Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’ – Benefits of Rolling Greens on Golf Courses
This is the first in a series of monthly blogs that we hope will help you gain more confidence when selling Smithco products. This first blog concentrates on the benefits of greens rolling and is based on research undertaken by Rob Golembiewski, a green solutions specialist at Bayer CropScience. Some of this content was first published in Golf Course Industry magazine.
Golfers see a superintendent rolling greens and immediately assume increased speed is the end goal. Experienced superintendents know there are many other advantages, other than green speed.
Bayer’s Rob Golembiewski believes turfgrass health is the greatest reward. “The agronomic benefits of rolling greens can include reduced turf stress, disease suppression and a smoother surface which ultimately translates into a healthier putting green with increased green speeds,” he says. Specific disease suppression includes dollar spot, anthracnose and microdochium patch.
As for the relationship between rolling and greens speed, there are a number of agronomic practices – height of cut, mowing frequency, fertility, soil moisture, growth regulator usage and verticutting – that influence how big a difference rolling will have on the speed of greens.
If a superintendent alternates between mowing one day and rolling the next, the green speeds would essentially remain the same as just mowing daily, says Golembiewski. However, the end result would be a healthier putting green since mowing, which can be very stressful on a turfgrass plant, is reduced to an every-other-day practice.
Golembiewski cautions additional weight can do more harm than good. “There is an old thought that the use of heavier rollers will result in greater green speeds,” he says. “Research has clearly shown that lightweight rollers are just as effective as heavier rollers. It is not about the compaction of the surface, but rather the smoothness of the surface.”
“The challenge I see is there are many superintendents who implement rolling programs without an intended goal in mind,” Golembiewski says. “In other words, they might roll when they have some extra time or they roll Monday, Wednesday and Friday because that is what another course is doing. Superintendents should give the same consideration to rolling programs as they do any other agronomic programs.”
Based on university research trials, to optimize plant health and green speed, in part, comes down to deciding what you are trying to accomplish on your course, Golembiewski says. “If the intent is to maintain existing green speeds where only mowing has been implemented in the past, my recommendation would be to alternate mowing and rolling,” he says. “If the intent is to maximize green speeds while limiting plant stress, my recommendation would be to roll daily and mow four times a week. With this program, the superintendent always has the option to add in additional mowings or lower the height of the cut slightly to increase green speeds for tournaments, club championships, etc.”
Like anything, rolling greens isn’t without its issues.
“The greatest risk that exists from rolling greens is the potential for wear on the collars where the roller stops and starts,” says Golembiewski. “This is especially the case when there is very little room on the edge of the green due to bunker placement or steep slopes. Some golf course superintendents have started using mats in these situations to reduce the potential for wear injury.”
- Agronomic benefits can include reduced turf stress, disease suppression, a smoother surface and a healthier putting green with increased green speeds.
- Rolling can help suppress specific diseases including dollar spot, anthracnose and microdochium patch.
- Mowing one day and rolling the next, results in green speeds remaining essentially the same as mowing daily, but with less stress on the plant.
- Old practises believed that heavier rollers create faster green speeds.
- Research has shown that lightweight rollers are just as effective as heavier rollers.
- It’s not about the compaction of the surface, but rather the smoothness of the surface.
- The greatest risk from rolling greens is the potential for wear on the collars where the roller stops and starts. Superintendents have used mats to reduce the potential for wear injury.