This is one of the most nerve-wracking jobs in greenkeeping as a mistake with white paint next to the hole will be seen by millions!
The hole truth
The golf hole is somewhere that every golfer on a course goes and this is why it receives special attention from a maintenance perspective.
The first hole-cutter utilising a specialist cutting tool was developed in Musselburgh in 1829. Measuring 4.25 inches, it was most likely made from excess pipe lying around the Links. The R&A liked that size and so adopted it in their rules for 1891 and, as was usually the case, the rest of the golf world followed their lead.
Hole-changing is a sizeable operation here at the Home of Golf. Each of our seven courses has fresh holes cut at least three times a week. When hosting competitions we’ll do this ahead of play in the mornings but with 9 local clubs using the facilities plus visiting golfers, this isn’t always possible.
Including practice greens, we cut well over 400 new holes a week across the Links! Any days they are not moved, they are trimmed with specialist curved scissors.
For televised events we even paint the top inch of the hole white to help them show up better on your screen. This is one of the most nerve-wracking jobs in greenkeeping as a mistake with white paint next to the hole will be seen by millions! We also have to be confident the paint will have dried before the first players reach the green.
Pin positions are decided by a golfing member of the greenkeeping team usually one or two days in advance using the PinPoint system. When deciding where the pin will go greenstaff always take into account the weather forecast, especially wind speed and direction, along with setting different degrees of difficulty and spreading wear across the green. With the undulations on certain greens this can be quite a challenge, the 5th holes on both the Eden and New courses are particularly challenging!
Hole cutters and their accessories have developed through the years with various different shapes and sizes available, all of which do the same job and are picked according to the Course Managers preference.
Staff always use a board when cutting new holes to prevent crowning and we also have a small tool to make sure the cup is inserted to the correct depth.
Words by Richard Devlin, Deputy Course Manager - Eden and Strathtyrum courses