Does sand decrease green speed?
Q: Our superintendent applies sand to the putting greens, sometimes on a weekly basis during the peak winter golfing season. Why is this practice performed in winter, and does it decrease green speed? (Florida)
A: Bermudagrass golf courses in the southern regions, especially South Florida, are generally maintained more aggressively than golf courses in other regions. Bermudagrass produces a stem layer that must be thinned out through summertime core aeration, vertical mowing and sand topdressing. However, grooming (light verticutting or brushing) and periodic light sand topdressing are also needed in the winter months if bermudagrass is still actively growing; otherwise, putting greens become inconsistent and bumpy. The amount of sand applied and frequency of application for golf course putting greens is determined by the growth rate of the turfgrass and cannot be determined simply on a calendar basis. Warm temperatures can occur even during the winter months, causing the turf to grow. A thin layer of sand that is easily worked into the turf canopy does not cause the putting speeds to drop, but actually causes a slight increase in putting speed and improves surface smoothness.