COURSE CARE
Thatch – Good Over Your Head, Not Under Your Feet September 16, 2014 By Larry Gilhuly

Whether it is holding too much water or not letting it enter, excess thatch has a major impact on growth and playing conditions.

As the year winds down and Course Consulting Service visits come to an end for much of the Northwest Region, it is a good time to discuss an agronomic issue that has proved challenging to most of the courses that I visited this year. Excess thatch is a major detriment to turfgrass health and playing quality whether it is on greens, approaches, collars, tees or fairways. Nowhere is this seen more than on fairways – particularly those fairways with significant creeping bentgrass populations.

For those who need to reduce excess thatch a good starting point is the addition of some form of deep, vertical mowing to the maintenance regime. When fairway vertical mowing is done correctly the process generates a huge amount of debris that must be picked up. Fortunately, new equipment has been introduced that dethatches and sweeps up the debris in a single operation making the process faster and much less disruptive to all.

The removal of excess thatch is paramount to producing firm and fast fairways and smooth, true rolling putting surfaces. As the clocks fall back, think about adding a way to control thatch in your 2015 maintenance program. If not, there may a good secondary market for your thatch as roofing material in your area.

Source: Larry Gilhuly (lgilhuly@usga.org

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