Golf By The Numbers September 2, 2014 By Larry Gilhuly

(L) By numbering each set of tees (eliminating adjectives or colors associated with gender or age groups) players may be more likely to choose tees that will make the game more fun. (R) Grass that is better adapted to a site will always show itself when stress becomes severe. In this case, alkaligrass does extremely well in poor soils high in salts.

Common sense goes a long way when it comes to golf course management. This is true for both course setup and turfgrass management. On a recent tour of golf facilities in the Denver area I came across two very good examples of using common sense to improve playing conditions.

The first observation comes from Denver Country Club, where Superintendent Doug Brooks has his golf course in outstanding condition. While the agronomics were excellent, one unique concept at Denver CC is how the course plays from the tee markers. Specifically, there are no colors to indicate course distance. There is only a numerical sequence of one through six, with the markers on every hole simply stating which numerical course players are using on a given day. This is a great idea that gets away from the concept of gender or age-specific tees and promotes the idea of playing a golf course from a yardage that best suites player skill level and average driving distance off the tee. This same idea was seen two days later at The Country Club at Castle Pines, and it is hoped that this idea will be adopted by more golf facilities that understand the game should be played for fun, as well as challenge.

The second observation was noted on two courses where salt conditions exist. Broken Tee Golf Course and The Country Club at Castle Pines both utilize effluent water, and both sites have salt issues and poor soils. In both cases, decisions have been made to use different grasses with improved salt tolerance. At The Country Club at Castle Pines, the fairways were seeded with Seaside II bentgrass and are under a strict regime of gypsum applications and venting to remove harmful sodium from the profile. To date, the results have been outstanding.

Broken Tee has a different issue, with very poor soils and a combination of Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, Poa annua and one other grass that was consistently noted in weak areas. This “other” grass was alkaligrass and was prevalent in areas where it was simply the only grass that could survive the tough growing conditions. As mentioned at many visits, it is important to simply observe what is going on at your golf course, as grass can “speak” if everyone would listen.


Source: Larry Gilhuly (

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