Sunday, April 13, 2014

Welcome to Mr. Wachter's Neighborhood

On today's episode of Mr. Wachter's  Neighborhood members and guests,(boys and girls) we are going to emphasize a word SMOOTH and bury another word SPEED.   

With the fourth round and conclusion of the Masters Tournament, I thought it would helpful for all that I discuss a couple of words that at times are misunderstood(Smooth) in our great game and many times over used(Speed).  For a couple weeks each year, Augusta National puts on a show that most of us could only dream. The ball roll is off the charts, every blade of grass is perfectly trimmed and millions upon millions of pine needles are laid out under the tall Loblolly Pines and Azaleas. This is a site that hosts one of the four major tournaments year after year and have a formula for success that is impossible match.

My efforts going into the 6th year at Glen Echo will be geared towards continuing to create smooth rolling putting surfaces that will have extended ball roll out when the conditions allow us to do so without severely compromising the health of our turf.  At times, its a fine line to walk.

 We do many things to keep our greens as smooth as possible.
  • Regularly topdressing with sand which helps to fill voids in turf canopy and keeps crowns of plants protected.
  • Lightly brush greens to insure a good cut.
  • Rolling greens on a regular basis.
  • Keep mowers sharp.
  • Fertilize slow and steady to keep consistent growth with no flushes in growth except at aeration time to fill in holes.
  • Use growth regulators to keep the poa annua from out growing the bent grass.
  • Proper watering to keep surfaces drier which reduces ball marks and spike marks.
  • Decrease poa annua seed heads in spring using chemical treatment.
One of the things that I have to do as a turf manager is to curb my enthusiasm at times in regards to ball roll out.  Everyone including yours truly gets a little over excited hearing about faster ball roll out.  If ball roll out becomes excessive, hole locations become limited. A couple of locations I placed in yesterday's Opening Day could attest to that if you were on the wrong side of the hole. Extra ball roll leaves sometimes only 1/3 to 1/2 of a green that can accept a hole location which places added stress on this area of our already smaller than average sized greens.

New putting surfaces were grown in at Glen Echo in 1995.  The turf on our greens is only 19 years old but many of our greens themselves are 80-113 years of age.  No drainage and only a 4" cap of sand on top of the original playing surfaces.
The infrastructure alone makes it most difficult to achieve extended ball roll conditions for an long period of time.

Our efforts over the next seven months will be to give you the following;

A ball roll that will stay on track smoothly to the hole without deviation and adequate roll out if you strike it with the proper strength/touch and spot to insure it gets in the hole. 

Enjoy your day at Augusta and the rest of the golf season.

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