Golf course management facts for tour events

Presented by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

Average tour green size (sq. ft.): The average green size on the professional tours is approximately 6,000 square feet, ranging from 3,500 sq.ft at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, Calif. to 9,000 sq.ft. at The Rail Golf Club, Springfield, Ill.

Land use percentage by 18-hole golf facility: An average of 150-200 acres of total land; teeing areas 2%, putting greens 2%, fairways 23%, rough/woods/water 70%, buildings and grounds 3%.

Stimpmeter: A Stimpmeter is a ramp that allows for consistent and fair measurement of green speed on a particular course. The distance the ball rolls, in feet, is the speed or "stimp" reading for the green. The instrument was invented by Mr. Edward S. Stimpson in 1936 and later implemented for use by the USGA in 1978.

Warm season vs. cool season grasses: Warm season grasses: Among the best known are bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass, zoysiagrass, bahiagrass, carpetgrass and centipedegrass. Warm-season grasses grow at their optimal rate between 75 F and 95 F. Cool season grasses: Among the best known are colonial bentgrass, creeping bentgrass, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue and tall fescue. They grow best between 55 F and 85 F.

Course rating vs. slope: The USGA Course Rating indicates the course's playing difficulty for scratch golfers. It is expressed as strokes taken to one decimal place and is based on yardage and other obstacles. The USGA Slope Rating reflects the difficulty of the course for the players who are not scratch golfers. The greater the difference between these numbers, the higher the USGA Slope Rating and the more strokes the golfer will receive.

Grain of grass: Grain, particularly on putting surfaces, is a golfer's term referring to the tendency of grass to grow in one or more directions relative to ball roll. Exposure to the sun as it tracks across the sky is one factor that affects grain, but the predominant force is water and the direction it flows relative to slope. Much has been written about grain and how it impacts putting accuracy. Golf course superintendents alter mowing direction and utilize other maintenance techniques to minimize grain. At professional competitions on closely mown putting surfaces, grain is usually very subtle, but remains a part of the putting challenge. Reading grain properly is an art form that adds to the mystique of what it takes to be a true champion.

For more information regarding golf course management practices, contact your local superintendent or the GCSAA at 800-472-7878 or