Sunlight Evaluation

The development of the Tree Management Program is a methodical and dynamic process. The formulation of an approved plan is, at minimum, a year-long project involving on-going evaluation. At Cutten Fields, careful consideration is given when deciding to remove a tree from the property. The methods involved in selecting a tree for removal are made in consultation with numerous experts including; USGA Agronomist Dave Oatis, Agrologist Dave Smith, Arborist Jamie Laird and Golf Course Architect Ian Andrew. These professionals are equipped with the tools and knowledge to assist in evaluating growing conditions, sunlight angles, tree health, safety, and playability.

The ice damage suffered during the winter of 2014 created many agronomic and economic challenges. In an effort to excessive devastation, USGA agronomist Dave Oatis was secured to assist with the recovery process and to make recommendations that would improve long term health and sustainably of the putting greens. The June report from Mr. Oatis is available to all members, and I encourage you to read it. The report can be found on the Cutten Fields website and outlines the steps to be taken in order to reduce the potential of winter injury in the future. To summarize, the report recommended improving sunlight and increasing populations of Creeping Bentgrass. In order to increase sunlight a comprehensive tree management program was initiated. Trees were identified for removal based on scientific information gathered using historical data, compasses, and Sun Seeker software.

Sun Seeker can provide excellent visuals of sun locations and elevations 365 days of the year

It is no coincidence that the greens slowest to recover from the ice damage suffered last winter were green sites impacted by shade. The effect of shade is an important cause of turf weakness or failure. The combination of shade, ice and/ or traffic, can be deadly. Turfgrass plants need light to photosynthesize and produce food for growth and recovery. When light levels are inadequate for too long, carbohydrate reserves are depleted and the turf becomes too weak to quickly recover from injury. In addition, shade predisposes the turf to certain diseases that would not normally be problematic if the turf were located in full sun. The lack of direct sunlight on turf prolongs the drying out period after rainfall or irrigation, leading to greater disease activity and greater soil compaction. Not surprisingly, Poa Annua follows closely on the heels of these problems, bringing with it another set of difficulties.

Healthy turf will perform more effectively during times of stress. Turfgrass stresses include; winter damage, heat-related stress, high traffic and mechanical stress

The benefits of sunlight are no secret and there are endless agronomic justifications for having good growing environments. Oftentimes when putting surfaces struggle there are a number of compounding problems that contribute to the decline. In almost every case shade is one, if not the major culprit of the complications. Increasing sunlight on greens will assist in improving overall turf health of both Creeping Bentgrass and Poa Annua. However, an increase in the population of Creeping Bentgrass over Poa Annua is expected with improved sunlight. The growth characteristics of Creeping Bentgrass are in many ways superior to all other turf species used on putting greens in Southern Ontario.

A few of the benefits golfers may notice in the coming years as a result of improved sunlight and increased Creeping Bentgrass populations on putting greens are as follows;

  • Reduced damage caused by ice and winter stresses

  • Improved tolerance to summer stresses

  • Improved wear tolerance

  • Faster ball mark recovery

  • Accelerated healing from aeration events

  • Increased Creeping Bentgrass populations

  • Shorter frost delays

  • Less leaf and tree debris on putting surfaces


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