Musings from the Ledge: Mr. Stimpy isn’t a liar, but…

By |  May 3, 2022 1 Comments
Photo: Alan Fitzgerald

Photo: Alan Fitzgerald

Each year I take a look back at the previous year and give myself a grade. How well did it go overall? How was the turf? Anything else?

Overall, 2021 was probably a B+/A-. Like every superintendent, we are exceptionally hard critics of ourselves which in turn makes criticism from others harder to take. We beat our heads over: “Did I really miss that,” “Argh! I saw that and forgot about it” or the inevitable “I wish I could, but don’t have the resources.”

That last one is a tough one as we still try to achieve “it” with what we have and it’s also my favorite, as it creates some interesting thought processes and superintendents finding ways around the problem.

Like everyone, staffing was the big one as we went from fine to just barely having enough as the year passed. The grade shifts back and forth on this a bit as we manage to work miracles with a smaller staff so it doesn’t really show — at least in the short term. However, the never-ending equipment supply issue softened the blow as there would have been barely enough people to run everything anyway. It was an A+ for getting it done, but a solid B as the team suffered from the balancing act through the year. B+ overall.

I’ll give another A as I reached my goals for the course and two big personal ones: becoming a Master Greenkeeper and passing my CGCS exam.

Grading turf

How about the turf? Conditions were good besides some tees having damage (largely from only having one old tee mower to get through the year). We battled two tropical systems in a week without an issue and my first experience with a major lightning strike was one that I would like to forget. The team worked miracles, so we barely missed a beat. B+ overall.

Due to the golf schedule, spring aeration was earlier than usual, so recovery was slow, and like a petulant teenager, the slow-wakening-in-spring L93 only magnified the issue. Once the greens were back up to speed all seemed well until the “greens aren’t LedgeRock fast” complaints started.

Stimpmeter says?

However, Mr. Stimpy was saying they were exceeding that metric with readings of 13 to 13.5 feet every day, outside of Philly, in July. Then the conversation changed to, “there’s no roll-out.” That comment made a few light bulbs go off.

I also sensed this “no roll-out” when I putted but dismissed it since I’m an average putter. More importantly, my buddy Mr. Stimpy was telling me different. The only difference was the height of cut was 0.015 inches higher than usual.

I still haven’t worked out exactly what happened, but you read it here first: The Stimpmeter is not a good way to measure greens speed. After all, speed is distance/time and all that Mr. Stimpy measures is distance. Yes, it works to check consistency from green to green, but that is it. Greens speed doesn’t travel. It’s your distance on your turf and that’s it. Once fall aeration was out of the way (along with those pesky tropical systems) we shaved them back down to normal and the greens speed was 13 to 13.5 feet. I heard, “This is how they should be,” “They’re finally back” and “They’re so much faster now.”

Mr. Stimpy wouldn’t lie, would he? He didn’t. He is just being asked for something he cannot provide. So “roll-out” is my new metric. I’m not yet sure how to actually test it as it has to do with ball resistance on the turf and acceleration and deceleration as it rolls off Mr. Stimpy.

I am no longer going to rely on a three-foot stick. But just like Maverick in Top Gun, I now have a new need for speed, or more accurately, a new way to measure it.

About the Author: Alan FitzGerald

Alan FitzGerald is superintendent at Rehoboth Beach (Del.) CC.

1 Comment on "Musings from the Ledge: Mr. Stimpy isn’t a liar, but…"

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  1. Dave Doherty says:

    Great article young man (With COMMON SENSE). I hope every GCS on this earth reads it.

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