Thursday, July 23, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions Concerning #3

Q. If you knew there was a shade problem, why didn't you plant the green entirely to annual bluegrass (poa annua)?

A. Annual bluegrass is considered a weed by most golf courses so there is no commercially available sod or seed. The best we could do was to use aerator cores from our other greens to end up with a mix of poa and bent. Creeping bentgrass is far and away the preferred turf for putting greens - Augusta National has bentgrass greens in the south where other grasses would be more adapted to their environment. They spend a lot of time and money in order to grow bentgrass because it is a superior putting surface. Poa annua is shallow rooted, disease prone, and much more susceptible to winterkill than is bentgrass. We should be trying to encourage bentgrass wherever and whenever we can. The two things it requires though are sunlight and good drainage.

Q. The sod from the putting green that was used to patch the areas on #4 and #12 is doing well, why wasn't #3 green sodded?

A. There are two issues here. One is that the sodded areas on #4 and #12 were relatively small and we could avoid putting the hole location in or near those areas. This reduced the wear and the patches eventually grew in although they certainly looked pretty bad on a few occasions. I am certain that if we would have sodded the entire greens on #4 and #12, they would have declined very similarly to #3. In fact #11 green and #12 green were rebuilt and sodded in the early 90's and the exact same scenario occured then as what is now happening on #3.

The second issue is that #3 green was built with a very specific root zone mix. To lay sod on top of this mix that is not compatible from a soil standpoint would create another set of problems. We were lucky that the putting green contained a compatible rootzone mix to #4 and #12 and we had this tested before proceeding.

Q. Why do you hate trees? It seems that David Oatis(our USGA Agronomist) and Cory would like to see Westmount a links course.

A. Nothing could be further from the truth. I do like trees but I also like grass. Since golf is a game that is played on grass, I believe we should try to make the grass as healthy as possible. If this means cutting down some trees then so be it - I am not emotionally attached to them. We have about 10,000+ trees on our 160 acre property so cutting down some of them to make a green healthier does not bother me. Tree removal for sunlight is nothing new at Westmount. Hugh Kirkpatrick and the green committees of the time removed many, many trees around greens 2, 5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 16, and 17. Those greens are better today because of the tree removals.

Finally, I will leave you with a quote from Donald Ross, "As beautiful as trees are and as fond as you and I are of them, we still must not lose sight of the fact that there is a limited place for them in golf. We must not allow our sentiments to crowd out the real intent of a golf course, that of providing fair playing conditions. If it in any way interferes with a properly played stroke, I think the tree is an unfair hazard and should not be allowed to stand."
-from the book "Golf has Never Failed Me"

The third green has healed enough that it will be reopened tomorrow. We will see how it handles the wear and tear and proceed cautiously.

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