Topdressing greens is common practice for golf course management. In years past, superintendents would topdress their greens heavy during spring and fall core aeration. Today many superintendents have added light and frequent topdressing to their course management programs throughout the season. There are many added benefits in adapting this practice.
Purpose of Topdressing
The main objectives to topdressing include:
- Smoother putting surface
- Increase firmness
- Modify soil profile
- Control thatch layer
- Assist in over seeding and renovating
- Improve drainage
- Improve turf recovery
Create Firm, Fast Greens
Today’s current trend of a golfer prefers firm and fast greens, two key benefits of sand topdressing.The rate at which the sand is applied varies from course to course during the growing season. The standard rate of light and frequent topdressing is from every 10 to 14 days with 2 to 3 cubic feet per 1,000 square foot of material. It is important to note that golfers can still manage play on these greens after light topdressing. Once the sand is worked into the canopy is when golfers see a noticeable increase in ball roll. Research shows that this can add up to 15 inches with heavy topdressing and up to 6 inches with lighter topdressing.
Frequent Light Topdressing
When considering a frequent topdressing program it is important to account for the golfer’s ability to detect the change in roll out distances. Applying a light layer of sand once a month will help to keep greens firm and consistent with heavier play. Golfers often times have a misunderstood perception of topdressing. Frequent light topdressing helps show them the importance of what it takes to smooth and speed greens.
Combining this practice with aeration allows superintendents to manage the organic matter in their greens. When the plant is producing more organic matter than it can break down it can hold in too much water at the top of the root zone, leaving greens more susceptible to disease. Altering a topdressing programs frequency helps to dilute this process and provide healthier turf.Light and frequent topdressing is becoming a popular practice among golf course management. It’s an important consideration to improving turf conditions and providing smoother greens to golfers.