What REALLY irritates golf-course superintendents? They told us in this 2022 poll

cigar smoker on golf course

Earlier this year, we granted our panel of superintendent contributors anonymity in return for their candid takes.

getty images

Our weekly Super Secrets column covered a lot of turf in 2022, from leaf-removal tactics to seeding vs. sodding to golf-course mowing patterns. Every installment engaged our readers — credit the sharp insights of our fleet of superintendent contributors expertly woven together by GOLF Senior Writer Josh Sens — but none drew a larger audience than our superintendents’ pet peeves survey. As Sens noted in the introduction to the piece, “as a group, superintendents are easygoing. But they’re not immune to irritation. Leave a minefield of divots and ball marks in your wake without making the slightest effort to repair them, and you’re bound to irk your super.”

For this column, which became our most-read Super Secrets story of the year, we granted our panel of superintendent contributors anonymity in return for their candid takes on what gets their goats. Here are a dozen of their responses, as we first reported in March 2022:

1. Tee-box temper tantrums

They said it: Golfer misses a tee shot and then winds up and blasts the nearest tee marker in frustration, shattering it into a million pieces. Congratulations. At least you can hit something. Too bad those markers cost me $27 each.

2. Early-bird practice sessions

They said it: A golfer in an early group drops 17 balls in the middle of the fairway and whacks them all with an 8-iron, not bothering to fix his divots or ball marks. Hey, Bub, you want to practice? Buy a bucket at the range.

ball washers
Death of the golf-ball washer: Why this once-familiar staple is falling out of favor
By: Josh Sens

3. Off-season trespassers

They said it: The course is closed, but that doesn’t stop some guy — and it’s pretty much always a guy — from walking his dog on the back nine, with three clubs in one hand and his pocket filled with balls. “Oh, I’m just hitting a few shots in the rough.” Um, no you’re not. You’re getting in your car and leaving.

4. Litter bugs

They said it: Five empty beer cans on the tee box when the trash bin is literally five paces away.

5. Lip disservice

They said it: The same golfer who can’t be bothered to bend over and repair a divot spends four minutes digging his ball out of the cup with the head of his putter, wrecking a freshly cut hole.

6. Reckless driving

They said it: Ropes and directional signs weren’t put there to be props in a demolition derby. But golfers still run over them. “Oh, sorry. I didn’t see the sign!” — as I pry the shrapnel out from under your cart.

7. Ash holes

They said it: Guy smoking a fat cigar digs his heels into the bunker, swings and blades one over the green, and then promptly drops his stogie in the sand and stamps it out. Last I checked, our bunkers are not your personal ashtray.

8. Taking excess relief

They said it: There are bathrooms in the clubhouse. There are bathrooms on the course. But for some reason, in your mind, the entire property is one giant outdoor WC.

dry bad grass in a yard
How to fix an ugly lawn: 7 easy cures for unhealthy-looking yards
By: Josh Sens

9. Stage whispers

They said it: Golfer complains about conditions loudly enough for me to hear but without saying it to my face. Newsflash: You did not miss that putt because the greens are slow; you missed it because you are not very good.

10. Wannabe bosses of the moss

They said it: Golfers who insist on asking, “What are the greens rolling at today?” when they wouldn’t know a Stimpmeter from a parking meter.

11. Icy treatment

They said it: Golfer complains to me about the frost delay, as if it were my doing. “There wasn’t any frost at my house!” That’s because you have desert landscaping!

12. Putting the aggro in agronomy

They said it: Golfers mistreating maintenance crews by either hitting into them or making no effort to get out of their way. You want to play that way? Remember, I can control every sprinkler on the course from my radio or phone from anywhere in the world.

generic profile image