GOLF COURSE REPLACEMENT RESERVE STUDIES. Mower for golf green
Step-By-Step Guide for Getting a Golf Course Lawn
A beautifully-striped lawn mowed tight like a golf course fairway. This describes the dream of most lawn care fanatics that want their home lawn to look like a golf course. We’ll outline the process you can follow to create the lawn you see above.
It’s taken several years of blood, sweat, and fertilizer to get the lawn to this point. Although it looks pretty good, we’re always looking for ways to improve this golf course lawn. This guide, combined with a consistent approach, will have your lawn looking like a golf course before you know it.
We aim to show you how to reduce the time to make your lawn look like a golf course from several years to just four months.
The lawn started as Tifway 419. It’s the cultivar most commonly installed by contractors in my area. Over the past few years, we’ve overseeded the lawn with Arden 15 Bermuda to get a darker color while reducing water and fertilization requirements. In the photo above, the lawn is mowed at 0.75”.
Top Dressing Your Lawn
For your lawn to look like a golf course, it first has to be smooth like a golf course. Despite how flat your lawn may look to the naked eye, once you start mowing it lower, all the bumps, dips, and weird undulations will show themselves. To overcome this challenge, you’ll need to topdress your lawn.
Top dressing is applying a layer of sand to the turf to smooth out the uneven surface. There are several top dressing types, from primarily organic material to pure playground sand. We used a 70/30 blend of river sand and organic material on this lawn. This has the advantage of leveling the turf while adding organic material to the soil. The best material we’ve used for lawn leveling is the Soil³ leveling mix.
A pure organic mix will eventually break down, bringing you back close to where you started. While you should apply enough top dressing mix to reduce the low areas, be careful not to over-apply. The grass tips should still be exposed, allowing them to receive sunlight for faster recovery.
The process used for applying the top dressing was as follows:
- Scalp the turf to a height below 0.5.”
- Remove as many of the grass clippings as possible
- Aerate the turf
- Apply a 14-7-14 starter fertilizer (the brand doesn’t really matter)
- Apply top dressing mix
- Use a shop broom to work the dressing mix into the turf.
Top dressing is back-breaking work. Be sure to enlist the help of friends and family so the process goes faster. Alternatively, you can find a company that provides this service in your area.
Check out this video if you’d like to see what goes into top dressing a lawn. We show how the process works using heavy equipment and the manual process. Both methods produce great results.
If you decide to use a service, expect to pay about 5 per square foot, depending on what they do. This lawn is approximately 12,000 square feet, so the initial lawn level and top dress cost 2,425.00.
Approximately three weeks passed between top dressing and the lawn being completely green.
Core Aeration and Verticutting
Core aeration and verticutting are methods for opening the canopy and removing thatch. We typically aerate in late March or when the grass starts coming out of dormancy.
Core aeration punches 4-6” deep holes into the turf and removes plugs of soil. This allows fresh air and moisture to enter the soil, improving water and fertilizer uptake. It also strengthens grass roots. You can rent a core aerator or pay for a service to do it for you.
Verticutting thins out the turf by removing built-up thatch. It also promotes new growth since the grass is sliced into 2–3” long sections. Each of these sections begins new growth of its own. The result is a much thicker and healthier turf in the weeks following the process. We recommend doing both aeration and verticutting at least once per season. To speed up recovery, apply fertilizer after the procedure.
Depending on your lawn size, expect to pay 60–90 for core aeration and 100–150 for verticutting.
Choose the Right Lawn Mower
After top dressing, the mower you use is the most crucial aspect of acquiring and maintaining golf course grass at home. Most lawns don’t look like a golf course because the owner is using the wrong type of mower to cut the grass.
A traditional rotary lawn mower is analogous to swinging a long knife to cut the grass. This hacking motion tends to tear the grass instead of cutting it cleanly. Traditional mowers are much more likely to scalp the turf as mowing heights become lower.
Any unevenness in the surface will cause the cutting disk to dip, creating ugly-looking semicircles in the lawn.
For the mowing heights we’re after (0.5”-1.25”), you’ll need to use a reel lawn mower. A reel mower (also called a cylinder mower) cuts the grass by trapping the grass between the reel edge and the bed knife. This process cuts the grass, similar to how scissors cut paper. They’re much friendlier to the turf since the grass isn’t injured as much during mowing.
Almost all reel lawn mowers can also install a front roller that neatly lays the grass flat during the cutting process. This is what creates those glorious stripes we’re after.
Our current reel lawn mower is a Toro Greensmaster 1600. It is a golf course lawn mower that cuts tee boxes and approaches. If you’re searching for the best reel mower out there, it’s tough to beat the Toro Greensmaster 1600. To find one at a good price, search Google for “Toro Greensmaster 1600” or “Toro GM1600”.
A pre-owned Greensmaster in good condition will cost between 1,500-3,500. A Toro Greensmaster priced in the 3,500 range will typically have lower hours (under 500) and will arrive freshly serviced. That way, you’re ready to go for an entire mowing season. Local auctions or one of the online marketplaces are good sources for finding these reel mowers for sale.
Another option is to find out which company your local golf course leases its reel mowers from. These places will often have off-lease reel mowers for sale at attractive prices. A bonus is that you start a relationship with the company that will likely service and/or repair your reel lawn mower. Regardless of where you get yours, a powered reel mower is a fantastic bit of kit that will produce the best possible cut.
If the price of a powered reel mower is intimidating, you can always go with a manual push reel mower. The Scotts push reel lawn mower produces an excellent cut. There are also good push reel mower options from Fiskars and Earthwise, but the Scotts push reel mower is the one we have the most direct experience with.
While the Scotts will work for most lawns, the Toro Greensmaster or Tru-Cut C25 / C27 are better options. The reel turns much faster, so you obtain a pristine cut even at lower heights. It’s also less work to operate a powered reel lawn mower than a manual push mower. If you decide to buy one, be sure to get a front roller since it’s required to create those beautiful stripes.
GOLF COURSE REPLACEMENT RESERVE STUDIES
Maintenance equipment is the workhorse of a golf course; everything from mowers and sweepers to spreaders and sprayers. The playability and desirability to a course is dependent largely on the equipment that maintains it. There are many options, brands and opinions as to what equipment is most suited for any specific course but if there is no long term plan to reserve for replacement of this vital part of the course the long term financial health of the course will likely be impacted, desirability will be reduced and the course will not be as competitive in the market as it may have been in the past.
- When equipment is purchased it is extremely important it is also well maintained as the useful life of the equipment will be severely diminished if not properly stored and maintenance on a regular basis.
- Repairing parts that are made for heavy use and wear “wear parts” before larger scale refurbishment/repair of the equipment is needlessly needed.
- Having a well-protected location to house the equipment from the elements.
- Having a maintenance staff/contract in place to ensure equipment is properly cared for on a regular basis.
Most golf course maintenance equipment (mowers specifically) have economic useful lives of only 5-10 years. After this time period much of this equipment will cost more to maintain than is economically feasible (i.e. sell old equipment for newer which have less maintenance expenses and more reliability).
Golf courses have become extremely competitive with one another especially during times of economic turmoil when courses will often reduce their fees to draw players. One of the best ways a course can distinguish itself from lower quality courses and to attract their target player is to adequately refurbish the course itself. Greens, bunkers, fairways, tee boxes, even cart paths have useful life expectancies after which they will typically become old and “tired” looking.
- Greens – 15-30 years (compacting, drainage, irrigation restrictions, playability)
- Bunkers – 5-7 years (sand depth, drainage, liners)
- Tee Boxes – 50-20 years (size, useable area, level)
- Fairways – Wide ranging and potential long life of over 30 years when properly maintained
- Cart Path – 15-30 years (cracking, root damage, drainage)
A replacement reserve study will guide a course in adequately reserving for these longer term costs that are often overlooked or ignored with sever financial consequences. Expensive loans are usually the result of ignoring these costs which tend to arise between the 20-30 year marks.
All golf courses have a character about them that attracts their specific target player. Whatever this is, it is important to make sure the course continues to have or elevate this characteristic if the course has the long term goal of retaining the level and type of player that it has grown accustom to. Adequately planning and reserving for these expenses in a manner which is realistic and not financially burdensome, in this competitive environment, is not easy but is possible for when utilizing the services of a professional.
Lakes / Ponds / Water Features
Because most ponds, lakes and water features on golf courses were manmade they typically have man made liners that where often sold as long life items (would last longer than the course) however over time these manmade ponds with synthetic liners have shown to be failing at a more predictable time period of 30-35 years.
These pond liners are extremely expensive to replace and are often the single largest line item expense we have in our replacement reserve study. This is especially troubling as most courses have not been reserving for them as they had the expectation that they will never fail.
We recommended courses hire geological companies that provide lake/pond assessments as they will utilize scuba gear and visually inspect the pond to determine what type of liner it has and provide an estimated remaining useful life which can then be incorporated into the replacement reserve study.
Additionally many ponds with clay/soil liners also develop cracks and deterioration over time which requires draining of the pond to add additional clay/soil layers or install a synthetic liner. Both clay/soil liner and synthetic liners are extremely costly and disruptive to the playability of a golf course.
- Courses will often realize there is an issue with the pond after significant increases in water use as maintenance crews try to keep the lake/pond water level adequate.
Unfortunately some of the most costly components to the golf course are not visible. The irrigation systems which are so heavily relied on to adequately water the course will eventually wear and will require large scale replacement anywhere from 10-30 years. This wide life expectancy can be attributed to course geography and demand on the system.
Typically as irrigation systems fail the maintenance crews will be devoting more time to fixing leaks and tracking down issues than maintaining the course for appearance and playability. Other than the costs associated with the failing irrigation systems a course will typically suffer from an overworked maintenance crew, neither of which is desirable or cost efficient long term.
Typical Useful life of irrigation components:
Note: During irrigation renovations upgrades to newer technologies will typically help to lower costs associated with water usage and fertilizer.
The cart fleet is an extremely expenses component of the golf course which has become a very important and desirable feature players have come to expect of their favorite courses. Our replacement reserve studies take into account the actual costs of replacement as well as large expense items for replacement of the batteries and seats which will not typically last the life useful life of the cart.
Adequate maintenance and cover from the elements is extremely important for the resale value of a cart fleet where a course can see a percentage of the original investment returned and which can be applied to a replacement fleet.
Consideration should be given to the quality of future fleets and adequately reserving or them as many courses have sought to improve the quality of their cart fleet as player expectations have increased.
Living the Golfer’s Dream: Your Own Backyard Putting Green
For many avid golfers, building and maintaining a backyard putting green is a dream come true. Successful, satisfying home greens take a lot of planning and care, but that doesn’t stop golfers who live to play the game.
“Rolling the Greens”
With the right start and follow through, you can enjoy a backyard putting green of your very own:
Selecting a Site for Success
Proper location is one of the most important elements of a home putting green. Sun, lay of the land, and air flow work together for optimal putting green health and performance. Choose a site with at least eight hours of direct sun each day and excellent air circulation, away from buildings and landscape plantings that provide too much shade or block air.
Contours of the surrounding landscape are as important as the final contours of the green itself. Avoid locations that lie low, as a well-draining, fast-drying green is essential to stability and performance.
Laying a Firm Foundation
Green construction at commercial golf courses is an extensive process. While home putting greens demand firm, stable foundations, they rarely require the same degree of work.
Commercial greens take a beating from almost continuous course traffic. United States Golf Association (USGA) guidelines for commercial greens 1 recommend heavy-duty subsurface and root zone corrections that replace native soil with carefully composed, pre-mixed layers of gravel and other materials to ensure greens don’t fail under the pressure. With the light traffic load of home putting greens, most typical backyard soils — with the exception of clay — provide excellent results, as is. Sandy loam soil is an ideal foundation for most backyard greens. 2
Excellent drainage — below and above ground — is critical to the performance and longevity of a backyard green. The University of Arkansas recommends native soil putting greens utilize subsurface drainage tiles according to USGA guidelines, but spaced less than 10 feet apart. 2 Surface drainage is equally important. Construct your green’s foundation so the final contour is free of low areas, and surface water drains quickly in at least two directions. Attention to detail during construction encourages a dense, disease- and pest-resistant green.
Choosing Your Green’s Grass
As with lawn grass, putting green grass should suit your region. Creeping bentgrass, a cool-season grass that thrives in northern climates, is widely considered the best for premium putting greens. The finely textured blades allow balls to roll easily, with less resistance, for smooth, fast play. The University of Arkansas recommends Pennington PennCross creeping bentgrass, long favored by golf turf professionals, for backyard putting greens. 2 Late summer and early fall are prime times for creeping bentgrass green establishment. 3
Fore The Golfer: 8 Things To Know About Golf Course Mowing Equipment
In hot southern climates, hybrid Bermudagrasses provide good performance for home greens. The stiff, upright leaves allow good ball movement; the ball moves across the cut tips, unimpeded by soft, bending blades. However, Bermudagrass greens usually play slower than bentgrass greens. 4 Bermudagrass establishes best during late spring and early summer. Your local county extension office or turf professional can provide information on seeding rates for your area. Local sod producers can also provide guidance on locally-adapted Bermudagrass varieties.
Feeding and Watering Putting Greens
Fertilize your green based on its grass type. The University of Arkansas recommends feeding creeping bentgrass greens four times per year: twice in spring and twice in fall. Feed greens on or around May 1 and June 1, at a rate of 1/2 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per feeding. In fall, fertilize on or around September 15 and November 15, at a rate of 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per feeding. 2
To calculate actual nitrogen in any fertilizer product, multiply the bag’s weight by its nitrogen percentage — the first of the three numbers on the fertilizer label. For example, to calculate actual nitrogen in a 12-pound bag of Pennington UltraGreen Lawn Fertilizer 34-0-4, multiple 12 by.34. The bag contains 4.08 pounds of actual nitrogen.
Feed Bermudagrass greens weekly from April through September at the following rates:
- April: 1/4 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
- May: 3/8 to 1/2 pound of nitrogen per square feet.
- June through August: 1/4 pound nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per week.
- September: 1/8 pound nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. 2
Encourage deep, healthy grass roots through deep, infrequent irrigation, as needed. Follow good watering practices, and water in the early morning hours to reduce water loss to evaporation and reduce the risk of disease. Let your green tip you off to when it needs water: When footprints fail to spring back up or grass takes on a blue-purple cast, it’s time.
Mowing and Topdressing for Peak Performance
Commercial courses mow greens daily (several times per day during tournaments) to keep them at ultra-low heights. 5 Mow your home green four to six times per week to a height of 5/32 to 1/4 inch for optimal conditions. 2 Use a reel mower designed specifically for greens; normal lawn mowers can’t mow low enough. Greens mowers are available in manual and motorized models.
Topdress your home green with screened native soil or sand to improve green speed and discourage thatch. Golf courses often topdress at three-week intervals, but you only have to do so at least twice per year — once in early May and again in late September. For native soil putting greens, top with a 1/8-inch layer of the same soil used in your green’s foundation. 6 Go over the surface with a standard push broom, and work the topdressing down into the turf to keep your green firm, fast and smooth.
Building and maintaining a home putting green takes time, resources and commitment, but it pays off in enjoyment — and an improved short game. Pennington Seed is committed to growing the best grass seed possible and helping you fulfill your backyard dreams.
Pennington is a registered trademark of Pennington Seed, Inc.
UltraGreen is a registered trademark of Central Garden Pet Company.
Patton, Aaron, “Building a Backyard Putting Green,” University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
Vavrek, Bob, “Bentgrass Putting Green Establishment,” USGA Greens Section Record,” October 1999.
Steeves, Susan A., “Putting Green Speed is All in Grass Management,” Purdue University, June 2007
If you haven’t been on a golf course before, in this article you will know what is all about golf in big shortening. I won’t tell you about proper golf swing but I try explain you what is PAR, HCP, and how to read and count score.
History of the golf mower.
than 190 years have passed when the first lawn mower was created. If you’ve ever been on the golf course and wondered how the golf course was mowed at the beginning of its existence, or what the history of mower development was. Today, the mower is the staple of the golf course machine used every day for mowing greens, fairways, or tees or roughs. On the golf course, it mows everywhere. It’s hard to think today what would have happened if it weren’t for the mower. Let me introduce my article about history of golf mower.
Steps for perfect mowing greens
Green is the most important place on the golf course. This is the place when the grass is mowed very short. On some golf courses height of grass on green is 2 mm. It’s very easy to destroy beautyfull looking green. If you want to lead mowing greens to perfection read my 10 steps for perfect mowing green.
What does greenkeeper do ?
If you ever was on a golf course, I think you have seen man taking care of the turf. He is greenkeeper. He gets up early every day in the morning and prepare the golf course for play. This beautiful turf on greens, fairways, tees on the golf course is his merit. The success or failure of the golf course depends on him.
If you haven’t been on a golf course before, in this article you will know what is all about golf in big shortening. I won’t tell you about proper golf swing but I try explain you what is PAR, HCP, and how to read and count score. […]
than 190 years have passed when the first lawn mower was created. If you’ve ever been on the golf course and wondered how the golf course was mowed at the beginning of its existence, or what the history of mower development was. Today, the mower is the staple of the golf course machine used every day for mowing greens, fairways, or tees or roughs. On the golf course, it mows everywhere. It’s hard to think today what would have happened if it weren’t for the mower. Let me introduce my article about history of golf mower. […]
Green is the most important place on the golf course. This is the place when the grass is mowed very short. On some golf courses height of grass on green is 2 mm. It’s very easy to destroy beautyfull looking green. If you want to lead mowing greens to perfection read my 10 steps for perfect mowing green. […]
If you ever was on a golf course, I think you have seen man taking care of the turf. He is greenkeeper. He gets up early every day in the morning and prepare the golf course for play. This beautiful turf on greens, fairways, tees on the golf course is his merit. The success or failure of the golf course depends on him. […]
True-Surface presents turf maintenance equipment that finally works for your budget and your greens. The Greens Care Collection is designed to make your greens care program fast and easy while still keeping your budget fat.
FAST and EASY GREENS CARE
Become more energy efficient with the collection that is fast and easy to use.
- Sturdy Frame Design – Unlike other interchangeable systems, True-Surface is not compromised by a flimsy clam-shell design. The Greens Care Collection frame is designed to withstand golf course conditions, such as weather, shop floors, and chemicals.
- Easy-to-use Depth of Cut Site Gauge – No more counting “clicks” and turns; the True-Surface Depth of Cut Adjuster has a Site Gauge that allows you to quickly adjust your settings by simply choosing your mark.
- Time Saver – Change out your inserts without detaching the Greens Care Collection from your greens mower.
- Interchangeable Inserts – The True-Surface Greens Care Collection will do what would normally take multiple types of equipment to perform. Stop buying expensive equipment – just start your collection of greens care inserts!
There is no need to buy a bunch of expensive tools to perform the same tasks that the Greens Care Collection does itself! Save time and money by investing in True-Surface
The Greens Care Collection (GCC) consists of three frames that attach directly to your existing triplex greens mower. Each frame has the ability to switch out from 13 different inserts. Each insert represents a different greens maintenance tool – making the GCC an all-inclusive product.
TRANSFORMING TURF MAINTENANCE
With 13 interchangeable inserts, the Greens Care Collection will transform from a de-thatching machine, to a turf sweeper, and then again to a greens aerator or even a turf groomer. Easily switch from 13 different tasks!
The Greens Care Collection provides 12 different greens care cultural practices – why wouldn’t you want one on your course? Call today to see the benefits of the GCC by scheduling your demo.