Friday, April 2, 2010

Why are the Greens so......................

slow? You may have noticed that the greens are not quite into the condition of midsummer right now. You would be right. Several factors come into play regarding green speed. Golf Course Superintendents who host tournaments during mild weather months are fortunate that they can mow at lower than normal heights, keep the surfaces drier than usual, and roll as much as they would like. Spring and Fall tournaments are "dreamy" in the sense that greens can be "pushed" without the typical fear of wilt or even death mid-season.

"If it is so easy to have quick greens spring and fall, why don't we have them?" This seems like a logical question, and I like to give a simple analogy. Let's say you were going to be stranded on a desert island for six weeks and you have very limited amounts of food and water you could take with you. How would you prepare? Most people would probably eat lots of carbohydrates, knowing that their bodies could store the excess energy. This would help them live off the minimal amounts of food and water they had available. Well, the same goes for turfgrass plants. Right now the plants are growing roots and storing carbohydrates (photosynthesis) to prepare for the summer. Our cool-season turfgrass plants eventually shut down in the summer heat and begin to respire more than they perform photosynthesis; this is essentially a race to the finish, where you hope you have more energy reserved, than the environment demands for survival. The greens are carefully managed to ensure that we have quality putting surfaces in August, months before the extremes of summer arrive.
The link below will take you to furthur reading at the USGA's site
"Research shows that even small increases in mowing height, i.e. mowing at 1 / 8 to 5 / 32 of an inch, can vastly improve turf quality through a 25% increase in photosynthetic potential and increased root mass. Furthermore, root mortality and summer bentgrass decline are mitigated by minimizing the duration in which plant respiration exceeds photosynthesis in mid-summer."
We continue to focus on the quality of our surfaces here at Briar Ridge, and strive to preserve a smooth and true putting green that allows the ball to be holed from a skillfully stroked shot.  Green speeds will come naturally as we progress from spring to summer, much like the years past, then, eventually, the first hard frost will happen in the fall, and the greens will continue to quicken.  But we don't want that to come too fast, do we?

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