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Questions for Greenkeepers?

  • 20-10-2013 8:55am
    #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 1,419 Fescue


    As a member of the Greenkeeping profession, I have always felt a divide exists between the golfing community and us as turfgrass managers.

    I wonder would it be a useful resource to have a thread here where golfers can ask some questions and hopefully get some clarity from those of us working in the industry?

    I am sure there are a number of posters here from the greenkeeping profession who could answer some of your concerns. Likewise it would be a useful exercise for greenkeepers to get a golfers perspective on what we do and if we can do it better.

    Just a thought.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 135 ✭✭ Ally McIntosh


    I think that would be an excellent idea.

    Maybe you can explain to all the different grasses used on Irish courses and what each means to playability, appearance and maintenance labour and cost.

    It would also do well that people get a better understanding of seasonal conditioning so they might not be so judgmental based on one visit.

    Thank you,
    Ally

    P.S. good choice of user name.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,932 ✭✭✭ Kevinmarkham


    Fescue wrote: »
    As a member of the Greenkeeping profession, I have always felt a divide exists between the golfing community and us as turfgrass managers.

    I wonder would it be a useful resource to have a thread here where golfers can ask some questions and hopefully get some clarity from those of us working in the industry?

    I am sure there are a number of posters here from the greenkeeping profession who could answer some of your concerns. Likewise it would be a useful exercise for greenkeepers to get a golfers perspective on what we do and if we can do it better.

    Just a thought.

    As Ally says, an excellent idea...

    One of the complaints I hear all the time is about poleforking/hollow-tining. Perhaps it would be good to explain how many times a year this is done and why particular times are chosen. Sometimes you guys get lucky with the weather and sometimes you don't, and I don't think a lot of day-to-day golfers appreciate the importance of that.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,419 Fescue


    I think that would be an excellent idea.

    Maybe you can explain to all the different grasses used on Irish courses and what each means to playability, appearance and maintenance labour and cost.

    It would also do well that people get a better understanding of seasonal conditioning so they might not be so judgmental based on one visit.

    Thank you,
    Ally

    P.S. good choice of user name.

    You're a hard task master Ally. I'm sure you have plenty of insight you can add also.

    If we are talking about grasses then it is probably best to first talk about the grass that dominates the majority of our courses and in this instance the ones that dominate our putting surfaces.

    Poa annua/Annual Meadow Grass

    This grass is an opportunistic little bugger that will grow almost anywhere it finds an opening. The climate we have here in Ireland is ideal for Poa annuna.

    Well managed Poa can produce excellent putting surfaces. It can be mown at very low heights of cut which obviously produces fast putting surfaces during the playing season.

    The biggest cause of concern to playability is its ability to produce seed. The production of seed causes uneven playing surfaces and it can be very difficult control. Unlike most other grass species, Poa can produce seed even while being cut very low. It can also produce seed all year round.

    Its a very high maintenance grass that requires a lot of water, fertiliser and mechanical work to keep surfaces at their best. It produces a lot of thatch and this usually requires hollow tining once or twice a year. Perhaps scarification in extreme cases.

    The other problem with Poa annua is that as a turfgrass plant it susceptible to so many problems, especially during the winter months. In particular its prone to diseases such as fusarium, which in winter can cause scarring as there is less recovery from growth.

    I have not worked on a course with Poa as the dominant grass species so perhaps others may be able to shed a little more light on it than me.

    The Finer Grasses

    I am going to put a number of the bent grasses and fescue grasses into this category. Though not the creeping bentgrass varieties imported from America.

    The finer grasses such as fescue and browntop bent require less water, fertiliser, mechanical maintenance than Poa annua. They are less susceptible to disease, drought and wear.

    They produce better year round playing surfaces as a result and are a very desirable plant from a greenkeepers perspective. They can be mown at greater heights than poa without any loss of speed.

    Typically they thrive in less fertile environments such as links land. Hence why the game evolved in these coastal areas.

    I hope that gives a little insight into the types of grasses we find in Ireland.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,419 Fescue


    As Ally says, an excellent idea...

    One of the complaints I hear all the time is about poleforking/hollow-tining. Perhaps it would be good to explain how many times a year this is done and why particular times are chosen. Sometimes you guys get lucky with the weather and sometimes you don't, and I don't think a lot of day-to-day golfers appreciate the importance of that.

    Hollow tining is done for two reasons Kevin. The first is to relieve compaction. Compaction occurs on golf greens due to play and maintenance. The roots of grasses need both oxygen and water to keep the plant healthy. Over the course of the season the greens become more and more compacted resulting in a lack of available oxygen to the roots.

    Cool_Season_Growth.jpg

    If you look at the above picture you'll see that the grass plant begins to put down deeper roots in preparation for the winter in August. This is obviously the ideal time to increase the available oxygen in the soil to help in this process. This is why Hollow coring is often done at this time of year or slightly later. If you can August is the ideal time to hollow tine from a greenkeepers perspective as this gives ample time for the greens to recover from the process and recover quickly. I know this isn't always possible a and as a result the later you leave it the greater the risk of cold weather inhibiting recovery.

    Hollow tining in Spring (March) relieves the compaction created during the wetter winter months and stimulates the growth and recovery from disease and wear during this time.

    The addition of sand not only fills the hollows it also helps improve the profile of the rootzone by aiding drainage. It also provides a medium for the roots to grow in.

    The other reason hollow tining is done is to remove thatch. Thatch builds up from grass clippings and dead roots etc. This thatch can retain water resulting in spongy surfaces prone to disease.

    The other means of reducing thatch is to topdress it regularly during the playing season. This dilutes the thatch therefore reducing its build up. Topdressing is the best way of keeping greens firm and free draining and should be done regularly. It also keeps surfaces smooth and even.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 15,113 Mod ✭✭✭✭ slave1


    I played the K Club Smurfit course yesterday and one of the greens had two inch circles/squares punched holes scattered across one segment of the green, one of the lads I was playing with said it was to do with drainage.
    Any comments?

    PS Great thread idea and nice user ID...


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,419 Fescue


    slave1 wrote: »
    I played the K Club Smurfit course yesterday and one of the greens had two inch circles/squares punched holes scattered across one segment of the green, one of the lads I was playing with said it was to do with drainage.
    Any comments?

    PS Great thread idea and nice user ID...

    Your playing partner is most probably right. That section of the green might be holding water, noticeably during the wet weather this week and may have been vertidrained/solid tined using large diameter tines punched deep into the profile to help alleviate this.

    Again this is an instance where compaction most likely has reduced the ability of the rootzone to drain freely and caused water logging. If its not relieved you can get anaerobic conditions developing which can cause black layer, a condition which will ultimately destroy that section on the green.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,840 ✭✭✭ fred funk }{


    What are the three worst things us golfers do on the course that drives you mad?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,419 Fescue


    What are the three worst things us golfers do on the course that drives you mad?

    I don't think there is anything that drives me mad as such. There is perhaps one or two things golfers could be aware of that might be beneficial to both sides.

    Firstly, be a little bit more patient with greenkeepers performing maintenance, For instance, most golfers have no problem waiting for a minute or two for the group ahead to leave the green. Or waiting on the tee for the group ahead to play their second shot. The average round takes 4 hours, whats a few minutes.

    I've been on greens while balls have whizzed by me. I would not like to get hit by a golf ball and I doubt any golfer wants to see another human being covered in blood as a result of their impatience.

    In my opinion staff should always have the right of way and the discretion to let you play through. This prevents the chance of injury. Showing this kind of courtesy will most likely end up with you being let through quickly anyway.

    The other obvious one is having a better understanding of the maintenance procedures we carry out. All of these are done with the intention of improving your course and keeping it in the best condition possible for you. That means the course will not always be at its peak so you should just accept that as part of the process and enjoy it anyway.



  • Registered Users Posts: 6,840 ✭✭✭ fred funk }{


    Thanks for that.

    Another question if you don't mind.

    How successful is the process of golfers replacing divots, as in, how many divots adhere back into the ground.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,419 Fescue


    Thanks for that.

    Another question if you don't mind.

    How successful is the process of golfers replacing divots, as in, how many divots adhere back into the ground.

    Thats a very good question. Its one I don't have a definitive answer for but if you were to ask my opinion I would say the percentage is probably quite low. Less than half I would guess. I am open to correction on this though.

    Its probably just good etiquette to replace them.

    What would you describe as the main things that irritate you as a golfer about greenkeepers?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,015 ✭✭✭ bigtimecharlie


    Great post.

    I have been watching youtube video's relating to course maintenance.

    Any video's that you could recommend?


  • Registered Users Posts: 25,375 ✭✭✭✭ GreeBo


    Thanks for that.

    Another question if you don't mind.

    How successful is the process of golfers replacing divots, as in, how many divots adhere back into the ground.

    I think this is as much to do with not having another golfer play out of a hole as it is the divot growing back.

    We get a bag of sand/seed mix on the first to cover divots or fill in holes if the divot is no more. I think this is more successful than divots alone.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,419 Fescue


    Great post.

    I have been watching youtube video's relating to course maintenance.

    Any video's that you could recommend?

    http://www.usga.org/CourseCareLanding.aspx?id=21474846413

    Great video here on aeration. I think if you look through the site there might be some other good videos.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,840 ✭✭✭ fred funk }{


    Fescue wrote: »
    Thats a very good question. Its one I don't have a definitive answer for but if you were to ask my opinion I would say the percentage is probably quite low. Less than half I would guess. I am open to correction on this though.

    Its probably just good etiquette to replace them.

    What would you describe as the main things that irritate you as a golfer about greenkeepers?

    None really. I have a lot of respect for you guys. My experience with GK's has always been good and you guys will always give a quick wave when passing.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,419 Fescue


    None really. I have a lot of respect for you guys. My experience with GK's has always been good and you guys will always give a quick wave when passing.

    Thats good to hear. Most of us are golfers anyway and experience things from a golfers perspective regularly.

    I haven't encountered many golfers over the years who aren't polite, friendly and patient. As with most walks of life there are a small few who give the rest a bad name.

    I'm not trying to set myself up here as an authority either, if I can answer a few questions you guys have I will do. Hopefully there are some other greenkeepers on boards who can contribute to the discussion.

    The one thing the greenkeeping industry seeks is some recognition and respect for the work they do. It is a profession that has more and more highly qualified people with good groundings in the science of turfgrass management. In the last 30 years the standard of courses have sky rocketed and so too have expectation levels.
    Back in 1977, the year of Tom Watson’s first Masters victory, the U.S. Golf Association measured the greens at Augusta National and found them to average 7.9 on the prototype Stimpmeter then in use. Not only were the greens much slower back then but they also varied dramatically from one to the next, with the par-3 12th hole measuring only 6.3 and the sixth green, also a par 3, topping out at 9.5. Arguably, it took more skill back then to adjust to such different putting surfaces. This week, regardless of average speed, the variance across the entire golf course will be no more than plus/minus 3 inches.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,733 ✭✭✭ SnowDrifts


    GreeBo wrote: »
    I think this is as much to do with not having another golfer play out of a hole as it is the divot growing back.

    We get a bag of sand/seed mix on the first to cover divots or fill in holes if the divot is no more. I think this is more successful than divots alone.

    Think this is better practice. Did greenkeeping for a few years to fund college back in the day- and when cutting fairways there was always a lot of miss-replaced divots that would just get ripped up by the mower.


  • Registered Users Posts: 680 ✭✭✭ A.Partridge


    Great thread.

    Question - what is scarification and how does it help greens?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,523 ✭✭✭ dan_ep82


    There was a thread the other day on smoking and one thing that was brought up was throwing butts on the course, do you come across it often, or any other types of rubbish?

    Whats the biggest benefits of being a greenkeeper and a golfer?


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,840 ✭✭✭ fred funk }{


    What would be the typical cutting routine for the greens and fairways during the playing season?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,419 Fescue


    Great thread.

    Question - what is scarification and how does it help greens?

    Scarification is the use of a machine that cuts vertically into the playing surface and removes a lot of thatch that has built up over a period of time. Its obviously very aggressive but is the most effective way of removing large quantities of thatch from the profile.



    The removal of thatch improves the firmness and trueness of greens, helps prevent disease and generally improves the health of the sward.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,419 Fescue


    dan_ep82 wrote: »
    There was a thread the other day on smoking and one thing that was brought up was throwing butts on the course, do you come across it often, or any other types of rubbish?

    Whats the biggest benefits of being a greenkeeper and a golfer?

    Rubbish is an something we do come across regualarly but I wouldn't say its a widespread problem. Most golfers are quite responsible. Although those who shove rubbish into a bush should hold their head in shame!

    Benefits of being both a greenkeeper and a golfer? Hard to quantify really. I guess you do have a better insight. From both perspectives. Though I find after spending a week on the course, the appetite to play golf on your time off is less. Bit of a busmans holiday.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,419 Fescue


    What would be the typical cutting routine for the greens and fairways during the playing season?

    Typically greens are cut daily. This might not always be possible on weekends on courses with a tight budget. Greens are often rolled/ironed for competitions.


    The cutting of fairways depends on the type of grasses and the use of plant growth regulators. For example on a links course using PGR's fairways may be cut fortnightly!

    On a parkland setting they may be cut 3 times a week or perhaps as little as once a week if PGRs are used, perhaps twice.


  • Registered Users Posts: 993 John Divney


    Do you think players need a pitchmark replacing lesson?

    Way too many leave permanent bald spots, don't push the mound down carefully and keep the grass alive.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,419 Fescue


    Do you think players need a pitchmark replacing lesson?

    Way too many leave permanent bald spots, don't push the mound down carefully and keep the grass alive.

    pitch%20repair.jpg

    We all need to learn how to fix a pitch mark correctly and more importantly stick to the method every time.


  • Registered Users Posts: 748 ✭✭✭ denishurley


    On pitchmarks, how easy/hard is it to fix the ones that haven't been repaired immediately? I can never understand why so many people don't do it, it's a small price to pay for a good shot


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭ Anatom


    Excellent thread Fescue.

    In your opinion, if we take a typical parkland golf club which might be facing some financial difficulty, and therefore need to reduce its greenkeeping budget, where can they save the most money without sacrificing the quality of their product too much?

    Also (and this sounds like a press conference and I'm getting in a second question here before the moderator wrenches the microphone away and gives it to someone else!!), can you talk us through a typical greenkeeper's day, say at this time of year? Or is there any such thing as a "typical" day at all?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,645 ✭✭✭ Webbs


    Anatom wrote: »
    Excellent thread Fescue.

    can you talk us through a typical greenkeeper's day, say at this time of year? Or is there any such thing as a "typical" day at all?

    Agree is great to see someone on here to inform us as to where our preconceived ideas are unobtainable or just plain wrong.

    I would perhaps stretch the day to a typical week during the busy months (April to Sept) if possible?

    what would a typical weekly plan be (fairways cutting, green cutting etc)? Is it all about getting the course ready for the weekend comps etc.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 15,113 Mod ✭✭✭✭ slave1


    Fescue wrote: »
    pitch%20repair.jpg

    We all need to learn how to fix a pitch mark correctly and more importantly stick to the method every time.

    Demonstrating ignorance here but that is the way I fixed pitch marks until I read a massive sign in Druid's Glen which outlined lifting the surface up which is contrary to your advice?


  • Registered Users Posts: 156 ✭✭ josie19


    pitchmark.bmp


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  • Registered Users Posts: 25,375 ✭✭✭✭ GreeBo


    slave1 wrote: »
    Demonstrating ignorance here but that is the way I fixed pitch marks until I read a massive sign in Druid's Glen which outlined lifting the surface up which is contrary to your advice?

    lifting it up leaves a gap underneath and it will die, then you get those mud posts you see.

    a pitchmark is formed by the ball compressing the soil/grass together, in the direction the ball was flying (the ball rarely drops straight down)
    so to fix it you dig in and pull/push it back towards where you hit the ball from.

    It might not look immediately as good as one thats "lifted" up, but in a couple of days it will be fine whereas the lifted one will be dead.


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