Have you ever wondered why golf courses change their hole locations so often? After playing in multiple tournaments last summer, I realized that the pin location changed daily. This made me wonder how this change happens, how often golf holes are changed, and why this swap takes place. Keep reading the article below to find out all you need to know about golf courses changing their hole locations.
How Often Are Golf Holes Moved?
Most golf courses change their hole locations daily. This means that golf courses need to swap out 18 holes each day. This hole location swap has many benefits which we have outlined below.
Why Do Golf Courses Change Hole Locations?
It is no surprise to most golfers that golf courses change their hole locations. However, you may ask why they do this. The main benefits for swapping holes daily are to promote green health and player experience.
Promote Healthy Greens
Greens get a tremendous amount of daily traffic. Overtime this increased traffic causes damage above and beyond the normal wear and tear seen in other areas of the course. By switching hole locations daily, grounds crews can prevent excessive wear on the green. Rotating to multiple locations throughout the week gives the green a chance to recover.
Over exposed grass can cause damage in two ways. First of which is direct damage to the grass. Grass can be fragile, especially when cut short for golf greens. Continued exposure to the same area of the green leads to damage by foot traffic, divot marks, and grounded clubs. Limiting this exposure by changing cups daily helps mitigate irreversible damage.
Secondly, grass that gets walked on frequently gets compacted by the foot traffic. This compacting can cause root damage as well as lead to thatch build up. Golf courses aerate their greens to combat traffic compressing the soil underneath the greens. For a full overview on green aerating, check out this article here.
Enhance Player Experience
Golfing is an entertainment experience like going to the movies or a concert. Golf patrons expect an experience commensurate to what they are paying to play the course. Part of this experience is the changing of the golf pin. Rotating the cup around the green can drastically modify the strategy of the golfer’s approach. By modifying the course through pin selection, the greens crew can offer golfers new experiences and challenges.
Are There Exceptions To This Daily Hole Rotation?
There are various times throughout the year where hole rotation is not done daily. Hole locations are changed less frequently, if at all, during winter months and periods of green aeration. As we covered, rotating hole position is done for green health and player experience. During the winter months, there is much less traffic on the course so the need for daily hole swaps is not necessary. In fact, many courses that experience harsh winters will close the course and cover their greens with tarps to protect them from the elements.
The same holds true for times of green aeration. Less frequent play means there isn’t the same need to rotate the golf cup. It is best to leave the greens alone to recover when possible.
How Do Golf Courses Change The Holes?
The grounds crew use specially designed hole cutters to create new holes on the course. The removed piece of green from the newly cut hole is then used to plug the prior hole. This process is typically done by the grounds crew, but it is guided by the course’s superintendent. The course superintendent will mark the new hole locations with a small dot of spray paint, so the hole is cut in the proper new location.
What Time Of Day Do Golf Courses Change The Location Of The Hole?
As with most work done on the golf course, courses will change the hole location first thing in the morning after the green has been cut. Grounds crews are hard at work at the crack of dawn. Cutting fairways, rolling greens, and cutting new holes for the day. Between 5am-7am most of the work on the high traffic areas of the golf course get done so patrons can enjoy their round.
There are a couple advantages for changing holes first thing in the morning. Early in the morning the course will be empty which allows for greens crews to work on the greens without distraction. Second, the grass is typically slightly damp from the dew in the morning. Cutting a hole with damp soil is significantly easier than dried soil after a hot day baking in the sun.
The frequent changing of a golf course’s pins is an integral part of the game. Rotating hole locations promotes healthy grass growth as well as enhances a player’s experience on the course. Next time you are on the course, see if you can spot the prior cup cutouts. You will notice them a lot more once you start looking.
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