Turf Management FAQs(4)


FAQ - Golf Course Maintenance and Agronomics

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At a recent Green Committee meeting our golf course superintendent suggested closing the course for one day a week to accomplish essential agronomic practices.  Will this really help?
Our greens were in great shape and now our golf course superintendent ruined them by punching holes all over them.  I think she is being overprotective of them and just too stubborn to change her ways.  Is this aeration all that important?
What is the Stimpmeter and how does it work?
I've played a lot of golf courses and have seen hole locations all over the place.  What is the USGA's recommendations regarding hole locations?
We have bentgrass fairways and I'm confused as to what to do with my divots.  Are we better off replacing the divot or just filling the scar with the sand/seed mix that's provided?
What are the USGA's recommendations when selecting sand for bunkers?
Should bunker rakes be placed inside or outside of the bunker?
Our golf course is developing a master plan for renovating the course.  The proposal includes the removal of many trees around the greens and tees.  I hate to see even one removed.  Is it normal to remove so many trees?





At a recent Green Committee meeting our golf course superintendent suggested closing the course for one day a week to accomplish essential agronomic practices.  Will this really help?     top

Closing the golf course on a regular schedule is a good way to improve course conditioning when important agronomic practices cannot be performed due to heavy play.  Important preventative maintenance can be done in a timely manner, and worker productivity improves significantly.  For example, productivity can drop by as much as 40% when the maintenance staff encounters golfers on the course because they are obligated to step aside and wait.



Our greens were in great shape and now our golf course superintendent ruined them by punching holes all over them.  I think she is being overprotective of them and just too stubborn to change her ways.  Is this aeration all that important?     top

Aeration is an extremely important maintenance practice.  Although it results in a temporary disruption of the green, aeration improves water penetration into the soil, reduces soil compaction, stimulates turfgrass root growth for a healthier plant, helps control thatch build-up, and improves overall growing conditions.  Aeration generally is done once or twice per year, and sometimes more often if certain problems exist.

Think of it like going to the dentist for your twice-yearly check-up.  The same holds true for aeration.  You can skip a visit to the dentist, but you will contribute to problems over the long term.  You can skip one of the semi-annual aerations, but this can result in a faster turf loss.  Your superintendent isn't being overprotective.  She is doing exactly what should be done to ensure long-term turf health.



What is the Stimpmeter and how does it work?     top

The Stimpmeterâ is a 36-inch long, aluminum tool used by golf course superintendents to make a standard measurement of the relative speed and uniformity of their greens.  A Stimpmeter reading is actually a distance measurement in feet and inches.

At one end is a ball release notch that is designed so that a golf ball will always be released and start to roll when the Stimpmeter is raised to an angle of approximately 20 degrees to horizontal.  The basic steps to measure green speed start by rolling three golf balls in one direction on a level area of the green.  The three distances are measured and averaged.  Using the average stopping point of the first three golf balls, this step is repeated along the same line, but in the opposite direction.  The distances obtained in steps one and two are averaged, resulting in the Stimpmeter reading for the green.  The longer the distance, the faster the green.  A reading of 8 - 9 feet is considered a medium to fast speed for day-to-day play.

The Stimpmeter is a helpful management tool for the golf course superintendent in providing smooth, consistent putting surfaces, but is not intended for course-to course comparisons by golfers. 



I've played a lot of golf courses and have seen hole locations all over the place.  What is the USGA's recommendations regarding hole locations?     top

The USGA frequently receives requests for guidelines with respect to selection of hole locations on the putting greens, particularly during competitions. There are no rules regarding hole locations, so there is no such thing as an "illegal" hole location.   However, we do have some guidelines.

Many factors affect selection of hole locations. The first and most important is good judgment in deciding what will give fair results. Do not be tricky in locating holes.  There should be enough putting green surface between the hole and the front and the sides of the green to accommodate the required shot.

In any case, it generally is recommended that the hole be located at least five paces from any edge of the green. If a bunker is close to the edge, or if the ground slopes away from the edge, the distance should be greater, especially if the shot is more than a pitch.

An area two to three feet in radius around the hole should be as nearly level as possible and of uniform grade.  A player above the hole should be able to stop the ball at the hole.  Consider the condition of nearby turf, especially taking care to avoid old hole plugs that have not completely healed.



We have bentgrass fairways and I'm confused as to what to do with my divots.  Are we better off replacing the divot or just filling the scar with the sand/seed mix that's provided?     top

If the divot has some soil attached and hasn't been blown into a hundred pieces, it will heal quickly if it is replaced immediately.  Be sure to replace the divot (green side up!) and step on it to establish contact with the soil below.  If the divot cannot be replaced, then the sand/seed mixture should be used in the scarred area.  Golfers who take the time to replace a divot properly or repair divot areas help keep the fairways in good condition for their fellow golfers.

We have bermudagrass fairways at our golf course.  I want to be mindful of the proper etiquette, so how do I handle any fairway divots that I might create?

When the bermudagrass is actively growing, applying straight sand or a prepared mix to the divot areas will help the scar heal rapidly and level the playing surface for your fellow golfers.  The same procedure can be used when the bermudagrass is dormant or if the surface has been overseeded for the winter months. 



What are the USGA's recommendations when selecting sand for bunkers?     top

The USGA has never had specifications for bunker sands. The article "Selecting and Handling Sand," Green Section Record , November/December 1983, provides general guidelines regarding the sand's particle size, shape, composition, color, and other factors that will be helpful for the initial selection process.

Remember, a sand's playability is subjective. It is a good idea to develop a test bunker so that several of the potential sands can be installed and sampled by the golfers. The test bunker should be used for several months before a final decision is made.  This will help form a general consensus that will be useful in the ultimate selection of the sand. Keep in mind, bunker sand becomes firmer over time, as it becomes contaminated with soil and organic particles.



Should bunker rakes be placed inside or outside of the bunker?     top

There is no set rule as to where the bunker rake should be placed.  It is recommended that rakes be placed outside bunkers and in positions where they will be least likely to affect play.  Other considerations, such as golf course maintenance and the size and design of the bunkers, will impact the final decision made at each course. 



Our golf course is developing a master plan for renovating the course.  The proposal includes the removal of many trees around the greens and tees.  I hate to see even one removed.  Is it normal to remove so many trees?     top

Many golf courses implement tree-planting programs that result in over-crowded trees.  As the trees mature, they dramatically affect the way the course plays and create increased shade and reduced air movement around the green and tee areas.  This condition results in weakened turf that needs more irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticides to grow.  Good turf needs good growing conditions, and tree removal is an essential part of master plans on many older courses.




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