Golf Course Management

MAR 2015

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

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82 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.15 Early one afternoon in September 2013, I stopped by a local golf course to grab a bite to eat. After ordering a sandwich, I took a seat outdoors on an elevated deck overlook - ing the 18th and spied the assistant superin- tendent rolling the green. Awaiting my order, I sipped on a beverage and let my face bathe in the warmth of the sun's rays. Tension drained from my body, clearing my mind of thought as I entered nirvana. My sandwich was delivered, I ordered a second beverage and, after eating, I was recharged and ready to get back to work. As I asked for my check and prepared to depart, I noticed the assistant superintendent was still rolling the green. As I made my way toward the green, the assistant turned off his machine. When I asked what he was doing, he said, "Rolling the green." I gave him a stare that alerted him I was aware of that fact, so he added, "Well, we aerifed the greens today, so I'm rolling each green 16 times to smooth them out." I was surprised, to say the least. First of all, I had to smile, recalling the superinten - dent of the course had informed me a decade before that he would never put "one of those machines" (a lightweight roller) on any of his greens. Now he was rolling every green 16 times after core cultivation, a practice intended to alleviate compaction of the root zone after months of play. Seemed to me like it might be counterproductive. By the spring of 2014, I had had numerous conversations with golf course superintendents who also rolled after core cultivation. Further - more, I learned that some superintendents were making purchasing decisions based on the weight of the roller. Their logic was that the heavier the roller, the faster the hole closure and the smoother the putting surface. Obviously, it was time to initiate a study. In September 2014, a study was initi - ated at the Hancock Turfgrass Research Cen- ter (HTRC) of Michigan State University by aerifying a creeping bentgrass research put - ting green with a Toro Pro Core with 0.5- inch tines. The green was mowed fve days per week with a Toro Triplex Reelmaster set at a 0.125-inch height of cut. Two rollers were used in the study: the Toro GP 1240 and the Salsco GGR 9065, which is approximately 210 pounds heavier than the Toro. One of the plots was a non-rolled check plot. The other plots were rolled fve days per week for 20 days after aerifcation. Hole-closure ratings were taken daily after aerifcation. For both rollers, hole closure in rolled aerifed plots was not noticeably faster compared to that in the non-rolled aerifed plots until 11 days after aerifcation. That trend continued for 25 days after aerifcation. Pelz- meter measurements showed that both rollers increased green speed (or ball roll distance) by 12 inches at one day after aerifcation, and that trend continued for the frst week. However, by 14 days after aerifcation, the rolled plots were nearly 2 feet faster in speed compared to the non-rolled check plots. That trend continued for the duration of the experiment. Finally, soil cores were taken, and neither of the rollers cre - ated any measurable compaction differences compared to the non-rolled aerifed plots. On every date, there were no differences between the two rollers, indicating heavier rollers do not hasten hole closure or enhance smoothness more than lighter rollers. An additional observation made at the HTRC in 2014 was that dollar spot can grow rampant on the circumference of the aerifca - tion holes. This is logical given that we know drier soil leads to more severe dollar spot out - breaks. Obviously, customer satisfaction is the No. 1 reason to assist hole closure. I added that little tidbit about dollar spot to demonstrate that aerifcation hole closure can be a turfgrass health issue as well. Golf course superintendents continue to impress me with their innovation. Results from this study indicate that rolling after aerifca - tion (regardless of roller weight) signifcantly increases customer satisfaction, and you don't have to roll each green 16 times to achieve mea - surable results. Thomas A. Nikolai, Ph.D., is the turfgrass academic spe- cialist at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., and a frequent GCSAA educator. Thomas A. Nikolai, Ph.D. Weighing in on rolling after aerifcation An additional observation made at the HTRC in 2014 was that dollar spot can grow rampant on the circumference of the aerifcation holes. (up to speed)

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