A significant amount of resources used to maintain golf courses – e.g., labor, fuel, and equipment costs – are directed toward mowing the turf. Golfers often ask, is there anything that can be applied to turf that stops it from growing so frequent mowing is not needed? Plant growth regulators – or PGRs – do not eliminate the need for regular mowing but, when applied appropriately, they can significantly reduce growth and mowing requirements.
Golf course superintendents commonly use PGRs on putting greens, tees, fairways, and sometimes even the rough. Plant growth regulators limit the amount of vertical growth of many turf species commonly found on golf courses, including Poa annua, creeping bentgrass, Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, bermudagrass, fescue, paspalum and zoysiagrass. Reducing turf growth during the golf season can yield significant fuel and labor savings when applied over considerable acreage. In addition to reduced mowing requirements, PGRs offer many other benefits that golfers will appreciate including:
· Color enhancement
· Increased turf density
· More consistent putting green speed throughout the day
· Poa annua (i.e., annual bluegrass) seedhead suppression
· Poa annua reduction in creeping bentgrass putting greens
· Drought tolerance and water conservation
· Improved turf quality
Plant growth regulators are valuable management tools for golf course superintendents. The USGA continues to fund research that investigates the benefits of PGRs, especially their role in water conservation.