• Mowing frequency
• Height of cut
• Green size
• Air flow
• Environmental stress
• Growth regulators
• Annual bluegrass seedheads
• Labor force size
• Labor force training
• Soil type
• Turf species
• Thatch layer thickness
• Golf event calendar / schedule
• Maintenance procedures like: aerifying, topdressing, verti-cutting, venting, hydrojecting, etc.
"The envelope please..."
Name at least ten things that effect green speed and consistency. OK, that's twenty!
The list of factors that affect playability of greens goes on and on. Some factors like soil type, turf species, drainage and green size, etc., are fairly constant at most courses. Almost every other component to the equation is a fluctuating variable. The superintendent has a wide range of control of these factors varying from total control to no control. This is not simple math. One and one never equals two. We are talking about the un-natural manipulation of a living organism, under a wide range of uncontrollable environmental conditions in a micro-climate we have unnaturally forced upon it. We do everything we can to keep speed and consistency our priority regardless of the uncontrollable factors.
Let's look at the past week at my course, The Farms Country Club.
• Growth regulators (used for seedhead suppression recently) wearing off, causing grass to grow faster
• Even with an estimated 85% control, Annual Bluegrass seedheads still a factor in surface smoothness
• Unable to apply more growth regulators because of rain every day for last five days
• Over five inches of rain in past week made greens soft and un-mowable for three days straight (mechanical damage would have been unacceptable)
• Unable to roll due to heavy rain
• Fertilizer used to help greens heal from early spring aerification is forcing turf to grow faster
These are just my circumstances this week. Every course is different. Courses that just aerified might be facing additional issues like trying to keep mower blades sharp enough to get a quality cut. Maybe your course is trying to re-establish turf from winter damage. Maybe your course gets 100,000 rounds a year, the greens are the size of postage stamps and are located in spots that get limited sun or air flow. I could go on and on.
The point is that your superintendent is doing everything he / she can to consistently manipulate your greens, in an unnatural way, with many uncontrollable, inconsistent and unpredictable variables.
Regardless of budget size, equipment inventory or their labor staff's experience, every superintendent has to have the ability to consistently adapt and overcome the consistently changing environmental circumstances in which he / she is presented. To my chagrin, Mother Nature still holds most of the cards.