Monday, April 1, 2013

Mowing Frequency

Bentgrass management is one topic that I discuss on this blog frequently.  I do this because it is important to the short and long-term goals of our greens and grounds department.  As stated many times before, there are many facets that go into managing for bentgrass.  Mowing less frequently is one of the many programs that help us reach our goals as a greens and grounds department.

Mowing frequency on our fine turf areas is one practice that varies greatly with that of other courses.  Typically in the past we mowed 6-7 times a week on greens, 3-4 times on tees, and 3-4 times on fairway turf.  Also we rolled greens 2-4 times a week in addition to our mowing regimen.  In 2012, we utilized a different approach by mowing greens ONLY 4 times a week and rolling them 7 days a week.  We will continue to use this model in the future and adding this practice to tees, fairways and approaches.


Why this change? 
The main reason for this change has to do with enhancing bentgrass over Poa annua.  Mowing is a very injurious process to bentgrass, whereas, Poa thrives under situations where constant mowing is the norm.  By reducing the amount we mow we decrease the probability of bentgrass injury.  Having healthy bentgrass is critical to winning the battle over Poa annua.   

Another byproduct of mowing less and rolling more is being more sustainable.  Mowing requires more people and more man hours to complete.  Rolling requires just one person and can be done for 1/3 the cost when swapped for mowing.  Reduction in man hours and the amount of gas used means savings for the maintenance of the golf course.  

Does less mowing impact the speed of our putting surfaces?
No, last season we were able to maintain the speed of the greens between 10-12 on the stimpmeter consistently.  In 2012 during some weeks of the peak season we mowed less than 4 days a week because the green speed was over 11 and we did not want to make some greens unfair.  Rolling is a great tool that we use to preserve plant health, increase bentgrass populations and keep our greens consistent on a daily basis.

Decreased mowing frequency has many benefits as I have stated above and in 2013, we look to continue this practice on greens while adding it to fairways, tees, and approaches.  So far it is one of many changes that have greatly improved the quality of Ridgeway’s fine turf areas.  

We are anxiously waiting for the start of 2013 season.  With the golf season closing in, this blog will be updated more frequently to keep you informed on golf course conditions …. Stay tuned!