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You will need the players and the committee to embrace the proposed developments to get consent to proceed.


The essential attributes


With the ideal in mind you then need to specify the agreed performance characteristics that you are aiming to achieve. This must be done in a way that is easily measurable for comparison with the existing situation. Be grounded when defining the upper and lower thresholds for the desired green speeds through the seasons - too fast can be as frustrating as too slow for some players, especially on contoured surfaces. Stipulate the desired level of surface smoothness/trueness and assess it on a regular basis to help you create a surface that produces the perfect ball roll. The receptivity of the surfaces should reflect the design intention of the course, with the target level being set to reward well- stuck shots and skilful play. Consistency within each putting surface, between the putting surfaces, and throughout the year, is important and should also be refined to take out all but the subtlest variations. Year-round playability is of crucial importance these days and needs to be a focus of specific attention.


All these essential qualities can be quantified and specified (stay tuned) to


allow proper targeting of the ideal and help monitor progress towards it. You have to model the vision to be able to make it real.


How do we get there?


This is where the art of greenkeeping and skill of agronomy work together. It is decision time, and we need to formulate a strategy to achieve our goal. Now that we know the existing and the desired playing qualities, we can compare the differences and decide where the improvements need to be made. This is where we start using and


interpreting the information. We draw from our experiences that will drive progress in the desired direction. Your evaluation of different strategies should always focus on maintaining and improving playing qualities. If your plan causes playing qualities to decline for too long then the players will start losing patience and the plan will flounder. We work to improve the playing qualities by attending to the various “agronomic issues”.


At this stage we need to pinpoint those


agronomic factors that are adversely affecting the situation and holding back development. The main limiting factors tend to be poor drainage, shading and organic matter accumulation and, so, these need sorting out before any other


progress can be made. The trick is to come up with a plan that achieves this without being too disruptive. There are a huge number of other


agronomic issues that impact on playing qualities - sward texture, sward composition, evenness of the blend, pest and disease activity, the development of dry patch, soil structure and conditioning, nutrition, irrigation, root development, etc. etc. etc. - and these will all need to be assessed and dealt with along the way.


Our plan will only succeed if we deal with everything in the right order. For example, it is pointless overseeding to improve the quality of the sward before we have resolved the limiting factors of drainage, organic matter accumulation and shading, because it just won’t work. The article “Pride and Joy" (in the last issue)) describes the four distinct phases of greenkeeping that are required for sward species development. Each phase has specific (and different) objectives that need to be achieved before moving on to the next. If sward species development is one of your goals, then you will need to work in a specific order with intermediate targets to allow the development to take place. There are always a number of different strategies that we could employ to achieve the objectives, and we need to


POSSIBLE


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