Thatch Leads To Localized Dry Spot In Bentgrass Fairways

By Brian Whitlark, agronomist, Southwest Region
August 15, 2012

(L) Localized dry spot is severe on these bentgrass fairways where thatch levels have accumulated over time. (R) Ideally, thatch depth in fairways should be maintained less than ¾ inch, but thatch in these bentgrass fairways has accumulated to nearly 2 inches (as indicated by the pitch mark repair tool).

On a recent visit to a golf course in New Mexico, the sand-capped fairways that once provided firm and fast conditions now produce soft, spongy surfaces as a result of thatch accumulation. Moreover, the thatch on top of the sand profile shows severe localized dry spot. This update provides a glimpse of how the benefits of sand capping can diminish when thatch accumulates to high levels and how this superintendent plans to improve conditions.

What thatch depth is considered excessive on bentgrass fairways?

On these fairways that were sand capped and formerly produced firm conditions to play on, thatch depth has accumulated to approximately 2 inches (photo). Ideally thatch depth is maintained between 3/8 inch to 3/4 inch in bentgrass fairways.

What are the implications of the excessive thatch?

The fairways are soft and spongy, are prone to scalping and have developed localized dry spot (photo). Although salt levels are not high enough to result in turf injury at this time, elevated salts were measured in the thatch when compared to the profile underneath. Should the salt level increase in the irrigation water, salinity in the thatch may increase above the tolerance levels for bentgrass.

How is this superintendent addressing the situation?

A large piece of equipment was purchased that is able to verticut and vacuum simultaneously.  This machine is robust enough to verticut deeply without any struggles and leaves behind only minimal cleanup (photo’s). Plans are in place to verticut deeply from 3-4 times per season, weather permitting. This superintendent is considering running the verticutter in two directions during weather periods where recovery is optimal to maximize thatch removal.

How do you remedy the localized dry spot?

A variety of wetting agents are currently being utilized to minimize localized dry spot, but the efficacy of such applications are thought to be compromised due to the excessive thatch. Once thatch levels are reduced, it is likely the wetting agents will offer more effective and repeatable results.

For more tips on combating thatch, localized dry spot and additional agronomic strategies, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Pat Gross: pgross@usga.org  or Mr. Brian Whitlark: bwhitlark@usga.org, or call the Southwest regional office at (714) 542-5766. 

Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
Chevron
   

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image
Rolex
   

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.



Rolex image
IBM
   

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image
Lexus
   

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express
   

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment


AmEx image