HOWARD WARD: It Ain't Easy Being Green All the Time
Unless you play on a golf course that's over-seeded for the winter, you probably haven't seen much green grass in a few months.
But that's OK, the robins have been out for weeks now and spring is only a few days away.
I don't really mind playing on dormant grass. If the course is in decent shape with a healthy growth of Bermuda, it provides a good playing surface throughout the cool weather months.
Still, green goes with golf the way red goes with Sydney Lowe. OK, maybe that's not the best example, but who isn't admiring the N.C. State Wolfpack these days?
With the greening, of course, comes the preening. Every golf course superintendent in the south knows that his course is going to be getting critiqued by members. After all, PGA Tour golf has been on TV for almost three months now and every course the pros have played on has been plush. Emerald green grass, glistening white sand bunkers, baby cheek-smooth greens. Every blade of grass trimmed to perfection. Every tee, green and fairway defined.
Perfection. Just the way your course should be.
But the best is yet to come. It's only a couple of weeks before the Masters Tournament. And that means the onset of the Augusta National Syndrome.
Yep, the holy grail of golf, that pristine acreage of rolling fairways and pristine greens brings with it the sounds that course superintendents dread most. The griping and complaining of members who think their course ought to be at least as perfect as Augusta National.
Listen, nothing is as perfect as Augusta National during Masters week. At least as far as the CBS camera lens is going to show. If there's a brown blade of grass anywhere on the course, some Masters Tournament committee member in his green jacket will be out there spraying it green.
Can't you just see those middle-aged men punishing their arthritic knees as they make their way along the fairways scissoring every blade of grass in the quasi-rough to the exact same height?
Don't you know that there are boxes of artificial azalea blossoms stored in the Eisenhower Cabin just in case there's a cold snap and the committee members have to tape them onto the bushes behind the 12th green?
Do you really think that the water in Georgia runs green?
I don't mean to be mean here. Honest. I covered 21 Masters during my tenure as sports editor of a daily newspaper and I have to say that, along with the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament, covering the Masters was the highlight of my career.
All I'm saying is, members shouldn't expect their courses to be quite as perfect as Augusta National. Believe me, you don't want to pay the kind of dues it would take to cover those expenses.
Still, beleaguered superintendents feel the pressure. Golfers watch the Masters for four days and they come to their course the next week and every blemish is magnified.
OK, so here's a clue to all you dissatisfied members: Do your part to take care of your course. I promise you, your super is knocking himself out to give you the best playing conditions possible.
The next time you pull up to the first tee, park your cart on the paved cart path that has been so expensively provided for your pleasure. Many of the new courses are putting curbs on their paths around tees and greens, but there are still more that depend on the golfers to use common sense.
How much walking does it save you to park with two wheels on the grass? See that bare strip of ugly dirt between the path and the green? You helped create that.
Most courses today provide containers of sand on carts for golfers to fill in divots they take from the fairway. Do you use them? Obviously everyone doesn't.
So take care of your course. If you don't, who will?
And one other thing -- the next time you see your superintendent, say hi. Say thank you.
Then go out and enjoy the course. And leave it in better shape than you find it. Hey, you play there, don't you?
Contact Howard Ward at 867-6493 or 690-2211 or by e-mail at
More like this story