I have been wanting to address this issue for a long time since I receive many comments about green speeds from our customers as our spring greens aeration is behind us for the time being and much anticipated improved weather is ahead of us ensuring peak golfing conditions.
There have been past days when golfers would have asked me if I thought the green speed number posted outside the golf shop was accurate. Some has said the greens were faster than the number posted but many commented that the number is inaccurate and the greens were significantly slower that the posted number.
It has been and always will be a top priority for me and my staff to keep the greens as consistent as possible while maintaining a healthy playing surface. It is not uncommon for speeds to vary day to day based on our rolling program and external factors.
Contrary to popular believe, I do not have complete control over the speed of the greens on a daily basis. I have complied a list of contributing factors that will hopefully help you understand some of the things that impact the speed of the greens here at The Oaks.
Staff: We are only at peak staffing levels for 2 ½ months which includes 3-year-round staff, 3 seasonal, April- Oct, 3 college (Memorial Day until August 15) and 3 very part timers, less than 15 hrs./week which means there may not someone to roll greens on the days you play especially in Spring and Fall. We make every attempt to keep a consistent rolling schedule but it doesn’t always work as surprises can happen and do at any moment.
Rolling- This is the best way to instantly increase ball roll as it can vary on frequency depending on weather, rain/irrigation and our outing/league play schedule.
Weather: What happens to your yard after it rains? It grows and typically grows much faster than before it rained. Rainfall provides the turf with clean usable water that helps to flush elements from the soil that tie up nutrients, therefore the nutrients become readily available for the turf. Nutrients lead to heathier turf which can lead to additional growth.
Moisture Levels: The two main factors that can affect moisture levels are rainfall/irrigation and humidity. It’s no secret that firm/drier greens tend to be faster and soft/wet greens lead to slower speeds. We combat this as much as possible during the summer by hand watering only the areas that are the driest and using products to help move water down through the soil profile ensuring drier/firmer conditions.
Height of Cut (HOC)- as the golf season progresses through the spring into summer months, we lower or cut down heights of cut of the grass on greens to influence lateral growth for the bent grasses as the greens grow best at very low HOC, .105 of an inch, less than 1/8”.
Nutrition: The turf needs the sun and plant food to be healthy. Just as with humans, the healthier it is, the more active it tends to be. Healthy turf will grow more than unhealthy turf.
Grooming- Brushing, verticutting, venting and sand topdressing are all turf cultural practices that are implemented throughout the turf growing season, buffered around weekends, outings, weather and a schedule, each of these practices will all have a positive influence on ball roll and smoothness of the putting surfaces.
Growth: Turf is a living breathing entity, it’s the first thing you learn in turf school. It doesn’t just grow at night when most of us are sleeping, it grows during the day as well. This means that the greens will be slower in the afternoon than they are in the morning. If they didn’t grow we wouldn’t have to mow them every day.
Growth Regulators: These products work very well, but despite what you think, they do not completely stop growth, merely slow it down. Over the years, we have found a schedule that will provide very consistent results day to day, minimizing surges in growth, but like everything else, their performance is predicated on several factors listed above.
Additional Factors: The sun, wind, high/low humidity, hours of sunlight and what time the sun shines on a particular green and clouds can also affect putting green speeds depending on the circumstances.
Please consider which of these factors may be at play if the green speed is not to your liking on that particular day.