Daily Greens Preparation

I was away last week, but since I’ve been back at the Club I’ve heard a lot of positive comments about the condition of the course for the Club Championship – especially given the weather conditions we’ve had this summer. Yesterday I got up early and spent some time with the turf crew before the course opened.

Our new Course Superintendent, Shawn, is getting well deserved accolades for the course conditions, especially the greens. But what many Members may not be aware of is the quality of the team Shawn has assembled. On my tour I was absolutely impressed by each member of the crew, their attitudes, and the quality of their work. Watching the course preparation for the day, with well trained staff running well maintained, specialized machinery was a pleasure. Even the guys raking the sand traps had smiles on their faces.

Shawn and I had quite discussion about the greens and how they’re prepared for play each day.Read More>>

One key change to greens management this year is that greens are being cut daily with a walk mower, as opposed to a triplex, riding mower. Like so:

Shawn behind a Walk Mower

Cam on a Triplex Mower

The walk behind mower has several advantages over the triplex for cutting greens. First, the single reel mower can follow the contours and subtleties of the green better than the three reel triplex mower. Second, the walk behind mower allows the turf team to change the direction of the cut each day, whereas the triplex mower being much wider, does not afford that flexibility. Third, the reel on the walk behind mower has 14 blades, compared to 11 on the triplex reels. This feature gives a cleaner, tighter cut.

Walk Behind Reel – 14 blades

Triplex Reel -11 Blades

The triplex mowers are still used in on the fairways and on the green aprons where they do a great job.

Our poa annual greens are cut daily to a height of .105 inches while our newer bent grass greens are cut to a height of .115 inches. The difference in height keeps the greens consistent in speed as the poa greens have a rougher texture that the bent grass.

The turf crew tries to limit overnight watering of greens. Our irrigation system blankets the entire green with water, but, because of slopes, dips, shape of the green and amount of direct sun, one part of the green often needs more water than another. So the crew hand waters greens whenever possible. The green’s soil is first checked with a moisture meter at various points. Then the green is watered by hand with the water going where it is needed. The first watering starts at 6:00 AM. Greens are checked again with a moisture meter at 1:00 PM and watered as required. In extreme heat and dry conditions the greens are checked and watered a third time at 5:00 PM.

A ton of TLC in the form of science, art and personal experience goes into watering greens. Cutting the grass to a tenth of an inch every day, with 200 pairs of feet tromping on the surface puts a lot of stress on the grass. The turf team also has to be careful as overwatering can lead to disease and soil compaction.

The final daily treatment of greens is rolling. You’ve probably seen the turf crew joyriding back and forth across the greens on the greens roller. It looks like it would fun for a while, but after the 3 hours it takes to roll the greens the shine might wear off.

Scott on a Greens Rollers

Our poa greens get rolled an average of 12 times a week, while the bent grass greens, with their smoother texture, only require rolling an average of 5 times per week. If it’s needed during the day, Shawn will have the crew do a spot roll in a 15 foot radius around the hole.

This daily and weekly program is supported by a comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan – which a subject for another day.

The Finished Product – A Work of Art


PS – Are you kidding me?

This is a photo my playing partner took on the 16th fairway later in the day after my tour with Shawn

Obviously the last person who had the sand bottle used to figured it was OK to use as an ashtray. Pretty inconsiderate and disappointing.

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