Practice Facility 'Yips' for Success April 1, 2017 By USGA Green Section

A sign like this at your local golf course is merely a recognition of best practice- it's not a requirement. (USGA)

April has arrived. And with the warmer temperatures, golfers are making their way to golf facilities eager to get the season started. Many will spend hours at the practice facility in hopes of perfecting their swings. But before you head out to the practice facility, here are a few tips to remember.

1. Divot patterns definitely do not matter: “Experts” claim that golfers should hit golf balls using a linear divot pattern, with each shot beginning just behind the previous, and should space these linear patterns about 4 inches apart. But when you have to prepare for your Saturday scramble, don’t be shy about using a scattered or concentrated divot pattern. It may remove more turf and require a longer recovery time, but who cares about resource consumption when the first tee is waiting. Ignoring the linear divot pattern will result in less time on grass tees and more time on artificial mats, but isn’t that a price we are all willing to pay?

2. Signage is just a suggestion: You’ve seen it before: Golf course superintendents often use signs or ropes to block off certain areas of practice facilities. It may seem necessary, but these ropes and signs are only put there to inconvenience golfers and definitely are not intended to keep them safe or help the turf recover. Besides, aren’t rules meant to be broken? The next time the grass tees are closed, it’s totally acceptable to forego using the artificial mats and take some swings from the roped-off areas where the turf is recovering. Your friends will think you’re so cool.

3. Cleanup? Nah, not necessary: After you’ve chipped as many golf balls as possible onto the practice green in the short game area, just walk away and continue practicing. The next golfer will understand that you have an important round coming up, and will gladly clean up after you before they begin practicing. When you think about it, you’re just giving them extra balls to practice putting. The maintenance staff will also have plenty of extra time to lend a hand in clearing the golf balls after your session – it’s not like they have more important tasks to take care of on the golf course.

4. The Most important point: If after reading this article you only remember one fact, it should be this: Be courteous to others and make your superintendent proud by not following the tips above. Instead, learn the correct practice facility etiquette from one of the resources below, or you will be the “fool” the next time you make one of the above mistakes..