Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Root Development on Non-USGA Greens

In the past, I have railed against the USGA green construction method (USGA Greens and The Emperor's New Clothes) as being a mistake and founded on poor assumptions. The reason for this is simply that I have never believed that their construction method would grow better grass or provide better putting qualities than some other methods. Additionally, USGA greens will cost more to build and maintain, while possibly leading to more leaching of nutrients and pesticides into drainage-ways than some other construction methods.

The pictures below were sent to me from Sagebrush Golf & Sporting Club's Superintendent, Norley Calder. Sagebrush is a Whitman, Zokol, Suny design, built with a non-USGA green construction method that I developed to achieve a superior low maintenance, low input putting surface. Norley has these greens running at 11.5 feet on a daily basis with a single cut and no rolling while being irrigated once every 7-10 days during the hottest summer weather. Sagebrush's green roots may be one and a half feet deep and these non-USGA greens may be the best putting surfaces in all of Canada.

Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club Spring 2011

How deep do these roots go?

USGA greens typically have their deepest and densest roots in their first full year and by year two, the root depth is reduced to seven or eight inches maximum with much less mass. Conversely, greens built with sound agronomic principals get better with age and rooting gets better from year to year, not worse. Pictures don't lie and neither do roots!