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MADISON, WI, OCTOBER 29, 2007 -- Ask any golfer about a missed putt and one is bound to hear a litany of comments about the speed and play of the putting green.
Turf researchers, golf course management experts, and golfers alike have long recognized that different soil conditions, grass types and mow lengths can affect the putting green speed, or how fast the ball rolls over the manicured grass. Because much of the golf game is spent close the putting hole, greensí management is an important part of maintaining a golf course. Generally, faster greens, where a lighter touch is required to propel the ball, are considered more challenging.
Purdue researchers are using sophisticated management and measurement techniques to more effectively train students how to manage putting greens. Authors Cale A. Bigelow and Kristina S. Walker, whose paper is published in the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, developed experimental plots where they subjected the grass to two mower types, two mowing frequencies, and to using or not using a water-filled roller to firm the surface. They used these cultivated patches to teach students about the impacts of various management strategies on ball speed.
The training session taught the use of such tools as the "Stimpmeter," an instrument which releases the ball at consistent velocities to accurately judge green speed, and the "Accugauge," used to set mowing height.
In addition to allowing the students the opportunity to directly measure ball roll, the teaching exercise provided several opportunities for the instructor to discuss the intricacies of putting green maintenance practices.
The instructors and students evaluated three different bentgrass varieties that differed in leaf texture, color, shoot density and toleration of close-crop mowing. Similarly, they investigated the effects of rolling, a practice of compressing the grass, on surface firmness.
The authors hoped to emphasize that there are other ways to improve the functional qualities of golf greens beyond simply cutting and watering the grass, said Bigelow. There are multiple ways to achieve the greens' characteristics course managers strive for, such as firmness and smoothness.
The researchers, supported by data from anonymous pre- and post-exercise surveys, found this approach of teaching putting green maintenance and the management factors affecting ball roll to be very effective.
The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract at http://www.jnrlse.org/issues/. After 30 days it will be available at the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education website, www.jnrlse.org. Go to http://www.jnrlse.org/issues/ (Click on the Year, "View Article List," and scroll down to article abstract).