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GreenCast in UK and Ireland - Smooth greens trump the need for speed

Player Survey

Results of a national survey of golf players have revealed the pursuit of green speed is not nearly as important as giving them a smooth ball roll. At members' clubs, fast ball roll was the least important factor rated in greens' performance, with smooth ball roll the top.

The Syngenta study, conducted by independent international market research, GfK Kynetec, surveyed over 300 players from across the UK who regularly played on a whole range of courses, including members clubs, private, municipal and hotel owned courses. It also assessed the different demands of high and low handicap players. It looked at turf quality on all areas of the course, and the influence of the environment on the playing experience.

Enhancing the playing experience can attract more golfers - and their money - to your club. 

In all instances smooth ball roll rated very highly - 92% scoring 7/10 or more - compared to 75% scoring fast ball roll of high importance. Ensuring greens are free of weeds (90% scoring 7/10 or more) and clean of disease or scars (89%) were also highly important factors with players. These factors were consistently rated by all standards of players - with higher handicap players particularly demanding for greens free of disease scars, and putting greater emphasis on a firm playing surface. 

For all players, the condition of greens proved to be the most important factor on which they judge a course, irrespective of their handicap. Lower handicap players (<10) were identified as being more discerning in the design of the course, whilst higher handicap players were more judgmental on the price of playing, as well as the condition of the fairways.

The survey also questioned players satisfaction with current greenkeeping practices, revealing that players at hotel courses are the most satisfied with the quality of greens (59% very satisfied), compared to 40% very satisfied at members clubs and just 24% at town/municipal courses. There was no significant regional difference across the UK.




% scoring 7/10 or more

Higher importance

Smooth ball roll



Free of weeds



Free of disease scars



Firm playing surface



Free of brown/dry areas



Green colour


Lower importance

Fast ball roll


Smooth ball roll is the major factor in judging greens' performance, with an even surface, free of weeds and disease scars, highly important for golf players.

Source: Syngenta Golf Player Survey, GfK Kynetec. Dec 2011. Sample: 305 players

Presenting the initial headline results of the study at BTME (Harrogate 24 - 26 January 2012), Rod Burke of Syngenta highlighted the company commissioned the survey to find out what elements of turf quality and course management are really wanted by golfers. "This understanding, based on reputable market research, can ensure greenkeepers are providing what their customers truly want, and help us to focus on providing solutions that enable them to enhance the playing experience more effectively.

Knowing what your customers actually want will ensure greenkeepers focus effort and budget on key areas to enhance their playing experience, reports Rod Burke.

"We would actively encourage greenkeepers to make use of this information in planning their approach, as well as in discussions with the club management and members about what they are doing, and why?" he said. "Decisions based on the knowledge of this study, or a similar survey within the club itself, will ensure turf quality matches the demands of the paying customer, and keep them coming back for more."

Mr Burke added that further findings, conclusions and recommendations from the detailed wealth of information gleaned in the survey will be shared with greenkeepers, course managers and golf club secretaries on the GreenCast website and at meetings over the coming season.