Golf Course Management

SEP 2013

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

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Up to Speed by Thomas A. Nikolai, Ph.D. Results may vary . . . "It depends" is often an unsatisfactory answer to the question, "Can I expect the same results on my golf course if I follow that program?" However, "It depends" is often the most honest answer because it takes into account infinite variables — turfgrass species, soil type, climatic conditions and water quality are a few — that can affect the outcome of an experiment. What follows is an example of how research can translate to real-world benefits. Bob Banham is the assistant superintendent at Belvedere Golf & Country Club in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, where golfers enjoy sunlight (as much as 17 hours daily) from June through August. Historically, Banham's putting green maintenance routine included mowing greens at 5 a.m. and again at 11 a.m., when there is a lull in play. The daily double-mowing of the greens has been necessary to provide adequate playing conditions for the late afternoon or evening hours. While Banham understands the importance of customer satisfaction, he was also concerned that daily double-mowing put additional stress on his mowers and stretched his maintenance budget. While attending a turfgrass conference in fall 2011, Banham became intrigued with Paul Giordano's (Michigan State University) effort to discover why frequent lightweight rolling reduces dollar spot on the putting surface. To examine the impact that dew and/or guttation water might have on dollar spot, Giordano mowed his bentgrass research green at sunrise six days per week. Two treatments in his study were: (1) rolling fve times per week immediately after mowing, and (2) rolling fve times per week at 1 p.m. Results from the three-year study indicate that frequent lightweight rolling decreases dollar spot regardless of the time of day rolling occurs. This suggests that frequent rolling has a more signifcant impact on disease reduction than dew removal. With this study in mind, Banham initiated a maintenance experiment on his practice green. All treatments were mowed at 5 a.m. daily. The three treatments were: (1) single-mowed; (2) double-cut daily with the second cut at 11 a.m.; and (3) rolled at 11 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday with the vibratory roller and double-mowed the other four days of the week. Banham's objectives were to fnd a management method to 74 GCM September 2013 decrease the number of times per week he would double-mow while retaining customer satisfaction with the hope of observing a reduction in disease commonly attributed to frequent rolling. Besides taking green speed measurements more than 20 times during the course of the experiment, Banham measured infltration rates and air-flled porosity on June 12 and Aug. 12, 2012. Banham's study indicated that infltration rates decreased "I used to make fungicide applications every three weeks on the greens. This year I have only applied a fungicide once due to the increased rolling." similarly on all treatments in the top 1-inch of root zone from June 12 to Aug. 1; the decrease was similar on double-mowed plots and rolled plots. Compared to the double-cut treatment, the rolling treatment also slightly increased green speed. As a result of the study, Banham aerates with solid tines monthly in June, July and August, and he has decreased the number of days he double-mows his greens by increasing the number of days he lightweight rolls. The golfers continue to be satisfed with the playing conditions, and Banham has made a rather dramatic observation. "In the past, I used to make fungicide applications every three weeks on the greens. This year I have only applied a fungicide once due to the increased rolling." Banham's story indicates the importance of continuing education and being patient with the implementation of changes to an already successful turfgrass management program. Would his new management routine be successful on your golf course greens? Well, it depends. GCM Thomas A. Nikolai, Ph.D., is the turfgrass academic specialist at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., and a frequent GCSAA educator.

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