Friday, June 11, 2010

Crabgrass? No, Creeping Bentgrass.

By now, most NSCC members have had numerous opportunities to play the course, and have seen, first hand, the remarkable progress the fairways have made in their recovery from the damaged sustained over the winter. Even the fairways which were most severely damaged are only weeks away from mid-season form.

Without planning, hard work, and a warm spring, this rapid recovery would have been impossible. While the warm spring temperatures fostered a near perfect environment for seed germination and establishment, they also stimulated the undamaged turfgrass to grow more rapidly than usual. This scenario was very evident below the covers in the seeded areas. In most cases, less than 25% of the area below the covers contained viable turf. Since removal of the covers was difficult, normal maintenance practices such as mowing were not undertaken with normal regularity. The existing bentgrass grew to a length of inches rather than its normal mowing height of between 1/8" to 2/5". Since the natural growth habit of bentgrass is of a spreading nature, the grass returned to its natural state once regular mowing resumed and lower mowing heights were reintroduced. The visual effect of this plant strongly resembles what the layperson would consider crabgrass. The picture above illustrates this point. The long, stemmy plant is bentgrass which has gone natural, whereas the shorter turf is a combination of bentgrass and annual bluegrass in a more vertical mowing habit. This stemmy growth structure is a desirable trait for a fairway, tee, and green turf, as its "creeping" nature allows for it to rapidly fill in damage such as divots and ball marks.

Now that the fairway recovery is nearly complete and the turf is once again healthy, the golf course maintenance staff will once again resume its rigorous fairway maintenance schedule. Through repeated sweeping, verticutting, and mowing, the turf will return to a more vertical mowing habit, providing a tight lie and more visually appealing quality as you play.

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