The Circle of Decline in Golf Greens
The diagram below shows the process that many poorly maintained golf greens experience over a period of years if commonly accepted maintenance regimes are followed blindly.
Modern greenkeeping methods tend to ignore the complex eco system that exists in golf greens between the soil, turf and many other organisms such as michorizzal fungi and soil microbial life.
Instead the trend continues to be towards inert, high sand rootzones and an endless round of expensive symptoms management involving chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which many clubs are now suffering the consequences of.
The common result of this failure to address the needs of these turf/soil eco-systems properly is that greens spiral into what I have called the Circle of Decline.
Simply put this is the devastating course of events that go on largely un-noticed by many golf clubs until it is too late to effect a quick recovery.
A lack of attention to thatch build up results in a thick mat of un-decomposed dead grass shoots, roots and leaves. This mat gradually effects the turf’s ability to put down roots and take up water and nutrients. In advanced cases a root break will occur and Localised Dry Patch is a very common symptom of excessive thatch also.
In winter, thatch can hold water like a sponge and encourage fungal diseases such as fusarium patch to take hold. This sometimes results in over use of chemical fungicides which kill off the disease and many beneficial fungi into the bargain.
Grass plant roots can draw moisture and nutrients from only 1 to 3% of the soil medium around them and so rely heavily on beneficial fungi to make best use of the available soil nutrition. If this symbiotic relationship is broken, your turf begins to have difficulty obtaining the necessary nutrition from the soil.
This often results in over fertilisation, as much of what is applied is not made available to the plants due to the anaerobic conditions which now prevail. The natural release of plant nutrition usually provided by soil micro-organisms working on organic material is compromised so plants struggle to get all of the nutrition they need and thatch builds up quickly.
By now conditions are highly favourable to the weed annual meadow grass which is a very shallow rooting species. The finer fescue and bent grasses are compromised and in an effort to keep the meadow grass alive excessive irrigation is required.
This contributes even further to the excessive thatch layer as meadow grass is a prolific producer of thatch and we are back to the beginning of the cycle.
The continued insistence on adding tonnes of sand to greens year in year out, only makes this problem worse and it is important for clubs to start to realise the damage that their maintenance practices are causing.
As we’ve discussed here many times, seeing through your customers eyes is a very powerful way to spend some time if you want to be successful.
A new service has been launched which offers you the opportunity to do just that at http://www.golferinsight.com. read on for more details.
As a club owner or manager, have you ever found yourself saying “why am I the last person to know about this?” at which time it’s usually too late. Traditional forms of member communications can leave owners and managers vulnerable when it comes to evaluating their clubs performance, and making informed decisions. They often rely too much on front line staff to tell what’s really going on with regard to member interactions. Also, very few clubs have a mechanism in place that makes it easy and convenient for members to communicate directly with owners and management – so most don’t bother. The lack of effective member communications over time can spell trouble when it comes to member retention, loyalty, and bottom line profitability.
A simple, yet effective solution has been developed to help owners and managers improve member communications. It’s called Golfer Insight. What this service does is make it Read more
The latest edition of Australia’s Golf Industry Central Magazine is available to view online now.
In the latest edition editor Mike Orloff asks: Do we need more golf courses or are we actually better off with less in Australasia?
Maybe we are missing a trick here in the UK and can learn something from the Australian experience. In addition to the above the latest edition looks at:
- The Challenges of New Golf Development
- Alternatives to Price Discounting
- Golf’s Electronic 19th Fairway
- Planning Golf Courses in Australia
The latest edition of this excellent online, carbon neutral magazine is as always crammed full of thought provoking and refreshing content.
You can view the latest edition here.
Thanks to everyone who has bought the book so far, it’s been a very busy month for us here at hole18.
Thanks also for your kind feedback regarding the book and the Mastermind Network resources.
Due to the success of the Mastermind Network, we are about to embark on a new project which will see the group having its own dedicated site. This will not only allow us to expand the volume of resources we currently share as part of the Hole18 main site, but will also see the launch of some exciting new services to help members build more profitable golf businesses. Watch this space for more news in the next week or so.
Meantime if you are one of the golf business owners who still doesn’t have a copy of Golf Business Turnaround, the 7 Essential Steps to Success, it is still available, just click here.