Club Golf: Greenkeepers’ Question Time

Our panel respond to queries on when growth starts, speed of greens and gathering moss.

There is a lot of moss in our greens at the moment, why is that – it’s not been seen before? What should be done to avoid this accumulating next winter and to remove for summer play?
Geoff, Crewe

Bear: It has been the wettest year on record, an increase in moss invasion, amongst other issues, is to be expected. Regular aeration and a scarifying programme will help to reduce excessive moss attack and minimise thatch build up.

How do we get quick greens?
James, Stirling

Tina: Regular verticuting, brooming and brushing. Top dressing and rolling all help to maintain green speed. Keeping the height of cut low and use of a plant growth regulator to maintain a consistent speed throughout the day.

Kim: Very difficult question to answer due to all the variables that would affect green speed. Things to consider are moisture and that organic levels has moisture content in the top 20mm which has a big bearing on green speed.

Can you cut at a lower height of cut? Is the mower cutting at the height you think it is? The bench setting might be 4.5mm but is the mower leaving the green cut at 4.5mm or is it nearer 5mm? This need to be checked. Limit the amount of fertiliser that is being used. We find little and often with liquid feed works best to help consistent green speed. Assuming height of cut is correct and brushing, grooming and verticutting has been done then the next step is to use turf irons or rollers. Avoid cutting too low and stressing the turf out to get quick greens – this will only create problems at a future date.

What should greenkeepers be doing to prepare the course for spring – anything unusual that goes on behind the scenes that members wouldn’t be aware of?
Denise, Minehead

Tina: Most greenkeepers will be hollow-tining and top dressing greens as well as applying first fertiliser applications. All course furniture will be prepared and maintained at this time too.

Rob: Most of the preparatory work carried out in the spring is visual. Hollow coring, verti-draining, topdressing etc, bringing back into play areas which have been GUR, marking up any areas of GUR and making sure any water courses are marked properly to fall in line with the rules of golf. In addition, posts and ropes need to be collected, ruts and other areas of damage repaired. Behind the scenes, we spend a lot of time maintaining and servicing the fleet of machinery so that when the growing season arrives all the machinery is ready to be used.
The most important thing with a green is not how quick it is but that it is true. If the temperature suddenly increases does growth start occurring immediately or does it take a while to get going?
Gavin, Sheffield

Bear: This really does depend on how long the temperature rise lasts for. It takes time for the soil temperatures to increase after a cold spell. The plant will grow when the temperature is at a consistant level and conditions are right. Do not expect the turf to be instantly green when the sun shines for a day.

Kim: With temperature, do you mean air temperature or soil temperature? You can have good day time temperature but if the night time temperature drops then the soil temperature struggles to rise. Without soil temperature getting to 7C+, you do not get a lot of growth. Good growth starts when soil temperatures are 12˚C and all the products work well. Seed germinates very well including bent grass seed. This is a good question because golfers sit in the office or car and think ‘it’s been a nice day the grass will start to grow’, but it is soil temperature that is the key to growth.

What is a decent reading on the stimp in both summer and winter in the UK and what does ‘best in class’ look like?

Kim: Depends on the course and the type of golf club i.e. members or championship course and whether the greens are big, small, flat or with a lot of contours. If the greens are contoured for the average golfer then 9.5 to 10 feet is fast so you have to assess the  course and the ability of the golfers to be able to putt on greens that get quick. The most important thing with a green is not how quick it is but that it is true.

About our experts

Kim Blake
Club: Fulford Heath, Birmingham, Worcs

Richard ‘The Bear’ Garrard
Club: Merlin, Cornwall

Tina Young
Club: The Palace H&GC, Torquay, Devon

Rob Davy
Club: Walmersley, Bury, Lancashire

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