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Turf Management Recommendations for Golf Course Tees
A basic guide to help you maintain golf course tee decks.
Management of Bentgrass Tees
Height of Cut
.25 to .5 of an inch is an acceptable height of cut for bentgrass tee decks.
Frequency of Cut
Tees should be cut 3 to 5 times a week, however site specific conditions will dictate actual frequency.
Direction should be altered with each cut.
Grass clippings can be removed or returned, depending on frequency of cut and aesthetics threshold.
Deliver .3 to .8lbs of N/1000sqft (.15 to .4 kg/100sqm) per 2 to 4 weeks of active growing season. Always refer to tissue or soil tests to determine specific nutritional needs.
Usually phosphorous is applied once per year at a rate determined from soil and/or tissue test results. Spring and autumn are the best times to apply this nutrient. Applying P post aeration is preferable.
Apply potassium at 75 to 100% of the rate of nitrogen applied to the same area(s). Soil and tissue tests should be performed to determine further potassium requirements. Soils that are of a coarse texture or where clippings are regularly removed may need to receive 4 to 5lbs of K/1000sqft (2 to 2.5 kg/100sqm) divided over 4 to 6 applications through the growing season.
Iron should be applied as required to correct deficiencies as they are noted. Keep a close eye during the stressful midsummer months for visual indicators.
Tees will often not require a specific micro nutrient package, however if soil or tissue tests indicate a deficiency of a certain element apply it as required or recommended.
pH Level Adjustment
Bentgrass tees should be kept at a pH level of 5.5 to 6 where possible. Refer to soil and tissue tests and adjust levels with lime or sulfur based products as required. Be careful not to apply sulfur products to root zones that are comprised of calcareous sand.
If compaction is a problem, which it usually is on tee decks, aerate or verticut as required. Tees should be cultivated at least twice a season and as much as every 3 weeks if conditions warrant it.
Topdressing can be performed as little as twice per year or as much as 4 times per year depending on your specific management style and requirements. At the very least tees should be topdressed twice per season, preferably spring and autumn.
Tees should have full coverage and be watered to the full reach of the roots. Cycles should run prior to any visual indicators of wilt are present. In some instances irrigation may need to be run during the day to combat extreme temperatures or keep fresh seed moist. Always monitor your turf and be certain not to overwater.
Bentgrass tees are susceptible to a host of diseases and should be monitored closely. By referencing your occurrence records you may be able to make some sound preventative fungicide applications for diseases that regularly occur on the tees. Attempts should be made to spray reactively/curatively whenever possible to minimize environmental impacts and unnecessary applications. As always, keep the turf healthy and it will be less likely to succumb to disease and or be more prepared to fight off the pathogen if it becomes active.
As with diseases, monitor insect activity and populations to determine the best approach to dealing with the issue. If a tee is repeatedly invaded by a certain pest every year, then you should budget accordingly and expect to spray the area the following year. Again, record keeping is of the utmost importance for insect management in tees. Always read and follow all directions for mixing and application of pesticides. Consider using biological controls as an alternative to chemical controls if possible.
To achieve the best control, spray for broadleaf weeds in the spring and autumn as they turn up. Mecoprop-p and dicamba should be used at low rates to avoid any damage to your Bentgrass, always perform a small test on a nursery, practice green, or range tee before committing to a full application. Certain herbicides such as 2,4-D and other phenoxy based herbicides should be avoided due to their tendency to cause phytotoxicity (an adverse turf reaction to light). If budget and time permit it, manual removal is often the most effective and safe method of weed control on tees.
If the thatch on your tee deck(s) is excessive, verticutting should be performed to help alieviate the problem. Verticutting will be best received if done during the first third to the first half of the growing season. If a tee deck is very large and has areas that do not get as much play they will tend to develop more thatch, and as a result require a more intense organic matter removal program.
A container with seeded divot mixture should be available in close proximity to the hitting area(s) for golfer use. Once a week maintenance staff should do a thorough divot repair program on all tee decks, paying particular attention to par 3 tees.