Golf Course Management

SEP 2018

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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Page 63 of 101

60 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 09.18 During the dog days of summer, putting green collars commonly show wear from en - vironmental stress. Contrary to folklore, re- search indicates that collars display symptoms of dollar spot, and some other turfgrass dis - eases, because the microenvironment of a col- lar is more humid than that of a putting sur- face, which is maintained at a lower height of cut (HOC) and therefore has a denser surface. With that said, mechanical stress from increased lightweight rolling has certainly exacerbated collar wear. Clearly, the numer - ous benefits of frequent rolling, as revealed by turfgrass research, are worth the extra atten - tion that collars deserve. However, perfection- ists see the glass as half-empty, so let's exam- ine methods to minimize collar wear caused by rolling. Recommendations for promoting putting green collar density and health begin with the operator (or supervisor) of a sidewinder roller, who must consider practices that can elimi - nate spinning or slippage on the collar. • Consider the position of the drive roller in respect to slopes. As much as possible, the drive roller should remain on the downhill side of a slope, pushing the roller upslope (as opposed to pulling the weight of the roller up a slope). is reduces spinning while changing directions on the collar, and it is also an important consideration when ap - proaching a green on a slope. • Particularly during times of increased envi - ronmental stress, the roller operator should slowly come to a complete stop (and pause) be - fore changing directions. • An increasing number of superintendents advocate stopping short of the collar and changing the direction of the roller on the putting surface. is practice violates past recommendations — that is, never change directions or turn on the putting surface with any piece of equipment. is newer practice supports the adage "never say never," because a tighter HOC on stolon - iferous grasses causes less stress from traffic than a higher HOC. • Decreasing the HOC on collars can also reduce wear caused by rollers and perhaps minimize some environmental stress. • When possible, a vibratory roller should be used after topdressing to help incorporate sand into the canopy. Research indicates that a single vibratory rolling after sand top - dressing increases sand incorporation into the canopy by more than 50% on bentgrass putting surfaces and up to 80% on bermu - dagrass. is is important because added abrasion from sand on a spinning roller can increase damage to the collar's leaf tissue. • For those who do not own a vibratory roller that can be lifted before contact with the collar, it may be beneficial to change side - winder roller direction in the rough when topdressing sand is still visible on the roller. is is done to minimize the abrasion caused by the sand. • One superintendent told me he seeds peren - nial ryegrass into his bermudagrass collars when they show wear from rolling. is is not a good fit for all desirable species, be - cause of concerns with contamination, but, in a pinch, grass is better than bare ground. • Use of mats and grates has increased, but there must be enough time and/or labor to accommodate the laying and movement of the mats. • Avoid getting putting green plant growth regulator (PGR) applications on the sur - rounding collars. As the HOC of the turf- grass increases, the above-ground growth rate decreases, indicating that the collar has a slower growth rate and therefore slower recovery from stress than the putting sur - face. e effect of PGRs also lasts longer on grass with a higher HOC. If the same rate of PGRs must be applied to the put - ting surface and the collars, it is a good idea to increase the nitrogen rate on the collars to stimulate growth that is being minimized by the PGRs. I thank Luke Paddle, assistant superinten - dent at Oakdale Golf and Country Club in Toronto, and my research technician, Aaron Hathaway, for their input. For those who want to look deeper into PGR growth, I suggest re - search by Bill Kreuser, Ph.D., at the Univer- sity of Nebraska. For those who are wondering why I did not mention bleach and starch — you should not have read this article. Thomas A. Nikolai, Ph.D., the "Doctor of Green Speed," is the turfgrass academic specialist at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., and a frequent GCSAA educator. Collar care Decreasing the height of cut on collars can reduce wear caused by rollers and perhaps minimize some environmental stress. Thomas A. Nikolai, Ph.D. (up to speed)

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