Golf Course Invaders

by Max Rehfus, Professional Golf Management major

In comparison to traditional agriculture, I think the outside opinion would be that golf is not an agricultural industry. In reality, golf is not much different than the cash crop business. Farms utilize farmers to generate and cultivate beautiful food products and golf courses utilize a golf course superintendent plus staff to generate healthy turf and playing condition. Consumers pay high prices for the best fruits and vegetables and consumers pay high prices for the best turf and playing conditions.

Poa annua is a turfgrass found in abundance in coastal golf courses in a cool weather climate. It serves as a nice surface on putting greens and fairways when used as an independent plant, but when it is introduced with another species of turfgrass it causes many problems. In my opinion, Poa annua control is one of the most difficult battles a superintendent must fight.

Poa annua grass is a plant with shallow roots that consume more water and sunlight than surrounding plants, for example, creeping bentgrass. In addition to its battle for water and sunlight, Poa annua has over 30 different subspecies that make it difficult for herbicide to eradicate all the plants in an area. Once a Poa annua seed germinates it can produce up to 600 seeds in a year. These characteristics culminate to a plant that is unwanted and considered invasive.

Once Poa annua grass invades a putting green, it creates a bumpy surface for a ball to roll upon. An inconsistent putting surface is a blemish upon the reputation of a golf courses’ condition resulting in a decrease in revenue. Poa annua grass can be controlled, but it takes time, effort and money. These resources are limited at many golf courses, helping to accelerate the spread of Poa annua across the sport.

This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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