What You Need to Know about USGA top dressing standards

March 19, 2015

The goal of any golf course, especially the putting green, is a slick, playable surface that can be maintained for years without a major course overhaul. To obtain this ideal, it’s important to build the course properly and pay special attention to the construction of the rootzone (soil). The USGA has tested and recommended a certain topdressing mixture that will ensure top-notch golf course greens that, properly maintained, will provide golfers with the type of course they expect.

Golf is best played on sandy, infertile soil. This is because the grass needs to be low and fast and a high amount of turf growth on fertile soil will not provide ideal playing conditions. The best results for the greens will be obtained by using a mixture that is at least 60% medium and coarse sand. This is the USGA recommendation for good reason because this mixture will ensure a good balance of particles used for drainage after a heavy rain, and proper moisture control to avoid dehydrating the soil.

If the sand particles are too coarse (such as gravel), you run the risk of drying out the soil. Similarly, very fine particles like those found in clay and silt should also be minimized to reduce the risk of clogging the space needed for proper rootzone growth. However, these should not be avoided entirely because the fine particles in clay particularly provide certain nutrient-holding capabilities that are positive for the health of the grass.

You’ll also want to avoid organic matter within the mixture. The point of topdressing is to remove excessive amounts of organic matter from the layer on the surface of the soil known as thatch. It doesn’t make much sense to use something composed of organic matter to remove an excess of organic matter. Today’s mixtures contain mostly sand, along with other inorganic additives like volcanic rock, and diatomaceous earth. The type of sand mixture you use is dependent on the type of grass you’re trying to cultivate, what the existing soil is composed of, and especially the climate as certain mixtures will do better in, say, a cooler climate.

The key to a great golf course is a beautiful, sweeping lawn. This is achieved through proper cultivation and maintenance. Using the appropriate topdress is essential to this process. RSI provides topdressing mixtures that meet all of the USGA standards that have been thoroughly researched and proven effective to provide the type of course expected by today’s competitive golfers.

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