Monday, April 19, 2010

The Rough is tough

As some have mentioned, the rough is brutal.  We've hit the perfect storm a couple of weeks early.  The warmer than normal temperatures over the last couple of weeks has created an explosive situation in our rough.  The grasses seed head production and growth of the turf has kicked into over drive from the 15-20 degree above normal days and at least 10 degree above average evenings.  Usually this type of rough does not take place until late April to early May.  The lack of frost has allowed the turf to continue to grow as we sleep.  Seed heads have make it even more difficult to get the club head through the golf ball.  We have been lucky that rainfall has been reduced which has allowed us to keep the mowers going each day.  I know some wonder why we keep the rough as long as we do. 
Our height of rough is kept at 3" during the season for a number of reasons. 
  • Maintenance standards recommended by the club 
  • Typical rough height of country club facilities in St. Louis
  • A healthy height for our cool season grasses to reduce the potential damage from pests,(insects, disease, weeds) water loss from trees during the summer, and cart traffic.
  • Longer leaf blade can generate more chlorophyll which is the building block of the plant leading to the development of more energy for bigger and deeper root systems and thickens the leaf blade which can help protect it further from pests. 
  • Reduces the competitiveness of bermuda grass until the heat of July and August. 
  • Protects the scoring of the golf course which has no fairway bunkering. 
PGA Professional Nash Haxel made the following comment regarding playing out of spring rough.  

"Learning how the ball will react from different types of lies is a real key to success in the spring time.

When the ball is lying down in that tall green rough that we are experiencing now, try the 7,8,9 irons and play the ball back in your stance to create a steeper attack angle."

The University of Missouri has a guide sheet for proper mowing practices which includes a discussion on proper height of healthy well maintained turfgrass.

A view of a ball in the rough.

The same view but a close up.  Yes that is 3-4" rough.
A section of rough you do not want your ball to fall into.  A ball swallowed by poa annua in its full seed head stage.

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