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Posted by Jason on Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Playing Conditions

What makes for good playing conditions at a course these days?

People at the club I work at are always extremely concerned with course conditioning.  The two most important questions I get are "How green are the fairways?" and "How lush is the rough?"  Let's not forget the big one, "How fast and pure are the greens?"  Don't get me wrong, I love playing a supremely conditioned course just as much as the next guy, but is that the end-all be-all for the perfect golf experience?


Last year there were three rounds that were perfect golfing experiences for us because the playing conditions couldn't have been any better for that given course on that given day.  Playing somewhere that makes you feel like you are in the Masters is unique no matter where you are, and that's exactly what we got at Forest Dunes Golf Club in Michigan.

Playing golf on a perfectly calm day on a course like Forest Dunes was one of the most memorable golfing experiences of my life due in large part to the Augusta-like conditioning of the golf course. Every blade of grass was perfectly uniform in length, almost as if someone had cut every single one using a scissors and a ruler. The course conditioning, combined with the high blue skies, the wonderful colors of changing leaves and the calm and cool 55 degree autumn day, made for the most perfect day possible. I am almost reluctant to go back because I fear I might never again get another day so perfect.

Next on the list of best playing conditions from last year was the Links Course at The Golf Courses of Lawsonia. If Forest Dunes was perfect because it was green and finely manicured, the Links was perfect because it was the exact opposite. The golf course was in good shape but instead of seeing many shades of green everywhere, we were greeted with a baked out beauty that had just as much tan and brown as it did green. I felt like I was in The Open Championship with the way the ball bounded through the fairway and the rough. The lies were bare, and the best option many times was to roll the ball along the ground when possible. Green is great, but I'm a firm believer that for every Augusta there should be a St. Andrews - even in America where we like to use our sprinkler and sub-air systems.

Last but not least, the best playing conditions from last year were also the worst! Never in my life have I experienced anything remotely close to the weather at The Irish Course in Kohler, Wisconsin.  We played 18 holes in the windiest conditions possible (save for a tornado rolling through town).  On top of the gale force winds blowing in from the lake, we had the pleasure of dealing with sideways rain, temperatures in the 40's that probably felt like 20's, and to top it off we were on a links style course.  Usually I don't love conditions like this - heck, most of the time I would have just sat inside and watched the rain pound the windows - but for one day, the golf gods couldn't have blessed us with more adverse yet wonderful playing conditions.  The closest thing I'd seen before was on TV when Tiger, at Muirfield, was shooting 81 and Shigeki Maruyama was hiding behind port-johns to block himself from the winds.  Looking back, I wouldn't have traded that blustery Scottish style day for all the sunshine in the world. 

Playing conditions can make, or in some cases break, a golfing experience. Just remember that the conditions don't always have to be warm, sunny, and pristine to be ideal on every golf course you play. Tee it up and enjoy.


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