Wednesday, January 20, 2010
What exactly is topdressing? It is a practice that applies sand or a mixture of sand and organic matter to the surface of the putting green, and in recent years this has expanded to tees and fairways.
Why do I topdress? There are many answers to this questions and all are important to maintaining championship greens. Topdressing encourages new upright growth, keeps the grain in check, controls thatch, and protects the crowns of the plant from desiccation and wear.
Over the years I have topdressed greens many different ways and once again technology paves the way for more efficient, labor savings, and overall quality.
I wish that I had a picture of me topdressing the greens at Inverness Club in the 80's but believe it or not I todressed the greens using a shovel and wheel burrow. this was before any mechanical topdresser were available the process worked very well and with careful technique we were able to achieve pretty good results but it was very time consuming. We were at the forefront of golf maintenance while I was at Inverness Club. Over the course of a few years and many back breaking day with the shovel we started to use fertilizer spreaders
This allowed us a very uniform application of sand and the process allowed us to topdress the greens weekly to provided less disruption of play.
I used this process for the first 3 years here. I started to topdress the greens after the third mowing and this really smoothed the surface and started to fill in the voids and also helps dilute any excess of accumulation of organic matter (thatch) Using the fertilizer spreaders work very well but I needed to purchase very dry sand that was in a 50 pounds bag. As you might think it was expensive and very labor intensive. also, by just using this method we had to topdress the green weekly to keep up the the growth and keep the thatch under control. I had to find another way. We purchased the tycrop todresser 3 years ago and this is the current method we use to maintain the greens
The key to a good topdressing program is to apply enough sand to keep up with the growth of the turf. the tycrop allows us to apply varying amounts of sand at different times of the year to match the growth
Ultra light application can be made by changing the flow rate right on the machine. These light application are made throughout the summer months every other week. The turf is not growing very aggressively in the summer and not producing high levels of thatch. The sand is simply broomed in by hand and there is very little sand left on the surface.
Superintendent's may have a different program and finding the prefect fit for each golf course is the key to success. Ultimately, I want to provide a smooth grain-less putting green for our members here. And the "extra" benefits are reduce coring of the green because I try to match the growth of the turf through varying amounts of topdressing sand applied. This will keep the organic matter in check and a reduce need for coring cultivating of the greens will be realized.
As you can see there are many different technologies that I implement to provide championship conditions and I have to vary the program throughout the year to achieve the desired results. These advances in the have helped me reduce labor and also provide uniformity not achieved with the older techniques.
Believe it or not there are more pieces of equipment that I use to maintaining the putting greens and I will continue describing these in the upcoming weeks