There is so much business strategy in the world of superintendents. Let’s focus on the pace of play, a major frustration among players and course operators.

Joe Haskins, superintendent of Renditions Davidsonville, Maryland golf course — operated by Landscapes Golf Management — gave his take on the matter. Here are his top five tips for managing speed:

Precise maintenance

Golf is simple when superintendents embrace a “find the ball, hit the ball” philosophy. Grow and maintain the right species of grass in the right areas of the course. Set up courses with the perfect balance of bark and friendliness for every handicap range (although most superintendents know that extremely hard pins and fast greens cause inevitable triple bogies, they love to test golfers’ mettle so devastating). Allowing your existing raw to grow to eight inches isn’t a naturalized zone – it’s a pace killer. Nonetheless, it’s perfectly acceptable for Fescue to do its Jack and the Beanstalk imitation where golfers rarely, if ever, hit.


It is the superintendent’s duty to advise maintenance crews on what is an acceptable base time for golfers – from high handicappers to low handicappers – to play each hole from the tee until the putt sinks (or picks up and continue). This takes into account how each hole is patterned, including pin locations. Without interfering with play, crews should feel free to coordinate with marshals on when to politely encourage golfers and offer playing tips to pick it up where their game is lagging. Finally, communicate closely with clubhouse operations to have their staff suggest appropriate tee boxes for golfers to play in sync with the day’s course layout. The superintendent is the kingpin here.

Golf carts

The fastest route from point A to point B is a straight line. That’s why cart path-only restrictions are the antithesis of fast play. If the conditions are marginal, let them spread out a bit under a 90 degree ruler. Rely on directional stakes, ropes and GPS systems to contain play by limiting access to wetter areas. While obvious, courts sometimes send out carts with not enough juice, causing even more traffic jams of epic proportions.


Consider areas along the route where bottlenecks occur frequently and don’t adopt a “we can’t do anything about it” attitude. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and helping golfers navigate the layout most often doesn’t involve a high cap-ex budget — or at all. Par 3s seem to be the biggest “turtle” culprit, so consider removing accessories such as water cooling stations, ball washers, and divot mixing containers. Reduce naturalized areas near inbounds trees for easier recovery shots after missed shots and use dry-erase distance signs for accurate distances at a glance.


Work hand-in-hand with the operations team to explore partnerships with companies that attach sensors to golf bags and carts to monitor the speed of play. These types of systems offer courses with operational monitoring and reporting comprehensive and in real time, giving managers tools to manage operations efficiently. The results: improved gaming experiences, increased efficiency, cost savings and additional revenue. The data points gained on individual golfers allow for better marketing of equipment sales, instruction and, perhaps most importantly, optimization of tee sheets and tee time intervals.

Haskins and Landscapes Golf Management live by the mantra that well-run golf courses and country clubs – and their ultimate business profitability – come down to the happiness of members, guests and staff. In today’s fast-paced world, with the pace of play under control, complaints will surely decrease and your offers will be favored over the competition.