It is important that, prior to a competition, the Committee has a clear idea of how it wishes the course to play. Each hole should be evaluated in terms of distance, tee position and hole location in an attempt to provide a good test of golf. A course that is well set up will test a player’s ability to play a range of shots using all, or at least most, of the clubs in his bag. However, it should be noted that this publication does not contain specific guidelines on preparing a course, for example, giving recommended putting green speeds, rough heights etc. The R&A does not provide standard golf course specifications as it takes the view that every golf course has its own characteristics and has been designed by the architects to have certain features. In preparing a course for a competition it is considered important to take account of the strategy that the architects had in mind, and also the type of course and its individual requirements.
Establishing the correct course set-up will involve visits to the course months in advance of the competition. While it may not be desirable to interfere too much with the programme of the greenstaff, it is important to ensure that desired green speeds, rough heights and fairway widths are agreed upon and understood well in advance of the competition. In addition, it is important to allow any repair work enough time to mature and to ensure that if any fresh sand is to be put into bunkers, it is done at least four months prior to the competition.
It should be the aim of the greenstaff and the Committee to have the condition of the course virtually identical from the first practice day to the last day of the event. Significant changes in course conditions between practice and the event itself, particularly in relation to the putting greens, are undesirable.
The Committee must appoint someone to set up the course for each competition round. It may be that the Committee appoint two people to this task with one person covering each nine. If this is the case it is essential that one is fully aware of the other’s intentions so that there is no imbalance in terms of hole locations, etc. The appointed person may be a member of the Committee or a senior member of the greenstaff.
This person’s duties will consist of establishing the teeing grounds at each hole, determining hole locations, ensuring that bunkers have been raked, and that putting greens, fairways and tees have been cut, and checking lines and stakes defining out of bounds, water hazards, etc. to make sure that they have not been worn away or removed without the Committee’s authority.