Supplemental Sand Topdressing August 16, 2019 By John Daniels, agronomist, Central Region

Applying light rates of sand topdressing along the edges of a green each week helps to alleviate scalping and improve smoothness. 

How strong is the turfgrass along the edges of your putting greens? Is it thick and uniform or thin and uneven?

It is quite common to see cool-season turf struggling along the perimeter of the putting surface at this time of year. Much of this damage can be attributed to mechanical injury from routine mowing. The cumulative effect of repeatedly dropping the cutting unit on the same area where a turning mower makes the cleanup cut adds significant stress to turfgrass. Saturated conditions along the edges of some greens, caused by elevated collars that trap water on the putting surface, exacerbate the problem and increase the likelihood of mower scalping.

Sand topdressing is an important practice for maintaining a healthy, smooth and uniform putting surface that resists scalping. Most highly regarded golf facilities routinely topdress their putting greens every 7 to 14 days during the growing season. Despite following this best management practice, some scalping along the edges can still occur. If this problem develops on your greens, supplemental sand applications that specifically target the outer edge can prove useful. The additional sand mixed in the turf canopy helps to support the weight of the cutting unit and creates a more uniform surface.

Making targeted applications of sand topdressing to putting green edges is not difficult. All you need is a drop spreader or seeder and some dry sand that will easily flow through the openings. A single lap around a green can be completed by one employee in a couple of minutes or less, making this task very easy to accomplish even during play. For best results, the process should be completed weekly using a light enough rate of sand so that brushing is not required. Lightly irrigate the sand to knock it off the leaves if necessary.


Central Region Agronomists:

Bob Vavrek, regional director –

John Daniels, agronomist –

Zach Nicoludis, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff

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