Pity The Plight Of The Putting Green

If all the world's golf course putting greens had the ability to express the magnitude of their tortured existence - in a manner that could be recorded by the print and broadcast media, there would surely be a new Guinness Book of World Records mark for "Volume of Complaints from a Single Source."  I have chosen to speak for the greens.
Wouldn't you scream to high heaven if thousands of rock-hard golf balls speed from the sky each week - tearing into your outer skin, crushing your tender circulatory system, traumatizing your nervous system and leaving unsightly depressions that require about five days to heal if repaired immediately, or two weeks if unattended to?
Wouldn't you raise particular Cain if part of your daily regimen was to submit to being trampled and disfigured by ever-increasing hordes of thoughtless players - each of whose shoe-bottoms contain 24 half-inch metal spikes that are designed to prevent slipping on tees, fairways and roughs - but are not meant to be part of an adagio dance on a green's tender surface (or leap in the air and click of of the heels) after holing a 50-foot "no-brainer" putt?
The foregoing barely scratches the surface of the number of ghastly horrors that daily attend the overseeing of current state-of-the-art greens.  Construction costs for greens today approximate $100,000 to $250,000.  With the 18 greens, superintendents find that they are dealing with 18 different personalities.  Let's look at some background:
In golf's earliest years (1450-1850),  putting surfaces were not clearly defined.  They were the immediate, semi-barren areas surrounding a gull feather that protruded from a partially filled in rabbit hole.  The driving area for the next hole was only seven to 10 paces away from the gull feather.  Wet sand for teeing the ball on the succeeding hole was obtained by reaching onto the hole just completed and grabbing a handful!
Golf, in its totality, was quite a simple game for its first 450 years, when less than 150 courses existed worldwide.  In Scotland, it appeared that nature created links-land to accommodate the game.
In the last 100 years, the game's popularity, capitalistic opportunity and mega-marketing have caused serious crowding and cost crises.
Threats to perishable putting surfaces today are truly legion.  They include: frost, ice, hail, snow, humidity, birds, insects, rodents, sun-baking, loose farm animals and "Bambi," rowdy teenagers, floods, worms, beetles, fungi, snow-mold, competing grasses, irate and thoughtless players and poor maintenance equipment.
Walking on frost-covered greens crushes the blades (not the roots) which thaw to an off-white color in the shape of the foot that crushed them.
Large flocks of geese nibble at the slightly taller grasses at the green's fringes.  They can tear out fids of turf the size of a wedge divot.  Swarms of starlings deface greens by pecking open 1-by-2-inch holes in search of cutworms.
Adventurous teenagers can be severely destructive.  Driving across greens while violently spinning the wheels is a criminal act.  Using the flagstick or broken branches to scrawl obscenities deep into a green's surface means heavy fines and extended community service.
Player indiscretions include such things as carelessly replacing the flagstick so that it breaks down the sharp edges of the hole, which can cause putts to lip-out for players that follow.  If you have a relatively short second putt and will have to wait to finish, mark your ball and move a good distance away from the hole.  If all four players are standing whispering distance from each other when the last party putts out, it means that all four players will then turn at the same time to head for the next tee.  What happens at that moment is that four pairs of shoes (with some 96 spikes) will turn and "push off" from the very crucial putting area around the hole.  A forest of nearly 100 small soil eruptions (called spike marks) appear and they become like roadblocks to players that follow.
Words may be exchanged; there are still a few dim bulbs who insist on repairing their ball marks by tapping in the sides of the depression with the toe of the putter and sickening eyesores can occur and linger when an irate player (after missing and 18-incher) takes a swipe at his ball with the putter - misses - but lifts out a fairway-sized divot from the pristine green.  The awful scar telegraphs the guilty party's name to every member of the club.  The memory of the act is as a hard to remove as a tattoo.
A suggestion to parents: Should a son or daughter make so much as a peep about desiring to become a golf greens superintendent, seek psychiatric help for the child immediately.  That is unless he or she was born with cartilaginous scales for skin, a prehensile tail and breathes fire from both nostrils.

Herb Matter, Jr. - The Naperville Sun, Friday, July 22, 1994

Herb Matter, Jr. was a long-time member of Naperville Country Club, and a member of the Matter family who is referred to as "The First Family" of Naperville Country Club.  Herb Matter, Sr. was a founding member of the club in 1921.  Herb Matter, Jr. was an avid golf historian and collector as well as a columnist for The Naperville Sun for 15 years.  This is one of his columns from his time at The Naperville Sun.  A full collection of his columns are compiled in a book that is available at the club.  With golf season upon us (eventually), I felt like this would be a good reminder for the golfer to do your part to preserve the playability of the greens through the season.

The Anatomy of a Pitch Mark - USGA Green Section

It's Not the Tool - It's the Toolee - USGA  Green Section

An Appeal for the Return of Golf Course Etiquette - USGA Green Section
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