Thursday, July 24, 2014

Golf Spike Evolution? It's Come Full Circle.

Clack, Clack, Clack.  If you're a Baby Boomer or older like me you can still remember the sound of metal golf spikes crossing asphalt or concrete paths.  There was nothing better than the feeling of spikes sinking into warm sun beaten asphalt pathways.  I can still feel and hear the crunch underfoot on tournament parched greens. For your own safeties sake, you always remembered to take extra precaution when making your way across the locker rooms tile floor because if you didn't you would find yourself on your backside.  AND you can still see the damage to wooden bridge decking, steps and carpeting if you look closely.  I can still see the bruised and battered turf, a perfect doughnut around the cup.  Those were yesterdays days right?  NO!  I'm talking about the problem that I see daily brought on by today's golf shoe construction.

As a (over) seasoned golf course manager, I'm always asked if yesterday's outing caused any damage to the turf.  Well yes there is damage, but it's away from the course you'll see today!  It is the principle reason hole locations are constantly changed.

The picture above is the damage caused by spikes around the cup location.  Usually there is a six inch ring free of damage as people stop short of the hole to bend to pick their ball from the cup.  The damage seen came on the "heal" of the largest golf outing of the year that proceeded one half hour after a 2" rain event had passed.

In this photo above this "tricky" tournament hole location produced two points from which putts were taken above and below the hole.  Those area's are to the right of the blue ball mark tool just right of center.

As I began to put together my thoughts for this post, I became unusually aware of the damage not only around the cup, but to the generalized area of the green hosting the hole location for that day.


Looking closely, you can see the imprints of both styles of shoes.  My knife covers the replugged closed hole.  I wish I had a dollar every time the comment was made, "how come the greens are 'bumpy and slow'."

I'm not picking on Foot Joy, however, they're not alone in this game.  They along with the other golf shoe manufacturers are not good for the game if the spikes they use to sell their products cause damage to putting green turf.  Damage requiring costly inputs of chemicals and fertilizers to outgrow spike damage are expenses paid for by you.  I'm aware of courses that have banned this aggressive spike.  Maybe it's time we jump on the bandwagon too?  MK