Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Golf Course Maintenance Weekly 8/23/16

Clarification of Cart Scatter Rules

We have had a few members ask regarding our new approach to cart traffic on the golf course so we wanted to clarify our new scatter rule again. "What is this blithering 90 degree rule"  was just one article linked to a google search on the infamous 90 degree rule. It was written by a British golfer when confronted with a 90 degree cart rule in America. Evidently carts are the exception in Great Britain whereas  they are commonplace in America. During this google search I also found as many definitions of "The 90 Degree Rule" as there are golf clubs that post their rules on line therefore not really helpful in acquiring a definitive history of the rule.

One could speculate that the 90 degree rule came into effect sometime after Merle Williams, an early innovator of the electric golf cart, began production in 1951. Because continuous cart paths likely followed the golf cart, it is also easy to speculate that the 90 degree rule came about as club officials observed ill effects of these new vehicles and limited their use in one fashion or another to the rough.

Granite Bay's and many golf clubs definition  of  the 90 degree cart rule  basically was was to  drive along cart path until you are at a 90 degree angle to your ball, then enter the hole to you ball and play it. Next drive back to the rough line and precede to a 90 degree angle to your partner's ball and repeat the 90 degree process eventually exiting the hole to the cart path near the green.

Our observations using this definition of the 90 degree rule was and is: 

1.    For those who observed the 90 degree rule, driving along the rough line created concentrated traffic resulting in extreme turf grass wear and loss along with severe compaction in those areas.

2.   Most people dident observe the rule and entered the hole at a traffic controlled spot (ropes) then drove up the fairway  playing balls along the way and exited near the green.

 One of the main tasks of golf course maintenance is controlling traffic to alleviate concentrated wear, as golf carts are a big component of the game and they do play a part in turfgrass wear. Concentrated traffic will result in  turf grass death therefore spreading out the traffic to avoid these concentrated traffic areas is essential, and was the main problem with our original 90 degree rule directing travel along the edge of the rough. Ideally cart traffic should then be spread out or scattered on the course avoiding at all cost this concentrated traffic.  In a sense our scatter rule is a controlled version of what we observed most golfers doing anyway and  a different way of saying carts allowed on the course or what many have understood industry wide to be the meaning of the 90 degree rule. So here is what we think is the best way to not concentrate golf cart traffic which commonly end in turf grass death.

1. Use Cart Paths Whenever Possible

We are stating the obvious here, but the more cart traffic on the concrete cart paths, the less wear and compaction on the turf grass playing surfaces.

2. Enter At or Beyond the Green Stakes

The green stakes are an indicator of the starting point on where we would like carts to enter the golf hole. There is absolutely no harm in entering after the green stakes  say 90 degrees from your ball as this does not produce concentrated wear which is the main thing we are trying to prevent with all of our traffic control measures.

3. Exit Before or At the Red Stakes

Exiting the turf back to the path needs to happen before or at the red tipped stakes. We do not want cart traffic close to putting surface or putting surface surrounds.


4. Please be Patient with Seasonal Cart Restrictions

Seasonal cart restrictions are necessary during wet weather in the winter months and extremely hot weather in the summer months to protect the turf. We are blessed with a golf course that drains well after a rain and carts can get back on it relatively quickly even after a significant rain event. We have gone to roping some select holes where we asses the unique  natural concentrated traffic patterns ( example #10 in above picture) to be so damaging that roping off for extended periods of time has proven to be a successful practice.  ( Does everyone remember what the above area used to look like in the summer before current traffic control measures?) 


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