Useful Tidbits

1. Ball Marks - When a ball impacts the ground it forces the turf outward, not downward. To repair ball marks properly, push the sides in towards the center, as opposed to lifting the bottom up. This helps the grass stay healthier and heal quicker.

2. Repairing divots is crucial because when we take a divot, we are removing the crown of the plant. The crown is where all growth initiates from, and without the crown the plant cannot generate new growth. Please replace divots on fairways and fill and smooth divots with seed and sand mix on tee boxes.

3. A-4 Creeping Bentgrass is not a wonder grass; it is merely a type of Bentgrass that exhibits desirable characteristics for use on golf courses. We use it several times per year to over seed our greens.

4. Verticutting is the use of vertically rotating blades that slice into the turf. It serves several purposes including:

  • promoting more dense, vigorous growth by slicing through and stimulating reproductive structures

  • removing a layer of organic matter called thatch that can be a home for insects and disease

  • allowing for easier water and nutrient infiltration

  • smoothing the green surface to improve putt-ability

5. Irrigation Practices - Watering occurs between 10 pm and 6 am. We practice deep, infrequent watering which helps promote the growth of Creeping Bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera), whereas shallow, frequent watering promotes the growth of Annual Bluegrass (Poa annua).

6. Fertility - Every year samples are taken from around the course and a fertility program is developed based on test results. We use a combination of granular and liquid fertilizers, and soil amendments on the course. Greens are fertilized or amended an average of every 10 -14 days, and fairways, tees, and rough every 30 days. Our major problem is a buildup of Sodium in the soil caused by our irrigation water. Sodium ties up nutrients in the soil and makes them unavailable for uptake by the plants. To combat this problem we add high amounts of Calcium combined with deep watering to flush the Sodium through the soil profile.

 

Green Speed and Health

Often times on television you will hear the announcers talking about super fast greens and what they are reading on the stimpmeter due to how many times they are cut and rolled and what the weather conditions are like. They make it sound as though these conditions are easily attainable, but in reality they are extremely unrealistic and difficult to manage. At these golf courses, the greens are dried out, mowed at excessively low heights and are often quadruple cut and double rolled. These kinds of practices are very stressful on the turfgrass plants and can cause serious damage.

There are several important facts to remember when talking about plant health. Firstly, every increment of above ground shoot growth equates with below ground root growth. The more extensive our root systems are, the better our water and nutrient uptake will be, therefore helping the plants to overwinter more successfully. Mowing heights that are too low will cause less vigorous growth and an inability to repair wounds and withstand stresses. It is important to raise mowing heights in times of stress, typically in the heat of summer and in late fall when preparing for winter. To put these mowing heights into perspective, there is approximately 1/8" difference between mid season and winter.

We mow greens almost every day, but on certain days we will take a day off of mowing greens and roll them instead. Rolling gives us the advantage of allowing the plants to grow without being cut and gives golfers the advantage of faster green speeds to that of mowing. However, too much rolling can cause compaction in the root zone, which leads to other problems.

It is important to remember that we as turf managers are trying to provide the best possible playing conditions for golfers day in and day out, but are also doing everything we can to keep our plants as healthy as possible so we can have good conditions the following year.

 

What is POA?

I'm sure most of you have heard the word Poa thrown around the golf course but were not't really sure what it's all about. Poa is a short term used by people in the golf industry when referring to a certain grass species. Commonly called Annual Bluegrass, this grass comes from the family Poaceae (poh-ay-see-ay), the genus Poa (poh-ah), and the species annua (ann-yoo-ah). The term Poa can be misleading though because there are many other species of grass that exist under the genus Poa. For example, Kentucky Bluegrass, which most of your lawns at home are made of, is called Poa pratensis.

Why all the fuss about Poa?

Annual Bluegrass is unwanted on most golf courses and considered a weed because of the following characteristics:

  • prolific seed production
  • poor ice cover tolerance
  • poor low and high temperature tolerance
  • poor drought tolerance
  • shallow root system
  • bunchy, circular growth habit

Since Poa annua is an annual species, it must start its growth each spring the same as the annual bedding plants you have in your gardens at home. A combination of these poor characteristics and stresses from weather and heavy traffic make this species weak and undesirable for optimum playability on golf courses. Although it may look as though the brown spots you see in the spring are dead, they are actually patches of Annual Bluegrass that are waiting for conditions conducive for growth. This means adequate soil temperature and moisture (heat and water). We do what we can to speed up the physiological processes of the turfgrass, but it is also important to remember that it is early in the season and we must allow for proper growth to occur.

We will continue to inform you of useful information about golf course management, but also encourage you to ask questions and make suggestions for future topics. Thank you.
 

Aeration

There are several different kinds of aeration practiced in the golf industry. The two types we use at Cardiff are solid and hollow tine aeration. Solid means that holes are punched in the turf without pulling plugs out. When plugs are pulled out it is done using a hollow tine.

The practice of aeration has several useful purposes including:

  • increasing water infiltration and percolation
  • increasing nutrient uptake and availability
  • increasing gas exchange
  • decreasing root zone compaction caused by intense traffic

 

After we aerate, a layer of sand is applied across the green to fill in the holes. This process is called top dressing. It serves several purposes, but mainly to fill and smooth the holes. The process of aerating and top dressing is crucial to decreasing root zone compaction, which can be detrimental to the health of the turfgrass if not addressed.