Sunday, September 19, 2010

What are the white lines?

Many people have been inquiring about the white lines that are present around many of the greens and approaches. These lines are marking where either the approach is being bumped out, or where the green is being enlarged. Why do this?? Overtime many of the mowing lines have been altered by daily maintenance practices. Essentially the greens and approaches have shrunk overtime. This is very common on older golf courses because the operator(s) who is mowing cheats a little bit so that he/she doesn't scalp the edge of the green or approach. Consistently doing this results in the shrinkage of greens and other fine turf areas.

There are several different ways to enlarge and restore lost areas that have shrunk. You can sod the areas to bring them back to there original location, which has it pluses and minuses. Sodding can be done very effectively, especially if the remaining turf species is not either Poa annua or Bentgrass. By sodding, the unwanted turf species are eliminated and a mixture of Bent/Poa is present. Sodding, however, is very labor intensive and usually good nursery stock is needed to expand these areas. Cost being an important factor and the limited amount of quality nursery sod, make this option less viable for us in this transition. The other solution to restore lost playing surfaces is to slowly lower the height of cut over the period of several weeks then match it to the existing height. This is very effective particularly in areas that are still predominantly Bentgrass or Poa annua. Many of the areas targeted for enlargement are still predominantly Bent/Poa mixture. This allows us to slowly lower the height and make a gradual transition over the period of a few months.

With both methods problems can arise! When sodding areas turf does not always take to the transplant. Its much like a human getting an organ transplant, sometimes your body rejects the newly transplanted organ. Turfgrasses are really no different and some areas of sod take better than others. Pitfalls also arise when "mowing down" areas; the turf make not like the lower height and may thin out or die in spots. By starting now we give the turf better conditions to help make this transition/transplant easier and less stressful on the plant. Also coming out of winter we can prepare these areas to make it through the coming summer. Continually topdressing and aerating these "mow downs" will also help make these areas blend in better overtime. Topdressing will smooth these areas and aerating will help remove any thatch/organic matter that may potentially make the transition fail.

By bringing back the original location of our greens, approaches, and fairways the golf course plays the way it was intended too. Another reason to move are greens back to there original size it to give us more options with hole locations. The greens at Ridgeway are fairly small averaging 4,200 square feet a green. Restoring more putting surface will allow for more flexibility with course set-up in the future and less wear on turfgrass plants.