ASTM Procedures Required for Testing Putting Green Materials

by James Francis Moore, Director Construction Education Program Section
The USGA Green Section's Recommendations for a Method of Putting Green Construction rely heavily on the use of proper construction materials. The only accurate means of determining whether or not materials meet the criteria outlined in the guidelines is to submit them to a physical soil-testing laboratory for analysis.

The laboratory performs a number of different tests on the materials. To ensure consistency in test results, laboratories should utilize testing procedures as outlined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) (phone 610-832-9585; FAX 610-832-9555). Each of the following documents can be purchased in full by visiting the ASTM web site at

The following ASTM documents describe the major tests performed in the evaluation of construction materials for greens built in accordance with the USGA method.

ASTM F1632-95 Standard Test Method for Particle Size Analysis and Sand Shape Grading of Golf Course Putting Green and Sports Field Rootzone Mixes


1.1 This test method covers the determination of particle size distribution of putting green and other sand based root zone mixes. Particles larger than 0.05 mm (retained on a No. 270 sieve) are determined by sieving. The silt and clay percentages are determined by a sedimentation process, using the pipet method. This procedure was developed for putting green rootzone mixes; those assumed to have sand contents of 80% by weight or greater. Particle size analysis of soils may be performed by this or other test methods described in Section 2. This test method also describes a qualitative evaluation of sand particle shape.

ASTM F1647-98 Standard Test Method for Organic Matter Content of Putting Green and Sports Turf Rootzone Mixes


1.1 These test methods cover the determination of the percent organic matter of a putting green root zone mixture using a loss on ignition method or the Walkley Black method. These test methods are useful for quantifying the organic matter content of volume ratio mixed root zone mixes. Test Method D 2974 is recommended for peat and other organic soils.

ASTM F 1815-97 Standard Test Method for Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity, Water Retention, Porosity, Particle Density, and Bulk Density of Putting Green and Sports Turf Rootzone Mixes


1.1 These test methods cover the measurement of saturated hydraulic conductivity, water retention, porosity (including distribution of capillary and air-filled porosity at a known matrix potential) and particle and bulk density to be used for construction and topdressing of golf course putting greens including United States Golf Association (USGA) recommended greens or other highly trafficked turfgrass areas.

1.2 Water retention is not a required measurement for USGA recommended greens. Its inclusion in this standard is for the benefit of those who wish to obtain such data. Likewise, bulk density is no longer a physical parameter required in the evaluation of USGA rootzone mixes, but it must be determined for the calculation of total and capillary porosity.

1.3 the values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard. the inch-pound units given in parentheses are for information only.

Note: This standard is designed for testing sand-based rootzone mixes used for the construction of USGA and other high-sand greens and sports fields. It is not intended for use on medium and fine textured soils, e.g. loams.

ASTM C 136-96a Standard Test Method for C136-96a Sieve Analysis of Fine and Coarse Aggregates


1.1 This test method covers the determination of the particle size distribution of fine and coarse aggregates by sieving.

1.2 Some specifications for aggregates which reference this method contain grading requirements including both coarse and fine fractions. Instructions are included for sieve analysis of such aggregates.

ASTM D 854- 98 Standard Test Method for D854-92e1 Specific Gravity of Soils


1.1 This test method covers the determination of the specific gravity of soils that pass the 4.75-mm (No. 4) sieve, by means of a pycnometer. When the soil contains particles larger than the 4.75-mm sieve, Test Method C127 shall be used for the material retained on the 4.75-mm sieve and this test method shall be used for the material passing the 4.75-mm sieve.

1.1.1 Two procedures for performing the specific gravity are provided as follows: Method A -Procedure for Oven-Dry Specimens, described in 9.1. Method B -Procedure for Moist Specimens, described in 9.2. The procedure to be used shall be specified by the requesting authority. For specimens of organic soils and highly plastic, fine-grained soils, Procedure B shall be the preferred method.

1.2 When the specific gravity value is to be used in calculations in connection with the hydrometer portion of Test Method D422, it is intended that the specific gravity test be made on that portion of the sample which passes the 2.00-mm (No. 10) sieve.

ASTM D 2974-87 Standard Test Methods for Moisture, Ash, and Organic Matter of Peat and Other Organic Soils


1.1 This test method cover the measurement of moisture content, ash content, and organic matter in peats and other organic soils, such as organic clays, silts, and mucks.

1.2 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard.

ASTM C-88-90 Standard Test Method for Soundness of Aggregates by Use of Sodium Sulfate or Magnesium Sulfate

1. Scope

1.1 This test method covers the testing of aggregates to estimate their soundness when subjected to weathering action in concrete or other applications. This is accomplished by repeated immersion in saturated solutions of sodium or magnesium sulfate followed by oven drying to partially or completely dehydrate the salt precipitated in permeable pore spaces. The internal expansive force, derived from the rehydration of the salt upon re-immersion, simulates the expansion of water on freezing. This test method furnishes information helpful in judging the soundness of aggregates when adequate information is not available from service records of the material exposed to actual weathering conditions.

ASTM C-131-96 Standard Test Method for Resistance to Degradation of Small-Size Coarse Aggregate by Abrasion and Impact in the Los Angeles Machine


1.1 This test method covers a procedure for testing sizes of coarse aggregate smaller than 37.5 mm (1 1/2 in.) for resistance to degradation using the Los Angeles testing machine.

Note: 1-A procedure for testing coarse aggregate larger than 19.0 mm (3/4 in.) is covered in Test Method C535.

ASTM D2976-71
Standard Test Method for pH of Peat Materials


1.1 This test method covers the electrometric measurement of the pH of peat materials. It is a means of expressing the degree of acidity or alkalinity of peat material suspended in water and 0.01 M calcium chloride solution.

ASTM D4972- 95a
Standard Test Method for pH of Soils


1.1 This test method covers the measurement of the pH of soils for uses other than for corrosion testing. Such measurements are used in the agricultural, environmental, and natural resources fields. This measurement determines the degree of acidity or alkalinity in soil materials suspended in water and a 0.01 calcium chloride solution. Measurements in both liquids are necessary to fully define the soil's pH. This variable is useful in determining the solubility of soil minerals and the mobility of ions in the soil and assessing the viability of the soil-plant environment. A more detailed discussion of the usefulness of this parameter is not warranted here; however, it can be found in many discussions of the subject. A few such discussions are given as Refs (1) through (6) at the end of the text.

1.2 The values given in SI units are to be regarded as the standard.

ASTM D 75 - 97
Standard Practice for Sampling Aggregates


1.1 This practice covers sampling of coarse and fine aggregates for the following purposes:

1.1.1 Preliminary investigation of the potential source of supply.

1.1.2 Control of the product at the source of supply.

1.1.3 Control of the operations at the site of use, and

1.1.4 Acceptance or rejection of the materials.

Updated 5/26/99

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