Certain cultural practices can help make your course healthier and more playable.
The average golfer probably doesn’t spend much time thinking about the grass on a golf course. And if, by chance, he or she does happen to think of it, I doubt thoughts of how best to grow it, care for it, and cut it are top of mind. As golf course superintendents, we think about ways to manage that grass on a daily basis. Here at Indian Summer Golf Club, I use a few common techniques to maintain the turf throughout the year. These practices help increase turf health, while making the course more playable year round.
Integrated Plant Management (IPM) is the science and art of growing healthy turf to ensure sound environmental health and to enhance the game. Best management practices, continuing education, research and technology are important elements of an integrated approach for golf course superintendents. A sound IPM strategy will grow healthy turf and in turn will combat turf pests and regular wear and tear on the golf course. IPM strategies also illustrate the practices the course can accomplish to prevent susceptibility to future problems.
Aerification is another practice at the top of the list of things that need to be completed at least twice a year. It’s kind of like going to the dentist every six months. Sure, you can skip a visit but you might get a cavity a few months later. That cavity could is the equivalent to a trouble green on your course. (Unfortunately you can’t just drill the green out and fill it like you can a tooth.)
Grooming is another practice I like to do consistently. This helps open up the canopy to make room for topdressing applications as well as removing any bumpy imperfections on the surface. The goal of this practice is much more about increasing playability by creating smooth,
Venting is another practice that I feel is rather important. Venting—also known as needle tine aerification—is the practice at which the soil surface is opened up slightly to allow gas exchange in the top of the soil profile. This practice could be closely related to flossing your teeth. If you keep up with it you can prevent major issues down the road.
The last practice that tops my list of favorites is topdressing. I mentioned that grooming helps get the sand incorporated into the turf canopy. Consistent topdressing reduces the production of thatch and it makes the greens truer. Many benefits follow topdressing, which is why we consistently apply sand to the greens.