Golf Courses Are Beginning To Get The “Green Is Not Great” Message

By Larry Gilhuly, director, Northwest Region
June 20, 2011

During a visit to a private golf club during May, a very good question was asked when the subject of creating “firm-and-fast” conditions was discussed.  During this conversation the question was, “Name some of the private clubs that have truly taken this approach, and how is it working?”  In an area that is dominated by Poa annua and at a time of year when natural rainfall has taken care of water needs, no courses could be named.  In fact, none that had been visited in 2011 had expressed a strong desire to head in this direction.  Why?  Players in the Pacific Northwest simply like the color green more than watching a well-struck shot that rolls an extra 20-30 yards.  But is this still the case after visiting numerous private, public and municipal golf courses in the past month?  Are there actually golf courses out there where players are not as interested in green color, and might actually allow some brown on their playing surfaces?

During the past month, 15 golf course TAS visits have been completed.  Of these golf courses, five have reported that there is still a major resistance to brown spots from their players, with two private clubs and three resort courses having this response.  However, the other 10 courses (three privates, four municipals and three publics) have all expressed a sincere desire to produce “firm-and-fast” conditions.  All have reduced normal nitrogen levels, while some weed activity has viewed on fairways that have dark green color.  In most cases, these same golf courses plan on using the same type of approach noted in a recent Northwest website update.  Also, these golf courses have ranged in the west side of the Cascade range in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, to the east side, where more severe weather exists during the summer months.

So, can this work at your golf course?  Will the players that use your golf course allow some brown areas, or at least maintain turf that is not a brilliant shade of green?  It is a good question that will be played out at numerous golf courses in the next three months.  One thing is certain: golf courses are beginning to understand that “green is not necessarily great.” With this there is no debate!

 

Source:  Larry Gilhuly, lgilhuly@usga.org or 253 858 2266.

 

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