The Healing Process
The majority of the putting greens have now recovered from winter damage. Although things look better on the surface the healing process is not yet over. Young plants still have developing root systems and lack the density typically seen in a healthy turfgrass system. For the remainder of the golf season the management strategies of the Golf Course & Grounds Department will focus on increasing density and maximizing root development.
Over the course of the last year, the majority of efforts have been put into re-establishing turf at the surface. In order to do that, many cultural management techniques utilized to encourage a dense, healthy stand of turf have been put on hold while turf establishes and recovers. It is these practices that not only attribute to healthy turf, but they also assist in achieving smooth, fast playing surfaces. Cultural practices like verticutting, top dressing, brushing, rolling and mowing at lower heights are all too aggressive for managing young, establishing turfgrass. Avoiding these practises has been necessary and a benefit to the recovery, but has caused some of the already healthy turf to fall behind and lose some of its density. These cultural management practices will be slowly reintroduced throughout the remainder of the summer and into the fall.
Topdressing greens with sand to smooth playing surfaces
Root growth and development is most active in spring and fall. During the heat and stress of summer, turf loses roots as a result of the long days, high heat and traffic. The progress and development of roots in the fall and spring will assist turf to make it through the summer in good health. In order to maximize root development the turf needs good sunlight, available nutrients and good soil structure to grow efficiently. Soil structure is only improved though aeration. Throughout the remainder of the season the greens will be aerated numerous times utilizing mini tines. This method is very effective in creating channels for roots and in addition has very little impact on play. Deep tine aerating will also be executed in August, to initiate root growth deeper into the soil profile.
Aerating with mini-tines for venting and root growth
Increasing turf density and maximizing root development will have a positive effect on the overall health and playability of the greens. Healthy turf will be better prepared to withstand summer stresses and even help with the potential of winter damage and recovery. Performing these cultural management techniques along with having good growing environments are an essential part of turf management and aid in providing a smooth playing surface. As the healing process continues into the fall the quality and health of the greens will continue to improve.