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How big is yours?

Posted by mynormas on August 17, 2011

I am amazed and amused when I found out that there are still golf courses in Malaysia that do not know the size of their greens. Some that DO know, has the figures handed down to them over the generations since construction began during the Malacca Sultanate. The measurement came in ‘hasta and jengkal’ which was converted to feet and inches during the British Occupation and finally to meters. And get this; the size of the green was measured by the construction company. Why the owners  trusted the measurements of the company in the first place is anybody’s guess. Why the current Superintendent persisted with measurements done by people he(or she) doesn’t know is a mystery. Why can’t golf courses measure their greens once a year or couple of years?

Ok. Forgive my outburst. “Why do people need to know the size of the greens?” you ask. And before people who don’t manage golf courses turn away, this goes for any turf area too: you need to know the size of the area to manage it better. Stadiums, football fields, lawn-owners, parks, tuan rumah, majlis daerah etc etc.

I mean, how do you know how much fertilizer to put on each area? How much fertilizer should you buy? What should your budget be for fertilizer next year? Not just fertilizer too, fungicides, insecticides, growth regulators, wetting agents, machinery etc.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard the excuse “I use the setting on the fertilizer spreader/chemical applicator”. But fertilizer granules comes in different size and weight, how do you justify using the same setting for one fertilizer that looks like flour and another that is as big as pebbles? You think the same amount of fertilizer will come out? And how about for stuff that has recommendation of kilogram per hectare or gram per square meter, how do you measure that? And if your soil test report say: apply 5 pounds of CaCo3 per 1,000 square feet, how do you measure that?

How many people actually calibrate their fertilizer spreaders and chemical applicators anyway? Once a week? Once a year? Or only one time; purchase time?

Grr… just last week I had a (small) argument with a guy who insisted that it is ok to put one bag of fertilizer for every green. All greens. He doesn’t grasp that  small greens will have received a lot of nutrients and big greens will have received less. I am not surprised. That was how I was taught 17 years ago by a local Superintendent with 20 years experience; until a foreign superintendent came in and

For calibration only. Not suited on the ground (unless you want to draw little squares on green)

taught me otherwise. But still, in this age of environmental-friendliness, expensive fertilizer and cheap knowledge, there are still these kind of things?

Not knowing the size is also one reason why if you go into the store and you see leftover fertilizer/chemicals from years ago.

I once saved a club one bag of fertilizer for every round of fertilizing (at that time he was fertilizing once every two weeks) by measuring his greens. So you see, its worth it. And you should do it periodically since sometimes greens are shrunk by workers mowing at 6.00 am (or increase in size).

Measuring size is easy. For football fields or other geomatrically shaped area (square, round, triangle etc) you probably just have to find the right formula. For areas that do not have regular shapes; there are two ways of doing it. In both cases you need a sketch of the area or greens.

1. Put in geometrically correct shapes in it and measure those shapes. You may need quite a lot of water-based paint, a length of rope, one or two metal spike and measuring tape. First sketch out the geometry shapes on paper, then mark the boundaries of the shapes on the ground (you don’t need to draw the whole circle, only where you want to measure and where it touches the boundary of another shape or the end of the area/green). Put the stake in the ground where the center of the circle is; tie a rope to it and tie a know to where you want the circle to … well… circle.

Putting (imaginary) geometry shapes

2. Find the longest part of the area/green. Measure that and consider it as distance A to B. Divide the distance into a few equidistances; I usually use 10 because I find it easy to divide any length by 10. Actually, the more equidistance (what does that actually mean?) you have the more accurate your calculation. Then measure the length of each equidistance and find the average. Lastly multiply distance of A-B with average length of equidistance and you get the size.

Its almost like lenght x width. Except that you get width by averaging the length of several  equidistant lines.

Irregular shape - size measurement.

The first picture above is drawn with Excel and is used to calibrate whether my two calculations method are correct. I assumed one Excel box is 1m x 1m. By calculating the number of boxes I get the size of the area.


Weights and Measures, Metric Conversions Weights and Measures,
Metric Conversions


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