Nobody needs to tell a golf course superintendent how important topdressing is to their course's greens. If the greens are the heart of the golf course, then the art of topdressing is what helps make the heart pump correctly.
As with most cultural practices, there are numerous ways to be successful with a topdressing program. The keys for any topdressing program are choosing the correct sand for your variety of turf, in our case at East Lake we choose green ultra dwarf topdressing sand. The particle size of the ultra dwarf mix is much finer and easier to work into the tight canopy of our mini-verde greens. You may ask why green? How many times is there a misconception when the golfing community see the greens topdressed and automatically assume the greens have been aerified or the greens must be struggling due to whatever reason. Over the last year of using the green sand we found that we can topdress more frequently without concerns to the golfing members due to the basic fact that the topdressing mix is green.
Another factor that dictates our timing of topdressing is our growth patterns, at the moment we are going to back off topdressing a little due to the cooler temperatures that we have encountered earlier this week. The clipping yield this week after mowing has dropped off considerably, so in turn will back off topdressing until more favourable temperatures come to the fore.
The main benefits of frequent topdressing is to dilute the accumulation of organic material at the turf/soil interface, thereby maintaining favourable air and water infiltration. And the main reason is it simply provides a much smoother putting surface which in turn equals happy golfers.
Managing the ultra dwarf varieties in the South definitely requires efficient planning and thought. Dependent on weather conditions, we will soon begin to lightly verticut the greens on a regular basis. After the vertcut we will topdress the greens using dried sand and the sweep-n-fill which helps work the sand into verticut lines, with little to no effect on the roll of the golf ball.
The moto of East Lake is "Every Day The East Lake Way" so we tend to do what works the best for our operation. Why did I mention that? We do practices that may or may not work for your operation. When we topdress we do a clean up pass around the perimeter first and then topdress the inner part of the green. Why? Due to added cost of the dyed topdressing sand we want to minimise the loss of product outside of the green.