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Greens reconstruction, Sub Air systems, USGA vs. California style etc.

greens bentgrass sub-air architecture

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#1 doubledub

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Posted 04 October 2017 - 08:48 AM

Our course is headed for a major remodel and likely major assessment at some point in the next 10 years. The more I talk to current/former greens committee guys I realize that they don't know near enough (or anything) regarding greens construction, architecture, design, etc. I'm trying to educate myself because its something I find interesting and I may be on greens committee in the future.

In West Texas we are in a weird zone where the weather doesn't really make any grass decision easy. We currently have bent greens and bermuda fairways. The 007 bent greens generally do really well but there are 2-3 greens that are just constantly struggling in the summer probably due to lack of airflow and overwatering (my opinion). From my limited knowledge on the subject it seems like adding some type of sub air system to those problem greens would drastically improve the situation.

Questions:

What type of green construction can you add a sub air system to? I have heard only USGA spec but have no idea if its ever been implemented on a push up or California style construction.

How much do sub air systems add to the cost of green construction? Our greens run about 4k-6k SF so just assume 5k average.  

When regrassing fairways, what are the differences (install, water, maintenance) between bermuda vs. zoysia? A course to the north of us did new zoysia fairways so I think they can handle the climate (its gets colder in winter there).

Any other input would be greatly appreciated, sorry for the lengthy post.


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#2 Shilgy

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Posted 04 October 2017 - 06:28 PM

I'm like you and am interested in the topic, but.....I don't feel the greens committee needs to be educated enough to make the decisions you are discussing. Unless they are a greens superintendent on the side they would know just enough to be dangerous to decision making.
  Find an architect you trust and learn from him what are the best options in your area. Then the only decision the committee makes is if they can afford the best option given.  I've seen too many crap jobs done that were headed by well meaning amateurs.
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#3 BNGL

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Posted 04 October 2017 - 07:33 PM

You can add subair, or turf breeze (the fans) to any green. Its just that you have to make some modifications to California style if i remember correctly.
I have never worked with California spec, only USGA spec and that is all I will ever use if I am asked. I do think that either method works well, California maybe a little harder and more difficult to grow in and recover, although it would be a little cheaper. Ideally you can mix and match, pick the best for each environment. Each green is in effect its own microclimate, every single green drains differently, has different slopes, sits in shade, or in more sun etc. You want to fit the best solution to the problem.

Also you do not need to do subair to every green, just the trouble ones. I think (I don't know have not bought them in a while) but you can get a portable subair system for 10k. If it was me, I would build USGA spec all the way, every green. Yes it is expensive, but if done right you are going to exceptional putting surfaces and research backs it up. Dr. McCoy at Ohio State University has done research indicating that gravel layers in the USGA spec do increase drainage and promote a more equal distribution of water. I would then rig my greens with drainage and slice valves, then when they needed it, wheel the portable subair system out and put it to work.

As far as regressing fairways, you said you are in Texas? Go bermuda. its easy, it grows everywhere with proper practices it can play extremely well. Zoysia is prettier, and Id prefer it. But from a practicality standpoint, it is SOOOOOO SLOW to establish (it takes forever to grow in) so you would need to sod if you wanted to play the course anytime soon. Bermuda you can just sprig, as long as you keep it wet the sprigs will take in no time. A good cultivar to check out would be something called celebration bermuda grass. Now if your course is extremely tree lined and subject to cold temperatures then it may be worth it to bite the bullet and place zoysia. Zoysia is more tolerant to cold than bermuda and is slow growing so it does well in shaded areas.

That is a lot to process, I hope I did not ramble on too much. Feel free to message me anytime.

Edited by BNGL, 04 October 2017 - 07:47 PM.


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#4 doubledub

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 08:41 AM

Thanks for the replies. Shilgy, I agree that greens committees do not need to be making these type decisions but I like to be as educated as possible in order to ask the right questions. I'm in construction/real estate industry and if you don't educate yourself you will get taken advantage of. I would hope the golf industry would be better but probably better to assume it is not.

BNGL, I think adding sub air to just a few of the greens would be the best solution as 12-13 of them are in great shape with only 3 real problem greens (even then only in small parts). Our course has a ton of large trees with lots of shade area problems which is another topic to itself (I want to go on a late night chainsaw mission sometimes). Right now we have a good amount of fescue in the shady areas. Would we be able to replace fescue rough with Zoysia or is there a limit to how much shade Zoysia can tolerate? Temperatures can go down to 0 F and stay below freezing for 4-5 days if a front comes through. I don't think I've ever seen a extremely large bermuda kill but definitely have seen exposed spots have to be replanted. This would all be done during a full year long shut down so I'd imagine we could figure out a way to make the zoysia work.

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#5 Roadking2003

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 10:10 AM

I love zoysia fairways.  It's like hitting the ball off a tee.... all the time.  I played Atlanta National several years ago and they have beautiful zoysia fairways.

Is you climate colder than Atlanta?


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#6 jloveless

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 10:51 AM

Atlanta National had to replace the zoysia on half the course this year. Don't know what happened but was in bad shape this spring. I am volunteering at US Mid-AM this weekend so will see how they have recovered.
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#7 BNGL

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 05:07 PM

Yeah there is an ideal limit, but I mean its not as if there will not be any light at all getting on the leaf blade...unless it was totally an absolutely pitch black you could make almost anything grow there, it would just be a balance of how much work would the staff be willing to put in, and how much wear does the turf receive.

Fescue grass is just a "filler" its easy to maintain, do not really need to do much to it in the way of fert and chem. Maybe run a bush hog over it once or twice in the summer. So you would have to anticipate an increase in fert/chem budget to maintain the transitioned areas of turf, as well as possible new irrigation to properly hydrate the newly turfed areas.

As far as the greens go, if you are already doing a major renovation, would it be possible to eliminate those areas on the greens? Since they are already located in a small area as you mentioned? Turf can be weird sometimes, grows well in one spot but necessarily another. Every course has one green, or a couple spots that are trouble and they seem to have a schedule, same trouble pops up at the same time, no matter what steps are taken before.

Also as far as being on the board is concerned, I have had great relationships with a majority of board members and most supers do, but there is one at every club that is never satisfied. My advice, if you make the board and have concerns, just bring it up immediately with your director of agronomy and suggest at his convenience to ride the course. The only time I have ever gotten frustrated is when the board asks for my presence at their convenience...I get that they play a role in extending my contract, but I got too much stuff to do as do many of my peers. Rest assured though, that if you see the problem, we definitely are aware of it (Not to degrade any board members on here, but not once has one ever mentioned an idea that would be feasible due to time, budget, or labor). A good super will preemptively inform you of problems, and what is being done to address it.

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#8 caniac6

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 06:11 PM

I would think the nature of a push up green, using native soil, the drainage would have to be provided with slope. The USGA spec green has provisions for drainage, and I would think the sub air would be much more effective on the USGA green.

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#9 mallrat

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 06:23 PM

Curious what is wrong with the greens and why you think the issue might be overwatering? What makes you believe some form of a sub air system is best for your course or even necessary. In our neck of the woods (PNW) I can't think of one course that runs any form of those systems and there are some amazing green complexes around here.

If you are constantly having issues with a certain area I would find out from the Super what is causing it. It may be something as simple as removing a tree. As for grasses, are there any established courses near you that you can use for reference? One last thing I would add is to remember that healthy turf with a higher cut will always roll better than unhealthy turf cut lower and there are ways to speed up grass that is slightly longer.

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#10 BNGL

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 07:58 PM

A really good book for you to read would be Michael Hurzdan "Golf Greens" it details golf course greens contraction and is quite informative and breaks things down while not overwhelming you with too much technical terminology.

As far as not utilizing subair in the PNW I think that has something more to do with climate. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think the PNW is more temperate. Subair is not necessary to grow in greens, it is merely a tool that can be used to make the job easier. Just for an example that I know about Bandon does not have subair or even USGA spec greens. They just simply moved sand from the dunes on property.

But what does make you think that overwatering is the culprit?

Edited by BNGL, 08 October 2017 - 07:59 PM.


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#11 naws-golfer

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 09:35 AM

if you need to contact a professional, I know Rob Collins at King-Collins golf is an outstanding guy with a passion for architecture.

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#12 slprince67

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 06:28 PM

What part of west texas are we talking about????  I would talk to some clubs in the area that have done construction or renovations recently.  Clubs like Midland CC or Odessa CC if they are in your area?

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