You can probably recall a round of golf where you putted well, maybe even made a few long putts and commented that you “liked the greens.” This is probably due to the fact that the green speed – which is the condition of putting as it relates to ball-roll distance – suited your putting stroke.
The speed of a putting green is measured by using a Stimpmeter – a tool used invented by the USGA and used by golf course superintendents to make a standard measurement of the relative speed and uniformity of the putting greens. If a green has a long ball roll when measured with the Stimpmeter, it is considered fast and if the green has a short ball roll, it is considered slow. Its purpose is to keep the greens as consistent as possible throughout the golf course.
While a golf course superintendent tries to maintain that consistency in the green speed, it’s important to know that green speed changes all the time. Even if you play the same course multiple times a week or during the month the green speed is likely to change. Green speed not only changes from month-to-month, or day-to-day, but even within the day from hour-to-hour due to the weather environment and how the grounds staff maintains the green.
Weather and environmental conditions like temperature, humidity, the sun, moisture, type of soil, time of day, etc. all affect the speed of the green and how the ball will roll. If you play early in the morning when dew is present on the greens, they will roll slow. As the temperatures increase during the day and the greens dry out, the speed of the green increases. How the greens are maintained will affect the ball roll as well, depending on the type of mowing height, rain or irrigation on the greens, if the greens are rolled and how much fertilizer, topdressing and aerating is done to the greens.
Knowing that the green speeds vary from day-to-day will help you on the course. Take time to visit the practice green before you play to get a feel for the green speed. Hit some long putts and watch how they roll. If your ball traveled well past your target, you may need to adjust for fast greens. The opposite is true if you hit a putt that doesn’t get to the target – you may be playing on slow greens. Take this knowledge to the course and be prepared to adjust your putting stroke if the green speeds change during your round.
As part of the EWGA theme for July “Mentor New Golfers Month” we are pleased to partner with The First Tee for a third consecutive year. The two national organizations are proud to come together to help increase female role models and mentoring opportunities.
Many EWGA Chapters and The First Tee chapters are partnering to host events throughout the year to support mentoring activities, especially during July as both organizations focus on a Mentoring theme during July.
With EWGA Chapters in 108 communities throughout the United States and approximately 170 The First Tee chapters nationwide, the partnership is a great way to increase female participation through a welcoming, non-intimidating environment. For the past two years, EWGA Chapters nationwide have worked with their local chapters of The First Tee through a variety of events to mentor young golfer participating in The First Tee Chapter events.
Last year, more than 35 EWGA Chapters partnered with their local The First Tee chapter to conduct special events for female participants and contributed more than $21,000 to support The First Tee. In addition to traditional nine hole playing opportunities where EWGA members could mentor young women, some activities included hosting a golf fashion show, collecting golf equipment for the youth to use, a girls night out on the golf course and even hosting an LPGA Tour player at an event.
The EWGA is proud to help The First Tee’s “Growing Girls Through the Game” initiative that will positively impact the lives of countless young women who would not otherwise have the opportunity to grow through the game of golf.
Another opportunity to mentor new golfers on the course is through the EWGA Grads to Golf program, designed to introduce MBA or graduate students to the game of golf. EWGA Grads to Golf is a six week program that combines classroom presentations with hands-on golf instruction. It also includes a Clubhouse Orientation designed to make a new golfer comfortable at the facility and on the course. The program culminates with a Graduation Scramble – where local EWGA members are paired with the students for a 9-hole on course event. This is a great opportunity for both on-course as well as off-course mentoring. To start or help with a local program, contact Le Ann Finger, EWGA Director of Player Development.
We all enjoy playing golf for a number of different reasons, but the best one is introducing someone new to the game and helping them navigate the golf course as their mentor. Have fun!
(Photo Credit: The First Tee)
For the third year in a row, the USGA is sponsoring and promoting PLAY9 Days across the United States. This year, however, rather than focusing on a specific day, the USGA has designated the ninth day of each month as PLAY9 Day throughout the golf season. (July 9, August 9, September 9 and October 9).
Launched in 2014, the USGA encourages golfers of all ages and abilities to take time to play 9 holes. While many non-golfers state time and money as reasons they don’t play golf, this campaign is designed to encourage people to spend two hours on the golf course playing, rather than not playing at all.
EWGA Board Member Jon Last from the Sports & Leisure Research Group shares a report with the USGA that states 60 percent of golfers perceive that 9-hole rounds are a great way to introduce non-golfers to the game. It’s a great way to experience the game, without consuming large amounts of time to play or when time does not allow for an 18-hole round.
Some benefits of playing 9-holes include:
· Less time commitment to play 9-holes than playing 18 holes
· It helps new golfers learn the game’s fundamentals, Rules and etiquette in a less intimidating manner
· Golfers may post nine-hole scores for handicap purposes
· Nine-hole rounds may be more cost-effective than an 18-hole round
More than 30 percent of the public courses in the United States are nine-hole golf facilities and 90 percent of 18-hole public facilities offer rates to play nine-holes. Building on the success from the first two years, the USGA hopes to increase awareness and have more facilities and golfers participate throughout the summer and fall months this year. Golfers are encouraged to share their experiences on social media and post photos using the hashtag #PLAY9Golf.
USGA Executive Director Mike Davis states, “What we love about PLAY9 is the opportunity to welcome more people – both recreational golfers and non-golfers alike – to enjoy the great game of golf.”
You’ve made the decision to take a golf lesson and carefully selected your PGA or LPGA Professional. Now what can you expect from that lesson?
Your professional should ask you what goals you want to achieve from the lesson or series of lessons. He or she should ask about your playing history – how long you’ve been playing and if you prefer to be a casual golfer who plays a few times a season or if you have the desire to compete in events locally, regionally or nationally. A good professional will always ask if you have any physical limitations – do you have back, shoulder, hip or knee injuries, etc. that will prevent you for reaching your full potential with your golf swing.
You have hopefully engaged in friendly conversation with your professional so you feel comfortable with each other. Think of your instructor as your friend and treat him or her as you do your other friends and create a positive experience. If your goal is to get better, help the instructor understand what that means. We all want to hit the ball farther and straighter, but break it down to manageable things – so you want to stroke your putts better? Maybe you want to hit bunker shots better or hit pitch shots more crisp. Whatever your reason for asking for a lesson, it should be communicated to your professional.
You should be “moved forward” in your golf progress – meaning there should be and understanding of what causes problems in your golf swing and how to identify it and correct it. A good professional will work with your swing and not expect you to swing like someone else. He or she will also give you one or two things to concentrate on during the lesson and ask you to practice it on your own between lessons. Think back to grade school piano lessons: If you didn’t practice between lessons, you were just paying for the teacher to watch you play at each lesson. The same holds true with golf lessons – don’t let your precious time with your professional turn into “supervised practice.”
As we discussed in the article last week in “How to Select a Golf Professional,” your instructor should provide feedback that is not too technical (unless you like technical advice) and should listen to your comments and feedback as well.
You professional will help determine your learning style – if you are a visual learner or kinesthetic learner. You may be a visual learner who appreciates being shown how to swing with the help of mirrors, video or demonstrations. Perhaps you are a kinesthetic learner who benefits from how things feel and the use of teaching aids to help with how temp and timing feel.
Your lesson will end with the professional reminding you what you learned and what drills you can use during your practice sessions between lessons. Be willing to practice and take more than one lesson. This is an experience designed to help you improve and play your best, not a one-time, quick fix. Enjoy your time with your professional and learn as much as possible about the golf swing and playing this game.
(Photo credit: SuzyWhaleyGolf.com/Montana Pritchard)
· Trust and personable – just as you would select a medical doctor with whom you feel comfortable, you want the same experience with your golf instructor. Ask for references from other golfers or from people where you play. The golf professional should be compatible with you as far as mutual goals, swing philosophy and personality.
· Communication skills – make sure your golf professional explains terms or the swing concepts without being too technical (just as you don’t want a doctor to use detailed medical terms). You need to understand the concepts and ideas from the golf professional without him or her being more technical than you are comfortable. If you don’t understand a concept or comment, but sure to stop and ask for further explanation.
· Credentials – seek golf instruction from PGA or LPGA Professionals. Both associations offer extensive training and education for their Professionals – not only to obtain certification but also to maintain their credentials. You may wish to learn from a well-established Professional rather than a newer Professional – keep in mind the price for the lesson will vary according to the instructor’s credentials as well. A newer instructor will have lower hourly rate for a lesson than an established instructor.
· Teaching Aids – many Professionals use teaching aids or swing aids to help you feel the difference in your swing or the concept your instructor is trying to explain. They are designed to provide feedback to you, to help you improve. Many professionals have a staff bag full of fun teaching aids – a good professional will explain swing concepts to you by sharing various swing aids.
· Technology – in the past, golf lessons were even more expensive if your lesson included video. Now with the advancement of technology in the golf instruction space, you not only should have a video of your swing, but it will likely include feedback on your ball flight. Ask your professional if your lesson includes ball flight monitoring and if so, how you might access the video, etc. after your lesson.
· Enthusiastic – your golf professional should be enthusiastic and make the lesson fun and educational for you. You should see his/her passion for the game of golf and his/her desire to help you get better. Avoid a golf professional who treats you like a number and is eager to get to his/her next lesson.
· Variety of learning opportunities – ask your golf professional if he or she offers other types of instruction in addition to individual lessons - such as group lessons, clinics, playing lessons or playing in Pro-Am events. Many will offer a special rate if you take a series of lessons (three, five or more lessons). Group instruction, while not as personal as one-on-one instruction, offers you a chance to bring a friend and learn in a group setting, which should be less expensive than an individual lesson. Some professionals offer instructional clinics that focus on certain parts of the game – short game, putting, bunker play, etc. When you are ready to take what you learned on the practice tee to the course, ask about a playing lesson. You will pick up all kinds of tips and course management ideas that help you while playing. Finally, when you are ready, many professionals are invited to Pro-Am events and look for players to compete on their teams. This is a great way to show what you have learned while having fun at the same time.
Next week we’ll talk about what to expect when taking a golf lesson and how to get the most out of your instruction time with your golf professional.
For years the standard golf course “snack” at the turn was a hot dog, with a bag of potato chips and a soda to complete the “meal.” That was long before chicken salad wraps, roasted almonds and kale chips. Golfers today have more options when it comes to food and beverage offerings making it easier to select healthful food options on the course during the round.
Eating properly on the golf course is important to maintain your energy level and avoid drops in your blood sugar levels that can cause you to “crash” and not perform your best.
While many golfers would prefer a frozen Snickers bar, here are some healthful golf snacks many golf facilities now offer for you to purchase at the course that provide protein and energy during your round:
Regardless of what you buy or bring to the course, making healthy choices will help you to stay your best during the round.
In most parts of the country, the weather has cooperated and we are officially in “golf season.” As the days get longer, the temperatures get warmer, causing many of you to play golf in the blistering heat of the summer. Here are some hints for playing in the summer heat – while many are quite obvious, make sure you remember these hints as the mercury starts to climb.
· Clothing – try to wear light-colored clothing when playing in the heat. The trend in golf apparel now is synthetic fabric make with moisture wicking elements designed to help you stay dry. Some apparel lines have SPF (sun protection factor) clothing that helps protect against the UV rays that cause skin cancer. Another new addition in golf clothing is sun sleeves – a tight cuff (sold in pairs) that extends from above the elbow to the wrist – designed to protect your arms from the sun. It’s smart to wear a hat or visor to shade your face and eyes from the sun. Finally wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the harmful rays (some people claim they can’t play wearing sunglasses – but if you can, wear them).
· Golf Gloves – bring extra gloves so as you perspire and they get wet, you have a dry replacement. It’s okay to hang the glove on your golf cart or bag to air dry. Consider using rain gloves that are designed to be wet to help you grip the club.
· Sunscreen – use one with a high SPF to help block harmful UV-rays. The higher the SPF number, the more protection you have against sunburn. Apply an hour before you go out in the sun and again during your round (sweat-proof is nice – but still reapply after a few hours). Spray sunscreen is handy to keep in your golf bag as it helps avoids getting oil/lotion on your hands. Caution that some sunscreen products will damage clothes if sprayed or rubbed on your clothing by mistake. (Hint: if you do apply sunscreen during a round, remove your glove and apply using the hand you wear a glove on to prevent getting your grips wet, sticky, etc. You may also use an ice cube and towel to clean your hand.)
· Hydrate – if you are playing in the heat, it’s a good idea to start drinking water before you arrive at the golf course. Drinking cold water helps your body stay cooler once you are in the heat. A good rule of thumb is to drink one bottle of water every three holes. If temperatures are in the upper 90s to 100s, you want to drink 12 to 16 ounces of water every two holes. To save on bottled water expense from the beverage cart, bring an insulated glass, tumbler, water bottle, etc. and fill it with ice. As the ice melts, you have cold water to drink. Many courses offer water coolers every few holes for you to refill your bottle or container. Consider bringing a frozen bottle of water so you have cold water as the ice thaws. Remember while alcohol or soda may sound good, they will dehydrate you rather than help you stay hydrated. Sports drinks or beverages with electrolytes help refuel your body after perspiring and losing sodium.
· Time of day – while it seems pretty obvious that it’s cooler in the morning, remember other golfers will think the same thing, so the golf course could be busier than anticipated. Usually playing early in the morning before the temperatures rise should encourage a quicker round of golf, but sometimes the demand to play early in the day creates a busier golf course and could lead to longer rounds. Another option is to consider playing later in the day during “twilight” times. While it will still be warm outside and the winds could pick up, the rates are generally a bit lower, temperatures start to decrease, the round may be a bit quicker and you may see a beautiful sunset. Some courses offer food and beverage specials along with twilight rates – another reason to consider playing later in the day.
· Keep cool – in addition to the items listed above, when playing in the summer heat, think of additional ways to keep cool on the golf course. If possible, play golf courses with trees that will provide shade while parking a cart or waiting to play. Use a cool towel on your neck – some are made specifically for sports that are like a cool gel pack designed to fit around your neck plus it keeps a wet sopping towel from ruining the collar of your golf shirt. You may also use your golf umbrella for shade.
· Cart or caddy - if you prefer to walk when playing golf, playing in extreme heat is your turn to treat yourself to a riding cart or caddy. Let someone or something else tote your clubs so you can enjoy your day a bit more on the course. If riding in a cart, you have room for cool towels, ice and water, plus you can use a seat cover to make the ride more comfortable.
· Play 9-holes – remember a round of golf doesn’t have to be 18 holes. Playing 9-holes allows you to get out and play a few holes without having to be in the heat for four or more hours. Many after-work leagues are 9-holes because of the time required to play and due to daylight hours. Most people would rather play 9-holes than to not play golf at all. You may also enjoy an Executive or Par 3 course that will allow you to play in a shorter amount of time.
Hopefully some of these tips will help you be better prepared to play golf in the summer heat.