COURSE CARE
A Walk Down Memory Lane June 9, 2015 By Elliott L. Dowling, agronomist, Northeast Region

Considering if the facility made the correct choice? Remember how good bermudagrass looks in the summer with minimal resources before making the decision to transition back to cool-season turf.

Cold-tolerant, warm-season grasses recently have become a more common, viable alternative to Poa annua and perennial ryegrass fairways and tees in southern areas of the Northeast region. Unfortunately, two unusually harsh winters caused moderate winter injury of bermudagrass. Furthermore, bermudagrass areas have been slower than expected to green up during spring.

Latitude 36 and Patriot bermudagrass are very exciting alternatives to cool-season turfgrasses that can provide excellent playing conditions during the summer. However, winter survival has been a primary concern for many considering making the transition to bermudagrass in northern climates. Fortunately, bermudagrasses like Latitude 36, Patriot and others show great promise for surviving “typical” transition-zone winters. However, the last two winters have been atypical and unusually severe winter weather injured bermudagrass throughout the region, causing some facilities to question establishing bermudagrass.

If you are questioning the transition to bermudagrass, remember why the transition was made in the first place. For many, maintaining Poa annua and perennial ryegrass turf during summer simply was too costly. Moreover, even with expensive, resource-intensive management practices to promote Poa annua or perennial ryegrass, the results often were unfavorable. Aesthetics and playing conditions frequently suffered for many courses maintaining Poa annua or perennial ryegrass playing surfaces and both golfers and golf course maintenance personnel were unhappy.

 

As the thermometer rises, so does the quality of bermudagrass making it a great choice for tees and fairways in the transition zone. 

Many golf facilities thought they found the answer to problems associated with poorly performing cool-season turfgrasses when cold-tolerant bermudagrasses became available. When bermudagrass is in good condition, playing quality and player morale are exceptional. Furthermore, the overall amount of resources required to maintain bermudagrass during summer is considerably less than what is required to maintain cool-season turf during summer. Many facilities cite reduced resource consumption as the principal reason for converting to bermudagrass.

Before replacing bermudagrass with cool-season turf because of recent winter injury, remember what playing conditions were like during hot, wet summers before transition to bermudagrass. Is it fair to judge cold-tolerant bermudagrasses based on their ability to survive two abnormally severe winters that damaged both warm-season AND cool-season turf throughout the region? Focus on why your facility chose to establish warm-season turf. Remember, there is no perfect grass for the transition zone.

 

Source: Elliott L. Dowling (edowling@usga.org

 

Northeast Region Agronomists:

David A. Oatis, regional director – doatis@usga.org

James E. Skorulski, agronomist – jskorulski@usga.org

Adam Moeller, agronomist – amoeller@usga.org

Elliott Dowling, agronomist – edowling@usga.org

Addison Barden, agronomist – abarden@usga.org

 

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff

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Northeast Region Agronomists:

David A. Oatis, regional director – doatis@usga.org

James E. Skorulski, agronomist – jskorulski@usga.org

Adam Moeller, agronomist – amoeller@usga.org

Elliott Dowling, agronomist – edowling@usga.org

Addison Barden, agronomist – abarden@usga.org

 

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff

Northeast Region Agronomists:

David A. Oatis, regional director – doatis@usga.org

James E. Skorulski, agronomist – jskorulski@usga.org

Adam Moeller, agronomist – amoeller@usga.org

Elliott Dowling, agronomist – edowling@usga.org

Addison Barden, agronomist – abarden@usga.org

 

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff

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