Growing And Mowing Like Mad

By Todd Lowe, senior agronomist, Florida Region
August 3, 2011

Mowing scalping and clumps of clippings can be problematic for courses that are not adequately staffed to mow frequently. 

Mowers are working overtime on many Florida golf courses.  Increased rainfall, heat, and humidity have had a significant impact on turf growth and quality.  Golf courses that were brown and dormant from drought stress six weeks ago are now quite healthy.  In fact, some golf courses are now growing so much that it is difficult to keep up with daily mowing.

Mowing frequency is directly correlated to growth rate.  As growth increases, so does the need for frequent mowing and mowers scalping into underlying stems causing turf to become yellow to tan in color.  Constant scalping can have a negative impact on golf course aesthetics and turf health.  Also, infrequent mowing at this time of year produces an abundance of clippings that must be dragged back into the turf canopy, if not, clumps of clippings will decrease golf course quality and injure the underlying turf through heat stress.  Constant and heavy rainfall makes daily mowing difficult as lightning is unsafe for golf course staff. Tire rutting from mowers can occur when the soil becomes saturated.

Chemicals can be applied to reduce turf growth and are an excellent means of improving turf quality and management at this time of year.  Plant growth regulators reduce specific growth hormones, causing a reduction in vertical turf growth.  As a result, clippings are reduced and turf density is enhanced.  Plant growth regulators reduce the need for intensive mowing and clipping removal, and improve golf course aesthetics.  They are generally applied every three to four weeks on golf course fairways during summer months.

Putting greens also are growing aggressively at this time of year.  Increased heat and humidity not only cause the turf to produce an abundance of new leaves, but thatch can swell and “grab” mowers, causing inconsistent scalping or washboarding.  Increasing sand topdressing is recommended at this time to dilute thatch and provide a cushioning against mower scalping.

The increased turf growth on putting greens causes a decrease in putting speeds.  The urge to lower mowing heights to improve putting speeds must be resisted, as the normal weather pattern calls for increased rainfall and cloudy weather over the next six to eight weeks.  Plants produce their own food by photosynthesis through sunlight, and prolonged cloudy weather stresses putting greens.  Mowing heights often are increased slightly during summer months to improve turf health.  Double mowing and increased rolling is recommended to improve playing conditions in lieu of lower mowing.

Source:  Todd Lowe, or 941-828-2625 


Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

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 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 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,, 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

AmEx image

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

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

AmEx image