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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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. nikolait@msu.edu (up to speed)

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