MLSN article published in Spanish greenkeepers magazine
Potassium + Dogma Might Increase Turf Problems

An update: manilagrass tees and divot problems, or not

Hole 12 at Keya GC, par 3

Last year in March I wrote this post about perceived divot problems on manilagrass (Zoysia matrella) tees. To summarize, I've heard many objections (in theory) to the use of manilagrass on tees in Southeast Asia, the thought being that manilagrass grows slowly and divot recovery may be too slow for this grass to be suitable on tees.

On this topic, it is relevant to consider the approximately 1,800 golf courses in Japan with manilagrass tees. Those tees are played for almost half the year when the grass is dormant. The grass cannot recover from divots at all during that dormant period, yet it still produces an excellent tee surface. If this grass can be used to produce excellent tees when it grows for only half the year, one expects that manilagrass will do just fine on tees in Southeast Asia where it never goes dormant.

Tee at Keya GC Hole 12 in mid-March 2014 after more than 19,000 rounds on dormant manilagrass, photo courtesy of Andrew McDaniel

Manilagrass tees, even on a heavily used par 3, as shown above, still have a lot of grass after an autumn, winter, and spring of play on the dormant turf. Soon after the grass starts growing in April, the tee will be almost 100% grass, with nary a divot to be found.

Muang Kaew GC in Bangkok has about 72,000 rounds every year. During the peak season, 220 golfers play every day. The manilagrass tees never go dormant, nor do they suffer from severe divoting problems.

Manilagrass tee on Par 3 #17 at Muang Kaew GC in Bangkok

There are still divots, of course, but for a course with more than 70,000 rounds a year, to have this type of condition on the most heavily-divotted section of a par 3 tee, tells me that manilagrass grows plenty fast enough to recover from divot damage. Plus, manilagrass is more resistant to divot injury than bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.), and divot recovery times can be just as fast as bermudagrass.

The most-heavily divotted area of the par 3 17th at Muang Kaew GC in Bangkok

 With any grass on tees, especially on busy golf courses, it is important to control the traffic. On seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) tees at Siam CC near Pattaya, the divots are concentrated on one section of the tee to allow other areas to recover. By starting at the left front of the tee and moving the tee markers back about 50 cm every day, the golfers can always tee off from divot-free grass, and an entire tee of this size can be apportioned into about 42 sections, giving 6 weeks recovery time before returning to a previously-used location. 

Divots on a par 3 tee of seashore paspalum at Siam CC near Pattaya; careful movement of the tee markers gives about 6 weeks recovery time before the same area of the tee will be used again


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