Determine cup and tee-marker location

Placing tee markers and cups on a golf course is much more than a random process. Performing this job correctly can save hours or even days of work down the road. Therefore, don't neglect this task or assign it to someone that does not fully understand it. While not all people may be capable of this job, with careful training and proper instruction, most employees can do it.

It's appropriate to consider tee and cup placement together. To keep yardages consistent, tee-marker placement should correspond to cup placement. Additionally, the routine of moving the tee markers simultaneously with the pins on a daily basis ensures adequate healing time for the tee and green surfaces.

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Cup placement Because cup placement often determines tee-marker placement, let's consider this first. Cup placement requires a bit more expertise than moving tee markers. To ensure a fair round of golf, you must select the pin's placement thoughtfully.

1. Use a cup-rotation schedule. Rotating cup placements on a day-to-day basis is critical to healthy greens and happy golfers. A good schedule to follow is a front/middle/back rotation, alternating sides as you move in the rotation. For example, if one day you place the cup on the front right of the green, the next day you should place it on the middle left of the green. The following day, place it back right. This type of rotation reduces the compaction and wear that would occur if you left the cup in one spot for too long.

2. Choose the spot. Your rotation schedule will determine the general area for cup placement. However, turf conditions and undulations affect the final placement.

* Turf condition. Many greens have weak areas with less-than-desirable turf. If possible, avoid placing cups in these areas-not only because they make for a rough putt, but also because the area will recover much more quickly if you keep traffic to a minimum.

* Undulations. A good rule is to have at least a 3-foot radius of flat putting surface around the cup. Avoid mounds and swales as much as possible because these areas usually won't hold shots. A good way to find an acceptable spot is to putt several balls at the desired location. If the balls come to rest and do not roll away, the spot is a good one. Otherwise, the cup placement could make for virtually impossible putts.

3. Account for green speed. Greens generally are slower in the spring than in mid-summer. Therefore, a pin placement that is good in the spring may not be good in the summer. As green speeds increase during the season, acceptable cupping areas usually become harder to find. Thus, it is a good idea to have someone who understands the game of golf and cup placements cut the cups at these times.

Tee-marker placement Leaving tee markers in the same spot is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Not only does this result in heavy abuse of the teeing area, it also can lead to soil compaction from golfers taking the same path to the markers and from standing around in the same spot waiting to tee off.

Generally, you'll need to move the tee markers daily when the course is receiving regular play. To some extent, this is a judgment call on your part and depends on what level of golfers play your course. High-handicap golfers produce many large divots, so you should move the markers on a daily basis. On the other hand, if your course typically hosts above-average players, moving the markers every other day might be sufficient.

Par 3 holes will require more frequent tee movement than longer holes where players typically use woods to tee off. Thus, even if you can get away with moving tees every other day on par 4s and 5s, you'll still need to rotate the par 3s every day. I recommend a regular routine of moving all tees daily. Spending an extra hour each morning can prevent days of extra work repairing tees.

1. Determine tee placement. Tee-marker placement involves many aspects that vary according to your particular course. Pin placement and yardages, weak turf areas and obstructions all affect how you place tee markers.

* Pin placement and yardage. You decision on where to place the markers on the tee primarily depends on keeping the course at a consistent yardage on a day-to-day basis. If your course plays 6,200 yards on Monday, it should be reasonably close to that every other day. By moving the markers in relation to the pin placement, you can easily accomplish this.

For example, if the pin will be cut in the back left of the green, then the tee markers should be in the front right of the tee box. If the pin is in the front left of the green, then the markers should be in the back right.

* Obstructions and weak turf. Of course, this precise pattern may not always be possible. Weak turf areas or obstructed tee shots may force you to move the markers to a less-than-ideal spot. Nevertheless, you should follow this pattern as closely as possible.

2. Align the tee markers. Once you have determined the location of the tee markers, you must ensure that they are properly aligned. The goal is to align the markers so that when golfers stand between them in their normal stance, they are aiming at the landing zone in the fairway.

* Using a "T". An easy way to accomplish this without having to "eyeball" each tee, and one that doesn't require extensive familiarity with the course, is to construct a "T" out of PVC pipe. At each tee, lay the pipe on the tee so that it's aimed at the landing zone. Then place the markers at the ends of the "T".

* Using your arms. If you are fairly comfortable with how your course plays, you can use a simpler method. Standing on the tee, extend your arms straight out to your sides so they are pointed at the markers. Then bring your hands together in front of yourself. If your hands are pointing at the landing zone, you've found the right alignment.

As you have just learned, conditions such as undulations, weak turf or obstructions may prevent the ideal tee and cup placement. However, if you stick to the desired rotation as much as you can, your efforts should yield excellent results. Neglecting these tasks is likely to lead to major problems, such as severe compaction problems or tees so badly abused you will have to replace them. A little extra effort today leads to a much easier tomorrow.

Tim Wegner is assistant superintendent at Blackwolf Run golf course (Kohler, Wisc.).

If overgrown trees obstruct tee shots, there are a few options you should explore.

If you can persuade your members to let you remove the trees, do so. This is by far the easiest and most sensible solution. Unfortunately, it is usually the hardest thing to get approved.

In lieu of tree removal, initiate an aggressive pruning program or plan on moving entire tees to allow for a clear shot to the fairway from any spot on the tee. Although moving trees can be costly, in the long run the course will look better, play better and perhaps even attract more golfers.

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