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Whenever we think of Golf Courses, we think of lush green environment. Golf has been synonymous to the color green, however the trend is changing; we are now noticing a lot of Golf Courses traveling on the road to sustainability. In simple terms, the Golf Courses are now focusing more on managing the playable area only rather than trying to keep the entire course green. Keeping the Golf Course lush green is a great challenge and it definitely requires a lot of water, fertilizers and other related resources. So now the greens, fairways and tees are well manicured and managed to provide the best possible playing surface to the golfers. The rough areas and the non-playable zones are kept mainly dependent on the nature and are irrigated less frequently making such areas go less green and more brown.

This trend is not only visible in existing Golf Courses but the new developments are also keeping this is in mind from the inception, specially the courses which are being developed in arid and dry tropical regions. The choice of grasses in the new development plays a vital role in the look and feel of a Golf Course. A well-designed Golf Course can look non-appealing if the grass selection is not done prudently. A lot of factors are to be considered before we choose the type of grass to form a nice playing turf for the Golf Course. I am sure you must have heard a very common term called turf management. Turf is grass and the part of the soil beneath it held together by the roots. Management of Turf is nothing but the work required to keep the grass healthy and ready to be used for its various purposes. Normally a superintendent is the one who is responsible to manage the turf on a Golf Course. So now you know who is the one to keep the grass greener on the other side.

To keep the grass greener on your side, you will have to first understand the various type of grasses, their basic characteristics and above all the climate conditions based on which we choose the right grass for the right place.

It’s very interesting to know the different climatic conditions within Africa, ranging from being arid to tropical to highlands to savanna. One can experience different climates with changing milestones. Similar is the case with India, where in one part we experience extreme hot weather and on the other cool breezes make us feel blessed. In such dramatic conditions, the choice of grass is the key to success. To make things simpler, lets consider the climate to be either warm or cool, which makes us match them with the two major classifications of grasses, i.e. “the “warm season” grasses and the “cool season” grasses. Generally people not in the Turf Industry think that these grasses are incapable of surviving outside of their respective season; that warm season grasses prosper only in summer and cool season grasses flourish only in winter. However, it is a quite complex than we think it is. The aim of this article is to introduce the grasses on a broader level. A turf management expert or an agronomist should be consulted before taking any turf related decision.

Lets have a bird’s eye view on various grass species one by one.

Since, most of the Africa regions comprises of arid and tropical climate we will focus more on the Warm season grasses, which grow best during the summer season when the temperature is between 25 to 35°C.

Warm season grasses species include:

  • · Bermuda Grass

  • · Seashore Paspalum

  • · Zoysia Grass

  • · Centipede Grass

  • · St. Augustine Grass

  • · Buffalo Grass

  • · Carpet Grass

  • · Bahia Grass

Warm season grass characteristics:

  • · Less water requirement.

  • · Turf can be seeded (not all species), sprigs, or sod.

  • · Soil temperature needs to be 15° to 18°C for seed germination and growth of established turf.

  • · Dormancy is triggered by shortened day lengths and colder temperatures

  • · Respond well to fertilization during the summer

  • · Poor winter tolerance

  • · Extended winter dormancy with brown color

  • · Poor shade tolerance

Cool Season Grasses: Cool season grasses grow best during the winter season when the temperature is between 18 to 24°C and are adapted to cooler and temperate regions.

Cool season grasses species include:

  • · Bentgrass

  • · Ryegrass

  • · Fescues

  • · Blue Grass

Cool season grass characteristics:

  • · Most growth is in the spring and fall

  • · Perform best with consistent rainfall or irrigation

  • · The turf can be seeded or sod

  • · Growth will occur when soil temperatures are 4° to 7°C for established turf; a soil temperature of 13°C is needed for seed germination

  • · During summer, growth is reduced and dormancy is induced by high temperatures and low rainfall

  • · Respond well to fertilization in the spring and fall

  • · Good winter tolerance

  • · Adequate shade tolerance

  • · Limited winter dormancy, retain green color

Choosing the right grass at the right place is important but maintaining it well is what makes the difference. Even the best grass can look bad if not maintained adequately. Proper mowing, watering and fertilizing will help make any grass flawless. Hope this article would help you go green…


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