Do you want to make more birdies? Taking a lesson from your local golf professional will help your game, but did you know that golf course superintendents can also help you make more birdies? Giving superintendents the necessary resources and time to manage organic matter in putting greens creates smoother, firmer surfaces that help golfers make more putts.
Surface organic matter, or thatch, is a combination of dead and living grass shoots, stems and roots that accumulate just below the putting surface. If too much organic matter accumulates, it acts like a sponge and holds water near the surface after a rain or irrigation event. As a result, putting greens with excess organic matter are prone to soft conditions, deep ball marks, footprinting and inconsistent green speed that can keep your golf ball from smoothly rolling toward the hole.
Preventing organic matter from accumulating to the point that it impacts the smoothness and firmness of putting greens is extremely important. Management programs aimed at controlling organic matter can vary widely because the rate at which organic matter accumulates depends on turf species and growth rate. However, the most reliable management programs focus on diluting and removing organic matter, proper fertility and judicious irrigation.
Fertilizer and irrigation are used to keep putting greens healthy and actively growing so they can tolerate traffic. These resources should be applied to promote playability and turf health, not color. Overwatered and overfertilized putting greens rapidly accumulate organic matter, leading to poor playing conditions and unhealthy turf.