Don't Forget To Brush

By Bob Vavrek, senior agronomist, North Central Region
July 19, 2011

Brushes for conditioning putting greens come in all shapes and sizes.  A basic brush can be installed just ahead of the cutting unit of a walk behind or triplex mower. 

Brush your teeth every morning, evening and after each meal.  Most of us have had this mantra drilled into our daily routine by concerned moms and family dentists throughout our childhood.  Brushing, we are told, helps prevent the need for a more painful type of drilling.  In general, we view the act of brushing something as positive.

Oral hygiene probably has nothing to do with the fact that an increasing number of courses across the North-Central Region are rediscovering the benefits of brushing greens to smooth and condition the playing surfaces, other than to reinforce the concept that brushing something is inherently good.   Furthermore, the options superintendents have regarding equipment for brushing greens seem endless.   There are powered rotary brushes, topdressing dragmats, and a variety of small brushes attached to mowers that tickle the turf a few inches in front of the cutting unit.   A standard cocoa mat can be a very effective tool to gently brush a surface during stressful weather and who is to say you couldn’t just drag a stiff bristled shop broom across a green to stand up the turf prior to mowing?

Common sense should dictate how often a green needs to be brushed and if the turf can tolerate a particular style or bristle based on the weather, the health of the turf, etc.  Keep in mind that any operation employed to stand up the turf will likely cause some stress to the greens, so make conservative choices about which brush to use during the heat of summer.  

Sometimes more that a sissy brushing operation is needed to stand up and thin out a gnarly stand of grainy turf on a vigorously growing green.  Under these conditions try dragging the entire green in one direction using a stiff bristled dragmat.  This will require lifting the mat and returning to the same side of the green before making the next pass.  Then mow the entire green in one direction, but in the opposite direction as the brushing operation.  You will be amazed at the length of the clippings found in the baskets and how much grass is removed from the putting surface.  The green cannot help but be smoother and faster after this operation. 

Again, aggressive single direction brushing/mowing operations are not appropriate during stressful weather; after all, you wouldn’t clean sensitive teeth with a stainless steel wire brush, would you?

Source:  Bob Vavrek, or 262-797-8743 


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