The 2022 golf season will be my 16th season as a golf course superintendent and in total, my 28th season working on a golf course. In that time, my views on managing turf and how I go about doing so have changed a great deal.
If you are like me, when you were getting started in the golf course management business, you thought all the equipment was cool and you loved being able to operate the various things required to maintain golf course turf. Like myself, you also probably loved the occasionally performed processes that were also part of the job; i.e. cultural practices, or as I now like to call them, disruption. In my early days working on a golf course, I loved aerifying, topdressing and any kind of practice that was different to the normal day to day operation. In my pre-superintendent days, I may have even begged to perform some of these practices. Disruption was fun, satisfying and it seemed to make the surfaces better. To this day, there may not be anything as satisfying as rubbing a hand over dried topdressing, seeing it magically disperse into the canopy and thinking, “I’m making it better.” But is all this disruption really making it better?
In this first post, it is probably good to establish what I mean by disruption. Through these posts, I’m going to refer to disruption, as anything that might make a golfer disappointed in the quality of the surface, even if for a day. As you will read, the definition is far from black and white and definitely varies from person to person, course to course and locale to locale.
Verti-cutting, as shown above? Yes, that’s disruption. Small amounts of topdressing on a weekly or bi-weekly basis? At some places, maybe it’s not disruption. Having listened to feedback from my own membership; I’m going to put it in the disruption category. What about needle-tining? Probably not, but that also depends on how often. Is it every week? Then maybe its disruption. A couple times a summer? Probably not disruption. The photo below shows a needle-tine, light topdressing combo. This combo is one on which opinion will no doubt differ; disruption, or not. When defining disruption we, the golf course superintendents, don’t decide yes or no, the golfers do and it’s important to keep this in mind.
Post 2…Maybe they’re right!