“Why were the greens fast yesterday and slower today?”
Virtually every superintendent in the world hears this question on a weekly basis. The truth is there is no one answer to this question. Green speeds vary depending on many different factors such as nutrient input, insect and disease pressure, height of cut, rates of growth regulators applied and in my opinion, most importantly, moisture levels.
As Superintendents, we can pretty much control or keep in check most of these factors but when it comes to moisture we are at the mercy of Mother Nature.
Now don’t get me wrong, controlling moisture levels was not a daunting task during the past 4 months of no rain. However, as we come closer to our typical summertime rain pattern here in Southwest Florida, maintaining the desired amount of moisture in the soil profile of the greens becomes more and more of a challenge.
This is not a new concept. I’m sure most of you have heard television commentators talk about the golf course softening up and the greens slowing down from the rain the night before as the Pros are able to take aim at the pins and birdie becomes a more common score. As the Superintendent, it’s my primary goal to provide consistent green speeds on a daily basis. We don’t want to experience ups and downs throughout the week and managing moisture is a major part of that.
One of the most important tools that we use to achieve consistent green speeds are portable moisture meters. These meters measure the volumetric water content of the soil. In other words, they tell us how wet the soil is and provide us with a benchmark that lets us know when we need to add water to them.
By using these tools, we can pin point exact locations on the greens that require water and simply use our hose to provide the water rather than running the sprinklers on the entire green and ultimately affecting the green speed.
At Estero Country Club, hard work, the appropriate tools, and some good ol’ fashioned sunshine makes it a little easier to be green!
Golf Course Superintendent