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Q and A with T.A.

Q and A with T.A.
By: T.A. Barker – Class A Superintendent
Fore Lakes Golf Course
Welcome back my friends to this month’s Q and A with T.A.  I hope I have not bored you yet with all this golf course maintenance talk.  I love what I do and I love explaining the jobs of a golf course superintendent.  There are a lot of questions regarding the practices that we perform on the course.  I hope that these efforts of educating you on the day-to-day functions of the golf course will start to enlighten you and give you a little more appreciation for the highly educated and skilled men and women who manage the playing condition of the courses you play.  With that being said, let’s get down to business.
 Our first question is a funny one but one that I have had to answer multiple times. 
What are the greens made out of – is it like a special carpet? 
The grass on putting greens is not a carpet, but a low growing fine bladed grass.  Most greens grade grass in Northern Utah is going to be either a variety of creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) or Annual Blue Grass (Poa Annua) or a mixture of both.  Both of these grasses are a cool season grass that does well in Utah and can handle the low mowing heights that are required for a putting green.  As you travel south into Southern Utah, Mesquite and Arizona, you may start seeing putting greens that are grown with Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon).  Bermudagrass is a warm season grass that grows best in hot and humid climates.  Bermudagrass does not do well in the cooler climates. 
What height do you mow your greens at?
All courses are different when it comes to mowing heights.  They can range from .08-.12 of an inch or maybe even higher depending on the location and the mowers that are used.  At Fore Lakes, we typically mow our greens at .12 of an inch as this keeps our greens rolling at a desired speed for our clients.
What does it mean when I hear the greens are stimping at a ten?
Superintendents use a device called a stimpmeter.  The stimpmeter was developed by Edward S. Stimpson in 1935 after witnessing Gene Sarazen putt his ball off the green at the U.S. Open.  After witnessing this account, Mr. Stimpson felt that there was no consistency to the greens at the Open that year.  Instead of complaining about the inconsistencies in the greens, he decided to do something about it and developed the stimpmeter.  The stimpmeter does not actually measure ball roll speed but measures ball roll distance.  The stimpmeter is designed to release a golf ball at a 20 degree angle.  Once the ball rolls onto the green the distance is measured in feet and this will give you your stimp reading.  If your greens are rolling consistently at a ten then you know that they are rolling at ten feet. 
In closing, please remember to thank your superintendents for the hard work they put in seven days a week to give you the best playing conditions they can.  You can help them out by fixing a couple of ball marks and replacing your divots when playing the golf course. 
Thank you for your time – I wish you straight drives and short putts!