An Overview of Golf Course Maintenance

Golf courses are expensive to maintain and run, and the basic question is not how to get more people playing golf, but how to keep the golf course in good shape for the people who do play. The daily operations of a golf course are surprisingly complex. This blog is designed to help golf course owners and managers understand what goes on behind the scenes and thereby help them make informed decisions.

If you have questions or concerns about your golf course, you can contact me through this blog. In turn I will respond as time permits and update relevant information on this blog.

For all other inquiries please visit our website at:

The real question, of course, is: what does the golf course maintenance business have to do with my writing?

You don’t usually hear about it because it is a small industry. There are about a dozen people in the United States who can make a good living doing golf course maintenance, and there are probably only about a hundred in all of the world. If that many people get up in the morning and say, “I’m going to work today on one of those courses,” they will know each other; you have to have a lot of respect for your colleagues.

If you get into this business long enough, even if you don’t realize it at first, you will find yourself thinking like a writer. You’ll start noticing things that nobody else sees. You’ll see parts of the job that nobody else sees. You’ll think about ways of doing things that no one has thought of before. And you’ll wonder why nobody has thought of them before.

Every day you will learn something new and interesting and surprising, even things that other people haven’t yet learned or discovered. You will learn more than enough information to fill ten books; but since these books won’t sell very many copies, most golf course owners never read them. That’s where this blog

A lot of golf course maintenance is simply not necessary. You can have a golf course that has a sand trap and a bunker, but no grass, no bunkers, no trees, and no water hazards. And the greens will be in top shape. You can have a golf course with some trees and bunkers but nothing else. If you don’t like the result, you can always call your pro and ask him to take care of it for you.

But when it comes to something as subtle as grass coverage, it really helps to know what you’re doing. That’s why we started this blog.

This blog is a kind of travelogue. It’s a tour of a golf course, with the aim of explaining what golf course maintenance is really like, and how it was done in the past, and why that approach doesn’t work anymore. We’ll see how much of the course has been modernized, how much has remained the same, and how it all came to be.

The main point we’ll have time to cover is that the great courses were always made by people who had already made a lot of other courses. And as you will see from this blog, there are some very important things about making golf courses that I think no one ever tells you about.

The world of golf is filled with strange and wonderful things. A few are obvious, like the fact that golf courses take thousands of hours to build and maintain. Or that they are as different in appearance as human beings, some being manicured and ornamented, others being rugged and natural.

But some of these things are not so obvious. Like how they are laid out.

The first course I worked on had a sloping green with the back almost at ground level. You couldn’t play shots over the trees–and if you got close to them you would be in trouble because you couldn’t see what was coming. It was a very difficult course to play, especially for beginners–and, ultimately, it was abandoned after only two years of operation.

Golf is a sport where you have to hit a ball into a hole. Inevitably, the ball will go off course. Every shot is an opportunity for disaster. And if you don’t play well enough to control your ball and make it into the hole, you still have to hit another one that’s on the green.

In other sports, it’s hard to get in trouble from hitting a ball off course. You can just throw it away. But in golf, where the cost of a mishit is so high, you want to stick with what you’ve got. You want the first shot right, or at least close enough to make another shot reasonable.

And there’s no way around it: in golf, everything goes wrong. Even good shots go wrong. And so we need rules: we need rules on how to handle balls that are off course, when they’re on the green and how to declare balls dead that aren’t.*

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