Thursday, February 9, 2017

Winter Greens

In the winter our Southshore creeping bentgrass greens take on a very different look.  They become a mix of many different colors that can make the green look like a quilt.  In essence, each color is a different variety of bentgrass with it's own set of characteristics including winter hardiness, texture, growth rate, etc...When the weather warms up these differences become much less noticeable.  We do not mow greens when they are frozen, frost covered, saturated, or extremely dry from cold winter winds.  This, in addition to the fact that there are many different patches of bentgrass on a green, make putting quality much less than ideal in the winter.  Having said that, we've had very mild weather lately and have mowed greens multiple times in the past two weeks.  When the weather warms up for good and we are mowing daily, topdressing regularly, brushing, grooming, rolling, etc.. the greens will putt much better. Until then we are at the mercy of the weather.

Here is an excerpt from a USGA article by David Oatis...


Some golfers seem to like the uniform color and blemish-free appearance of a brand-new putting green, and these golfers may complain when the grasses begin to segregate. Segregation refers to the “sorting out” of individual clones or biotypes with which the grass cultivar was planted. So why does it happen? Creeping bentgrass seed is the product of sexual reproduction, so the individual seeds are not identical. New plantings initially have a very uniform appearance (assuming the seed is pure and there are no preexisting weed seeds in the soil) because the various different biotypes are uniformly dispersed. After planting, certain better-adapated and more aggressive biotypes gradually begin to crowd out weaker, less well adapted ones. As this occurs, different clones/ biotypes segregate into patches, gradually becoming visible to golfers. Segregation can be especially noticeable on putting greens, where the variety used is more prone to segregation or where multiple cultivars have been used. It also is especially noticeable in the early spring and fall when temperatures are cool. During cool temperatures, different biotypes of creeping bentgrass change color and grow at somewhat different rates, thereby enhancing the patchwork appearance. Generally speaking, the older the green, the more noticeable the segregation is. Segregation begins as soon as a green is planted, but it usually is not apparent until the green is at least five to seven years old.  Although some golfers dislike the patchwork appearance, others argue that segregation is desirable.  It is a natural attribute that almost all older greens have, and some claim that it makes putting easier because the different patches make great aiming points to align putts.  What is the downside?  During the spring and fall, when growth is initiating or slowing down, the growth rates of the different patches will be slightly different, and this can contribute to slight unevenness in the putting surfaces.  However, segregation cannot be prevented, and any resulting unevenness would be more than matched by the overall lack of growth.  In a nutshell, segregation is not worth worrying about.  

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