Sand Is Good For The Game

By Todd Lowe, senior agronomist, Florida Region
April 19, 2011

Sand topdressing is often a misunderstood, yet important, cultural practice for golf course putting greens. 

A topic discussed during many recent TAS visits has been the importance of topdressing putting greens with sand.  Sand is applied even during the winter months in the Florida Region, as turf is still growing in central to south Florida.  Some sand is needed to improve both golf course playability and turf health. 

Bermudagrass produces a network of stems that intermingle to form a layer of thatch in the upper rootzone.  Some thatch is beneficial because it provides surface resiliency, but excessive thatch softens putting greens, increases the incidence of mower scalping and disease, and decreases surface smoothness.  Sand topdressing improves surface firmness and smoothness, dilutes thatch, and protects turfgrass growing points (or crowns).  The amount and frequency of sand topdressing is dictated by soil temperature and how active the turf grows at any particular time.

Sand topdressing is not a new practice, having been used by Old Tom Morris at St. Andrews.  Yet, it seems that we continue to talk about this misunderstood practice to golfers each year.  Some golfers believe that it disrupts playing conditions, when in fact it improves playability.  Educating golfers is a continual, yet worthwhile, endeavor to decrease frustration for all parties.

Speaking of education, the USGA and Florida Golf Course Superintendents Association will host a regional seminar on May 13th at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club.  Speakers and topics include:

Firm and Dry for Everyday Play  

John Foy, Director, Florida Region, USGA Green Section

Planning, Planting, and Managing Seasonal Wildflowers in South Florida  

Kyle Sweet, CGCS, The Sanctuary Golf Club

Turfgrass Trends: What’s Working Well in the Field  

Todd Lowe, Senior Agronomist, Florida Region, USGA Green Section

Trends in Architecture  

Steve Smyers, Golf Course Architect/USGA Executive Committee

Marking the Golf Course: The basics that every superintendent should know  

Tom Zaras, Tournament Director, FSGA

Interpreting Water Tests – It’s as easy as 1 - 2 - 3!  

Brian S. Whitlark, Agronomist, Southwest Region, USGA Green Section


To sign up for this meeting, please contact:  

Jennifer Bryan

Florida GCSA

Association Manager

PO Box 65

Jensen Beach, FL 34958

phone: 772-334-7515

fax: 772-334-6015

Florida only: 800-732-6053 


Source:  Todd Lowe, or 941-828-2625 


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