December 29, 2015
As our temperatures dip back into the 50’s, I want to take a few moments and explain what has been happening regarding the greens over the last few weeks. Since early September the speed of the greens have been consistently quick until the past few weeks. During the growing season for bermuda grasses, April through October in our part of the country, we generally maintain a low cut height on the greens at around .110 inches. An exception to this, is during recovery from aerification the heights are raised slightly to relieve stress off the turf and encourage recovery. The low mowing height coupled with other agronomic practices such as topdressing, verticutting, rolling and routine aerifications all contribute to how the greens putt, referring to both smoothness and speed. The other major contributing factor is weather, especially moisture.
Starting in mid-October the growth rate of the turf on the greens starts to slow down and its ability to recover from stresses is greatly reduced. This is due to shorter hours of sunlight and cooler air and soil temperatures, thus reducing the amount of time the plant has to produce energy from photosynthesis. Gradually we begin to raise greens mowing heights in mid-October until late November when we reach about .130 inches. Normally the green speeds remain consistent during this time of year because the decreasing growth rate balances out the increased mowing height. During the month of December our average high temperature is 65F and the average low is 45F. This year our average high in December has been 71F and the low 50F with stretches of 4 to 6 days in the high 70s/low 80s. During stretches like we had the week of Christmas when we were in the low 80s for 3 days in a row, the grass “wakes up” and begins an abnormal growth. The effect of the warm temperatures and seasonally adjusted mowing heights contributed to the greens speed slowing down. We chose not to lower the mow height to counter this effect because of the risk of the temperatures dropping back down to “normal” or even lower, the grass will stop growing and its ability to recover from stress is decreased. The projected temperatures this week shall slow the growth rate and the speeds will pick back up to the level that we are striving for. During the winter (off-season) months we are managing greens for playability while also for the healthiest turf possible going into the spring. If mow heights are raised and lower this time of year based on fluctuating temperatures the turf would use its stored energy faster than normal and create stress causing weaker turf going into the spring months.
As always, I am happy to discuss this or any questions you may have regarding the maintenance of the golf course, 281-244-3829 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Golf Course Superintendent