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If I Were a Superintendent . . .

I would give this topdressing technique a try. Todd Pippin has written an article for the Green Section Record describing his five-day program of adjusting mowing heights and other tricks that can be used to allow topdressing sand to work its way into the canopy without excessive mower pickup.


The necessity of regular sand topdressing to dilute organic matter on golf course putting greens is unquestioned. The problem faced by those managing the turf, however, is that with low cutting heights on greens, the sand that is applied as topdressing sometimes gets picked up by the mowers on days succeeding the topdressing event.

Pippin's program (you really should study the article with full details) involves a grooming and mowing at 10 to 15% below the starting mowing height on the day of topdressing (for example, mow at 2.8 mm when normal height is 3.2 mm. The topdressing is followed by a heavy irrigation. On the day after topdressing, the mowers are set at a height 10 to 15% above the starting mowing height (for example, mow at 3.7 mm instead of the normal height of 3.2 mm). On days three, four, and five, the mowing height is gradually lowered. Pippin reports that this program allows topdressing sand to be applied with minimal disturbance to ball roll speed and almost no pick up of sand by the mowers. 

If I were a superintendent I would give this program a try. Sand topdressing is essential in maintaining adequate aeration porosity in the soil. If you have a chance, give this program a try and see how it works at your course.

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