Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Foot traffic

This is one of my favorite photographs. The footprints you see here highlight the traffic patterns of a four person group of golfers. Imagine how this green looks after a full day of play. The area near the hole is practically covered with footprints after just one foursome. All of this foot traffic can stress out the plant and compact the greens resulting in reduced drainage, less pore space, and a weaker plant. The average human foot has a ground pressure of 9-12 PSI (pounds per square inch). In comparison, our greens roller is between 4-5 PSI. I've always found ground pressure interesting. A massive tractor with flotation tires might only reach 15 PSI while a 125 lb woman in high heels is nearly 2000 PSI. By the way, Stockton Golf and Country Club is a spikeless and heel-less facility.
This visual aid helps to explain a few of our maintenance practices. First off, the cup is moved every day the course is open to play. You wouldn't want to play the same position every day, and I don't want you walking around the same area either. A few times a year it is necessary to aerify the greens to relief this compaction and fill the holes with loose sand. Another strategy we use to reduce compaction and protect the plant is frequent light topdressing. We put a small amount of sand on the green every two weeks to protect the growing point of the grass. Believe it or not, it also speeds up the greens by smoothing out the surface.
So, in order to help out the maintenance department and to improve the health of the greens, please chip in from off the green whenever possible. This would greatly reduce the amount of footsteps needed to complete the hole. Besides, how hard could it be.