Course Brains™, a new book by golf course architect Forrest Richardson, allows golf course operators and club members to gauge their course’s I.Q. through a series of 25 topics. The notion for Course Brains came to Richardson following several years of meeting with clubs about ways to stimulate revenue and get a handle on operating costs. “A common theme in operating a golf course today is balancing the asset with the need to reduce cost and increase revenue,” notes Richardson. “My goal with the Course Brains program is to stimulate thinking that leads to positive change.Using 25 separate topics, Richardson reaches out to superintendents, professionals, club managers and members in a clever way. Topics range from managed turf area planning to the nuances of course policies. In each, a case is presented for why the area of concern is important. At the conclusion of each section the reader is asked to assign a grade — self assigned by the reader — that fits their idea of the course being evaluated. By assigning an A, B, C, D or F, the reader is formulating a final score — the Golf Course I.Q. for their particular course.

“By taking topics separately, we are able to get the people who oversee golf courses to think about specific areas of the course,” says Richardson. A look at the Course Brains book will reveal a simple and straightforward test program that can be completed in less than an hour. The goal was to provide a tool for course management that would lead to shared information. Indeed, one of the greatest uses of the Course Brains program is to have an entire management team take the test and the to compare how certain areas of the course were evaluated from one personnel to the next.

“A superintendent might grade bunkers a B or C,” notes Richardson. “While the green committee chair might think they deserve a D or F.” Richardson points out that this is especially useful information as a disconnect such as this at a club can translate to the bunkers never getting any improvement.

Course Brains was published in MiniBük format, a popular pocket-sized book measuring 3.5 inches by 5 inches. Course Brains is just 80 pages and takes less than an hour to read. As each of the 25 topics are read a grade can be recorded at the back of the small book.

Topics in Course Brains include:

  • Managed Turf Area
  • Drainage
  • Greens
  • Bunkers
  • Yardage Flexibility
  • New Player Attraction
  • Time Flexibility
  • Water & Power Use
  • Liability
  • Policies
  • Pace-of-Play
  • Practice Areas
  • Clubhouse Areas
  • Image & Marketing
  • Land Use
  • Mowing Priorities
  • Legacy & History
  • Tree Management
  • Technology Use
  • Irrigation
  • Non-golfer Involvement
  • Course Differentiation
  • Course Ranking & Acclaim
  • Golf Course Architect Involvement
  • Attitude Toward Success

During a recent seminar among U.S. Military golf operations executives, Richardson debuted the program to 32 course operators. The results opened dialogue among the participants, shedding light on why some viewed things as being “O.K.” while the same topic garnished “D” or “F” grades from others. “In one example the people who see and use the irrigation system every day know it was in need of lots of work,” points out Richardson, “While those who collect the green fees and manage the clubhouse are under the impression the system was just fine the way it is. This opened the minds of those involved, and now each has a better appreciation for just how smart their course may be.”In addition to getting to an “I.Q.” score, communication is the hallmark of the program. While it may be fun to see where your course falls — Genius, Superior, Above Average or Dull — the real value is stimulating conversation and opening minds. Richardson is not interested in pointing out brilliance versus stupidity, but rather the power of perception and knowing where to focus energy at a club.

Course Brains is published by On Course Publishing (ISBN 9780970756374) at a retail price of $5.95. To order single or bulk copies, click here.