By Jose Verduzco, Golf Course Superintendent
Traffic on a golf course damages the turf. Read some facts below on the effects of traffic on the grass as well as some tips we personally use to prevent turf injury.
Wear: Plants are affected above the ground due to pressure, twisting, and turning as well as repeated and concentrated traffic.
Root Growth: Root deterioration will not be noticeable until the summer months. Compacted soil means the soil is tighter and has less air space for roots to grow in. Soils that are compacted act like insulation meaning that when weather is favorable for roots to grow there is a delay on the actual soil temperature.
Disease: Shallow/no roots equals a stressed plant. A stressed plant is more susceptible to disease.
Thin Stand: Another effect of traffic on the turf is the thinning of grass stands, which creates a void on the surface which causes unwanted weeds to emerge.
Aerification: Aerifiers remove a soil plug and punch a hole allowing compacted areas to receive oxygen, create air space for root growth and also improve water penetration.
Topdressing: Sand Topdressing improves surface and subsurface characteristics. Sand protects the plant from crown damage and helps soil be less prone to extreme compaction due to traffic.
Signage: Signs are strategically placed on the golf course to ensure golfers are directed away from traffic areas. These are changed periodically giving areas a chance to recover.
Maintenance Etiquette: Mowers and other vehicles used to maintain the golf course follow a rule to prevent traffic. They are to enter/exit a hole over a non-worn area and never follow someone’s tracks.