November 2017 Newsletter

A NOTE FROM GROUNDS

AS THE GOLF SEASON WINDS DOWN... As the golf season winds down and we begin to make our transition towards preparing for the upcoming winter season, the first noticeable change involves a move off the grass and onto artificial mats at the practice tee. While this change may be conceived as premature, it remains a necessary step to allow adequate time for fall over-seeding and fertilization programs. This ensures a healthy and viable hitting surface once next year’s golf season kicks off in the spring. It goes without saying that most golfers would rather hit off of real grass than artificial mats, representing actual course conditions. “Artificial” may even be viewed as an intrusion on the natural experience of the game however, it is a practical reality that we are forced to face. At almost any type of golf facility, artificial turf has become not just to be an option, but an absolute necessity. The importance of practice to golfers has grown at a totally unanticipated rate over the past decade for two reasons. The inception of the “range plan” and concern for limited time to play full or partial rounds. As a result, even with the most efficient use of available areas, turf on practice tees simply can’t recover fast enough to keep up with demand. Unfortunately, there is no indication that this pressure is going to do anything but increase. Technology has made reasonable progress in the advancement of artificial materials and presentation. Individual mats now perform more similarly to natural turf and are designed to be rotated as needed, prolonging their life. Utilizing the artificial teeing ground a few times each week throughout the growing season is of great benefit to maximizing the amount of quality hitting spaces on the practice tee. While the Bermuda grass we have growing on our practice tee is extremely beneficial during the bulk of the stressful summer growing season, it can be slow to recover during the “shoulder” seasons of late spring and early fall. As we found out this season, sustained periods of cooler, wet and overcast days significantly limit its’ vigor even in the summer months. Our Perennial ryegrass over-seeding program is mainly geared toward providing protection to the Bermuda grass during the winter months, but is also of benefit during the transition between seasons to fill in weaker areas and add overall color. No matter the weather conditions, larger divot patterns will always take exponentially longer to recover as the remaining grass and newly added sand and seed mix need time to fill in. Every player can help in this regard by limiting the amount of surface they disturb with each use of the practice tee. Information on how to limit your disturbance on the practice tee can be found in the USGA article,“Practice Like a Pro”. Incorporating these techniques into your practice regime this fall and through next season will yield increased quality to the teeing surface for everyone. Dan Pierson Director of Grounds

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