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Some thoughts on synthetic green speeds

A huge consideration is the speed of your synthetic green. How fast do you really want it?

Golf uses Stimpmeter readings to get an idea of the green’s speed. The stimpmeter sets the ball rolling at a known speed and you get an idea of the speed by seeing how far the ball has rolled. The whole idea about the Stimpmeter is to try and help Superintendents get a uniform speed of the green. If a ball rolls 10 feet the green is considered to be running at “10”.

Over the years golfer’s have become more obsessed about the speed of the greens they play on. It seems they are getting faster and faster. From experience, a good green speed for club golfers should be around 9 – 10. Back in the day a reading above 10 was considered lightning fast. Now it’s more the norm.

11 is really quick and is a similar speed to what I got used to playing on in Melbourne’s sandbelt, so I asked Bruce to set my green speed at around this level. This was all a bit of a guessing game because we actually didn’t use a Stimpmeter. Anything above 11 is bordering on the ridiculous. You may have see some professional tournaments where the pro just taps the putt and it runs and runs. These green speeds for these events are getting close to the 13 level.

I remember a Club Championship I played in a few years ago where the Green Keeper had the greens running at 15! It was completely ridiculous as much of the course was unplayable. The greens were so quick that the wind was blowing the ball from the green. One minute you thought you had a hit a good putt, only to watch it keep rolling and rolling.

My strong advice is don’t go too quick. You don’t want a Supreme Green that’s like a professional tour event. It’s not much fun and I really don’t think it will help your golf.

Supreme Greens do offer you the ability to vary the speed of the green. And this is done by altering the amount of Profill used. Use more fill and the green will speed up, and remove some to slow it down. This works because the less Profill used, the more the ball has to run through the yarn of the grass.

From my experience Bruce is a genius when it comes to the speed of the green. Right off the bat he’ll get your green running at around a “10”. This is the speed most green keepers will be aiming for on their own courses and it’s a good speed to play around with. It will test your putting stroke and short game without being too difficult. If you’re going to err do so in making it slower to start with. It’s far easier to quicken a green then it is to slow it down.

Now a word of warning: Not all greens and installers can give you the right speed. My green has been running consistently all year, and this despite huge amounts of rain and constant use. The Profill and Bruce’s installation techniques are the key here. If the installer uses sand or doesn’t understand golf that well, you could get a superb looking green, but after a month or two you’ll notice the firmness and the speed of the green getting quicker. All of the synthetic greens I had seen prior to a Supreme Green were like this and this had me thinking a synthetic green wasn’t an option.

If you have a poorly installed green and it’s too fast you’ll need constant servicing and maintenance to slow it down. Bruce informs me that this is a never ending process and each service becomes less and less effective. A good friend of mine had a synthetic green in his backyard. It looked terrific but it was almost useless from a golf perspective. Please don’t make the same expensive mistake.

The last consideration is the slope of your green. I’ve been fairly conservative in my approach. I didn’t want large slopes because the green size in comparison to a real green is small. And if I had large slopes the green would be really quick in spots but it would also diminish the real playing surface of my green. So I’ve got subtle breaks and the largest surface area to play around in. I can use almost all my green for putting practice and chip and pitch from all spots around the circumference.

Hope all this makes sense and if you have any questions please let me know.

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