Golf Course Management

JAN 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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106 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 01.18 Effects of creeping bentgrass seeding rates and traffic on putting green establishment A conservative seeding rate can result in cost-effective and speedy green establishment. Significant efforts by turf breeders have led to the development of improved species and varieties of grasses with higher germina - tion rates and adaptive physiological charac- teristics (1). Current availability and demand for these grasses will only increase their seed prices. Because renovation often entails com - plete conversion (2) to a single desirable grass, the need to identify cost-effective, optimal creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) seed - ing rates is a major challenge faced in costly renovation projects (8). This is especially true after the bitter winter of 2013-2014, when numerous Midwest and northern golf courses lost putting green turf (Poa annua) to winter - kill (3,5). Evidence suggests that using higher-than- recommended seeding rates to quickly es - tablish putting greens, to thwart weed com- petition and to minimize disruption of golf rounds played in the first year after renova - tion, inherently exacerbates plant health is- sues, and disrupts early-season play of golf rounds (4). Although speedy establishment can mitigate costs and revenue loss, the abil - ity of turf with excessively high shoot density to withstand traffic is uncertain. These con - cerns could be addressed by using improved creeping bentgrass varieties at, or near, the lower range of the recommended seeding rates of 7.9 to 16.0 ounces/1,000 square feet (2.4- 4.9 grams/square meter) (6). The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of various seeding rates and traffic simulations on the es - tablishment of a sustainable putting surface following renovation. Materials and methods Field research was initiated at the Han- cock Turfgrass Research Center at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., Aug. 8, 2012, and replicated Aug. 16, 2013. The experimental site was a putting green with high sand content. Before seeding, the exist - ing sward of creeping bentgrass and approxi- mately 3 inches (7.62 cm) of root-zone mate- rial were removed and then back-filled with a USGA-recommended putting green root- zone medium made up of 95% sand (0.05-2.0 mm) and 5% silt (0.002-0.05 mm) and clay (< 0.002 mm) (MSU Soil and Plant Nutrient Laboratory, East Lansing, Mich.). After the root zone was leveled and com - pacted, a starter fertilizer, 18-24-12 N-P-K (Lesco, John Deere Landscapes), was applied at a rate of 43.7 pounds P 2 O 5 /acre (49 kg/hect- are), and a poly-coated fertilizer, 43-0-0 N-P-K (Harrell's LLC), was applied at 65.1 pounds nitrogen/acre (73 kg/hectare) before seeding. The experiment was a strip-plot, random - ized complete block design with V8 creep- ing bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) seeded at six rates (1.9, 3.9, 7.9, 12.1, 16.0 and 32.1 ounces/1,000 square feet; 0.6, 1.2, 2.4, 3.7, 4.9 and 9.8 grams/square meter). Four traf - fic simulation treatments, including a control, were initiated in May, June and July, and each one was replicated eight times. Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and shear vane strength were mea - sured. Whole plots were 6 feet × 7.8 feet (1.8 meters × 2.4 meters) in 2012-2013, but down - scaled in 2013-2014 to 3 feet × 7.8 feet (0.9 meter × 2.4 meters). Subplots (traffic simu - lation) were 2 feet × 6 feet (0.6 meter × 1.8 meter) in 2012-2013, and 2 feet × 3 feet (0.6 meter × 0.9 meter) in 2013-2014. After sowing, the seedbed was covered with a spun-cotton germination blanket (A.M. Leonard Horticultural Tool and Sup - ply Co.), which was removed seven days later. Once established, the putting green was mowed five times weekly at 0.118 inch (0.3 cm) fertilized biweekly with approximately 4.46 pounds nitrogen/acre (5 kg/hectare), and received monthly applications of a sys - temic fungicide. Sand topdressing was ap- plied weekly on a light, frequent basis from May to September in order to simulate golf course putting green practices. When there was no rain, 0.177 inch (0.45 cm) of water was applied to the area daily in three irriga - tion intervals. Wear tolerance In order to assess wear tolerance, all treat- ments were trafficked with a modified Jacob- sen PGM 22 walk-behind reel mower (Jacob- sen Textron); the cutting unit was replaced by a roller with an aluminum cylinder 22 inches (56 cm) wide and 7.45 inches (19 cm) in di - ameter. The cylinder was drilled and tapped Thomas O. Green Eric C. Chestnut, M.S. John N. Rogers III, Ph.D. James R. Crum, Ph.D.

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