Fourth Round - 9' 8".4 In March of 1983, a Green Section agronomist declared, "91;2feet to 101;2 feet provides an excellent putting sur- face for most championships. However, any green faster than 111;2feet should be considered too fast for some cham- pionship play and dangerous for the long life of the green if proper attention is not given."5 The final Green Section Record edition of 1983 discovered " ... that most golfers prefer a daily Stimpmeter speed of between 7' 6" and 8' 6"."6 In 1992, " ... this combination will allow for reasonable putting green speeds, somewhere between 7' 6" and 9'."7 We found in 1995 the S.P.E.E.D. acronym chart only went up to 9'6".8 A 2003 article told us, "Stimpmeter readings on American golf courses generally range from 7' to 12'."9 By 2006, "The idea of 'target' rolling offers the perfect combination of rolling without causing excess stress, creating smooth surfaces at whatever
mining where to place holes fairly and how to set up greens for play. An area two to three feet in radius around the hole should be in good condition without any steep slopes or, if possible, any changes in the degree of slope. In other words, the green in the holing-out area should be as nearly level as possible and of uniform grade, but it need not be exactly level. In no case should holes be located in tricky places or on sharp slopes where a ball can gather speed. A player above the hole should be able to putt with a reasonable degree of boldness, and not purely defensively.! Championship greens should be fast and uniformly paced, firm but resilient. They should place a premium on well-executed shots, while exacting a penalty for less precise shots. 2 These guidelines sound simple enough, but what factors help define a "conforming" hole location?
hole location is illegal! That green is just unfair! That green doesn't have enough
hole locations!" These comments are just a few that golf course superinten- dents have heard more frequently in the last 30 years as green speeds have continued to increase on most golf courses. What classifies a hole location or green to be illegal or unfair? The Rules of Golf are very detailed, as Rule 32-b establishes that the Com- mittee responsible for setting up play is to determine hole locations. But where can the Committee find guidelines for a legal hole placement? And specifically, when does a putting green or specific hole location become "non-conforming" under the Rules of Golf? For many years, the USGA and R&A have published general guidelines for the Committee to assist in deter-
This classic 1904 Strong and Tillinghast course contains slopes that are practically impossible to negotiate when the greens are fast.
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