Friday, October 4, 2013

The Tufts Archives and Grandma's Quilt!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Friday, October 4th and I have a couple of things to share with you today but before I do I wanted to point out an interesting fact.  There are several members of the PGA Tour and Champions Tour living in the Charlotte Area that are members of Carolina Golf Club.  Two of those individuals, Webb Simpson and Brendon de Jonge are both participating in the President's Cup matches currently underway at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.  Interestingly Brendon is playing for the International team as he is originally from Zimbabwe and of course Webb is playing for the United States thus Carolina can't lose.  Fun fact of the day!

On August 28th I received a letter from Audrey Moriarty, Executive Director of The Tufts Archives in Pinehurst.  In conjunction with the 2014 U.S. Men's and Women's Opens next year at Pinehurst No. 2 the Tufts Archives and the Donald Ross Society want to emphasize the extent of Mr. Ross's contributions to classic golf architecture by displaying pin flags from a collection of courses Donald Ross designed.  The letter went on to state the flags will be displayed at The Tufts Archives in the Village of Pinehurst during the Opens and later become part of a permanent exhibit in the Archives.  I didn't hesitate to draft a letter of response and send a flag from Carolina.  A couple of weeks later I received a hand written note from Audrey informing me she received our flag and thanking the members of Carolina Golf Club for our contribution.  She also stated we were in very good company as the first two respondents of their request were Dornoch and Carolina Golf Club!

Hopefully you recall my post on August 30th titled Headaches, Favors and Stewardship! and the section where I shared a question I received from a member and my response with regards to some of the things we do in my department to be good stewards of the environment.  I wanted to touch on another point from that particular member's email as this person mentioned the renowned courses he has played and their multi-textured look.  To the novice it may seem as if we only have three or four types of grasses growing on the golf course.  The putting greens are bentgrass, the tees, fairways and roughs are bermudagrass and the natural/native areas are fescue and broomsedge but what if I told you we have over one dozen different grasses growing on the golf course!

The putting greens were established with two bentgrasses.  A 50/50 blend of A1 and A4 were seeded into these greens.  Although both varieties come from the same parent material they are indeed genetically different thus each contributes its own characteristics to the sward.

The tees, fairways and roughs consist of 4 different types of bermudagrasses.  There is the hybrid 419 or Tifway bermudagrass planted in 2008.  We also have Celebration bermudagrass, a more shade tolerant variety growing in several places throughout the property.  There is common bermudagrass in various patches and swaths as it has regenerated itself over the past five years and then we also have what is known as off-type.  Off-type is a term used to characterize a genetic mutation which commonly occurs in hybrid bermudgrasses.  The mutation is typically caused by a recessive gene from the parent material and off-types in 419 bermudagrass are widespread.  They are easily identified by their fine texture but lighter shade of green compared to the darker hues associated with 419.

The irregular shaped patches in the two photos below are examples of off-type bermudagrass formation within a stand of 419 bermudagrass tees.

15 Tee
18 Tee

The two photos below depict the different varieties of bermudagrass growing in the fairways.  The photo on the left shows three different varieties.  My radio is resting on pure 419 bermudagrass, my keys are on a patch of off-type and in the foreground is common bermudagrass.  The photo on the right depicts 4 different types of bermudagrass growing in the 10th fairway.  In the foreground is Celebration bermudagrass, the keys on the left are on 419, keys on the right on off-type and the radio is sitting in a small patch of common.

10 Fairway

17 Fairway

From a distance these irregular shaped areas of different colors and sometimes different textures give a mottled appearance similar to an old quilt.  In fact, mottled turfgrass swards are very indicative of older golf courses because over time this is the natural selection of things in nature. 

Our natural/native areas also have a similar appearance with sheep fescue, hard fescue and chewings fescue growing among bluestem, side oats gramma, blue gramma and broomsedge.  The two photos below show the bluestem and side oats gramma growing together in a large section of fine fescue.  This area is located to the left of the 14th tee.

Side Oats

I hope this helps everyone have a greater understanding of the types of grasses we grow and maintain on the property.  We truly are multi-textured like many other classic American golf courses and my goal as always is to produce the highest quality playing surface possible.  Enjoy the weekend and the President's Cup matches.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

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