When 2014 began, removing a tree near #11 green wasn't even on our radar. It was born out of necessity, after the newly established bentgrass began suffering from the rigors of daily mowing and play.
Here are some facts about #11 Green:
- Prior to July 2014, it was our most densely shaded green.
- Only received approximately 4 hours of direct sunlight per day.
- Our shallowest rooted green prior to reestablishment.
- Worst green for ball mark recovery.
- One of our smallest greens. Foot traffic on and off the green is concentrated in two locations.
- Toughest green to keep alive in the summer.
Our theory is that pre-Polar Vortex, the original green had adapted to its shaded environment. #11 green has always been one of our poorest performers in terms of turf quality. Root depth has always been shallow, and the green was nearly 100% poa annua. Handwatering every couple hours in the heat of the summer to replenish the upper soil moisture level was a necessity in keeping the green alive. Despite all these limitations, the turf on #11 survived. It just never thrived. Surviving 70 days under ice was out of the question, though. #11 succumbed to the Polar Vortex in 2014.
After re-establishing the green, one thing was almost immediately obvious: the new bentgrass was not responding well to our cultural practices. Higher mowing heights on #11 green were the norm because it would not tolerate being cut at the same height as the other greens, resulting in inconsistencies in ball roll distance. The wear seemed to directly follow the hole locations, and along the edges of the green where our equipment turning is concentrated.
|Wear pattern around the hole on #11 green on July 8, 2014. Just two weeks after the green re-opened.|
Bentgrass requires sunlight to do well on putting surfaces. For a green to perform to our standards, it needs to receive 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. #11 green was getting about half of that. The oak tree growing directly east of #11 green was shading the green until noon in the middle of the summer. The bentgrass wasn't receiving enough sunlight during the day, resulting in decreased energy production and a lesser ability to recover from daily mowing and play.
|#11 green at 11:15am in the early part of July. The detriments of turf grown in shade are many.|
It became evident that unless the tree was removed, we would have a problem keeping healthy bentgrass on #11 green maintained to the level our membership expects. Thankfully, the Greens Committee and Board were understanding of the difficult situation we were in, and they voted to have the tree removed per our recommendations.
Since the tree was removed, the improvement in the quality of turf on #11 green has been (pardon the pun) like night and day. The turf began growing more vigorously, was much more tolerant of our cultural practices such as mowing, rolling, and topdressing, and was better withstanding foot traffic from regular play. We saw improvements in density, color, and vigor. We even saw an improvement in ball mark recovery.
|Differences in sunlight before and after oak tree removal. Both photos taken at 10:30AM three days apart.|
We never expected to have to deal with a problem like this when the year began, but then again, 2014 was no ordinary year for us.
|A view of the ice smothering #11 green in February 2014. Winter shade was a contributor to our inability to melt the ice. Extreme low temperatures also played a major role.|
|Shade slowed our recovery efforts too. Grass needs light to grow!|
If you still have a thirst for knowledge, here are a couple links for some independent reading, if you are so inclined:
In his book "Management of Turfgrass Diseases," Dr. Joseph Vargas makes mention that without receiving morning sun, bentgrass will not survive. Go to page 218.
Click here: https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1566700469
This research article in Golf Course Management magazine comes to many of the same conclusions as Dr. Vargas, and also recommends that trees excessively shading bentgrass greens be removed to improve the quality of the turf: Click here and select "Go to link": www2.gcsaa.org/gcm/1999/oct99/pdfs/10bentgrass.pdf
The information is out there and it is plentiful!