Top Dressing and Ball Roll

To give you an idea of why we have recently top-dressed our greens here is a great article from Grounds Maintenance.....

Topdressing has become standard in golf course management. For years, many golf course superintendents practiced heavy topdressing in the spring and fall after core aeration. In the last 10 to 15 years, many of them have switched to lighter, more frequent sand topdressing in their greens management program.

Research has shown that greens that are not topdressed have poorer turf quality than those that are topdressed as little as two times per year. Greens that are not topdressed become thatchy and puffy, and can result in scalping and shorter ball-roll distances.

Topdressing has several benefits. It * Produces a smooth, firm putting surface. * Reduces the thatch layer. * Allows reduced mowing heights. * Protects the crown. * Increases ball-roll distance.

With the continued demand from golfers for greater ball-roll distances, superintendents have begun topdressing more often throughout the growing season. Light, frequent topdressing is defined as application of 2 to 3 cubic feet per 1,000 square feet of material every 10 to 14 days throughout the growing season. It is believed that this level of topdressing will provide a smooth, firm and uniform surface, resulting in longer ball-roll distances.

Topdressing is increasingly important on greens using the newer, aggressive bentgrass cultivars. These bentgrass cultivars produce a denser canopy and turf that is thatchier than the older bentgrass cultivars. The greater resistance to the ball as it rolls over the grass blades may result in shorter ball-roll distances. Shorter ball-roll distances and thatchy turf surfaces are not acceptable to today's golfers. They want smooth, firm and fast surfaces for putting.

Adding inches to ball roll In-depth research on topdressing and ball-roll distance has been limited to just a few projects. Much of the research that involves golf green topdressing deals with thatch management and topdressing materials. But, the studies that deal directly with topdressing's effect on ball-roll distance can provide a better understanding of how topdressing can improve ball-roll distance.

How much added distance should a superintendent expect to see from topdressing? Research indicates that ball-roll distance difference would have to be at least 6 inches greater-and more likely closer to 12 inches greater-for a typical golfer to notice a difference. Anything less would not warrant the added effort and expense of increased topdressing because few players would detect the change. You should increase the topdressing frequency only if it significantly increases the quality or health of the green.

A University of Nebraska study has shown that greens topdressed seven to eight times during the growing season at 2.7 cubic yards per 1,000 square feet p roduced significantly longer ball-roll distances than those greens topdressed in the spring and fall at 10.8 cubic feet per 1,000 square feet. The ball-roll distance of the light, frequent topdressing program was 8.1 feet compared with 6.9 feet for the twice-yearly topdressing program. Both had nitrogen applied at 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet per growing season.

Other factors Not only is frequency of topdressing important, you also must allow the topdressing to be worked into the surface. Verticutting opens the turf so that the topdressing can easily settle in. But don't overdo it.

Researchers in a University of Nebraska study conducted on several golf courses in Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa, found that a moderate frequency of verticutting and topdressing-two to six timesper year-was preferable to a more aggressive program of 12 to 16 times a year.

The more aggressive program caused continual disruption of the surface of the green, so a smooth surface never formed. But moderate topdressing and verticutting allowed the topdressing material to be worked into the canopy to produce a firm, smooth putting surface.

Research at The Pennsylvania State University supports the conclusion that the topdressing must be worked in to achieve a smooth putting surface. Researchers found that both light and heavy topdressing decreased ball roll distance initially. But after topdressing material had time to work itself into the canopy, ball roll distance increased.

For the first eight days, a ball lost up to 5 inches of roll with light topdressing and 9 inches with heavy topdressing. But after the topdressing material worked itself into the canopy, ball roll increased 6 inches with light topdressing and 15 inches with heavy topdressing.

For this reason, you should apply topdressing material 10 to 12 days before you want the surface to achieve its best surface (for member-guest or other big events). This gives the topdressing material enough time to settle into the turf. Dry topdressing material will easily settle into the turf canopy with just a light brushing or light irrigation.

Is it worth the effort? Topdressing provides a better surface for ball roll because it creates a firm, smooth, uniform surface that exerts minimal resistance on the ball as it rolls across a green. Rather than applying topdressing material heavily at the beginning and end of the growing season and hoping that it provides an adequate surface throughout the golf season, light, frequent topdressing has been used to provide a better surface to putt on throughout the growing season.

Golfers can play on greens managed with a light, frequent topdressing system right after topdressing applications. Playing on greens managed with heavy, infrequent topdressing is difficult right after applications because they have a thick layer of sand that needs to be worked in. Also, piles of sand often persist for up to four or five days after applications.

When considering more topdressing to improve ball-roll distance, you should keep in mind the average golfer's ability to detect a change of ball-roll distance. Most likely the change would have to exceed 6 inches, and probably be closer to 12 inches, before a golfer would be able to notice.

Increasing ball-roll distance by 5 or 6 inches by increasing topdressing frequency from six to 10 times per year probably would not be a sound financial decision unless you were seeing improved turf quality or health. The added time and money spent on the four additional applications would not give you a significant increase in ball roll distance.

A good rule to follow for topdressing greens to get maximum ball roll distance and highest green quality is to topdress at a light rate once a month during the growing season.

Anne Streich is an extension horticulturist and Dr. Roch Gaussoin is an extension turfgrass specialist at the University of Nebraska (Lincoln, Neb.).

We know what's in our Beef, Do you?

At Deer Run we source out the best food, locally and Canadian that we can. Did you know that we raise our own Cattle, who are grass and corn fed and have free range? Our cows recieve no antibiotics or hormones whatsoever.

Just remember, next time you enjoy one of our burgers hot off the grill, you know where it came from, and have not a thing to worry about.

This is an article we found posted on a Detroit News site recently. We hope more people become aware of all these dangers, you are what you eat!

ClickOnDetroit News

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday said it was studying a federal judge's order that it consider withdrawing two popular antibiotics from use in livestock.

In a ruling issued Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz said that the FDA must issue notices to drug manufacturers that the drugs will be withdrawn unless the companies can prove they're safe. Katz didn't issue a full ban -- suggesting the manufacturers should be given a hearing to make their case.

The suit was originally brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which argued that the FDA has allowed livestock producers to use popular antibiotics penicillin and tetracycline in feed for more than 30 years for purposes other than treatment of illnesses.

The NRDC claims "the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in animal feed can lead to the growth and spread of drug-resistant bacteria capable of infecting people." Antibiotic resistant bacteria are fast-moving, can be deadly, and can infect otherwise healthy individuals.

In its statement, the FDA said, "We are studying the opinion and considering appropriate next steps."

Thursday's ruling can be traced back to decisions the FDA made more than 30 years ago. In 1977, the FDA announced plans to withdraw approval of some antibiotics used in livestock feed. The drugs have been used by livestock producers to help promote growth and feed efficiency.

At the time, the FDA found the practice of using antibiotics for non-medical reasons unsafe. Drug manufacturers requested hearings, but the FDA never scheduled meetings and nothing else was done. The approval remained in place.

In subsequent years, new medical evidence suggested that treating livestock with antibiotics increased risks to human health. But according to the judge's ruling, the FDA never changed its position.

In May, two petitions circulated urging the FDA to finish what it started in 1977. When the FDA didn't respond, the NRDC filed suit.

In December, the FDA withdrew the original 1977 notices saying they were outdated.

The suit alleged that the FDA's failure to withdraw approval of penicillin and tetracycline after the 1977 research was known was unlawful and violated the administrative procedure act.

According to the NRDC, 80% of antibiotics used in the United States is used in livestock. The group also says 29.8 million pounds of antibiotics were used in livestock in 2009, up dramatically from the previous decade.

Meanwhile, the ruling isn't sitting well with beef producers. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association noted its dissent in a statement saying its members were "disappointed with the decision," and that practices include the "judicious use of antibiotics to prevent, control and treat any cattle health issues."

If drug manufacturers fail to show that using the antibiotics in livestock is safe, the FDA commissioner must issue a withdrawal order. But the judge noted that if the drugs are deemed safe, the FDA cannot withdraw them from use.

The Secret Life of Golf Courses

 A Great Perspective of Reality... Enjoy!

Sadly, in a few weeks, the world’s perception of golf courses will once again be hopelessly warped by the annual telecast of The Masters.

Yes, I said “warped.” Why?



The legendary Augusta National Golf Club which hosts the famous old tournament is, quite simply, perfect. The emerald green color is perfect. The sharp edges of the white sand bunkers are perfect. The azaleas that frame the best-known holes in golf are perfect. Even the pimento/cheese sandwiches and mint juleps are perfect. Perhaps too perfect.

I love Augusta – and I’ve been their many times in my “regular” life as a golf writer – but the world’s most famous golf course is by no means typical. The club spends millions every year to implement an elaborate and sophisticated program to ensure that the place is absolutely in peak condition for the week when the world comes to watch.

The process reminds me a bit of the carefully executed blooming plans of die-hard rose aficionados trying to achieve the best possible color and consistency just in time for flower show judging – only down at Augusta it’s done across 130 acres of Georgia red clay that’s lovingly covered with a pampered blanket of manicured turfgrass shaded by towering Palmettos and literally thousands of hothouse annuals and hand-picked perennials.

Augusta at Masters time is spectacular, sumptuous…and surreal in the truest sense of the word. In a way, it’s like Brigadoon – the mythical Scottish village of Broadway fame that can only be seen by outsiders once in century. Essentially, it’s a once-a-year trick that CBS Sports and the members of the club play on the world. So, judge ye not based on what you’ll see on your HDTV screen come the second Sunday in April because Augusta is, to put it bluntly, the least typical golf course on the planet.

I ask you to forget what you think about the warped world of Augusta and consider instead the “secret life” of the most typical course in the world:

  • It’s probably within 10 miles of your home. There are 15,500 courses in the U.S. – more locations than McDonalds – and they are everywhere from Denali National Park in Alaska to Death Valley in the Mojave Desert.
  • Instead of being ultra-private, it’s far more likely to be open to anyone who wants to plunk down $35 or so to play 18 holes. Contrary to popular thought, three-quarters of all courses are public access.
  • If you walk – and more and more people are choosing to do that now instead of riding those funny little carts – it’s a good 5-6 miles of exercise. Expect to burn about 1,500 calories when you hoof it for 18 holes instead of riding.
  • It’s often the only major greenspace for miles – home to critters, birds, butterflies and a surprisingly diverse community of native plant species. The transitional areas between the open grassy space in the fairways and the trees and native grasses that often frame them are magnets for wildlife.
  • The turfgrass there is more than just a big open space for a well-hit shot to land. The 70-150 acres of grass on a golf course is a bit of an ecological wonder. Large stands of turf filter pollutants from the water that moves across them and exchanges vast amounts of carbon monoxide for pure oxygen. Those billions of little grass plants also cool the atmosphere and create a permeable place for groundwater recharge.
  • Much attention is paid to the greens – the fragile putting surfaces that are the focus of Joe Hacker’s love/hate relationship with the game. But most areas of the course are naturalized. Weed-free? Ha! Completely absent of bugs or pests? No way. You simply can’t contain Mother Nature, so most courses strive for a balance between the needs of t he game and the realities of managing a vast open space that invites invasive species.
  • It’s typically managed by a professional course superintendent with a four-year degree in agronomy or another natural science who’s licensed to use pesticides and fertilizers and who likely got into the business because of a love of nature and the outdoors.
  • The majority of typical golf courses are going to great lengths to reduce inputs like water and chemicals. Why? To reduce costs and lighten their environmental footprint.
  • The typical course superintendent is amazingly passionate about what he or she does. They’d better be since the greenspaces they care for are enormous complex things that require incredible devotion to soils, plants, water and living things. I know thousands of them – quite literally – and they are largely people who are highly motivated by the same sense of concern I feel among my friends in gardening.

I’ve shared a bit about the secret life of most American courses. Now I’ll share my personal little secret: Despite the fact that I write about golf, golf courses and anything and everything to do with how they are run, I stink at the actual game. I am what is politely called a “high-handicapper.” If par is 72, I might break 100 on a good day. And that’s probably with a couple of “mulligans” and a few kicks out of the tall grass.

The point is that I’ve always loved golf courses – these enormous, beautifully crafted, living, breathing playing fields – more than the stupid game of golf. And, the less you care about how you play, the more you’re likely to enjoy it. If you’re an occasional player who sort of gave up on the game or someone who’s wanted to try it but you’ve been scared of embarrassing yourself, repeat after me:

The beauty of golf, like the joy of gardening, can easily become lost in the futile quest for perfection. Let go of the score. Let go of your fear of embarrassment. Let go of your preconceptions of what those courses look like on TV.

Instead, just look around and drink in the surroundings. Lose yourself in the quiet of an isolated hole. Enjoy the inevitable delay while the doofus in front of you searches the woods in vain for $2 Top Flite. Listen to the wind and the birds and the gentle “thwack” of a faraway shot being struck. There is peace and beauty around you when you ignore the stated purpose of being there and just relax…and become aware of the secret life of golf courses.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This was an exclusive sneak peak of a piece that is appearing in the premier issue of A Garden Life, GIE Media's newest publication and its first consumer publication. This article was authored by GCI's Pat Jones, but keep in mind that A Garden Life's target audience is garden lovers and others who enjoy the outdoors. Nevertheless, it's a pretty interesting piece that offers an appreciation for the work you do and the industry you represent.

Check out the A Garden Life website

And for all of you tablet users, be sure to download the A Garden Life iPad app

And if you're an Android user, click

Walk or Ride? Which Game of Golf Do You Play?


With the course still drying from the rain and "winter"we've had, daily phone calls asking if carts are going out has got us thinking, to walk or to ride?

We found this interesting article from "The Golf Stinks Blog", and thought we would share with you all....

Before you tee-off on the first hole; heck, before you even fork-over your hard-earned money in the pro shop; you have to decide the answer to a simple question: Am I going to walk or ride? Until recently, I never thought this could mean playing two different games.

For many, this question is easily answered. On the one hand, you have the walkers; these people either want some exercise or they are traditionalists who feel walking is the way golf was intended to be played (or both).

On the other hand, you have the riders (not counting when a course has a mandatory cart rule), who are usually bucketed into two groups: people who physically need to take a cart, and those who just don't take the game of golf too seriously.

Think about that second group for a moment...

Now don't get me wrong, I have no problem with someone wanting to ride around the course just having fun. In fact, it seems golf would lose a ton of business if it weren't for people wanting to do that. But many times this leads to behavior on the course that serious golfers consider unacceptable...But that's because we're playing two different games!

Not long ago, I asked if you drink while you golf. Most people who took my poll said they don't drink during the round. But really, there's this notion that some rounds are for serious play and other rounds are just for drinking and fun. Maybe I'm a few fries short of a Happy Meal, but this never even occurred to me before - that these are two different games we're talking about here; one walking, not drinking and playing the game seriously; and the other riding, drinking and just out there smacking balls every which way while you spend time with your buddies. See? Two different reasons for being out on the course.

Consider this: Our pals over at Of Course posed the "walk or ride" question the other day on their Facebook page and received some interesting responses; things like "I ride because how else am I suppose to carry a case of beer around on the course?" And other gems like "Golf is the only sport that allows drinking and driving" and "when I want to play serious, I walk." That last comment suggests sometimes people play rounds seriously, while other times they're out there just to drink and have fun - in which case they take a cart. In fact, the majority of those commenting rode simply because they wanted to use the cart as a portable keg.

Now I understand the fellas over at Of Course appeal to a certain demographic, but this "two different games" notion seems to be a reality in golf - it's no wonder those playing one game don't get along with those playing the other...albeit one group is usually breaking a pleathora of etiquette rules. Angrily we think: "Hey, we're all out here trying to play golf, right?" Ah, see now that's where we've been wrong.



Deer Run Going High Tech For Low Scores

This great article below from Ian Kennedy via Chatham Kent Sports Net 

     With advancements in technology continually shaping the way we live, it appears the game of golf, including at one local golf course, is about to go high tech for low scores.

This spring, Deer Run Golf Course, located near Blenheim, Ontario will be unveiling a free SmartPhone app which can be downloaded on iTunes or the Android Store, to provide the next generation of golfers with some high tech gadgets on their course.

“This is an exciting launch for Deer Run,” said owner Larissa LeGros. “With technology changing everyday, this application will help to improve the golf experience at Deer Run and puts us at the forefront of golf technology.”

Deer Run is believed to be one of the first and only courses in Canada that will offer this free SmartPhone app, which can serve as a scorecard, provides GPS yardage to greens and hazards, book tee times, provide live leaderboards for tournaments and groups, allows full Facebook integration, and even gives golfers access to the club house menu to pre-order food midway through their round.

“Now when you get a Birdie on the course, the app can instantly share that moment on Facebook with all your friends,” said LeGros.

“As well, if you’re playing with a large group and you’re spread across the course, you can see how your friends, family, or competitors are doing instantly.”

“We may even connect it so you can call up the “beverage cart” if you are getting thirsty”

Although the days of a pen and paper scorecard likely aren’t gone forever, the move toward SmartPhone technology instantly connects golfers at Deer Run, something the course has been working on with their nearly 3000 Facebook fans for years,

“We’ve managed to build an extremely loyal following on Facebook and Twitter. We love to connect with everyone on Facebook and Twitter, we can connect in real time, shares our thoughts, vice versa and really connect with everyone who comes out to Deer Run.

“You can expect this online presence and the use of technology, this application will take that one step further and bring it all together.”

With water in play on 21 of the 27 holes at Deer Run, and a backdrop of Carolinian Hardwood Forests near the shores of Lake Erie, Deer Run has become a must play course for golfers in Southwestern Ontario, something this app doesn’t aim to change, but rather to highlight.

“This app is all things Deer Run. We will always offer the face to face, person to person service our golfers are accustomed to. This application simply looks to connect our golfers, appeal to a new generation, and to enrich your experience at Deer Run Golf Course.”

You can download the App on iTunes by Clicking Here or on the Android Store by Clicking Here.

Etiquette, Leading by Example

This guest article is written by Tom Margetts, Innovative Agronomics. Tom is an Independant Soil and Turf Consultany, working with many Turf Managers in Ontario. We currently retain Tom's services in order to enhance our agronomic programs.

Golf is a game of etiquette, where we play by a set of rules and govern ourselves around the course without umpires or referees. It is a gentleman’s game where we compete against ourselves and freely encourage and compliment our opponent’s efforts. When we think of etiquette, we generally reflect on these items and honour our dress codes and mannerisms. We should be proud of our conduct and not forget our commitment to the etiquette of our playing surfaces. Golf Course Superintendents are honourable stewards. They are entrusted with the property and the environment of the golf course. We as golfers must be honourable stewards to the golf course and Superintendents that care for them. We need to make a conscious effort to leave the golf course in better order than when we came. Imagine if we all did that!

There are many theories and thoughts on etiquette such as repairing ball marks and divots and lessening the impact of ourselves on the golf courses we enjoy. I would like to review these items of etiquette and give my guideance based on my previous experience.

Ball Mark Repair:

Goal: Restore the smoothness of the putting surface with the least amount of disturbance.

First of all, forget using a golf tee, we must all make a conscious effort to have a pronged ball mark repair tool in our pocket before we start the round. Insert the two pronged tool on a 45 degree angle to the putting surface and “knead” the turf evenly around the perimeter of the ball mark, filling in the depression. Do not insert and lift from the bottom! By “kneading” the edges together you are encouraging the turf to grow laterally and heal. There are many different tools available today and any of the good ones adhere to the same principal of “kneading the edge of the ball mark towards the center”. Last but not least, tap your repair smooth with the head of your putter (not your shoe) for the best finished result. A repaired ball mark has an excellent chance for a quick recovery if the repair is done by the person that created it.

Divot Repair:

Goal: Again, to restore the smoothness of the playing surface and repair in a way that will present the greatest potential for healing.

Divots come in many different sizes and forms. My theory on divot recovery based on my past experience is as long as the divot has soil attached; replace the gash created with as much of the originally recovered turf as possible. Look at it as an unfinished puzzle and spend some effort to correctly replace the pieces exactly the way they came out. If it is a deep pelt that is likely accomplished quite easily or if it came out in a few pieces it will require a little more effort. Use the divot mix provided to you in order to fill in any voids in the gash and around the edges. The replaced turf and divot mix are partners in that they both protect each other by holding moisture and encouraging regrowth. Again, last but not least firmly step on your repair in order to smooth the surface and replace any air pockets. If your divot is unrecoverable or unreplaceable, fill the gash with the divot mix provided in a manner that fills the hole and step it down in a swiping motion to restore a smooth surface.

Golf Cart Etiquette:

My thoughts on golf cart etiquette can be an article in itself. Here are a few key points to remember in order to minimize traffic stress. Use the cart paths provided as much as possible and always around greens and tees. Park with four tires on the path at all times after all we would never park beside our driveway at home! Be a trail blazer and avoid the short cuts and frequently travelled areas we all recognize.

Golf Course Superintendents work tirelessly to repair our impacts to the course from our enjoyment of the game. They develop their programs of water, fertilizer and cultural practices to recover as quickly as possible from wear and tear and balance this with our desire for a quality playing surface. These two forms of maintenance are generally opposite in their delivery and require a delicate balance. Let’s show our commitment to the game by being a steward to our golf course and the Superintendent that cares for it. Ask your Superintendent for their knowledge of maintenance etiquette and follow their lead on your course. Let’s repair more than we have created and walk off the golf course with knowledge of leaving it in better condition than when we came. We will all benefit from this!


Green Speeds: Let’s Talk CONSISTENCY!

This guest article is written by Tom Margetts, Innovative Agronomics. Tom is an Independant Soil and Turf Consultany, working with many Turf Managers in Ontario. We currently retain Tom's services in order to enhance our agronomic programs.

How do we measure our golf experiences? What do we look for when we search for a round of golf? Maybe it is the hot dog at the turn, but more often than not it is the quality of the greens.

Fade to Monday morning at the water cooler…                                                                                                

Question: How was the golf course yesterday?                   

Answer: Great, the greens were fast!

Question: How did you score?

Answer: Let’s not go there, too many three putts. Although we would all like to think we love fast greens, in reality our games do not support this type of challenge. A bigger reality is the price that we pay to play golf does not support the expense and inputs of maintaining greens with high speeds on the brink of death! I would suggest that it is time we lose the “need for speed” and start to measure our golf experiences in other ways. I would suggest that the CONSISTENCY of a putting surface is a much more definitive way of describing the quality of a golf facility and its’ greens. Achieving fast green speeds on a consistent basis is definitely a precise combination of art and science, but in a nutshell it can be simply achieved through lowering the height of cut. Any golf course can adjust their height of cut and increase their green speed, but there are only few golf courses that can truly sustain the expense and effort it takes to maintain “fast greens” without long term risks. These are golf courses that have large capital and operating budgets and accept the need for more aerating, topdressing and cultural practices. They have large construction investments and maintain optimum environments for turf growth by controlling shade issues. These are golf courses with high membership rates or green fees. In this era of environmental stewardship or sustainability we will need to support more traditional methods of maintenance, and begin again to tolerate traditional conditioning. Golf is a game of adapting to the environment and the conditions. Unlike most other turf related sports, we are not regulated by area sizes, slope, mowing heights, etc. We need to treat every golf course as a unique experience and learn to adapt our games to the property and conditions at that time. I believe we have become spoiled as golfers with modern maintenance technology and the illusion of “televised golf” on Sunday afternoon. CONSISTENCY is the name of the game! As a former Golf Course Superintendent, I can attest to the challenge of achieving consistent playing conditions on a daily basis.

I want to belong to the Club that strives to achieve consistency of its putting surfaces from #1 to #18. I want to belong to the Club that strives to maintain the practice green and facility to the exact same degree as the rest of the course. I want a golf course that provides a challenge everyday and improves my skill level. I want a golf course with no three putts…

Let’s replace the “need for speed” with CONSISTENCY of our greens.

1st Blog Entry

Hi Everyone!

Well its almost the 1st of Feburary, can you believe the weather we are having this so called "winter"? We had a few calls today from some London'ers wanting to make the trip down!

We would love to be open, the course is just a bit mucky from all the constant rain, freezing, thawing, snowing, etc.... 

We are excited for the upcoming 2012 Season! Just gearing up and getting organized.

We'll be keeping you posted we hope a lot this year, so bookmark us!

The Friendly Folks @ Deer Run