Your Golf Course Should Follow the Lead of US Open at Bethpage Black
Under the direction of the USGA, the groundskeepers at Bethpage Black are cutting back the rough to a manageable level for about 20 feet from the fairway. Now, to be fair, the USGA’s idea of exactly what is manageable is a bit extreme but they are making it more playable than years past, nonetheless. Which brings me to my point: Local greenskeepers should instruct their crews to keep the rough lower than 2 inches at all times, save perhaps around club championship time.
Such a direction in course maintenance would provide many positives, the most important of which is speeding up play. High rough slows down play by lengthening the search for golf balls and, assuming you found it, by creating havoc on the ensuing shot.
Over ninety percent of all golfers have all they can handle trying to control their ball out of the intermediate cut, which doesn’t even cover half of the ball. Having the rough at ball height or slightly above is more penalty than all but the most elite players would require for a stern test of golf. Why penalize the overwhelming majority to a ridiculous extreme just to satisfy a very few? If the U.S. Open - golf’s toughest test - has adopted a policy of keeping the rough at a height to allow for recovery shots, shouldn’t we at the lower levels of the game do likewise?
The other problem with high rough is that it extracts a measure of fun out of the round, particularly for high handicappers. If the powers that be really want to attract new players and grow the game, perhaps they should start by growing a little less … grass.
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