Grain on the Brain:
Johnny Miller's Obsession
Anyone who watches golf on television has heard commentators say, "This putt is going down grain." Frankly, what you hear on TV about "up grain," "down grain," "grain growing east to west," and other statements, are oversimplified and in most cases totally misleading. What the TV audience needs to hear more of is "uphill," "downhill," and "side hill" rather than grain, grain, grain.
For the professional golfers turned TV golf commentators, I feel they're too full of themselves and what they accomplished on the golf course to listen to a "turf specialist" about how grass may grow. This is for Johnny, Roger, Gary and other golf announcers...your on-air comments on "grain, grain, grain" are driving golf course superintendent, turf agronomists, and Ph.D. turf specialists NUTS. Stop...and listen to the experts!
The truth is, some putting greens may exhibit distinct patches of grasses, most ranging in size from three to five feet in diameter and displaying different colors and textures. These segregate patches of grass may produce an orientation of leaves and stems in a certain horizontal direction that we can call "grain." However, as a part of routine maintenance procedures, or in preparation for golf events, the golf course superintendent uses various techniques such as brushing and verti-grooming to eliminate grain from a putting surface. From my experience, the grain in greens is significantly minimized or non-existant for PGA and major tournaments events.
Additionally, grain, if present, mostly influences the direction of a putt, as the ball slows near the cup. So, it may be useful to see in what direction the grass blades are orientated within a three foot radius of the hole.
Most importantly, know that grain most typically grows in RANDOM directions when not unduly influenced by a slope, water drainage pattern, a strong wind blowing constantly in one direction, or continued mowing in the same direction. On some golf courses I will see grain following a slope, however, on a level surface grain will grow in random directions.
In most situations, grain is only found if the golf course superintendent is not grooming, brushing and verticutting his greens. Turf experts and golf course superintendents will attest, "for most professionally prepared tournament sites, on relatively flat areas of the putting surface, there is NO GRAIN in the greens".
One reason why Johnny, Roger, Gary and other "grainers" will never work the Masters tournament from the TV booth would be their loose lips. There are certain words and phrases announcers cannot say during a "Masters" telecast. With the first "grain" comment they would be repremanded. Repeated use of the word "grain" on a Masters telacast would get the golf anouncer fired.
Come on Johnny, Roger and Gary you need to say "uphill," "downhill," and "side hill" rather than your over use and repetitious use of grain, grain, grain.
Two more things;
First, let's forget about the grass growing from east to west as this does not happen, and
Second, there are no magnetes or mysterious forces on a golf course pulling the ball towards mountians and lakes. This is what is called an "optical illusion."