M.S. Exit Seminar
Title: The Effects of Cultural Practices on the Surface Firmness of Putting Greens
Presenter: Arly Drake
Advisor: Dr. David Gardner
Abstract: Putting green firmness is a key playability factor in the game of golf. Greens that are too soft reward poorly struck approach shots, while a green that is too hard may result in unanticipated ball movement. The intent of this research is to develop guidelines for golf course managers that will enable them to provide high quality putting surfaces in a resource-efficient manner. Previous research has found that a greater soil moisture content results in a softer surface on sand-based root zones. The level of compaction and organic matter content may also influence surface firmness. The study was designed to investigate how soil moisture content, organic matter content and compaction interact to influence putting green firmness. The study is a 3x2x3 factorial, setup as a split block over multiple locations/putting greens with different levels of irrigation applied at the different locations. Each block had three levels of compaction and half of each block was dethatched. All three putting green root zones were brought to relatively high soil volumetric water content (VWC), allowed to dry down to a relatively low soil VWC, and then the different irrigation application rates were initiated. Soil moisture content, surface firmness, turfgrass quality and green speed were measured throughout the trial. High soil VWC resulted in softer surfaces as expected. Plots that were rolled daily typically had firmer surfaces than other compaction level plots. Dethatching did not significantly lower organic matter content or increase water infiltration rates as compared to plots that were not dethatched. There were no significant interactions between factors for any measured variables.