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Golf is the only sport in which the course is being maintained while there are games being played. As a result, we often see maintenance personnel during our round, especially fairways and rough mowers. While it may seem that the mowers are following you across the field, reality is that they are doing their best to avoid interfering with the game. A little background information will help you understand why we come across lawn mowers on the golf course and why we should be glad they are there.

Golf course superintendents and their teams work hard to produce and maintain attractive course conditions and good playability on a daily basis. Generating such conditions requires regular mowing. During the growing season, greens are mowed five to seven days a week, fairways are often mowed two to four times a week, and roughs one or two times a week. While greens mowing is usually completed before the game, it is often not possible to mow 25 to 50 acres of fairways before the game. Additionally, mowing fairways when the grass is wet in the morning often produces significant trim debris. Mowing when the grass is dry in the afternoon generates a cleaner surface and a better mowing quality.

If the club cut fairways two to four times a week and rough cut once or twice a week, chances are you will see rough or fairway mowers in operation if you play Monday through Friday. In the afternoon, mowing operations often work through the holes back to avoid encountering a group of players for more than one or two holes. While mowing employees may stop while you take a shot, they often do not turn the mowers off to avoid frequent starts and stops and because idling helps cool the machines. They are doing their best to minimize any disruption to your round, but if there are mowers nearby, you may see or hear them working and you may need to wait a moment as they get out of your way.

Golf course superintendents would prefer to complete the fairway and lawn mowing before the game because mowing the lawn during the game can be very ineffective. Unfortunately, fairway mowing often requires three to four mowing units and over three to four hours to complete the process. Rough mowing often takes longer. Many courses simply do not have enough staff or mowing equipment to perform all the necessary morning setup tasks, for example, raking bunkers, changing holes, placing tee markers and cutting greens, while also completing fairway or cutting operations.

Here are some tips for when you encounter mowing operations in the field:

Give them a break! Recognize that these employees are working hard to provide quality playing conditions for you to enjoy. Know the facts. Most golf courses do not have the staff or equipment to complete the fairway or land before the game. Therefore, there is a high probability that you will see lawn mowers on the golf course while playing. Make sure they see you. Mowers are noisy and operators are often wearing ear protection. It is likely that they won’t hear you when you yell «go ahead.» Make sure the operator sees you and give him a chance to get the mower out of the way before hitting in their direction.

Say hello when you meet someone mowing fairways or roughs. Be nice and share your greetings or say thank you for their hard work, just like you would with someone helping you at a coffee shop or restaurant. The men and women who take care of your course will appreciate it!

The next time you see lawnmowers in action while playing a round, know that they are completing an essential task that most of the time cannot be completed before the game. Take care of yourself, thank them and keep enjoying your round.