We strive to have consistent green speeds from green to green and day to day. Green to green there can easily be a foot variation in speed …studies show that golfers cannot detect changes in speed up to a foot. Day to day we aim to be between 9’ and 10’ foot on the stimp. Here are a few factors that go into green speed:
• Mowing frequency / Mowers
• Height of cut
• Green size
• Air flow
• Environmental stress
• Growth regulators
• Annual Poa annua seedheads
• Labor force size
• Labor force training
• Soil type
• Turf species
• Thatch layer thickness
• Golf event calendar / schedule
• Maintenance procedures like: Hollowtining, Topdressing, Verti-cutting, Aerifying, Dusting, Grooming etc.
This is to name at least a few...
The list of factors that affect playability of greens goes on and on. Some factors like soil type, turf species, drainage and green size, etc., are fairly constant at most courses. Almost every other component to the equation is a fluctuating variable. The superintendent has a wide range of control of these factors varying from total control to no control. This is not simple math. One and one never equals two. We are talking about the un-natural manipulation of a living organism, under a wide range of uncontrollable environmental conditions in a micro-climate we have unnaturally forced upon it. We do everything we can to keep speed and consistency our priority regardless of the uncontrollable factors.
Let’s look at the past week at DCC,
• Coldest winter we have had in decades has slowed down the growth tremedously
• Heavy dusting of the greens to help them dry out cause of the very unusual winter rain
• There has been quite a bit of algae growth on them due to no sun \ heat and standing water. It also doesnt help that they are no drainage in them .
• Over six inches (150mm) of rain in past week made greens soft and un-mow able for three days straight (mechanical damage / scalping would have been unacceptable)
• Unable to roll due to heavy rain
• Fertilizer used to help greens heal from traffic, pitch marks and recover from the cold is forcing turf to grow faster
These are just my circumstances this week. Every course is different. Courses that just aerified might be facing additional issues like trying to keep mower blades sharp enough to get a quality cut. Maybe your course is trying to re-establish turf from winter damage. Maybe your course gets 100,000 rounds a year, the greens are the size of postage stamps and are located in spots that get limited sun or air flow. A lot of the courses in KZN has Paspalum greens and with the very cold and wet winter we have had has very little to no growth and the greens are full of Poa annua. lot of I could go on and on.
The point is that me as a superintendent is doing everything I can to consistently manipulate the greens, in an unnatural way, with many uncontrollable, inconsistent and unpredictable variables.
Regardless of budget size, equipment inventory or their labor staff’s experience, I as a superintendent has to have the ability to consistently adapt and overcome the consistently changing environmental circumstances in which we are presented. Mother Nature still holds most of the cards.