Golfers complained yesterday when they caught our greens mower on #6. In their mind they expect to have greens cut before they get there. I understand, but here are the facts… The handicap and time rating is done by the local PGA. That gives you hole rating (Handicap for match play), pace of play (How long it should take to play the 18 holes, and slope (A numerical number rating difficulty of each set of tees to compare different courses or tees for tournaments). Our course pace of play is 4 hours 20 minutes for 18 holes or 2 hours 10 minutes for nine. This is for a group of four.
In actuality the time is more or less determined by the ability of the golfer and number of players in the group. Since maintenance can not instantly cut all greens, move tee markers, collect trash, replace water coolers, rake bunkers, cut tees, collars, approaches and fairways. Our schedule is set by two important things: One, daylight (sunrise), we can’t see to do quality work in the dark. Two, Course pace of play time of 4 hours, 20 minutes.
Tee times start 1/2 hour after official sunrise. We start 1/2 hour before official sunrise because we can actually see (unless there is extreme cloud cover). By looking at those numbers we have a one hour head start for the race to the ninth green to begin. Greens mowing takes 20 minutes per green or 3 greens per hour or 9 greens in three hours. We start at 6:00 am and nine holes of greens should be completed at 9:00 am. Our mower was actually in the shop washing off his mower at 9:10 am.
All of our daily maintenance is set up for the 3 hour completion of a nine with a one hour head start. That means, we will be done with the ninth hole three hours after we start (barring any mechanical mishaps or major brain sprains) which is 10 minutes before the golfer arrives at the ninth green when on pace.
So the facts yesterday. Here is the tee sheet The names are blurred on purpose. But you see tee times start at 7:00 three groups of four than a single. Green names are checked in and black are no shows. With the original tee sheet my crew will have no problem staying ahead of play.
What actually happened. The 7:17 tee time left at 6:40 as witnessed by my supervisor. Not only did they leave as a pair ahead of two other groups but a full 20 minutes early. At that point all bets are off unless they play to a pace that will get them to #9 at 9:00 (which they didn’t). So they get to #6 where my guy is mowing and complain that the greens won’t be cut ahead of him. Yup that is correct. My view is when you broke the rules you lose the right to complain and be taken seriously.
We get passed almost every day by members that are the first time off and play a scramble format with 2-4 players.
They never complain because they understand we can not maintain the course faster than they want to play. So we go on our merry way say “good morning how are you playing” and everyone goes happily about the rest of their day. (We love these members.)
So the bottom line is for the early players and pro shop staff (inform the early players). Start on time, play at the 2 hour 10 minute pace for nine holes. Or pass my maintenance crew, say “good morning”, have a great day and continue through without complaining about an unrealistic expectations of what you want to see when you break the rules.
Mark Novotny CGCS