Cutting greens lower and lower and putting more stress on the turf isn’t the only way to achieve the fast speeds that seem to obsess today’s golfers, according to one UK agronomist.
Greenkeepers need to look for new techniques to sustainably manage faster surfaces more effectively, as well as focussing on the quality of ball roll and the trueness of the surface, according Henry Bechelet of the Sports Turf Research Institute.
At the recent Turf Science Live event, organised by Syngenta and Everris (formerly Scotts) at the Belfry, Bechelet demonstrated that greens treated with the growth regulator Primo Maxx, cut at 4mm and rolled with a turf iron could run faster and smoother than those cut at 3mm alone.
“Over recent years greenkeepers have been cutting tighter and tighter to get the speed up, but that can put real stress on the plant and make it more susceptible to all sorts of problems. When you intensify any part of the management it almost inevitably creates issues that require extra inputs to resolve,” Bechelet said.
Co-presenting the demonstration, Ed Carter of Everris added: “Primo Maxx can relieve pressure at almost every point of turf surface management. When it’s included in the programme it may be possible to ease back on other inputs and activities, which can be a real benefit for managing turf health.”
Bechelet also urged greenkeepers to look at other techniques that can take stress off the plant, including raising cutting height; an increase from 3mm to 4mm means 33 per cent more leaf area and the potential for plants to look after themselves more healthily. Rolling, for example, could alleviate the daily cutting regime for some clubs, with positive implications for cost and time saving.
“Producing a denser surface from healthier plants enables the ball to roll across the top rather than sinking in, which can in itself increase speed without detriment to health – and it’s more sustainable in the long term,” he added.