Golf Course Management

APR 2014

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 53 of 165

52 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 04.14 research greens, alternating mowing and rolling improves turfgrass wear tolerance and produces green speed measurements equivalent to mowing daily. If you are thinking this might result in an economic saving, you are correct. University of Tennessee graduate student Dan Strunk performed a cost-analysis study comparing daily mowing to alternating mowing and rolling on a daily basis and concluded that alternating mowing and rolling could save the average golf course in Tennessee approx - imately $13,000 annually. This can be a very nice economic option, especially when heat stress is high on cool-season grasses or cold stress is high on warm-season grasses. • Mow and roll every day. We certainly are not considering saving money with this option; however, results indicate that both mowing and rolling every day produces consistent green speeds from day to day, possibly allows raised mowing heights for better turfgrass health and wear tolerance, and results in signifcantly more dollar spot control than mowing every day and rolling every other day. • Roll every day and mow every other. That's right, rolling every day and mowing every other day. Of all the mowing/rolling fre - quencies I have researched, this one results in the most consistent green speeds from day to day, very good wear tolerance com - pared to mowing alone, and better dollar spot control than mowing every day and rolling every other day. Depending upon your current rolling program, this option could result in some economic savings as well. With all the programs listed above I have never observed an increase in compaction; however, all my research plots have been on frequent sand-topdressing programs (every two to three weeks). An additional caution: When I rolled plots every day of the week, I always used the lightest rollers available on the market (TruTurf, DMI Speed Roller and True-Surface vibratory rollers) because they have been con - tinuous supporters of my research. I don't want to imply that rolling seven days per week with a roller heavier than 550 pounds would cause compaction and therefore weaker turf, I am just cautioning that we do not know whether heavier rollers used daily would result in com - paction or not. Although I am a big advocate of lightweight rolling and encourage every su - perintendent to roll greens, I am even a big- ger advocate of proceeding with caution when making any changes to a putting surface. 1. Increased customer satisfaction Golfer survey after golfer survey indicates that the condition of the putting surface is the No. 1 thing golfers care about. Lightweight rolling produces smoother putting surfaces, which result in truer ball roll and faster green speeds. No other cultural or mechanical prac - tice can increase customer satisfaction as much as frequent use of a lightweight roller. Finally, no other mechanical practice allows the super - intendent the possibility to adjust the green speed to make his clientele happy. To quote Walter S. Harbin from 1922, "I cannot con - ceive how a perfect putting surface can be de- veloped or maintained without rolling." I think Mr. Harbin would be happy with the condi - tions on the putting surface today, due in part to the use of lightweight rollers. Thomas A. Nikolai, Ph.D., is the "Doctor of Green Speed" in the department of crop and soil sciences at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., and the author of the bimonthly column "Up to speed" in GCM. The author cites studies using lightweight rollers and cau- tions superintendents to proceed with caution when using rollers heavier than 550 pounds. Photo by Scott Hollister No other cultural or mechanical practice can increase customer satisfaction as much as frequent use of a lightweight roller. 044-055_April14_roll.indd 52 3/18/14 2:50 PM

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