Super Questions

Posted on: April 25th, 2012 by admin No Comments
Published May 09, 2010
A golf course is a living, breathing thing, constantly changing and in need of regular care. The person in charge of its healthy existence is your course superintendent, who has to be alert 24/7 to problems both natural and manmade. I strongly suggest golfers become familiar with their course’s unique problems and needs, which means talking to their superintendent. That said, here are simple answers to some of the most common questions supers are asked. Your course likely has other issues, but a basic understanding of what’s happening above and below ground will help you all-golfers, grounds crew, and the course-get along better.
Why is the turf brown?
Brown grass isn’t dead, it’s laying low because enough water is not available. Water is expensive and in short supply, so not watering saves money. A drier golf course is also a faster and firmer course (and more fun to play), as well as healthier since it needs less fertilizer and pesticides.Why are greens slower in summer?
In northern parts of the country, turf species grow most efficiently when the weather is cool. When it’s hot both during the day and at night, cool season turf (Poa annua, bent grass, perennial rye grass, and fescues) slow their growth to conserve energy and carbohydrates. To protect the grass and stimulate the development of root systems, many supers cut greens a little longer-or roll instead of cut-in hot temperatures. So the greens are slower as a way of keeping them healthy for the long term.

What’s with all the spraying, and why is the grass being painted green?
The grounds crew sprays pesticides, as needed, to protect turf from disease, insects, and weeds, and to make plants more fertile. That’s a number of different chemicals, which often demand repeated applications. The bright green “paint” actually is a dye used to prevent over-spraying: The crew knows not to spray where the area is already coated. Be happy the dye is green rather than, say, blue or red.

Why isn’t the rough cut everyday?
During and immediately after the rainy spring growing season, it’s likely the rough is being cut every day or as often as possible. But many courses only have one or two rough mowers, and most golfers want fairways, greens, and tees to receive the most attention. Mowing rough takes time since it usually means dealing with trees, creeks, and other obstacles, and it must be done slowly and carefully to avoid damaging the turf and equipment.

Why was that tree cut down?
Assuming your course isn’t undergoing a major tree renovation project (something more clubs should consider), that single tree probably was blocking sunlight from penetrating the turf surface and helping growth. Turfgrass requires eight to ten hours of direct sunlight every day to promote photosynthesis. Trees also can block the movement of air across the turf, which means the grass stays wet and is more susceptible to disease. Finally, trees compete with turf for water, oxygen, and nutrients; sometimes a tree has to come out to keep the grass around it healthy.

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