|TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE IN KEEPING THE GREEN (Part Three)
Golf Courses throughout Asia share common ground when it comes to maintaining greens - we are all fighting Mother Nature’s fury in the monsoon season, with the goal of keeping fine quality turf alive and playable. Turf decline starts to occur during the intensive rains and extremely low light levels. Then, and often for days on end, it is nearly impossible to grow healthy greens grass and still keep putting surfaces playable for our members and the golfing public.
Now that we have completed the greens renovation programme at Thai Country Club, our focus is on developing a long term maintenance programme that can be adapted to suit these extreme growing conditions and weather patterns in this region
It is of utmost importance to understand that the greens renovation programme and planting of new turf is not the end of the process, and that it is how the greens are managed and maintained after the renovation process that will guarantee success.
The soils and sands in Asia are usually deficient in important nutrients needed for suitable growth of greens turfgrass. The only way to tell exactly what your soils and sands have to offer is through extensive soil tests that are sent to reputable laboratories where accurate results can be determined. The vast prior experience in this region proves that most soils are deficient in Calcium. During seasonal rains, this nutrient usually washes through the soils rapidly requiring additional applications to supplement the plants’ needs in times of stress. This was, in fact, exactly what we encountered at Thai Country Club.
After conducting these tests and formulating fertility programmes, we reviewed and adjusted our mowing heights and notified the membership that greens speeds may be slower during the monsoon season as compared to the drier, cooler seasons. Normally the height of cut may need to be raised even on the ultradwarf Bermuda grasses. This raised height of cut will allow for more leaf tissue to absorb the sunlight in order for the plant to make its own food through the process of photosynthesis.
Since the raised mowing heights have reduced green speeds, a benchmark has been set and presented to the committee, management and members for their information on what the ideal green speed should be during different times of the year and in growing seasons. This type of educational communication not only benefits the health of the greens in the long term, but it also assists the membership and management to understand what it takes to protect their greens, and hence their investment, during rough weather.
I sincerely hope that these articles about our experience at Thai Country Club will be useful to you the reader, as our esteemed golfing public, and that some of the data can be applied or better understood at your facility. If so, we as Golf Course Superintendents and ‘keepers of the green’ can more easily ensure that the putting surfaces at your club will be ready and in prime condition for upcoming tournaments and during the cooler weather that forms the ideal golfing season in Asia.