Spring Rough Is Rough! June 2, 2010 By Darin S. Bevard

Right on cue, complaints about thick, difficult rough come with spring weather. Overall, spring growing conditions have been excellent for the turfgrass. The golfers are playing, and, for the most part, they are happy until they hit the ball into the rough. Conversations about the difficulty of the rough have come up in nearly every Turf Advisory Service visit. The good news is if the rough is the biggest complaint, everything else must be going very well. The bad news is aggressive spring growth in cool-season rough generally has to run its course.

Most superintendents are maintaining rough at two to three inches, with the most common height of cut being 2.5 inches for cool-season grasses. As suggested by most golfers, the solution for challenging rough conditions is to lower the height or mow more frequently, but this is easier said than done. The frequency of rough mowing is usually dictated by available equipment and manpower. At this time of year, somebody is mowing rough at the golf course Monday through Friday. There just may not be enough "somebodys" at your golf course to mow the rough frequently enough to keep up with growth rate. If rough is mowed at 2.5 inches on Monday, the same rough may be 3.5 or 4 inches in a couple of days. Height of cut is not the problem, but frequency of cut is.

The bottom line is that rough grows aggressively in the spring, even in the absence of fertilizer applications. The result is difficult playing conditions, and this occurs every year. The only solution is to hit the ball in the fairway, play hard when it is in the rough, and know that the growth rate of the grass will slow down as spring progresses into summer. Be patient and be aware that your superintendent is probably doing everything he or she can to keep up with the growth.

Annual bluegrass weevil damage in the region has been modest this spring compared to past years. Awareness of this insect pest as well as better understanding of control options are probably the biggest factors that have reduced problems experienced with this insect pest. Continue to scout for annual bluegrass weevil if it has been a problem in the past.

The Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists are part of your agronomic support team.  If you have a question or concern, give us a call or send an e-mail.  Stan Zontek ( and Darin Bevard ( at 610/ 558-9066 or Keith Happ ( at 412/ 341-5922.