Shady deal a good investment
By JIM BRIGGINSHAW
EVERYWHERE that covered greens have been tried, particularly in the hotter regions, they've been a success. Clubs that have gone into debt to put them in, pay them off quickly through the benefits of increased player membership and cost savings.
The cheaper shade-cloth kind that can be rolled back from over the green when not required as sun protection for the bowlers, allows the tift-dwarf to grow and thus the natural turf can be retained. The dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist prefers this, of course, because he shuns artificial greens.
Tift-dwarf won't survive in shade so when a green is permanently roofed, a synthetic surface has to be used.
It brings savings in greenkeeping wages, greens maintenance and the cost of poisons, fertilisers, mowers, rollers and other expensive greens machinery. The permanent roof has the further advantage of allowing the green to be playable in rain, hail or heatwave.
Ersatz greens have been around for 30 years or so and the early ones were so bad it's no wonder the old-timers took a dislike to them. But these days, when installed correctly, they are as good as tift-dwarf, sometimes better. They can be adapted to any speed required, the weather has no effect on them and they are guaranteed to last for a decade or more with a minimum of maintenance.
My own club has two-and-a half greens of tift-dwarf which cost it close to $100,000 a year to maintain. No club can afford that annual drain on its income.
The answer, of course, is synthetics.
It's only a matter of time before the use of poisons on greens will be outlawed to prevent the contamination of underground water tables. When that happens and greenkeepers no longer are able to use chemicals to combat the countless turf pests, what will be the fate of tift-dwarf?
The wise clubs with an eye to the future are looking at synthetic surfaces.
The wisest ones will put a roof over them.