Thursday, April 21, 2011

Advantage...Bentgrass

For those that have been following the changes we made to our maintenance philosophy 3 years ago on our greens,tees and fairways you're aware of adjustments we've made to our cultural and nutritional practices.  Practices that we know, over time, have the ability to favor creeping bentgrass and give it the edge over poa annua. As we start the 2011 season I thought now would be a good time to show some photos to compare where we were to where we are now.  I have a lot of photos so it's difficult to show them all for comparison purposes, but I have selected a few of interest.

No one said what we are trying to accomplish would be easy and we've never said it would happen over night.  A transition takes time, patience and no doubt we have had our share of bumps along the way.  But what we have seen over the past 3 years is a slow and steady change in the overall dynamics of our greens and fairways.  Fairways, as most would expect, have transitioned the quickest.  Going from a stand of 30-50% creeping bentgrass to a dominant stand of creeping bentgrass estimated to be 80-90%.  The most highly populated poa areas are where we have the most cart and mower traffic, where compaction is the greatest, next to fairway bunkers and where the transition between the fairway and approach meet.  Areas we will be focusing a great deal of attention on this year to provide more favorable conditions for creeping bentgrass.

As seen in the this photo of 7 fairway in the spring of 2008 compared to the same fairway in the spring of 2011, the swing in the composition of turf varieties is quite obvious.  My one wish is that I would have taken more photographs of our fairways to show the transition.  But for those on our staff who have worked here a long time, they notice it and comment on the change quite frequently. (click on the photos to enlarge them to have a better view of the various grass types, the light colored turf is poa annua and the darker grass is creeping bentgrass)


Two more photos showing the 14th fairway.  The first from 2008 and the second from 2011.

Now greens on the other hand have not been the beneficiary of such an easy transition and that's to be expected. The dynamics of our greens is all over the board.  Typically we group them into 3 categories, we have 6 greens with over 60% creeping bentgrass, 6 greens with around 25-60% bent populations and then we have 6 greens well under 25% bent. These are clearly our poa dominated greens.  I would like to share some photos of one green in particular that has made a huge swing from poa annua to bentgrass in the past 3 years.

In 2008 our 2nd green was 70-80% poa annua.  In only the second year 2009 you can seen the bent emerging. 3 years later in 2011 its closer to 60% bentgrass.

All three photos show the green before a cut in the spring following the removal of covers.  In the 2008 photo there is virtually no creeping bentgrass visible as we never provided an advantage for the bent.  2009 you can see a change taking place. Now in 2011 following the removal of the covers...Advantage Bentgrass.  Interestingly there is a diverse population of multiple varieties of creeping bentgrass, as would be expected on a 113 year old course.

One question I'm often asked is do you overseed?  No we do not.  The bentgrass that's creeping and filling in is grass that's always been there. We're just providing it an environment where it can thrive.

If you study the photo of our 12th green from the summer of 2009 to the spring of 2011 you can see how the bentgrass has not only been spreading, but also colonizing into larger groups.  As we continue to provide adventitious conditions for the bentgrass it continues to thrive and compete against the poa.
Pretty cool stuff

4 comments:

  1. Hi Jeff, just wanted to say this is a great post and it must be nice to see the work paying off. I can imagine the stress and burden wondering if it was the right thing to do, easy to shift gears mid way when its hard and let it go back to what it was.
    Haven't been following for all that long and just starting to blog myself actually, but curious what philosophy change you made? Results are great.
    Nice work, keep it up!

    All the best, from a follower in Russia
    Jason Chennault

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  2. Jason,
    Send me your email and I will get more detailed.

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  3. Glad to see all your hard work is paying off.

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  4. Thanks Jeff,

    Jasoncitm@gmail.com

    thanks again.

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