For many years I’ve been wondering what it is that makes so many American golfers (especially club members) spend thousands on golf trips to Scotland to play on brown, less than perfectly manicured golf courses only to come home and complain when one little thing is out of place at their home club. Like everybody else, I enjoy not only the beauty but the playability of a perfectly manicured golf course. However, like the USGA suggests in the recently published article not only are such manicured conditions agronomically and environmentally unsustainable, the economics of falling into the “Augusta Syndrome” are a major inhibitant to the growth of the game by making it more expensive as well. As one who has struggled throughout my golfing “career” with slow greens, I find that when I’m in Scotland, or somewhere with slower greens and limited water use the game takes on a new character and one that presents an entirely different challenge, especially relating to what Scots call the “weight” of the shot. Instead of throwing darts the player is required to consider the bounce, roll and other ground factors which (while not as precise) add an element we in America don’t often get to enjoy. As anyone who’s been to the UK (and other links environments) to play, and embraced the conditions, it’s really fun.
As the USGA so ably (and somewhat humorously) notes, the benefits can also reach both golfers and operators pockets as well. “Brown” can save or make you “Green”.