The Bermuda grass has greened up and is looking great and with grass coming out of dormancy comes one of the challenges of spring. While the plant is producing chlorophyll and has a green color, growth is still slow. The temperatures are still improving for the ultra-dwarf Bermuda grass greens, which really don’t hit their full growing stage until daytime temperatures start reaching the 80’s on a regular basis. The challenge with ultra-dwarf Bermuda now is getting the speeds where we would like them to be. The process requires gradually lowering the height of cut. Due to the slow growth and turf recovery during this time of year, we accomplish this process in small increments. After several mows at new height and when we see that scalping is no longer occurring, along with more normal clipping yields, we then will lower the cutting height again. By doing these small drops in height we prevent scalping damage that would look unsightly and would result in an area slow to heal. You will notice the speeds will slowly improve over the next several weeks. Our goal is to have them at consistent speed daily and we expect to have them at the height and speed we want to maintain in two more weeks.
Another application we continually perform to help insure that ball roll remains true and smooth is topdressing and vertical mowing, a method to remove thatch or dead plant material. Topdressing and vertical mowing not only help with thatch management but staying on a consistent routine of both programs provides a much better putting surface. It’s still too early and cool to vertical cut on a regular regime, but we have started topdressing. After topdressing, we broom and roll to help incorporate the sand into the canopy of the plant. This time of year, we are doing it once every two weeks but when we get into the summer months we hope to accomplish this once a week. In the warmer months, we will start incorporating more vertical mowing since the recovery is quicker. The applications of sand will be light and after the broom roll the surface is great. This method of light and frequent topdressing will be more beneficial to everyone and provide the least impact to play and equipment wear. Below are some pictures of our process of incorporating the sand into the canopy.
You will also be happy to know that unlike our morning maintenance days on the bent grass courses, these maintenance procedures will be accomplished in the afternoons. The ultra-dwarf Bermuda can withstand this work in afternoons and is a much cleaner operation allowing the course to be open in mornings for tee times or group shotguns.
We at Scotsdale GCM thank you for the support and hope everyone is enjoying the course.
Kyle Soller, Scotsdale Golf Maintenance Superintendent