It is commonly known that the quality of a golf course’s greens is one of the most influential factors in creating a golf experience that keeps golfers coming back for more. Every course strives to have top notch greens. So, how do you make that aspiration a reality?
The answer? Cultural Practices.
Cultural practices refer to the regimen used to keep the course, in this case the greens, healthy and in the best possible playing shape. This aspect is a large part of my golf course maintenance strategy. I credit the importance I place on cultural practices as a major contributing factor to the success I have experienced in revitalizing and maintaining golf courses.
For greens, some of the most important cultural practices are aeration, top dressing, precise mowing, verticutting, spray applications and pin rotation.
Aeration is the process of by which holes are put into the greens to allow for air to be able to get into the soil beneath the green. Aeration is needed when the soil beneath the surface of the green becomes compacted. When the soil is compacted, the grass roots struggle to breathe.
Top dressing is the application of sand after aeration to smooth the playing surface on the greens. It also increases firmness and dilutes thatch.
Mowing-mowing heights are extremely important in maintaining the health of the greens. Precise measurements must be used to ensure that the turf is kept healthy and the speeds on the greens are optimum (9 1/2 to 10 stimp). The heights we use are: winter 0.160 inches and summer 0.120 inches
Verticutting-this is vertical mowing, it removes thatch buildup so turf can breathe, better absorb nutrients, and soak in much-needed moisture. Thatch is a layer of dead stems and roots that forms between the grass and soil.
Spray applications-When dealing with greens it is important to apply products using a spray method, instead of granular, to maintain the playing integrity. Our regimen includes weekly application of bio-stimulants and monthly application of fungicides and insecticides to ensure the greens are kept healthy.
Pin rotation-The process of rotation the locations of the pins on the greens is important and more precise than it seems at first glance. This process has two main reasons: to keep the play challenging and ensure the health of the greens. Rotating the pins is a way to direct traffic on the greens and make sure that some areas are allowed to rest from foot traffic.
There are many cultural practices, they vary depending on time of year, geographic location and course types. The main thing to remember is that just like a health and fitness regimen for your body, golf courses require regular maintenance and upkeep also.