I’ve talked to a number of members about green speeds this year. What increases green speeds and what we are doing to improve them? Weather plays a HUGE role in determining the speed. Grass species are also an important factor. Poa annua will be slower than bentgrass. We have a mix of both at Kemper Lakes (approximately 60% bentgrass and 40% poa annua). Our goal is to increase the bentgrass population. The challenge is to keep the putting surface dry. (I’ve had to water greens with our irrigation only once this season!)
Bentgrass- This grass likes hot, dry weather, has long roots, spreads by stolons, and can handle tough winters. Many golf courses have been switching over to 100% bentgrass because of its genetic characteristics.
Poa annua- This grass likes cool, moist weather, has short roots, bunch type growth habit, has poor winter tolerance, and is a prolific seeder. Due to the amount of poa annua on the greens, we work hard to keep it “happy.”
Pure bentgrass greens produce quick green speeds because of its growing characteristics. It has the ability to handle dry conditions. These greens can easily achieve stimpmeter readings from 10-13 or more on a daily basis.
We had a moss issue at Kemper Lakes last year (refer to previous blog for additional information). Most of the moss (~98%) has been eradicated One of the downsides of eradicating the moss (required additional fertilization) is that our greens have become too dense and healthy (which is normally a good thing).
We are implementing cultural practices to “thin” out the turf to increase green speeds. Once these turf management practices are established, we should be able to achieve green speeds around 10-11.5. This past week we've been between 10-11. Remember, green speeds slow later in the day. Expect slower greens during afternoon play.
Greens Rolling- We roll greens approximately 5 days a week (Wednesday through Sunday). This practice increases speeds by about a foot.
Amount of clippings mowed off of an entire green. We use growth regulators to monitor the amount of clipping yield (Amount is pretty remarkable considering how much rain we’ve received).
We topdressed the greens on Monday. We use a special sand based on USGA specs for this process. This helps firm the greens up.
Green condition prior to sand being dragged and watered.
One of my employees (Balta Vasquez) verticutting greens. This green cutting practice helps the topdressing sand get worked into the greens. It thins out the turf and prevents the bentgrass from getting “leggy.”
Close up view of the verticut lines.