Why are practice putting greens different from the on course greens ?

I was on the putting green the other day, and the subject came up, why is the practice green always different than the golf course greens ? This triggered a memory of a blog posted a few months back asking the same question. With it being asked at our home course, I thought it would be a good time to take a little walk down to the green keepers barn and see if there’s an answer to the question.

As expected, the green’s keeper gave me a raised eyebrow and said, “What ? Do you find the putting green different than the on course greens?” … I said, “well, yes a little, but not as much as some other places. I’m just curious; why are they different? Why at other places are they so different?” With this, the green keeper stated first, they shouldn’t be, but there are a number of reasons why they are. The most common is the time of construction. The playing greens are built at the time that the golf course is built. Many, many putting greens came years after the original construction of the golf course. In that time frame you had many changes in putting green construction. You also had many changes in the types of grasses and sods that were available. You also probably had a completely different contractor building the green. Another reason they are different, is that they are normally done with different types of construction. 

Not only are these different types of construction a result of being built during different time frames, but they are just different in general. The greens on the golf course are built for creating playable challenges and it becomes the job of the green keeper to maintain those greens in a suitable manner with all the undulations and dips and idiosyncrasies that come with most playing greens. However, the putting green, usually during construction, is built relatively flat with few undulations and it is built very much with maintenance in mind.

Another reason for the difference in putting greens and on course greens, can be the environment. The environment of the practice green is often times quite different than the environment surrounding the greens on the golf course. For example, he pointed out that our practice green is in an area that has full sun. Whereas of the first four greens on our golf course, only one has full sun. These different environments result in different growing conditions and different growing speeds. For example, if you have a nice hot summer day, and your teeing off later in the afternoon, you might find the practice green has been weathered to the point where there is wilt, and it is lightning fast. You then go and play the first hole where the green has been shaded since around one o’clock, or probably the last three hours, and you’ll find that that green is almost shaggy-like. 

It’s had it’s growth for the day, and now it is shaded and it is not wilting, in fact it is starting to stand up straight, searching for the sun and it is a little slower. The opposite can take effect on a 70 degree and slightly cloudy day. The practice green, being fully exposed to the sun will have rapid growth and it will be slower than the green that sits in the shade for three hours in the afternoon, which because of the shade and lack of the sun had slower growth, so therefore, that green is a little faster.

A vintage golf photo of the 9th green at The Country Club Brookline Massachusetts.

Other environmental factors that can impact the practice green and the playing greens, can include wind. A green such as our practice green is in the wide open can get wind burn, and get very dry, very fast, whereas the greens that are in the trees are protected from the wind, and don’t suffer the consequences of the wind.

And of course the last reason that practice greens are different than playing greens are the maintenance practices. Some maintenance practices are necessary due to the fact that the practice green is subject to more trampling and compaction and abuse, therefore they tend to get left in a higher height with different mowers. Another reason can be that the practice green is maintained in manner to take more abuse than the playing greens take, and of course you have the classic budgetary reason that the practice greens is maintained differently than the playing greens.

I thought that was pretty good explanation and summary of the question.


To learn more about putting greens, continue your search here.....



(c) 1999 - 2021 Thegolfballfactory.com

Let's meet at the putting green|Hole 1 Handicap and Wager|Hole 2 Golf Tournaments|Hole 3 Golfing Excuses
Hole 4 Golf Etiquette|Hole 5 The Golf Course Architect|Hole 6 The Green keeper|Hole 7  Range rat|
Hole 8  Ball hawk
Hole 9 Golfing Partners
|Hole10 Golf Resorts|Hole 11 The Caddie|Hole12  Golf Rules|Hole 13 Golf course living
Hole14 Golfing Equipment|Hole15 Golfing Accessories|Hole 16 Golf School-Now what|Hole 17 The Golf Pro
Hole 18 Hall of Golf Champions|Hole 19 The grillroom