Turf & Rec

Features Agronomy
What’s the big deal about seasonal golf?


February 19, 2016
By Mike Jiggens


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THE first-year turfgrass management students from the University of Guelph put on yet another bang-up education seminar late in 2015. I’ve been fortunate enough to be among those in attendance at this forum the past number of years, and these students do a fine job in assembling informed and informative speakers from within the turf industry.
This past event was no exception. Accounts of a couple of the speakers can be read in this issue.

I was particularly impressed by the thoughts of golf course architect Ian Andrew, who spoke up about an issue that we in the industry know about all too well: that golf courses cannot succumb to the Augusta National allure.

Golf courses need to be more “seasonal” in nature and adapt to the conditions of the time. In other words, let turf brown up a little during the heat of summer when rain events are further spread apart.

Too many golfers won’t accept anything less than a perfect shade of green on their course’s greens, tees and fairways. Many of them don’t seem to understand the expense associated with the inputs needed to get them and keep them that way. Nor do they seem to care about the environmental impact they might have. As long as everything is green, that’s all that seems to matter to a number of them.

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Unfortunately, they want their cake and be able to eat it, too. They want green yet still want everything to be firm and fast. This is especially true at most private clubs where the superintendent is left scratching his head, realizing he must comply.

There is hope, however, that this mindset could soon change. Andrew, who sits on a greens committee at a private club, said it is mainly the “sixty-something” members who desire the Augusta National look while the “forty-somethings” are starting to get and understand the need to be more aware about environmental impacts and avoidable expenses. They understand that fewer inputs won’t adversely affect playability and they can get their heads around areas of the golf course that are a little more brown and a little less green, knowing it’s for the betterment of the facility.

More and more younger golfers have learned that trees are more of a detriment to golf courses than an asset. They are beginning to see the light (no pun intended) that trees are blocking life-sustaining sunlight from reaching greens and understand that fewer inputs will be required if problem trees are removed.

For now, it is the older generation of golfer who wishes to cling dearly to these trees. With the thought process changing, however, we might finally strike that balance in the near future to produce a game centred around the realities of the times.

We’re preaching to the choir here, but think about it for a moment. Is the average golfer’s swing or chipping and putting ability going to be altered by a little brown? As long as greens roll the same as they always have, that’s all that should matter.