Are Your Soft Spikes Best For Golf Or Soccer?

By Adam Moeller, agronomist, Northeast Region
June 25, 2014

Surface smoothness no longer exists near this hole location thanks to aggressive soft spikes and a lack of player etiquette.

Several common topics have dominated the discussions during Course Consulting Service visits over the past few weeks. Moderate weather has been welcomed by many superintendents in the region and excellent playing conditions are being maintained at many facilities. Unfortunately, the moderate weather has also contributed to slow recovery from winter injury. Temporary putting greens remain at many golf courses, frustrating golf course superintendents and golfers alike. Although temporary greens are never popular, they should not be abandoned until the putting greens are fully healed. Watch the USGA Green Section webcast Assessing Winter Injury and Promoting Turf Recovery in the Northeast Region for information regarding best management practices for promoting rapid, sustainable recovery from winter injury on putting greens. The Green Section Record article Winter Damage is an excellent reference for information on why putting greens experience winter injury and how to best limit the potential for future problems.

Aggressive, soft spike golf shoes have also been a hot topic in recent weeks. Aggressive soft spikes can be very damaging to surface smoothness, especially when golfers drag their feet or twist while standing on putting greens. Damage from aggressive soft spikes has been particularly severe on young creeping bentgrass turf at golf courses recovering from winter injury. In some cases turf has actually been ripped out of the soil by golfers wearing soft spike golf shoes. Many superintendents are suggesting that modern shoes with aggressive soft spikes are more damaging than the old metal spikes that were commonplace 20-30 years ago. Golfer etiquette certainly plays a role in this discussion, but the aggressiveness of some soft spikes is overkill on certain shoes.

The cool weather coupled with ample rainfall this spring has made the rough challenging for mid- and high-handicap golfers at many courses. Increased mowing frequency and even plant growth regulators have been used to combat the rapid growth of rough. Lowering the mowing height may offer some relief, but this adjustment will also increase the turf’s susceptibility to drought stress so caution is advised.

Annual bluegrass weevil and anthracnose disease damage has been observed recently at courses throughout the region. Careful scouting for annual bluegrass weevils is very important to ensure insecticide applications are made when and where necessary. Golf course superintendents battling anthracnose disease should review the Golf Course Management article Best Management Practices for Anthracnose on Annual Bluegrass Greens and make adjustments to their management program as necessary. Increasing the mowing height, applying 0.1–0.125 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet every seven days, and light, frequent sand topdressing combined with regular fungicide applications are often the most impactful changes to combat an anthracnose outbreak.

Source: Adam Moeller (amoeller@usga.org)

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