This is the study guide I put together for the four-test PGA Level 2 Test Battery. It’s my attempt at condensing 487 pages down to almost 24. I’d much rather study this than all that!
Feel free to copy and paste it so you can print it out to study. There are at least 15 formulas you should memorize for Merchandising and Inventory Management plus the dozen or so swing weight measurements for Intermediate Teaching and Golf Club Alteration.
Also, pay special attention to the Extra Credit section for Turfgrass Management at the bottom of this guide. If you know that information, there’s no way (hint, hint, wink, wink) you can fail. Good luck, and feel free to either post a comment or contact me if you have any questions.
PGA Level 2 Study Guide
Lesson 1: Defining the Golf Operation
* Describe a facility’s organizational structure, key departments, reporting relationships, and specific position descriptions to foster staff communication and cooperation
In order to follow through on a business plan, the golf operation must be structured in a way that directly supports the business plan’s objectives. The golf operation is a nucleus around which the facility’s other business areas coalesce. These areas include: tennis, facility maintenance, golf course maintenance, food & beverage, membership, locker room, aquatics, marketing and promotion, fitness, tennis, and golf operations. The following fall under the category of golf operations: marketing and promotion, golf car fleet management, facilitating and managing play, tournament operations, instruction and player development, merchandising, golf range and practice facilities, and the bag room.
* Align operational policies and procedures with long-term goals and short-term business objectives for all core business areas
The facility’s direction and goals are supported by the organization of the golf operation. Alignment is the central consideration. The golf operation must correspond with the facility’s business plan at every level. Business definition (vision, mission, core values, facility profile) à Business goals and objectives à Strategies à Golf operations organization. Golf operations organization can be broken down into resources, staffing, systems, and policies and procedures. Resources are material or physical, financial, human, and time-based (reasonable and adequate time to perform tasks). Staffing is the people who operate the business. Systems are performance standards, technologies, and policies and procedures which provide staff with rules and protocols for conducting business in accordance with the facility’s business plans. Policies and procedures serve as support systems for the organization and form the guidelines for the practical, day-to-day enactment of the facility’s business plan.
* Implement essential operational tools and technologies
An employee’s responsibilities should always be enumerated in job descriptions and other written documents. It is important that an employee’s personal goals align properly with the overall business goals of a facility. Related to this alignment is the need for employees to perform ongoing self-assessment of their progress related to goals periodically. Formal evaluations of performance, whether orally or in writing, should occur on an annual basis. Every facility needs to make sure that the technologies they choose to use match their needs and that they will receive a good return on their investment in terms of increased efficiency, improved customer service, or some other measure. When a facility is looking at a new system, the following steps are recommended: assess facility needs, create a selection criteria checklist, qualify potential vendors, attend systems demonstrations, issue a request for proposals, evaluate proposals and make a decision, and negotiate contracts.
Lesson 2: Marketing and Promoting the Golf Operation
* Develop marketing and promotion strategies to help achieve business goals and objectives
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. It is the entire process of developing a product, determining price, determining a distribution channel, and carrying out a promotional plan. Promotion is a subset of marketing and is the process of notifying consumers that a facility’s products and services are available to serve them. If successful, it brings about the usage of a particular service or product. Marketing is often conceptualized as consisting of the four P’s: product, price, place, and promotion. Three facets of an organization drive the brand: business strategy, culture, and brand expression (visual and verbal). Any effort to drive rounds and revenue, increase membership, or generally promote a golf facility’s services requires a broad understanding of both the market and the customer base.
Every facility must understand the competition in order to set obtainable business objectives and gain an edge in the market. The facility’s direct competition, any organization that meets the same customer needs with the same or similar products and services, should be of chief concern. Indirect competition should also be considered. Marketing strategies consist of two different forms: internal and external. Internal is what happens between the customers and staff at a facility (selling yourself, selling the facility, selling the game of golf). External means marketing beyond the existing client/customer base using targeted, off-site strategies directed at potential new customers. These include word-of-mouth endorsements, newsletters, brochures, direct mail, public relations/publicity, in-house advertising, and even ad placement.
* Provide the highest level of service and sales by creating a customer-focused environment
In the process of budgeting, a facility should have its marketing objectives (enhancing the facility’s image, increasing revenues, generating traffic, increasing purchases per customer, and establishing a position in the market) made very clear in order to effectively target customers. Promotional plans, setting the appropriate mix of approaches, can be put together given this information, and assessment at the end of the process helps determine how to proceed with future marketing plans.
Lesson 3: Managing Play
* Manage play by implementing clear policies, reservation systems, pace-of-play programs, and daily monitoring procedures
Policies and procedures help a facility run more smoothly. Policies governing access and play should reflect the facility’s mission and its standards for dress and etiquette. The exact policies depend on the type of facility. Safety should be a top priority on any course, both to protect golfers from injury and the facility from liability. Staff needs to be trained on how to handle accidents and emergencies on the course. Written policies should address safety related to golf car use, inclement weather, medical emergencies, alcohol consumption, and handling disruptive players.
* Identify operations-related course design and maintenance factors that affect play
A golf course may have unique characteristics brought about by a combination of course design, natural terrain, or man-made structures. In these situations, local rules can expedite play by addressing a course’s unique features or abnormal conditions including: obstructions, roads and paths, integral parts of the course, protection of the course such as environmentally sensitive areas or young trees, water hazards, drop zones, unusually unfair situations, definitions of boundaries and margins, and temporary conditions such as mud or extreme wetness. According to Rule 33-8 of the Rules of Golf, a local rule may be established to deal with an abnormal condition as long as it does not waive a Rule of Golf. There are certain course design elements that slow play, including the placement of water hazards and bunkers, long distances between greens and tees, large trees, high rough, and other natural obstacles, man-made obstructions, and narrow landing areas for tee shots. Course designers and maintenance teams can consider the following to speed up play: designing greens so players move off to the rear, mounding fairway edges to contain tee shots, reducing or eliminating blind hazards, limiting the number of hazards, and placing out-of-bounds to the left because most high-handicap players slice. A golf course’s pace-of-play is also affected by how it is set up and maintained.
Lesson 4: Coordination Within and Beyond the Golf Operation
* Manage core business areas such as instruction, merchandising, tournaments, the golf car fleet, practice facility, club rental, bag/club storage, and caddie programs
Many golf shops will hire or assign at least one full-time staff person to manage the merchandise concession. At facilities with a separate tournament coordinator or department, the head golf professional and the tournament coordinator will need to be in constant communication. Offering club storage services benefits the customer because his clubs are available and well cared for, and it benefits the facility because it gives it the opportunity to do some market research in order to recommend upgrades, repairs, or replacements. It’s important to coordinate with staff members responsible for events and merchandising to promote and ensure the appropriate amount of inventory to support tournament objectives.
* Distinguish between the operation requirements of stand-alone practice facilities and learning centers from those connected to regulation golf courses
Stand-alone practice facilities provide convenient, economical, and time-efficient opportunities to practice. Whether stand-alone or part of a regulation golf course, practice facilities must strive to provide the best possible practice opportunities and services while generating the maximum amount of revenue.
* Manage the operations team through organization, consistent communication, training, performance measures, and time management
Every golf facility, regardless of type, will require additional mechanisms for coordination between business areas such as: meetings (daily, departmental, conference calls), bulletin boards, daily checklists, interactive calendars, email and texting, social media, cell phones and walkie-talkies. Some specific management techniques can also prove valuable. One-minute manager routines allow a manager to assess performance, provide feedback, inform of special responsibilities, and to keep individual employees on track. Cross-operations assignments such as putting employees on multiple operations teams or having them perform duties in more than one operations area can have benefits. Cross-operations marketing trains employees to understand their impact on the company and to think about ways to generate revenue. Having staff members assigned to separate areas of the business plan to handle specific objectives, projects, and programs as well as the development of the associated budgets helps foster “buy-in” and provides motivation to be part of the team.
Lesson 5: Monitoring Operational Performance
* Employ ongoing yield management techniques to enhance the performance of the golf operation in relation to a facility’s goals and objectives
Monitoring performance is a two-part process: monitoring accomplishment of planned objectives and goals (metric numbers) and monitoring daily, weekly, and monthly operational quality (staff service delivery). Some important metrics for monitoring performance include: variance reports (rounds, revenues, expenses, and key performance metrics), forecasts, per-round income, cost of goods sold, gross margin, yield management, and historical comparisons (by week, month, and year). Yield is the number of rounds played in a given period divided by all the potential rounds in a period x 100. That’s the percentage yield for the given period.
Intermediate Teaching & Golf Club Alteration
Lesson 1-1: How Feedback Functions in Learning Golf Skills
* Explain how the various types of feedback function to influence the effectiveness of teaching and learning of golf skills
For feedback to be relevant, it must inform the student about at least one of the following: how the skill performance felt, the outcome of the skill performance, how the skill was performed relative to how it should have been performed, or changes in skill technique that must be made to correct any flaws. The augmented feedback given by teachers and coaches should provide relevant knowledge about students’ performance that their intrinsic feedback (they saw and felt for themselves) does not.
When a student performs a skill, the motor program is activated and sends commands to the muscular system, indicating which muscles to contract and inhibit, the order in which they should contract, and the amount of force that should be used to successfully perform the skill. A copy of the motor program is stored in the brain. There is at least some short-term memory of what skill movements were intended to be performed. As the students’ muscles contract and the skill movements are produced, sensory receptors in the muscles, tendons, and joint capsules are stimulated and provide kinesthetic feedback via the sensory system to the brain. Feedback can provide knowledge that influences both the directive and arousal functions of a student’s motivation.
There are some basic guidelines that are useful to follow when using negative augmented feedback as punishment: use punishment only when necessary and always in conjunction with compliments, praise, and rewards for the desired things the student did, direct the verbal and nonverbal feedback in an emotionally controlled way toward the undesirable behavior, not the student, be consistent in administering punishment, use the same procedure for administering punishment to every student, and be serious and firm but in control of your emotions. Punish the behavior, not the student. It is important that the undesirable behavior is punished and not the player as a person.
Lesson 1-2: Factors That Influence Augmented Feedback
* Explain how the various types and conditions of augmented feedback influence the effectiveness of teaching and learning of golf skills
Augmented feedback that is intended to function as knowledge can be divided into two categories: Knowledge of Results (KR) and Knowledge of Performance (KP). Knowledge of Results consists of information about the outcome or goal of a skill performance, such as when a launch monitor is used to tell the student about the ball spin rate or vertical launch angle of a drive. Knowledge of Performance consists of information about the skill movements that were performed such as form and ball flight. Knowledge of Performance is used more often than Knowledge of Results. There are two situations when Knowledge of Performance is essential for students to learn golf skills: when the student’s intrinsic feedback does not provide the knowledge that he or she needs to evaluate and correct a skill performance or when the student does not know how to use the intrinsic knowledge feedback he or she is receiving about a performance and therefore cannot improve. When used appropriately, Knowledge of Results and Knowledge of Performance helps students better understand their intrinsic feedback and can enhance the rate at which improvements are learned.
Some teachers and coaches seek to create a more positive and effective environment by only providing Knowledge of Results or Knowledge of Performance that focus on showing and telling students how to correct their performance errors (non-error augmented feedback). Others believe students should be provided with augmented feedback about both errors and corrections (error augmented feedback). Knowledge of Performance can be grouped into three classes: verbal, video, and kinematics. A teacher can give two types of verbal Knowledge of Performance: descriptive (describes the error made by the student) and prescriptive (describes the error and explains how to correct it).
Lesson 1-3: Timing and Frequency of Augmented Feedback
* Explain how the timing and frequency of augmented feedback influence the effectiveness of teaching and learning of golf skills
Information about the swing that is given during the swing is called concurrent augmented feedback. This type of feedback is Knowledge of Performance because it provides information about the performance of the swing, such as the movements being made to produce the swing or the movement of the club, shaft, or clubhead during the swing. Information about the swing or shot outcome that is given after the swing is called terminal augmented feedback. This type of feedback is Knowledge of Performance if the information is about the performance of the swing such as the clubhead path or angle of approach) and Knowledge of Results if the information is about the shot outcome such as the ball flight, speed, or launch angle.
The concurrent augmented feedback used most in learning golf skills is Knowledge of Performance, which often comes from some type of training aid that employs physical, visual, or auditory feedback to guide a student’s movements through a skill. Examples of concurrent Knowledge of Performance include: physical Knowledge of Performance that is provided by a swing ring that guides the shaft of the club along the desired swing plane, visual cues from two alignment rods, visual Knowledge of Performance about the various parts of the student’s swing provided by a mirror or video monitor, or auditory Knowledge of Performance consisting of sounds that vary as the speed of the various parts of the swing changes. Delaying the presentation of Knowledge of Performance or Knowledge of Results even a few seconds is better than giving it immediately after the swing. Research also suggests that actively engaging students in the learning process during the delay interval can be beneficial to learning.
Recent research provides sufficient evidence to conclude that providing augmented feedback after every skill performance does not optimize the learning process. Two things often happen when students receive Knowledge of Results or Knowledge of Performance after every swing: swing performance improves as a function of practice with Knowledge of Results or Knowledge of Performance and the highest level of proficiency achieved in practice with Knowledge of Results or of Knowledge of Performance usually cannot be sustained when they are withdrawn. Practice involving a reduced frequency of Knowledge of Results and Knowledge of Performance must perform the following functions: enhance and encourage the appropriate use of the relevant intrinsic feedback to guide the correct swing execution and progressively decrease the dependency on the Knowledge of Results or Knowledge of Performance while increasing the dependency on the relevant intrinsic feedback. Swings with no Knowledge of Results or Knowledge of Performance encourage students to try to evaluate and correct their next swings based largely on the intrinsic feedback they received and their previous relevant experience and knowledge.
Lesson 1-4: Variables That Influence the Effectiveness of Practice
* Explain how the variables presented influence the effectiveness of practice in learning golf skills
Drills = for the student to learn, the drill must be appropriate and effective for correcting the skill flaw, and the student must understand how the drill works to correct the flaw.
Learning Aids = can be divided into two categories: teaching aids and training aids. Teaching aids are used by teachers to communicate a concept or fact to the student such as a magnetic tool that sticks on the clubface of an iron. Training aids are used by either the student or teacher to enhance the quality of a position, feel, or movement in the golf skill.
Amount of Practice = as long as the student practices the right things the right ways, when motivated, with purpose, and with relevant feedback, then increasing the amount of practice has a positive influence on how much is learned and how much skill develops.
Distribution of Practice = the teacher must properly distribute the teaching and practice of golf skills throughout each practice and then distribute practice sessions across the weeks and months that the teacher/student relationship exists.
Where to Direct the Student’s Attention = there is considerable research evidence that shows motor skills (such as golf skills) can be learned more effectively in many situations when students use external cues toward the effects their movements have on the environment. This is called having an external focus of attention. Focusing attention on the movements of the clubhead would be considered an external cue while focusing on arm movements would be considered more of an internal cue.
Performance Plateaus in Practice = a number of explanations have been proposed for why performance plateaus occur: changes in cognitive strategies, difficulty in learning prerequisite skills, negative transfer between old and new movements, psychological factors, physical or medical factors, focusing on the wrong cues, massed practice, and sameness of practice routine.
Role of Errors in Practice = available research indicates experiencing errors while learning a golf skill is not harmful provided students learn from their errors rather than learn the errors themselves.
Whole and Part Methods of Practice = the whole method is preferred for students who can effectively learn a complex skill, such as the full swing with a driver, as a single unit. The alternative is to divide the skill into one or more components and practice each part of the skill separately in what is known as the part method. There are five different ways to combine the whole and part methods to construct useful practice: whole method (teaching and practicing the whole golf skill until it is learned), part method (the movements being practiced and learned must be the same as those in the whole skill), whole-part-whole method (involves first teaching and practicing the whole skill and then teaching and practicing one of its parts), progressive-part method (the complete golf skill is introduced, the student tries to perform it, and then the student practices and learns one part of the skill; when the student is proficient at the first part, he moves directly to the second part), and the relative-part method (involves practicing a part until it is learned and then combining it with a second part, a third, and so on until all of the parts can be practiced together in the form of the whole skill).
Lesson 2-1: Building Relationships
* Establish student/teacher relationships that promote greater student learning and enjoyment
Teachers’ enthusiasm begins with their level of passion for golf, students, and instruction. Teacher/student relationships based on these principles have the greatest chance of resulting in long term success: respect, empathy (seeing the world from the student’s point of view), warmth (requires teachers to be supportive, optimistic, encouraging, and positive), and genuineness (sincere and honest). PGA Professionals teach people to play golf.
Lesson 2-2: Long-Term Planning
* Plan long-term developmental programs for beginning and intermediate players
Creating an organized and well thought-out learning environment to promote student learning is critical if students are to receive the greatest benefit from the available instruction time. Teachers should ask themselves the following questions before each lesson: who am I teaching, where am I teaching, what do I have to teach with, how much time do I have, and what am I trying to accomplish? With a long-term program for a recreational golfer, information that will improve the student’s game performance and enhance their enjoyment should be incorporated. A program designed for elite players is intended to help good players become great players. For juniors, particularly those under the age of 12, two things are important: fun and proper mechanics.
Lesson 2-3: Communicating Effectively
* Communicate effectively with students
Teaching immediacy is a critical component of effective instructional communication. It enhances closeness and nonverbal interaction between the student and teacher and conveys that the teacher has a positive attitude toward the student and the student’s ability to learn the content of the lesson. It also signals warmth and care to the student. Teachers who are clear in the delivery of their instructional messages increase their student’s ability to interpret, comprehend, and remember the learning cues.
* Develop a communication style that fits the instructor and increases institutional effectiveness
A teacher’s communication style is the way he verbally and nonverbally signals how literally the student should interpret, filter, or understand the meaning of the message. A competent teacher is a confident teacher, and this confidence comes through in the teacher’s communication style. When someone is especially good at what they do, observers often say that he makes it look easy and that he is free of tension and acts naturally. Good teachers are attentive to their students. When students speak, good teachers invariably listen. Good golf instructors invite the student to fully participate in the lesson and are open to the student’s ideas, feelings, and experiences. Not all students learn in the same manner, so an effective teacher adapts and modifies his communication style to fit the communication needs of the student.
Students like and learn more from a teacher with a sense of humor. Teachers who make the lesson content relevant to the student can increase a student’s desire to learn and influence the pace and depth of learning. There are four primary strategies golf instructors use to convey content relevance: using previous student experience to introduce or demonstrate a concept, identifying how the information connects to the student’s goals, using examples that connect the lesson content with common life experiences, and explicitly stating how the content will influence the student’s future golf performance, satisfaction, or enjoyment of the game. All good teachers are also good listeners. Active listening encourages students to talk.
Lesson 3-1: The Importance of Practice Habits and Learning Aids
* Effectively determine and design an appropriate practice routine to the benefit of the golfer
Anybody and everybody who wants to improve should practice. The obvious place to practice is at the driving range. Many golfers perform at least some of their practice at home. A golfer can chip, pitch, or make a full swing in the yard. A player can also use his or her imagination to find a place to practice anytime. Teachers should encourage students to practice whenever they can. Practice should be as similar as possible to actual play. Make it competitive, create realistic situations, encourage proper habits, and practice to a target. For a player to get his or her swing into a consistent, correct, and lasting groove, he must put in a lot of time and take a lot of swings.
Lesson 3-2: Introduction to Practice Drills and Golf Learning Aids
* Effectively determine and assign the appropriate drill or drill with an aid to improve the swing shape of the golfer
The following three-step process is usually effective when practicing a drill with or without aids: make a practice swing to an imaginary ball while focusing on what the drill is guiding you to do, hit a ball with the drill again focusing on what the drill is guiding you to do, and then hit a ball without the drill in an attempt to create the same swing feel as in the first two steps.
* Use relevant technology to promote student learning
The rapid increase and improvement in technology in contemporary culture have resulted in a multitude of useful tools for several key areas of teaching: information resources such as web sites, online courses, and web conferencing, video and photographic analysis, and slide slows, interactive multimedia programs, learning centers, and video broadcasting.
Lesson 3-3: Introduction to Specialty Shots and Unusual Conditions
* Effectively demonstrate and apply the appropriate specialty shot information to the benefit of the golfer
Ball above the feet = grip down on the club, position the ball more in the middle of the stance, and aim more to the right to allow for a pull or a hook.
Ball below the feet = no grip down, aim more to the left to allow for the ball to go right, and really release the hands.
Uphill lies = play the ball more in the middle of the stance, use more club, grip down for better control, and aim to the right to compensate for the slope.
Downhill lies = play the ball more in the back of the stance, allow for the club to be delofted at impact, and aim to the left to compensate for the slope.
Wind = it is easier to intentionally curve the ball when hitting into a headwind then it is to curve it going downwind. When the wind is against the player, he should swing with normal effort or shorten his grip and swing more conservatively. “When it’s breezy, swing easy.” An option for tee shots into a stiff wind is to play the ball three or four inches further back in the stance. Choose a stronger club and grip down an inch for every club moved up (for what would normally be a 7-iron distance, take a 5-iron and grip down 1-2”). Move the ball two balls back in the stance. Take a 3/4 length backswing with normal rhythm. When hitting from the tee with either a left-to-right or right-to-left wind, stand closer to the side from which the wind is coming and aim down that side of the fairway. Let the ball ride the wind instead of fighting it.
Curving the ball = sole the clubface squarely, but use a grip that closes the clubface. Point the feet and shoulders to the right of the target. Make a normal swing that matches this alignment. This creates the curve based on the set-up before the swing.
Recovering from the rough = to create the loft required to escape the grass, the player should aim his body left, open the clubface, and play the ball forward in the stance. When the lie is close to the green, the player can simulate hitting a bunker shot.
Hitting from hardpan = if the ground is rock hard and the player must use a sand wedge, present the minimum bounce from the sole by squaring the clubface at address and play the ball back in the stance.
Lesson 3-4: Introduction to Full Swing Methodologies
* Demonstrate basic knowledge of current swing methodologies of noted instructors
Major weaknesses early in a teaching career = talking to much; learn to ask better questions and listen
To continue development as a teacher = study, read, listen, ask questions, and experiment
Most important thing in developing a methodology = watching/observing other instructors
To what extent they use video = “I use video for a 15 handicap or under. I rarely use it for a beginner or a younger player.”
Five graphics used to highlight methodology when using video:
Down the line = line up the shaft through the body, a line down the body to indicate spine angle, squares or circles to highlight head movement, or a line from the hips to the ground
Face on = a line from the ball or clubhead to highlight lateral motion, a horizontal line on top of the head to highlight lift or lowering, lines from the heels or toes to highlight stance width or movement, a box between the knees to highlight lower body motion, and a line highlighting shaft position at the top to indicate the length of the swing
Percentage of time spent viewing swings from the following positions: target line (56%), face on (32%), behind (9%)
Ball flight factors most influenced by methodology: face (31%), path (24%), angle of approach (14%), centeredness (12%), and speed (2%)
PGA Principles in order of importance: impact, grip, setup, aim and swing plane, swing center and dynamic balance, lever system, width of arc, length of arc, position, timing, release, and connection
Lesson 3-5: Fitness and Performance
* Assess the physical capabilities of the golfer and describe implications for performance
There are seven stages in the Long Term Athletic Development model: active start (ages 0-6) focuses on movement skills, FUNdamentals (ages 6-9) speed window, athletic movements, and general overall development, learning to train (ages 9-12) skill development and transition from fundamental movement skills to fundamental sport skills, training to train (ages 11-16) speed window and major fitness development age, training to compete (ages 15-18) sport-specific training and continued fitness development, training to win (ages 18+) focuses on high performance and year-round training, and active for life (better opportunity if physical literacy is achieved before age 15). Speed windows occur when growth has slowed and nerves and muscles are creating the framework for the student’s future development.
Right leg dominant stance = the right glute becomes ineffective at stabilizing the right hip on the back swing and then does not fire properly on the forward swing. The body recognizes the lack of right hip stabilization and immediately activates the smaller muscles of the right hip. With the hip stabilized by these weaker muscles, the forward swinging motion is dominated by the right quad possibly resulting in an over-the-top swing or the student standing up during the swing. The glute inactivity makes it difficult for the student to sit down during the swing.
Lower-crossed syndrome = the quads and hip flexor muscles are tight or shortened, and the glute and hamstring muscles become lengthened and less effective.
Rounded shoulders = the chest or anterior side of the upper body becomes tight, and the upper back or posterior side of the body becomes stretched and loose. The correction for rounded shoulders is to lengthen the muscles on the front side and strengthen those on the back side. Massage is also a great way to lengthen and loosen tight muscles.
Upper-crossed syndrome = tight upper chest muscles can cause an improper swinging action because the anterior chest muscles dominate the swing and the effectiveness of the posterior stabilizer muscles are minimized.
Cross-crawl pattern = most people learn as babies that forward propulsion works best when the right arm and left leg work together followed by the left arm working with the right leg and so on. Disruption of the cross crawl pattern can cause timing, sequencing, or movement pattern faults in the golf swing.
The muscles in the body need to be stimulated or activated. Increasing the blood flow in the body helps to circulate oxygen, which is important in the activation of muscle fibers. To strengthen a weakened or inactive muscle group, the student should perform a set of exercises that focuses on the three I’s: isolate the muscle group, incorporate the muscle group into a movement pattern, and increase the speed over time.
Isolate – isolation activities usually consist of small movements where the weak muscle group involved in the movement is forced to perform the activity. The prone-t-raise focuses directly on the rhomboids with a raising of the arms while lying face-down on the floor. The activity also causes the chest to lengthen, stretching the antagonist muscles.
Incorporate – the second process is to incorporate the muscle group into a controlled movement pattern where several muscle groups fire appropriately to create a slow, complete movement. A dumbbell two-arm row incorporates the rhomboids into a complete activity in a rowing motion.
Increase – the third step is to gradually increase the speed of movement over time. This could consist of something as simple as swinging a golf club with speed.
Forward head position
Symptoms: head is out in front, ears in front of shoulders; usually accompanied by rounded shoulders
Correction: position head in neutral, ears in line with shoulders or head on top of spinal column
Exercises: supine neck retractions, wall standing neck retractions, isometric neck presses, and standing head retractions
Symptoms: shoulders are rolled forward
Correction: lengthen chest muscles and strengthen shoulder stabilizers, rhomboids, and middle traps
Exercises: corner stretch, 90-90 shoulder/chest stretch, club/pvc shoulder rotations, and prone-t-raise
Anterior pelvic tilt
Symptoms: lower back is arched and hip flexors and quads are tight
Correction: lengthen front side of the hip, quads, and hip flexors; strengthen glutes and hamstrings
Exercises: angry cats, hip flexor stretch, quad stretch, and supine hip bridge
The glutes are the most powerful muscles in the region from the chest to the top of the knees but are only effective if the abs and lower back stabilize the spine and maintain correct posture. The structure is designed to create stability, rotation, flexion, extension, and side bending around the center of the body. The desired movement patterns are as follows: linear, rotational, lateral, and stationary or stability. Positions for exercise should progress as follows: supine or prone, half kneeling, lunging, standing on two feet, standing on one foot, and unstable surfaces. Exercises include: supine crunch, stabilizing horizontal crunch, stabilizing vertical crunch, rotational crunch, and side bending crunch.
Lesson 3-6: Golf Club Alteration – The Grip
* Demonstrate appropriate bench skills for basic golf club alterations and alter ball flight and player performance by changing equipment specifications
Measuring and sizing grips – to measure the size of an installed grip, place a caliper at a point 2” below the end of the grip cap
Men’s 1/64” undersize = .885
Men’s standard = .900
Men’s 1/64” oversize = .915
Men’s 1/32” oversize = .930
Men’s 3/64” oversize = .945
Men’s 1/16” oversize = .960
Ladies’ 1/64” undersize = .835
Ladies’ standard = .850
Ladies’ 1/64” oversize = .865
Ladies’ 1/32” oversize = .880
The most common butt end diameters are .580, .600, and .620. When the grip core size and shaft butt diameter match, the result is a standard grip with a size of .900. (.580 shaft butt + M58 grip core = .900, .600 shaft butt + M60 grip core = .900, .620 shaft butt + M62 grip core = .900)
To determine the volume of the material the grip contributes to the final grip size, subtract the grip core size from the finished grip size (M58: .900 shaft butt-.580 core = .320” grip volume, M60: .900 shaft butt-.600 core = .300” grip volume, M62: .900 shaft butt-.620 core = .280” grip volume).
An oversized grip can be created using a smaller grip core size than is usual for the shaft butt size. Installing an M58 grip can be installed on a butt shaft diameter of .600”, which totals a grip size of .920”.
A layer of build-up tape that is .008” thick will account for a grip increase of approximately 1/64”. 2” wide build-up tape contributes about .015” (one full grip size) in build-up volume. 2” wide masking tape contributes approximately .008” to .010” in build-up volume. ¾” wide masking tape (about .008 thickness) contributes approximately .015” in build-up volume.
An undersized grip can be created using a larger grip core size than is usual for the shaft butt size. Installing an M62 grip on a butt shaft diameter of .600” results in a grip size of .880”. It is also possible to create undersized grips by stretching the grip about ¾” past its original length.
* Describe how to use tools and technologies for measuring and altering club performance
* Measure golf club specifications, perform gap analyses, and alter performance variables
Lesson 3-7: Golf Club Alteration – The Shaft
Shaft flex is the shaft’s resistance to bending. In a parallel tip shaft, the diameter remains the same for the entire length of the tip. Unlike the parallel tip, the taper tip shaft has a tip diameter that increases from the tip while ascending up the shaft. It’s only popular due to its constant weight and because it comes ready to assemble with no tip-trimming requirements. Replacing a shaft involves the following steps: removing the ferrule, removing the shaft, preparing the clubhead to receive a new shaft, and preparing the new shaft.
+2g to the tip = +1 swing weight
+4g to the butt = -1 swing weight
+½” = +3 swing weights
-½” = -3 swing weights
– standard grip (48-50g) = -9 swing weights (oversized = -10, lite = -8)
+1 swing weight = -1 CPM
-1 swing weight = +1 CPM
4 ½” of ½” lead tape = 2g (+1 swing weight)
+9g in shaft weight = +1 swing weight
-9g in shaft weight = -1 swing weight
Lesson 3-8: Golf Club Alteration – Clubhead Angles
The playing loft of the club is based on the measured loft in the square position and the face angle (closed, square, or open). If the face angle is closed, the playing loft is calculated by adding the measured loft to the face angle. If the face angle is open, the playing loft is calculated by subtracting the face angle from the measured loft.
An alteration of the club’s loft angle will change the club’s bounce angle in a one-to-one relationship. For example, as the loft angle is decreased by one degree, the bounce angle is decreased by one degree. Experiments have shown that the alloys used in iron clubhead manufacturing can be bent hundreds of times before being damaged. Metal will not return to its old position by itself.
Forged irons are produced with molds that stamp a solid block of metal into the proper shape. Cast clubs are made by pouring molted metal into a mold. The industry standard for measuring the hardness of a steel alloy is the Rockwell Hardness Scale. Clubs range between B and C on the scale, with B being softer and C being harder (such as steel). In general, forged, cast 431 steel, and 17-4 stainless clubheads are all bendable. The longer the hosel, the more metal weight it contains, and the closer the center of gravity is to the hosel rather than the center of the clubface.
Merchandising & Inventory Management
Lesson 1: The PGA Business Planning Model in the Retail Environment
* Define a merchandising operation that is consistent with a facility’s mission, business plan, and customer demographics
The PGA Business Planning Model consists of five major concepts that can be expanded to guide an entire facility: define the business (strategic planning considerations), define the business (annual business planning considerations), assess the current state of the business, develop business objectives and related strategies, prepare financial forecasts and budgets, and monitor performance. The retail business planning process starts with the professional acquiring a clear understanding of the core values, vision, facility profile, mission, and market for the retail operation. Components such as available amenities, competition in the area, and average annual income of potential customers provide the foundation for an accurate vision for the facility and a future direction for business planning and budgeting.
The business planning course defined three classifications of competing facilities as follows: direct competition (any organization that meets the same customer need with the same or similar products and services), indirect competition (any organization that meets the same customer need with a different product or service), and a cooperative facility (one that is in competition either directly or indirectly with a golf facility but collaborates with the facility to improve business at both facilities).
The only way to be a successful merchandiser in the golf retail sector is to focus business practices, procedures, planning, and even budgeting around the benefits of the customer. A great deal of the retail management and planning process also comes down to gathering and analyzing data.
Lesson 2: Retail Planning and Creating an Open-to-Buy Plan
* Create and maintain an open-to-buy (OTB) plan
It is essential for the retail manager to know how much of a particular product is needed to reach goals for profit, cost of goods sold (COGS), gross margin, and sales. In retailing terms, how much of a particular product to purchase or the planned purchase dollar amount is referred to as open-to-buy. It is the amount of dollars to be spent to purchase or replace inventory in a particular merchandising category in order to meet the set sales goals. A typical plan covers one year and is broken into 12 one-month segments for each merchandise category.
Open-to-buy plans help merchandisers: identify how much money must be spent each month to purchase or restock inventory, avoid over and under-investing in inventory, maintain inventory at levels that support forecasted sales, and avoid running out of individual products or merchandise categories. The steps for open-to-buy plan development are forecasting sales, forecasting the cost of goods sold, projecting turnover, establishing beginning-of-month inventory levels, and calculating open-to-buy budgets.
A merchandise classification is a category of products that can be grouped together logically (Ex: hard goods, soft goods). After establishing the classification system, the next task is to estimate the retail sales for each classification. The total of the classifications’ sales forecasts must be equal to the shop’s annual sales forecast. Annual sales must be distributed into individual months by classification.
The cost of goods sold is the value at cost of the merchandise sold to customers, stolen, lost, or destroyed during a particular period of time:
beg. of month inventory at cost + new inventory purchased – end of month inventory at cost = COGS
Cost of goods sold is often expressed as a percentage of sales in order to gauge how well a merchandiser is managing the inventory at the facility. Merchandisers work to keep the cost of goods sold as a percentage of sales between 50-60% for soft goods and 65-75% for hard goods:
cost of goods sold/total merchandise sales = cost of goods sold as a percentage of sales
The turn rate, also known as turnover, is the number of times the average inventory is sold through and replaced during a given period of time (generally a year or a season). The typical overall turn rate for the majority of golf shops is between 1.5 and 2.5. The most successful shops can reach turn rates greater than 2.5. A higher turn rate means fewer pieces of a particular stock line in inventory, leads to the product being sold at full retail, better control over the cost of goods sold and gross margin goals, and provides the ability to adapt and capitalize on hot new product trends. A low turn rate may require more markdowns to clear out stale merchandise, causes cost of goods sold to rise, and a reduction of gross margin. Other benefits of high turnover include: increased sales, fewer markdowns, the ability to capitalize on new trends, lower expenses, higher employee morale, and higher return on investment.
The average inventory value is the average amount of merchandise (in dollars) the facility must have on hand throughout the year to meet annual sales goals. It’s an average, not a set monthly figure. It will be higher or lower in some months due to fluctuations:
cost of goods sold/projected turn rate = average inventory level
cost of goods sold/average inventory = turnover rate
A higher turn rate means a facility needs a lower inventory level on hand to reach the same sales targets.
end of month inventory + forecasted COGS – beg. of month inventory = planned open-to-buy at cost
planned open-to-buy at cost – merchandise on order = actual open-to-buy at cost
Many retail facilities keep between 10% and 25% of the actual open-to-buy amount in reserve.
Lesson 3: Merchandise Assortment Plan, Price Point, and Vendor Selection
* Create and maintain a merchandise assortment plan
The merchandise assortment plan (MAP) establishes the desired merchandise mix in the golf shop and lists the specific brands, sizes, colors, materials, models, styles, and price points of the products that the facility will sell.
Merchandise that meets sales objectives, matches the customer’s desires, and enhances the facility’s image is called core merchandise stock and is the first merchandise that should be added to the merchandise assortment plan. When all of the needed core merchandise has been listed, merchandisers should fill out the rest of the plan with fringe products, which are still consistent with the facility’s image and goals but are either targeted toward atypical customers or intended to entice regular customers into making impulse, gift, or novelty purchases.
* Establish vendor relationships that contribute to the growth and success of the merchandising operation
The ability to choose vendors, develop strong relationships with them, and maintain those relationships is an integral part of any successful merchandiser’s business plan. One common program offered by vendors is advance dating, which gets inventory into the shop more quickly while delaying payment to a later date. There are two basic types of advance dating: seasonal or spring dating (in which merchandise is received in the fall but payment is not generally due until the following April or May) and anticipation or incentive dating (in which the organization and the vendor agree on a future date for payment, but the organization receives a discount for early payment).
Lesson 4: Purchasing and Managing Inventory
* Control the flow of inventory including ordering, receiving, stocking, tracking, selling, restocking, and valuing
In general, all orders and purchases for merchandise of any type will be made using the facility’s purchase order form and system. All purchase orders must contain certain general information such as complete date. That’s the last possible date the vendor can fill the order and have it delivered to and accepted by the purchaser. The facility can refuse to receive orders arriving after this date.
Productive retail operations track inventory by dollar value and by units. A perpetual book inventory tracks the real-time receipt and sale of merchandise. Physical inventory counts should be conducted on a regularly-scheduled basis (monthly or quarterly). The difference between the inventory retailers expect to have available and the amount of inventory that is actually on hand is called shrinkage.
Lesson 5: Pricing Strategies
* Use a variety of industry-proven pricing strategies to meet business objectives
An effective pricing strategy is rooted in a thoughtful markup plan. Markup is the difference between the wholesale cost of an item and the intended sales price. It can be expressed as either a dollar amount or a percentage. Gross margin is the difference between the final sales price of an item and the cost of goods sold. There are several approaches merchandisers use when determining the correct markup:
Keystoning = setting the retail price by doubling the item’s cost
MSRP = manufacturer’s suggested retail price
Cost plus markup = applies a target markup percentage to each product in order to determine the retail price and create a pricing plan that is consistently proportional throughout the store. It is the most prevalent strategy.
Mill River Plan = members pay an initial fee at the beginning of each season or year and are then authorized to purchase merchandise at a modest percentage above cost. It is most commonly used in private clubs.
final retail sales price – cost of goods sold = gross margin in dollars
markup dollars/retail price = potential gross margin percentage
retail price of an item – cost of goods sold = markup in dollars
markup in dollars/cost of goods sold = markup percentage
Lesson 6: Floor Layout and Displays
* Describe how golf shop and facility design influences the merchandising operation and help sell products
An effective floor layout is one that makes it easy for customers to find the products they want but is inviting enough to entice them to explore the selling floor thoroughly. The first step when designing a facility is to create a planogram, an overhead map of the facility’s layout and merchandise arrangement. To allocate the facility’s floor space effectively, merchandisers must know which areas of the shop are most visible and the most valuable. The back of the shop is one such area. This encourages customers to browse other departments on the way to their destination.
Regardless of how merchandise is grouped, the arrangement must make sense to customers. Merchandisers must also decide how much space on the selling floor to devote to each grouping. Items with high turnover or a high margin should receive a greater amount of floor space. Other factors that merchandisers must consider when allocating floor space depend on the facility’s demographics and business planning objectives. A few common considerations are buying patterns (merchandise prone to impulse buying is usually placed in high-exposure locations such as the entrance or check-out counter), complementary products (inventory from different classifications commonly purchased or used together), seasonality (holidays or events), and space (size, shape, ad storage requirements of each merchandise group). Elevations are the key to dynamic and eye-catching displays. Whenever possible, the display should move the customer’s gaze from the top down rather than keeping it on one level.
Window displays often dramatically impact sales. Golf shop counters are also profitable display areas. Counter displays should change depending on the season, holiday, or occasion. Regardless of the facility or classification, the display should be situated in a way that offers customers easy access to the merchandise. Merchandisers should create inviting displays that customers will not be afraid to touch. Customers expect all retail facilities to follow a set of basic display standards: items should be hung from left to right, they should be grouped by color, then size, all hangers and rods should face inward for easy removal, sizes should increase from left to right with the smallest sizes on the left, and folded items should be pulled to the front of the shelf. To generate excitement and maintain strong sales, displays must be changed and moved regularly.
Colors can capture a customer’s attention and stimulate him to buy something. Reds are some of the most stimulating colors and should be used with care. Yellows work best for signs, walls, and poorly lit areas. Oranges do not easily meld with other colors. Blues often generate calm feelings and help create a relaxing shopping atmosphere. They generally connote masculinity. Greens are often linked to freshness, restfulness, and outdoors. Many believe green’s soft and relaxing aspects make it the single most popular color for displays. Violets are typically used as an accent color for special effects. It has a feminine connotation. A color wheel can be used to determine color combinations. Schemes using complimentary colors (opposites on the wheel) create an intense, vibrant display. Analogous colors (adjacent to each other) are harmonious and tend to reinforce each other. A monochromatic color scheme (one color in different intensities) or neutral color scheme (whites, blacks, grays, or browns) can also be effective.
Because the eye reads from left to right, arranging products in a light-to-dark and left-to-right display can make for a strong visual statement. Effective lighting creates a positive shop atmosphere, highlights merchandise displays in an exciting manner, and helps staff members perform shop tasks with ease. General or ambient lighting is best for illuminating large areas in a soft, uniform manner. Local lighting involves placing an individual fixture above or beside a work surface. Accent lighting illuminates specific items or displays, sets a mood by adding variety in general lighting, and highlights architectural features.
In general, merchandisers should adhere to some common standards for signage in retail spaces: every sign should be displayed in a holder, signs should be professionally printed not handwritten, signage must be accurate, signs should be simple and short, and signs should not overwhelm the product on display.
Lesson 7: Promoting and Selling
* Implement a variety of promotional campaigns and events to move merchandise in a manner consistent with planning efforts
Establishing an annual promotional budget can be done based on past promotions or upcoming events. A common budget range is 3-5% of gross sales. One of the most important tools golf professionals and merchandisers should use to plan events throughout the year is a master calendar, which outlines the dates and times of every planned event for the year along with its relevant merchandising objectives. Promotional vehicles typically used by golf facilities include: internal marketing, customer loyalty and word of mouth, the internet, newspapers and magazines, radio and television, and direct mail.
* Implement selling strategies that build on the strengths of the facility, golf shop, staff expertise, and customer service approaches
The five-step selling process is: approach the customer, collect key information, present the merchandise and handle any objections (features are descriptions of products or services; benefits are the advantages that a customer receives from using a product or service), close the sale, and build future sales. The most common motivators for sales staff are commission plans and contests and games.
Lesson 8: Monitoring Performance and Making Adjustments
* Monitor key sales and inventory performance metrics, and adjust merchandising plans and sales strategies as required
Some of the key performance indicators for a golf retail operation are cost of goods sold, gross margin, inventory turn rate, and merchandise dollars per round.
gross margin in dollars/total retail sales dollars = gross margin percentage
end of month inventory at cost for each month/number of months = average inventory at cost
total cost of goods sold/average inventory at cost = turn rate
total retail sales/number of rounds = merchandise dollars per round
total retail sales/shop sales area = merchandise dollars per square foot
The gross margin return on investment is an important performance metric that indicates how much money the operation makes for every dollar invested in inventory. If it’s 100%, the operation earns one dollar in gross margin for every dollar invested in inventory. Golf retail operations typically achieve anywhere from 110% to 160%. Major retailers are capable of numbers upwards of 350% because of very high inventory turnover rates:
total sales – total cost of goods sold = gross margin dollars
gross margin dollars/total sales = gross margin percentage
gross margin percentage x inventory turn rate = gross margin return on investment
If the facility forecasts and plans are basically sound but the operation is still not meeting expectation, there are three basic options to address the variances: adjust prices, increase sales, or decrease inventory costs. Some common price adjustment strategies that should be utilized when products are not selling fast enough are bundling (matching an underperforming item with a complementary product that is selling strongly), tournament sales, new promotional pricing (temporarily lowering the regular price of new products), markdowns, permanent markdowns, point-of-sale or temporary markdowns, and clearance and liquidations. To clear out excess inventory, merchandisers may use online liquidation and trade-in opportunities, outlets, returns and consignment agreements (some vendors accept returns of unsold merchandise for refunds or credit toward future purchases), and cooperation with other facilities.
Lesson 1: Turfgrass fundamentals
* Describe turfgrass concepts such as types of grass, soil and nutrient needs, and the impact of climate, traffic, and other types of stress
Grass roots are tougher and more branched than roots of many other species, making them more efficient in extracting nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus from the soil. Chlorophyll collects light energy and uses it to produce carbohydrates (sugars) from carbon dioxide and water, releasing oxygen in the process. The carbohydrates produced by the plant are utilized through the process of respiration, which is the opposite of photosynthesis. Respiration uses oxygen to covert the carbohydrates into energy, releasing carbon dioxide and water in the process. Gases enter and leave the plant through the pores in the leaves called stomata. Water is also released through the pores in a process called transpiration. Transpiration cools the plant and aids in the movement of nutrients through the plant system.
All plants have the same basic survival needs: sunlight, water, and nutrients. Sunlight makes it possible for a plant to produce adequate food via photosynthesis. In order to carry-out photosynthesis and create new growth, a plant needs 17 chemical elements, which are divided into macronutrients and micronutrients. There are six major macronutrients: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen (which the plant obtains from air and water), nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (which is supplied in nature by the breakdown of other plants and organic materials). For the sustained growth required of golf course turf, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium have to be supplemented with packaged fertilizers.
The physical characteristics and acidity balance of the soil influence a plant’s ability to absorb nutrients and function. Golf course soil can be improved by amending it with sand, finely graded topsoil, compost, or fertilizer. Sandy soil allows water and nutrients to penetrate easily but pass through quickly. Clay soil holds nutrients and water better than sandy soils but can be too dense and retain too much water, leaving no space for oxygen. Loam is an ideal soil that provides just the right balance between drainage and retention. It contains roughly equal portions of sand, silt, clay, and organic material. Soil pH is measured on a scale from 0-14. A pH reading of 7 is neutral. Values lower than 7 mean the soil is acidic. Values higher than 7 indicate a high alkalinity. Turfgrass grows best in soils that are just slightly acidic. The ideal pH for most turfgrasses is between 6 and 6.5. Clay soils tend to be acidic. Sandy soils tend to be alkaline. Lime can be added to reduce acidity and raise the soil pH. Sulphur can be added to lower the soil pH.
There are cool season grasses and warm season grasses. Cool season grasses such as bentgrass or bluegrass are used for fairways and tees. Greens will be planted with creeping or velvet bentgrass, and roughs are usually planted with fescues and ryegrass. Warm season grasses such as bermudagrass or zoysiagrass are used for fairways and tees. Greens will be planted with a hybrid bermudagrass such as tifdwarf or tifway, and roughs and usually bahiagrass, St. Augustine, or centipedegrass. Cool season grasses grow best in the northern areas of the U.S. These grasses, such as bluegrasses, bentgrasses, fescues, and ryegrasses are adapted to cooler temperatures in an ideal range of 60-75 degrees. Warm season grasses grow best in the southern U.S. These grasses, including bermudagrass, bahiagrass, and zoysiagrass grow best in temperatures from 80-95 degrees. When temperatures drop much below 50 degrees, warm grasses go dormant and turn brown.
Creeping bentgrass = used for greens, tees, and fairways; can withstand very low mowing heights
Colonial bentgrass = more suitable for fairways; cannot be maintained at mowing heights of less than ½”; bentgrasses are used on courses in the northeastern and midwestern U.S.
Kentucky bluegrass = distinct dark blue-green color; used for tees, fairways, and rough
Annual bluegrass = technically a weed; referred to by its scientific name, poa annua
Rough bluegrass = adapted to wet and shady areas; poa trivialis; bluegrasses are commonly found in the northeastern and midwestern U.S.
Perennial ryegrass = used for tees, fairways, and rough; does best where winters and summers are moderate; northwestern U.S.
Fescues = used for rough; reach a height of 8-10” and need little maintenance; do not do well in the cold; best in southern part of the cool humid zone and throughout the transition zone
Bermudagrass = most common grass in warmer regions; tolerate low cutting heights
Zoysiagrass = durable warm-weather grass with high heat tolerance; bermudagrasses are used widely for tees and fairways in the southern and southeastern U.S.
Seashore paspalum = warm-season grass; high tolerance to salinity; used in southern part of the transition zone and the south
Bahiagrass = low maintenance grass used in roughs; used mostly in the Gulf Coast region
St. Augustine = coarse, warm-season grass limited to use in roughs
Kikuyugrass = tropical grass; considered a weed in the U.S.; restricted to southern half of the California coast
Lesson 2: Basic Maintenance Practices
* Describe common practices for maintaining healthy turfgrass such as mowing, watering, fertilizing, aerating, pest control, and disease management
Maintenance practices fall into two categories: routine practices (performed on a daily or frequent basis) and periodic practices (performed on an as-needed or seasonal basis). Irrigation requirements are affected by the rate (evapotranspiration) at which water evaporates from the soil and transpires through the leaves into the air. The rate and the plant’s total water needs are influenced by the type of grass, the condition of the soil, thatch, drainage patterns, temperature, wind, humidity, shade, and the frequency and total amount of rain. Warm-season grasses have lower evapotranspiration rates than cool-season grasses. They also have deeper and more extensive root systems, making them much more water efficient. Short mowing heights result in shallow and less extensive root systems. Although there may be adequate water in the soil, when the weather is extremely hot, plants can lose water through evapotranspiration faster than they can soak it up through their roots. Syringing (a light application of water to the surface of the turfgrass plant to cool the grass) is often used.
Some greens may develop localized dry spots, where water fails to penetrate the surface because of thatch or other factors. In these cases, superintendents may use a wetting agent, a chemical substance that increases the spreading and penetrating properties of water by lowering its surface tension.
One of the most important factors in turfgrass selection is tolerance for mowing height. Grasses that best tolerate shorter mowing heights such as bermudgrass and bentgrass are selected for the greens. The higher the grass, the healthier it will be. As a rule of thumb, no more than 1/3 (33-40%) of the aboveground grass tissue should be removed in a single cutting.
Mowing heights and frequencies
Greens: 1/8-1/4”, daily
Tees: 3/8-1”, 2-4 times per week
Fairways: ½-1 1/4”, 2-4 times per week
Rough: 2”-uncut, weekly-once a season
Mowing along the same path and direction over and over can produce grain, in which the blades of grass lie in one direction. It’s undesirable on the greens. Golf course turfgrasses are mowed with motorized machinery that use reel-type blades in scissors-like fashion. A crosshatch pattern or long lanes running lengthwise down the fairway are the two most common alternative mowing patterns. Chemicals called plant growth regulators are designed to reduce the growth rate of grasses.
The amount and timing of applications of fertilizers will vary depending on factors such as: the type of grass, climate and other environmental conditions, the nature of the soil or growing medium, the amount of play and traffic on the course, and maintenance practices such as mowing heights, frequency, and irrigation. The goal for all areas of the golf course should be to apply the minimum needed amount of fertilizer. Nitrogen is the main nutrient in a fertilization program and generally results in visible green-up and an increase in growth within 1-2 days. The addition of phosphorous is less critical because the fibrous roots of grasses are relatively efficient at obtaining it from the soil. Potassium plays a role in photosynthesis, and current fertilizer mixes contain much more potassium than in the past. Most fertilizers used for golf course turfgrass are synthetic organics, chemical formulations containing carbon. Fertilizers come in dry or liquid form. Liquid fertilizers can be sprayed directly on turf.
Aeration is a process that restores passageways in the soil that facilitate the flow of water, nutrients, and air to the plant. Core aeration or coring uses special machinery and hollow tines to punch and pull out 3-5” long cores or plugs of soil from the ground. The frequency of aeration depends on the golf course’s soil type and amount of traffic. Aeration needs to be done when the grass is vigorous and not under temperature stress so the turf can recover more quickly. Topdressing is the practice of placing a thin layer of sand, soil, or other granulated material over the putting surface to smooth and decrease surface irregularities.
Thatch is a layer of organic matter (decomposing grass stems and dead roots) that accumulates just below the grass blades and above the soil surface. Excess thatch is undesirable because: water, nutrients, and fertilizers can’t penetrate the soil and reach the plant roots, pesticides can’t penetrate the soil and reach target pests, thick thatch is a favorable medium for diseases, thatch subjects turf to temperature stresses by insulating it from the moderating effect of the soil, instead of taking hold in the soil, the plant’s roots may remain in the thatch, and it can produce uneven turf. Thatch is caused by over-application of nitrogen fertilizer, excessive irrigation, chemical imbalances such as low pH soils, and improper use of insecticides. Vertical mowing or verticutting is a method that cuts the thatch with a blade that runs perpendicular to the ground.
When weeds develop, the following possible causes should be investigated: soil compaction, excess water, weak or worn turfgrass, and low mowing heights. Preemergence herbicides are applied to an area before weed seeds germinate. Weeds that have already germinated and are visible may need to be treated with postemergence herbicides applied directly to the weeds.
Some common turfgrass diseases are brown patch, dollar spot, fairy ring, and Pythium blight. Pythium blight is one of the worst diseases that can strike a golf course because it can kill large areas of closely-mown turf in just a few hours. Dollar spot attacks hybrid bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and bentgrass in the southern U.S.
Integrated Pest Management is an approach to controlling or managing pests based on economically and environmentally sound practices. It emphasizes prevention rather than eradication, appropriate cultural maintenance practices, and follow-up action only if necessary.
Lesson 3: Cooperation and Communication
* Describe the responsibilities of the golf course superintendent and maintenance staff
The golf course superintendent is entrusted with management of the physical facility including directing an agronomicallly sophisticated turfgrass management program, managing the entire physical property, hiring, training, and evaluating the maintenance staff, achieving and documenting compliance with government regulations, communicating and cooperating with the greens committee, understanding the game of golf, and serving as an expert informational resource on golf course turfgrass management.
* Discuss strategies for improving communication and cooperation among the PGA Professional, the superintendent, and the maintenance staff
The golf professional and the golf course superintendent have one overriding common goal: to create a fair, reasonably challenging, enjoyable, and safe playing experience for the golfer. Regularly-scheduled formal meetings are a must. The facility should have a master calendar that reflects both maintenance and golf events, and the superintendent and the golf professional should prepare standard answers or materials for common questions or complaints.
* Answer customers’ and members’ questions about course maintenance issues that affect play and the golf experience
The golf professional, with the support from the superintendent, needs to inform and educate customers about course management events and issues but must also listen to what customers have to say. Customers should be informed of non-routine maintenance or abnormal conditions whenever possible. By understanding the importance of essential practices, customers might not only accept them but appreciate the attempts to maintain the course for their enjoyment. Customers may also need to be educated about their own role in keeping the course in good condition through practices such as repairing pitch marks, replacing or filling-in divots, raking sand bunkers, or heeding golf car traffic restrictions.
Lesson 4: Sustainable Design and Maintenance
* Describe practices that protect the environment and improve the golf course
Sustainability involves protecting and enhancing the environment, benefiting the community, maintaining the playability of the golf course, and achieving the above goals in ways that make sense economically.
* Describe the process involved in designing a new golf course or renovating an existing one as well as the team members typically involved in that process
Site analysis (4-6 months) involves selecting the right site before detailed plans are developed. Design (6-18 months) includes a series of increasingly detailed design and construction drawings. Development (12-18 months) is where golf course construction is accomplished. Grow-in (3-10 months) is an essential part of the process and is essentially waiting for the grass to grow. Maintenance (ongoing) continues even after the course is open for business. An architect, contractor, and the superintendent typically make up the primary team. Ideally, the architect is hired from the very beginning and oversees the entire project. The superintendent is brought in as early as possible to participate and review all design documents. The contractor is usually brought in at the beginning of the development phase. The golf professional will usually work through the architect or the superintendent. The extended team may include those with specific skills and expertise depending on the particular phase.
* Identify function-related golf course design factors such as drainage, traffic control, and safety as well as course playability, aesthetic, and environmental considerations
A well-designed drainage system is critical. Without it, the course cannot be maintained. There are two basic types of drainage: surface (based on the slope and shape of the land) and subsurface (based on the internal drainage of the soil). There are two main methods for creating adequate subsurface drainage: soil amendment (existing soils are altered by adding sand or organic matter) and drainage systems (pipes to drain away excess water).
For traffic purposes, tees should be at least 6,000 square feet. The 1st and 10th tees receive extra wear and tear due to extra practice swings. Par 3 tees may also need to be larger. These tees usually average 8,000 square feet or more. The size of greens should range from 5,000 to 8,000 square feet depending on the amount of traffic, and there should be a 12 to 15-foot collar around the perimeter of the green where no holes should be placed. There should be a minimum of 15 feet between hole placements, and a green should have 12-20 areas for hole locations.
A well-designed course is not only compatible with the environment but also enhances its surroundings. There are three main categories of form-related design considerations: the total experience, playing characteristics, and aesthetics. A good architect designs for the entire recreational experience. An individual hole typically falls into one of three style categories: strategic (offers a variety of possible ways to play the hole), heroic (risk-reward holes), and penal (leaves little room for error). Architects use a variety of techniques to influence course aesthetics, such as building on nature, using variety and contrast, and choosing elements for their unique effects.
When properly designed and maintained, golf courses can be vital environmental assets to the surrounding community. A number of design strategies can be used that significantly influence the impact a golf course has on its surrounding environment: careful site selection, judicious alteration of natural surroundings, design for decreased maintenance (well-drained greens, adequate size for traffic, and use of native vegetation and hybrid turfgrasses), conscientious use of natural resources (alternative water sources, onsite weather stations, computerized irrigation systems, and more efficient sprinkler heads), and providing wildlife habitat and land preserves.
Extra Credit: Turfgrass Management
The grass leaf itself is composed of an upper part (the blade) and a lower part (the sheath). (p. 6)
Grasses with stolons or rhizomes will spread and produce new plants, which will aid in filling-in divots and pitch marks. (p. 6)
In the process of photosynthesis, chlorophyll collects light energy and uses it to produce carbohydrates (sugars) from carbon dioxide and water, releasing oxygen in the process. (p. 6)
In most climates, water supplied by nature is insufficient for golf course turfgrass. Irrigating the turfgrass will be necessary. (p. 8)
Clay soils can be too dense and retain too much water, which leaves no spaces for oxygen. (p. 8)
A pH reading of 7 is neutral. A reading of 3 is acidic. Clay soils tend to be acidic. Sandy soils tend to be alkaline. Lime can be added to reduce acidity and raise the soil pH, and sulphur can be added to lower the soil pH. (p. 10)
Creeping bentgrass does not tolerate high temperatures and requires relatively high maintenance. Kentucky bluegrass reproduces by rhizomes and is able to recover from damage and repair itself. It has a relatively high demand for water, is generally cold tolerant, and does not do well in shade. (p. 15)
Perennial ryegrass is used for overseeding greens to provide color to bermudagrass greens when they go dormant, especially in the winter in southern regions. (p 16) Overseeding usually involves planting cool-season grasses (such as annual or perennial ryegrass) over warm-season grasses. (p. 28)
Direct observation by the staff will be necessary to reveal where hand-watering is necessary, no matter how advanced the sprinkler system may be. (p. 21)
The goal for all areas of the golf course should be to apply the minimum needed amount of fertilizer – just enough to meet the plants’ metabolic needs, enable the turf to withstand wear and tear, and recover from injuries. (p. 24)
Leaching phosphorous has been singled-out as a possible promoter of algae growth in waterways. (p. 24)
Aeration is a process that restores passageways in the soil that facilitate the flow of water, nutrients, and air to the plant. (p. 26)
Aeration needs to be done when the grass is vigorous and not under temperature stress so the turf can recover more quickly. (p. 27)
Some thatch may moderate the effect of summer heat and help prevent weed infestation. Thatch, however, does subject turf to temperature stresses by insulating it from the moderating effect of the soil, which tends to remain at more constant temperatures. (p. 27-28)
Indications and warning signs of subsurface insects: overall thinning of the turf, grass roots chewed off just below the soil surface (sometimes turf can be rolled back like a carpet), and individual turfgrass plants can be pulled from the soil. (p. 31)
Fungicides are used to control fungal diseases that take over despite preventative efforts. Sometimes, when it is known from previous experience that a certain disease tends to appear at a certain time of year or under specific climatic conditions, fungicides are applied before any visible evidence of disease presence. (p. 33)
According to the Golf Course Superintendent’s Association of America (GCSAA), the golf course superintendent manages the entire physical property, including the grounds surrounding the course, practice putting greens, driving ranges, golf car paths, buildings, fences, bridges, shelters, entrance roads, and parking lots. (p. 36)
The golf course superintendent communicates and cooperates with the greens committee, planning committee, board of directors, public agencies, the general manager, the club manager, the golf professional, members, and guests. (p. 37)
The reasons for renovating are many. From a functional standpoint, drainage may have proven to be inadequate, requiring too many days when play has to be restricted. Original greens and tees may be too small to handle higher volumes of traffic that have developed over the years. Irrigation systems may also become outdated and inadequate. (p. 42)
The golf course design and construction process involves five phases: site analysis, design, development, grow-in, and maintenance. (p. 42)
Listening provides the basis for addressing concerns through explanation, education, corrective action, or even changes in policies and procedures when warranted. (p. 46)
Only 14% of golf courses utilize water from municipal water systems. (p. 51)
Sustainability is not just about the environment. Economics are also a driving force behind the movement. (p. 52)
“We need to understand how brown can become the new green,” refers to the USGA’s view that playability should replace aesthetics as the primary consideration for golf courses. (p. 53)
The size of greens should range from 5,000 to 8,000 square feet depending on the amount of traffic. (p. 58)
Computerized irrigation systems use sensors to determine the amount of soil moisture and adjust to deliver only the amount of water needed. But that doesn’t eliminate the need for human intervention. (p. 65)
There are numerous examples, from all parts of the world, that show how thoughtful and sensitive management of the roughs can both improve the playing experience for golfers and contribute positively to wildlife at no extra cost to the facility. (p. 65)