Green Speed Takes Backseat To Turf Health

By Todd Lowe, Agronomist, Florida Region
September 9, 2010

Increased thatch has caused significant issues on many Florida putting greens this summer.

An issue discussed on many Florida Region Turf Advisory Service visits is the impossible task of maintaining very fast putting green speeds of 10.5 ft. or more on a continuous basis throughout the summer.  The combination of high temperatures, high relative humidity, and cloudy weather are stressful on bermudagrass putting greens.  Prolonged periods of cloudy weather during the rainy season decrease the turf’s ability to create energy through photosynthesis.  Mowing height often is increased during the summer months to maintain turf health, but this has a negative impact on playability.

The Florida region has seen more problems than normal this past summer with regard to green speed and accelerated turf growth.  Many putting greens grew aggressively in late spring and early summer, creating more thatch.  Elevated, undiluted thatch causes mower scalping and overall decreased turf quality.  Oftentimes, mowing height is raised until aggressive dethatching and sand topdressing can take place.

Several golf course superintendents have noted that maintaining acceptable putting speeds has been more difficult this summer, even following intensive verticutting, core aeration, sand topdressing, and plant growth regulation.  It is important to resist the urge to lower your mowing height during summer months, as this can have a detrimental effect on turf health and cause significant turf thinning.

In lieu of lowering mowing heights, double mowing or mowing and rolling should be implemented more frequently.  It also is important to maintain appropriate fertility without over-apply nutrients.  Too much fertility creates lush turf growth, causing ball roll friction and greater chance for disease occurrence.  More superintendents are now using less total nitrogen, but with a higher percentage in granular form.   Superintendents that utilize granular spoonfeeding with supplemental potassium, iron and manganese, believe they maintain good speed consistency, turf rooting, and overall quality throughout the year.

As the growth rate of bermudagrass begins to slow down in the fall in response to cooler temperatures, lower humidity, and a shorter day length, it will be possible to provide faster putting speeds.  However, golfers need to be aware that there are still some limitations that must be respected so that turf health and quality is not compromised during the winter. 

Source:  Todd Lowe, tlowe@usga.org or 941-828-2625
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
Chevron
   

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.


Chevron image
Rolex
   

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.



Rolex image
IBM
   

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image
Lexus
   

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express
   

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment


AmEx image