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Great Grass comes from Great Care

Great Golf Grass needs Great Care

You need to know your greens intimately as most superintendents do. Experience is critical when growing grass. I recently had the privilege of attending a webinar with a USA superintendent, Rod Lingle, with 48 years turf experience – WOW he exudes passion for turf!

A few key pointers I like to follow:

Daily Dew Check – this is where you pick up any early signs of disease. Remember to get your dew off the leaf as quickly as possibly by mowing, whipping poles or dragging a hose pipe. I am not a fan of opening sprinklers to remove dew.

Mowers – walk with at least one mower each day to check the clipping volume – this helps you determine your PGR rate. We like to increase or decrease your Primo Maxx at 30ml/ha per week within your application rate window for your turf.

Measuring your clippings from one green is a great tool, but it doesn’t replace your gut.

Height of cut – this is always a contentious issue. Don’t sacrifice your plant health by pushing your HOC too low.

Rather do regular double cutting to gain your desired speed & ball roll – we typically mow until there are no clippings in the box.

Moisture check – a thorough moisture check of all greens first thing in the morning is really important. You can touch up any areas needing water with a hose pipe & be ready for the day ahead. Anyone allowed to irrigate should have at least a hand held moisture meter. I like to avoid the guessing game wherever possible.

Collars – you either love them or hate them. Remember if you have a collar – particularly in a tournament scenario it needs to be clearly visible to avoid ruling issues. I prefer no collar for a tour event, however they are a great tool for protecting your turf in the cooler months. We typically would raise the height by 0,25 mm weekly until you reach your desired height of 5-6mm & immediately start bringing them back down at 0,25 mm per week. This can be an ongoing process, however I prefer no collar on cool season turf during the heat of summer.

Slowly, slowly catch a monkey is the absolute key on so many elements of a green – particulary nutrition, verticutting & your PGR applications. A little more often does not gives you inconsistent spikes of growth & will give you a fantastic playing surface year round. Remember to base your nutrition programme on your soil tests (at least annually) as well as regular leaf sampling on your greens (at least every 3 months during the growing season.

Being a superintendent is a demanding, but incredibly fulfilling career so we are reliant on the support of our families & teams. Delegating is a must and an awesome way to see your team move up through the ranks. Choose carefully what you do delegate though, as you need the best agronomist making turf related decisions.

I personally prefer to delegate the admin side of the business & work closely with my team on the agronomics which is my passion after all. All the best for a fantastic season in grass & golf!

This article was written by Sue de Zwart of Talking Turf and appears in the Septemeber edition of South Africa Golf Trader.