Golf Course Management

JUN 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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06.18 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 61 Golfers around the world enjoy playing on smooth, healthy putting greens, but rarely, if ever, do golfers consider that the soil and drainage system underneath the greens have a substantial impact on the quality of the play - ing surfaces. e "USGA Recommendations for a Method of Putting Green Construction" (re - ferred to in this article as "the recommenda- tions") is a proven method to produce and maintain consistent, high-quality playing conditions and healthy turfgrass across a wide range of climates. A USGA green features a layered design, including a stable subgrade and drainage pipe overlaid by a 4-inch (10- cm) gravel layer and a 12-inch (30.4-cm) layer of sand-based root-zone mix. e materials used to build a USGA green are carefully se - lected to withstand golfer and maintenance traffic, drain rapidly and provide a healthy growing environment for putting green turf. In many cases, USGA agronomists assist with the process of material and turfgrass selection to ensure the best results. Since their original publication in 1960, the recommendations have been updated in 1973, 1989, 1993, 2004 and, most recently, in February. Each revision was geared to incor - porate advances in technology and more sus- tainable construction materials and methods in addition to scientific research and practical experience. Brief history of the USGA green e USGA first published its recommen- dations for green construction to help golf courses overcome the challenges of greater de - mand for play and higher golfer expectations. Before 1960, putting greens were constructed primarily with native soils or various mixtures of sand, soil and organic matter. Greens were highly sloped to encourage surface drainage, but internal drainage was often limited — if it was present at all. ese early greens were plagued with problems like compaction and poor drainage and suffered from inconsis - tent construction methods and materials. To overcome such challenges, in the early 1950s, Marvin Ferguson, Ph.D., then USGA's turf - grass research coordinator and mid-continent director, conducted scientific research on en - gineered soils that would prevent compaction and exhibit desirable drainage characteristics. Dr. Ferguson's research ultimately led to the first publication of the USGA method for put - ting green construction in 1960. Since that time, the original design of the USGA green has remained intact, but as materials change and new research reveals better technology and methods for putting green construction, the recommendations are updated. Is the USGA method right for you? Although the USGA method of putting green construction has been used success - fully throughout the world, other techniques can also produce excellent results. Some areas are rich in naturally occurring sandy soils — for example, in the Melbourne Sandbelt, the sand depth is more than 200 feet. In such cases, local materials can be used successfully without the need to import sand and gravel. Furthermore, the research suggests potential benefits to new construction concepts — such as varying the depth of the root-zone mix - ture or using the Airfield system. Although such methods are not currently included in the USGA recommendations, USGA agrono - mists will eagerly assist courses interested in alternative putting green construction. No matter which method is chosen, the science behind the USGA method, dating back to the 1950s, should be used to optimize the perfor - mance and customize the putting green root- zone characteristics for your site conditions. Why revise the USGA recommendations? e revision process is necessary to take advantage of new scientific research, modern construction techniques and technology, and The classic USGA recommendations for putting green construction prescribe a stable subgrade and drainage pipe cov- ered by a 4-inch layer of gravel, which is topped by a 12-inch layer of sand-based root-zone mix.

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