Friday, July 14, 2017

The temporary greens on the front nine West were sown down this week with a mixture of Bentgrass and Poa Trivialis which is the variety of grass that is used to oversow Couchgrass greens during winter, a practice carried out by a few clubs in SE Queensland.

Planting 4W temp.

A start was made this week on some tree trimming around the courses.  Dead, diseased, dangerous and low branches have been trimmed and some branches that were interfering with lines of play were also removed.  There will be several more days of this work over the coming weeks.  The material is left stockpiled and is then picked up as soon as possible and relief can be taken if your ball lands in the piles.  A program of removing dead trees will also take place in the next month or so as will some more tree root pruning which was a great success last year.  

A comment was made on the Blog last week regarding the firmness of the new TifEagle greens.  As with all new greens they are firmer and this firmness will ease as the greens mature and a thatch layer builds up.  Care however needs to be taken to not allow too much thatch to build up as this is detrimental to the health of the turf and the resultant playing surface.  As an explanation thatch is basically the layer of living and dead plant matter that can exist between the soil surface and the leaf blades of the turf.  Too much thatch on a putting green is most undesirable and we employ a machine that has "de-thatching" heads fitted to prevent and reduce thatch build up.  It is probably the most common cultural practice carried out on Couchgrass putting greens.

There is not too much thatch on the new West greens at the moment which is because the greens were stolonised.  By comparison the River greens, which are now nearly 20 years old, were solid turfed and this introduced a one inch deep thatch layer from the day they were turfed and they have been much softer since due to this layer that is all but impossible to fully remove without actually taking the surface off.

As Bentgrass greens the West were heavily watered due to our climatic conditions and a lot of the surrounds of the greens were very soft due to the excessive (and necessary) irrigation levels.  As part of the greens replacement program several of the front approaches to the greens were excavated and replaced with a better draining material to allow for a firmer surface for more "bump and run" type shots to be played with the expectation that the greens would be much firmer.

17 West green is now 2.5 years old and is now quite a bit softer than it was in its first 12 months which is a result of the thatch building up as the green now holds significantly more moisture.  With putting greens there are three actual measurements that can be taken of the playing surface in addition to soil nutrient and leaf tissue testing.  Firstly green speed is measured using a device called a Stimpmeter.  The primary intention of the Stimpmeter was to help Superintendents to achieve a consistent speed across their greens which was a difficult thing to achieve when Edward Stimpson developed the instrument back in the 1930's.  The Stimpmeter wasn't really widely used until the 1970's when the USGA deemed that a fast putting green was 9 feet for normal member play!!  Unfortunately it has now become a chest beating exercise to see who has the fastest greens.

Another measurement that can be taken is surface firmness.  The instrument for this is used specifically at tournament courses in an attempt to have all the greens the same firmness.  It is a very time consuming process and one that is not practiced on a regular basis on golf courses due to the time taken.

The last measurement available is soil moisture content which has a direct influence on the putting surface firmness and trueness.  I have mentioned on the Blog before that we have such a sensor and it is used regularly.  During the first 12 months of 17 West green's life it was sitting at about 10 - 15% soil moisture content which is on the dry side of the ledger.  This was despite quite high irrigation levels, particularly through its first summer of 2015 / 16.  This past summer the green has had moisture content readings of between 25 and 35% quite consistently.  As a point of reference if a reading of 20% or less was taken on one of the Bentgrass greens at lunchtime in summer the green would not make it through the day.

So back to the question of greens firmness, yes the greens will become more receptive to properly executed golf shots.  I included the above discussion to demonstrate that there is not really many ways to quantify golf greens which makes it difficult to assess them.  A lot of the time it is left to the subjective view of the player.

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks Peter for your detailed response to my query - much appreciated. I hear what you say, but for the majority of amateur golfers this is going to be a long slow process. A few points come to mind -
    1. I have played quite a bit of links golf where bump and run is the norm. Our West course is not ideally set up for this.
    2. I personally find the newer collars quite dead leaving playing short and allowing for run on difficult.
    3. Your final comment relating to "properly executed golf shots" is an interesting one. Bearing in mind the age demographic of our club - 70% over 55 yoa I believe, and a high percentage of Grade B and C players, I do question if these greens are designed for the tiny percentage that can regularly put spin on a ball rather than the vast majority of members.
    I do bow to your infinitely superior knowledge and can only comment on the experience of me and my peers. Thanks again for all you do and I do keenly wait for the greens to become more receptive.

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