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Superintendents' Responsibilities To Support The Rules Of Golf: Part Two

Jim McLoughlin


Last week's message (see Feb. 5th blog) presented the Part One presentation on the subject of superintendents' responsibilities to support the Rules of Golf; namely, to maintain a constant golf course degree of difficulty, etc. The Part Two presentation is presented below:


SECOND RESPONSIBILITY: To ensure that golf courses are properly marked to support the application of the Rules Of Golf.


Every time a golf course is not adequately prepped to support the Rules of Golf -- a somewhat common occurrence -- it is noticed. The consequences that follow when all boundaries, water hazards and grounds under repair are not marked go far beyond what might first be thought; for example:

  1. Bad Rules decisions prevail.
  2. Final scores are distorted.
  3. Golf clubs become country clubs.
  4. The loose Rules environment facilitates player cheating.
  5. Competitions are compromised.
  6. Handicap integrity is undermined.
  7. Low handicap players disengage because they are consistently competing against mis-handicapped players.

I estimate that less than one-third of the golf courses across the country are properly set-up to support Rules applications on a daily basis.


Imagine going to a major league baseball game where the foul lines have not been put down and there are no foul poles!


FYI: The day-to-day collective impact when the 'bad Rules decisions' and 'cheating' elements mentioned above are tolerated can routinely distort players' scores up to +/- six strokes per round -- thereby seriously undermining the USGA handicap system.


Since one of the primary reasons why golf courses are not consistently marked is because stakes and paint lines often interfere with mowing efficiency, superintendents are encouraged to adopt proven marking methods that will support the Rules but not interfere with mowing schedules.


Dual Responsibility: Because some golf courses present 'debatable options' relative to how to mark a golf course properly for Rules purposes, their superintendents and golf professionals should coordinate the decision-making process when marking a course. Superintendents should not mark their golf courses without first inviting the host golf professional to join in the decision process and vice-versa.


The Ultimate Conclusion: The inherent values of the Rules of Golf and the USGA handicap system are significantly squandered when golf course superintendents fail to meet their Rules responsibilities to mark and maintain their golf courses' degrees of difficulty on a daily basis!


Any corporate executive who visibly failed to honor similar key industry regulations would undoubtedly be looking for a new job.


Superintendents should look upon the occasion to support the "Rules" and the club "handicap service" as a golden opportunity to advance the game by ensuring that these two essential disciplines are properly and fully implemented throughout golf.




Because of the importance of these two Rules-oriented blog posts, readers might ask their chapters to reproduce them on their web sites.


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