Robbing Peter To Pay Paul

By Bob Vavrek, senior agronomist, North-Central Region
May 28, 2014

Look no further than the first few feet of fairway turf in front of forward tees to find all the high-quality sod you need to repair localized areas of winterkill throughout the course. Bluegrass sod can then be used to quickly convert this narrow area of fairway to rough.

The sod needed to repair fairways damaged by winterkill can be in short supply following a brutal winter and amid a cool spring. Sod growers may not be able to harvest immature turf until early summer, and demand is high because other nearby courses with turf injury are under similar pressure to provide high-quality playing conditions as soon as possible. Even when sod is available, the improved cultivars of bentgrass will never match the patchwork of colors and textures found on mature bentgrass/Poa fairways.

Yet, every golf facility already has a readily available source of sod that is an exact match to their unique fairway turf, and it won’t cost a penny for shipping. Look no further than the first 10 feet or so of short grass off the forward set of tees to find all the turf you need to make fairway repairs. Use a sod cutter to harvest this turf, and then strip and resurface areas of winterkill that have been slow to recover.

You could level and seed the area you stripped, but most golf facilities simply use commercial sod to convert this few feet of fairway to rough. Bentgrass might be in short supply during spring, but you will likely find a variety of local options for decent-quality Kentucky bluegrass sod throughout the season. If available, big-roll sod would make quick work of repairs. Sure, you lost a few feet of fairway, but it won’t be missed.

In effect, you are robbing Peter to pay Paul…the results will likely be something a bit short of heavenly, but it still beats the heck out of playing off dead turf in a prime landing area all summer.

Source: Bob Vavrek (rvavrek@usga.org)

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