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Five steps to improved ball roll

I spoke about this topic at Oxford Golf and Country Club during the 2014 India Golf Expo. By implementing some or all of these things, the roll of the ball is sure to improve.

Figure1
Figure 1. Ensuring there is consistent grass cover across the entire green surface, as shown at Oxford Golf and CC, is the first step in producing good ball roll.

First, make sure the green has consistent grass cover. One needs to grow grass before worrying about improving the ball roll. A green with consistent grass cover (Figure 1) can be managed to produce a good ball roll, but a green with inconsistent grass cover (Figure 2) cannot be managed to produce the desired surface.

Figure2
Figure 2. Inconsistent bermudagrass on this green in Vietnam cannot be managed to produce a high quality putting surface.

For the basic requirements to get good grass cover, see this article.

Figure3
Figure 3. Soft surfaces, as on this green in Kolkata, will be scalped when mown short because the mower sinks into the turf.

Second, keep the green surface as firm as possible. When the surface is soft, there will be footprints that make the green bumpy, and mowers will sink into the green surface (Figure 3). The only way to get a smooth surface that can be mown at a low cutting height is to create a firm surface.

Figure4
Figure 4. High quality greens at Sentosa GC have consistent grass cover and a firm enough to support the mower with no scalping.

At Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore (Figure 4), the greens are managed with consistent grass cover and to be firm, so that the smooth ball roll can be achieved. Note that the soil moisture must be managed carefully. Greens should be kept as dry as possible. The firmness of putting greens tends to decrease as the soil moisture content increases (Figure 5).

Figure5
Figure 5. Measurements of green firmness with the Clegg Hammer show that the firmer greens (higher Clegg Hammer Reading) are associated with lower soil moisture.

Third, mow the grass as short as possible. This is only possible after one has achieved the consistent grass cover and the firm surface as outlined in steps one and two.

Figure6
Figure 6. Rolling improves the smoothness and increases the green speed.

Fourth, roll the greens. The use of a greens roller (Figure 6) will lead to smoother and faster greens.

Fifth, let the grass grow as slow as possible. This involves reducing nitrogen supply, and reducing the amount of water supplied to the grass. Slow-growing grass, when there is consistent grass cover, and a firm surface, mown short, and rolled, is what will give the best possible putting surface.


I wrote this as part of a series for the Indian Golf Industry Association (IGIA) newsletter. For more about turfgrass information specific to India, see the ATC site www.in.asianturfgrass.com.

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