Golf Course Management

JUL 2019

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

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68 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 07.19 Effects of nitrogen rate and simulated golf cart traffic on Cody buffalograss roughs With proper maintenance, buffalograss can provide high-quality roughs and other low-input areas on golf courses. In recent years, many golf courses in the United States transition zone have experienced drought or drought-like conditions. Let's be honest: Turf managers in the transition zone never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at them from year to year. ese un- certain conditions and the overall awareness of water consumption on golf courses have forced many golf course superintendents to Evan J. Alderman, M.S. Jared A. Hoyle, Ph.D. Jacob A. Reeves, M.S. Ross C. Braun, Ph.D. evaluate alternatives for low-maintenance areas on their courses. With an average of 34 irrigated acres (13.75 hectares) of rough for each U.S. golf course, using a low-input turf - grass species like buffalograss [Buchloƫ dac- tyloides (Nutt.) Engelm. synonym Bouteloua dactyloides (Nutt.) Columbus] has the poten- tial to reduce water consumption without af- fecting appearance or playability (7). Environmental damage to turf is a signifi- cant factor in golf course management, but superintendents also need to consider dam- age resulting from daily play. Golf cart traf- fic to access rough areas on the course can cause serious plant injury by directly damag- ing turfgrass leaves, and it can also influence plant growth through soil compaction (3). Although compaction issues have typically been reduced by aerification practices, apply- ing moderate levels of nitrogen fertility has been viewed as a way to alleviate wear on the turf caused by the abrasive force of golf cart tires. Previous research has shown that apply- ing nitrogen fertilizers to creeping bentgrass [Agrostis stolonifera L.] and Kentucky blue- grass [Poa pratensis L.] increased its resistance to damages caused by wear (5). Acceptable stands of buffalograss have been achieved by applying moderate levels of nitrogen fertility. In a three-year study in Nebraska, Kansas and Utah, researchers re- ported that Cody buffalograss treated with urea at 2 or 4 pounds nitrogen/1,000 square feet/year (97.6 or 195.29 kilograms/hectare) had better-than-acceptable quality, color and growth compared with Cody buffalo- grass treated with lower nitrogen application rates and with no applied traffic (6). Other researchers have reported that common buffalograss or early cultivars may be intol- erant to traffic; however, there is variation in response among cultivars, and some cul- tivars are tolerant of traffic (2). Variation in the ability of buffalograss to withstand traffic Figure 1. Buffalograss nitrogen and traffic research area before the study was begun at the Rocky Ford Turfgrass Research Center in Manhattan, Kan., in 2014. Photos by Evan Alderman

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