USGA Green Section Florida Regional Update(3)
"Oh the weather outside is frightfulâ€¦", at least for bermudagrass at this time of year. Like most Floridians, bermudagrass enjoys high temperatures with lots of sunlight and prefers to stay put as the temperatures drop.
Our region has experienced a colder than normal fall, with several frosts already occurring on golf courses throughout South Florida. For the most part, lower soil temperatures reduce golf course aesthetics by temporarily turning the turfgrass color off-green to yellow, and by causing a more ragged appearance in areas of high traffic. The onset of cooler soil temperatures earlier this year has hastened aesthetic decline three to four weeks earlier than in previous years. I have also seen a significant decline in Tifway bermudagrass response to lower soil temperatures, as it has already reached a semi-dormant state.
Cart traffic management helps play a vital role in maintaining somewhat decent turf conditions. Reducing traffic stress with the use of ropes and stakes will make a major impact on turf quality. A program that we continually find useful is alternating a weekly revolving cart path only policy so that holes #1 and #10 are cart path only on week one, holes #2 and #11 are cart path only on week two, and so on.
Slow putting green turf recovery is another negative aspect of low soil temperatures with reduced overall turf growth, and thin areas requiring more healing time during the winter months to completely recover. Charcoal can be applied to aid in turf recovery, as its dark color attracts solar radiation, which warms up the turf canopy and the upper soil temperature.
The upside to low soil temperatures are firm, fast playing conditions. It is sometimes easy to overlook these beneficial attributes as the turf loses its color; but always remember that aesthetic qualities have no impact on golf course playability .
Source: Todd Lowe, firstname.lastname@example.org or 941-828-2625