Raymond Hearn Published Article

OK, SO MAYBE SPEED DOESN’T KILL, BUT IT SURE CAN HURT! (cont)

Page Two

a. The construction will cause significant disruption in play.
b. Remodeled greens will differ from unaltered ones in their receptivity to approach shots.
c. Putting speeds will be substantially different on the “new” greens compared to the old ones.
d. Greens that have been remodeled will require extensive new maintenance practices.
e. The original architect’s design intent will be lost in the remodeling.
f. Remodeled greens will look incongruous in relation to existing ones.

Though these apprehensions sound logical and may have a grain of truth, my view is that they range from exaggerated to downright false. In short, a well-conceived remodeling project is virtually certain to be the superior answer.

For starters, the correct redesign and construction methodology will complete the green remodeling process in 10 days or less, while the grow-in time needed for the sod to re-root and “take” may be as little as 7 to 10 days. True, a temporary green must be used during this interval, but it’s much shorter than most people anticipate and well worth the trade-off.

What’s more, a discerning design and construction strategy will in due time ensure that the remodeled green receives incoming shots and putts like the other greens on the course -- but now with contours in synch with the desired green speed. One such successful strategy is to use the course’s existing topdressing and Greensmix in the new “tested” Greensmix that will perform to USGA Green Section Specifications. The use of a USGA-approved soils testing laboratory, as we strongly encourage our clients to do, guarantees adherence to these specifications.

This approach contrasts with that advocated by many design and agronomic consultants today, who recommend either using a course’s existing topdressing and Greensmix or completely replacing the Greensmix with new materials prepared off-site.

I would like to add a third option. Reusing the former Greensmix, which in many cases is just old topsoil ‘push – up’ greens, may result in a hard, compacted green surface in the remodeled green if the old mix or topsoil contained a significant amount of fine particles, typically clay, silt, or very fine sand. The resulting question I frequently hear is: “My old ‘push-up’ greens worked before in terms of drainage and how they held a shot, why wouldn’t they work again?”

My response is that the older greens commonly developed small soil fractures and fissures over time, which in turn helped minimize compaction and allowed proper infiltration and percolation to occur. This would be lost over the first several years after remodeling in the remodeled greens, as the replacement of the existing mix would compact to a higher degree. It will take time and some significant aeration and aggressive topdressing practices to reduce this compaction and regain the deep soil fractures and fissures that were once present. If you can put up with the compaction for the first several years after the remodeling while educating members or public play then this is a viable option.

Another proposed solution I regularly hear -- to just replace the old Greensmix with new USGA approved Greensmix. This option leads to remodeled greens that receive incoming shots and putt much differently than the layout’s unaltered greens. This tack may also require dramatically different maintenance practices relative to original unaltered greens.

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