After exhausting traditional methods to control the annual bluegrass weed, Squaw Valley Golf Course in Glen Rose has turned to the strawberry mowing process to extend the life of the course’s greens, which will require the closure of its Comanche Lakes route for a few weeks. .
Poa annua, or annual bluegrass, is unavoidable in parts of Texas and, like most weeds, survives in tight, compact soils. The weed blooms throughout the day and creates nightmares for golfers as it makes the surface of the green bumpy.
According to Squaw Creek Superintendent Trevor Ogden, he and his team have exhausted traditional methods of controlling and eliminating the weed. They’ve worked with herbicide companies and universities, but haven’t gotten the results they expected.
Faced with complaints from golfers and the realization that the life expectancy of greens was being shortened, Squaw Valley General Manager Jeff Hanson recommended a long-term solution but also a new and unique method for mastering bluegrass on the golf courses.
Squaw Valley did their research, and a year ago the two course officials oversaw the mowing of strawberries from a practice green, and the test results were so good the pair are moving forward with the 18 greens of the Comanche Lakes course.
“The process involves the removal of thatch, leaf tissue and seed beads in the hope of removing some of the organic matter and ultimately removing the bluegrass seedbed from the soil,” said Ogden.
Ogden likened mowing strawberries to a planer or wood grinder stripping the top layer down to a workable surface.
Strawberry mowing uses a tool attached to a typical farm tractor and digs into the ground to a predetermined depth, removing surface plant material and bluegrass seedbed while leaving much of the Bermuda rhizomes in place. Tons of organic material has been removed from the greens, allowing the existing Bermuda grass to regrow and thrive.
Strawberry mowing isn’t new, but it’s a process typically associated with rehabilitating football and soccer fields, but these surfaces aren’t as delicate as a putting green. With success, Squaw Valley turned to Dallas-based company GLK to do the strawberry shearing.
“We took this drastic step as a last resort. We know this is a problem and we want to prove to our golfers that we are doing everything in our power to create the best putting surfaces possible.” Ogden said.
The effort also aims to extend the life of the Comanche Lakes greens.
“We are aggressively tackling our bluegrass problem. Everything on a golf course has a lifespan, and we’re twenty-one on the greens at TifEagle, and we’re pushing that lifespan. Mowing strawberries, which removes organic matter and smooths surfaces, will add extra years to the life of our greens,” Hanson said. “We need to reduce the pressure on the Links course and have more play on the lakes once it’s ready. “
Careful planning was also done with the project schedule.
“It’s the best time of year to do this project. We’re in the growing season, which will mean the fastest recovery time. I know it takes 18 holes away from our golfers, but it will bring 18 back. big holes in about a month,” Hanson said. “To our knowledge, we are the only golf courses that have tried this method on greens for this purpose.”
If all goes as planned, the course will reopen on a major public holiday.
“Our goal is to have the course back to golfers by July 4, but we know that uncontrollable factors can come into play. We just need everyone to be patient and cooperative with us, knowing the maintenance staff, some of the best in the business are doing the best they can for the course.” said Hansen.
Now that the three days of mowing are over, the maintenance crew has begun the vital process of bringing the green surfaces back to course standards – but without those annoying bumps caused by bluegrass weeds.