Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist

Some years ago I shared some articles that I often referred to or recommended, and I called that Five articles every greenkeeper should read. As I look at this list of articles now, I’m reminded of the familiar maxim about understanding the rules before breaking them. By that I mean that these fundamentals and principles should be understood. Once understood, then I would make the adjustments required to produce the desired surfaces at any location.

Here’s that list of five articles. This is also the approach I’ve explained in the Short Grammar of Greenkeeping.


There are some articles about turfgrass management that I find myself referring to again and again, using as a reference, and making suggestions to turfgrass managers based upon the information in the articles. I’ve found these five articles quite useful, and if you haven’t read them, you will find them to contain plenty of useful information.

Aeration and Topdressing for the 21st Century, by Pat O’Brien and Chris Hartwiger: this article from the Green Section Record gives recommended amounts of annual sand topdressing for different grass types

Cultivating to Manage Organic Matter in Sand-based Putting Greens, by Josh Landreth, Doug Karcher, and Mike Richardson: this article from the USGA’s Turfgrass and Environmental Research Online publication shows that scarifying the surface removes more organic matter from the green than does coring, and suggests that coring should be done with tines spaced as close together as possible for maximum effect.

Soil Fertility and Turfgrass Nutrition 101, by James Baird: this article from the Green Section Record gives, in eight concise pages, a thorough review of turfgrass nutrition.

Interpreting Turfgrass Irrigation Water Quality Test Results, by Ali Harivandi: this publication from the University of California gives you all the information you need to understand an irrigation water test. It has plenty of technical detail and useful tables for interpretation and reference, but it all fits in eight easy-to-read pages.

Improved Overseeding Programs 1. The role of weather, by Wendy Gelernter and Larry Stowell: this article was publiched in Golf Course Management and has a somewhat misleading title, for it is about a lot more than overseeding. This article explains the growth potential concept, giving a method for simple calculations of probable turfgrass growth rate for both warm- and cool-season grasses, based on the optimum temperatures for growth. The use of growth potential can be extended to fertilizer requirements, aerification timing, disease pressure, and mowing frequency, among many others.

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