An R&A appointment for European Turfgrass Laboratories (ETL)

ETL, a Labosport Group company in Central Scotland, are proud to announce that they are now the official testing laboratory for The R&A, supporting testing for all Professional & Amateur event venues. 

Sharon Singleton-Bruce, Managing Director of ETL says “this is an amazing opportunity for the laboratory, and we are looking forward to working with The R&A’s agronomists, Alistair Beggs, Richard Windows and Adam Newton.” 

Testing for The R&A includes several of ETL’s Golf Green Health Testing (GGHI) tests using bespoke sampling kits. This service is providing course managers and agronomists with data for the performance of their golf greens, including undisturbed infiltration rates, organic matter content at incremental depths and nutrient analysis. 

ETL is A2LA-accredited in the field of “Geotechnical, Putting Green Materials” since 1997, with an unrivalled experience of testing venues from all over the world. Adhering to the rigorous protocols of the accreditation provides the industry’s most reliable laboratory data. 

Alistair Beggs, Head of Agronomy at The R&A said “we are delighted to be partnering ETL laboratories, and we are looking forward to working with Charles and Sharon who are able to give us the supporting information and knowledge we need to ensure the venues we use are maintained optimally and provide first class surfaces for member and championship golf. “

Relating Greens Organic Matter (LOI) to the Age of Golf Greens This, our second article aims to investigate the relationship between the amount of organic matter in greens and the age of the greens. We hope this helps provide added perspective for managing your greens and provides an insight for members within your clubs.

The management of organic matter is one of the more complex maintenance and renovation tasks for Course Managers around the world, due to its immediate conflict to presenting smooth and fast putting surfaces.

European Turfgrass Laboratories (ETL) annually tests organic matter at 20mm segments for hundreds of golf courses all over the world, from over thousands of individual greens, from a variety of venues including courses with push-up greens, links style and USGA-type golf greens of all ages. This data helps Course Managers communicate better with their stakeholders and make more informed decisions.

In 2019 we reached out to our customers with a set of questionnaires relating greens circumstances, maintenance, renovation and construction to the amounts of organic matter measured. Due to the positive response we were able provide additional context for Course Managers and clubs.

At ETL, we were eager to establish whether organic matter in golf greens modified with their age as a general trend. For ease of self categorisation Course Managers put greens into the one of the following categories which included individual greens from numerous courses:

Summary of the relationship between the age of golf greens and levels of organic matter at all depths of the profile:

  • Overall, it can be safely concluded that as greens age, generally they accumulate increasing organic matter levels.
  • Whether this remains a trend which can be slowed or even prevented is not concluded within this research element but is an interesting discussion point.
  • Organic matter appears to increase at all depths in line with an increase in age of greens tested.
  • Of all the research concluded by ETL, the strength of the relationship in this aspect certainly intimates that as greens age, Course Managers must work significantly harder to buck the trend of increasing organic matter content.

Understanding why organic matter increases with the age of greens as a general trend needs to be considered both in agronomic and circumstantial terms.

  • Courses limited in resources will tend to have older greens which have not been heavily renovated or reconstructed in recent years or decades, and as such are older.
  • As outlined in our previous article looking at sand volumes, courses with older greens will tend to have lower resource and don’t necessarily prioritise (or can’t afford) to apply sufficient sand volumes to greens.
  • Older greens will tend to be more dominated by ‘soil style push-up’ greens of variations of which will generally have slower drainage, leading to quicker rates of organic matter accumulation due to being wetter for longer in the year.
  • As greens start to accumulate organic matter and it is not adequately controlled or diluted in earlier years, in most circumstances this starts to result in more moisture retentive upper profiles. Where greens, especially in countries that experience a winter build excessive organic matter, they sit wetter for longer often becoming anaerobic. This environment limits and slows natural degradation of organic matter, meaning a quicker build-up of it within older greens.
Relating Greens Organic Matter (LOI) to the Amounts of Sand Applied

The management of organic matter is one of the more complex maintenance and renovation tasks for Course Managers around the world, due to its immediate conflict presenting smooth and fast putting surfaces.

European Turfgrass Laboratories (ETL) tests organic matter at 20mm segments for hundreds of golf courses annually, from over thousands of individual greens from local authority low budget courses to the world best championship courses. This data helps Course Manager communicate better with its stakeholders and make more informed decisions.

Specially-designed sampling kits are sent out to clients, for easy extraction from the golf green. It’s essential that the core remains intact. Upon receipt at the laboratory, each core is removed from the sampling core, and cut into the 4 increments: 0-20mm, 20-40mm, 40-60mm and 60-80mm and tested using ASTM 1647:11 (2018), “Standard Test Methods for Organic Matter Content of Athletic Field Rootzone Mixes

ETL wanted to put some of this data into perspective for clients, so in 2019 we reached out to our clients to provide added value and perspective on this data. The response was excellent with clubs providing information ensuring that the data base is continually growing

ETL will now follow with a series of articles investigating relationships between the amount of organic matter in greens and practical aspects such as sand topdressing amounts, available budgets, staff numbers, species and types of greens construction. We hope this helps provide added perspective for managing your greens.

Course Managers have been asked to categorise their sand topdressing applications into the following brackets of sand applied per annum for 0-2 years of maintenance (recent applications) and sand applied for 2-5 years of maintenance (historical applications):

From the results, we have been able to present data of averages at 0-20mm, 20-40mm, 40-60mm and 60-80mm.

Summary of Finding from Recent Sand Application Volumes and its Impact of Organic Matter Levels

  • Volumes of sand applied from within the last two years dominantly affected organic matter levels in the upper 0-20mm.
  • Greens applying less than 50 tonnes p/ha per year have significantly higher organic matter.
  • Generally, courses which applied higher volumes of sand have lower amounts of organic matter at 0-20mm.
  • Sand application ranges from 51-120 tonnes p/ha, per year, showed variable ranges but are, in general, lower. Continued data collection by ETL will provide ongoing clarity in this range.
  • Historical sand applications of higher amounts continue to show that it produces lower organic matter results at 0-20mm.
  • The middle range of applications from 51-120 tonnes p/ha per year, shows some variability but application in excess of 121 tonnes p/ha per year show clear reduction.
  • Historical increases in sand application can result in burying of historical layers as new sand build up over inherited organic matter. This is shown at 20-40mm and 40-60mm depths where high application volumes have shown increases of organic matter depth.

Summary of Relationship Between Sand Application Volumes and Organic Matter Levels

The concept of application of higher volumes of sand resulting in lower organic matter levels is already widely established. The objective of this research was to provide harder evidence to help Course Managers engage club members in embracing higher volume of sand applications

Less known, is the trend that immediate increases in sand application volumes buries organic matter to lesser or greater extent. This Organic Matter then takes time to breakdown and remains buried in the profile and needs some levels of treatments; firstly, when at surface (0-20mm) levels and secondly, once slightly buried.

ETL will continue to collect sand application data along with Organic Matter tests results at 20mm segments. Hopefully this will provide more insight into the relationship between sand topdressing volumes applied and Organic Matter levels at 20-40mm and 40-60mm levels.

Latest News

An R&A appointment for European Turfgrass Laboratories (ETL)

ETL, a Labosport Group company in Central Scotland, are proud to announce that they are now the official testing laboratory for The R&A, supporting testing for all Professional & Amateur event venues.  Sharon Singleton-Bruce, Managing Director of ETL says “this is an amazing opportunity for the laboratory, and we are looking forward to working with The R&A’s agronomists, Alistair Beggs, Richard Windows and Adam Newton.” 

Read more

Relating Greens Organic Matter (LOI) to the Age of Golf Greens

This, our second article aims to investigate the relationship between the amount of organic matter in greens and the age of the greens. We hope this helps provide added perspective for managing your greens and provides an insight for members within your clubs.

The management of organic matter is one of the more complex maintenance and renovation tasks for Course Managers around the world, due to its immediate conflict to presenting smooth and fast putting surfaces.

European Turfgrass Laboratories (ETL) annually tests organic matter at 20mm segments for hundreds of golf courses all over the world, from over thousands of individual greens, from a variety of venues including courses with push-up greens, links style and USGA-type golf greens of all ages. This data helps Course Managers communicate better with their stakeholders and make more informed decisions. Read more

Relating Greens Organic Matter (LOI) to the Amounts of Sand Applied

The management of organic matter is one of the more complex maintenance and renovation tasks for Course Managers around the world, due to its immediate conflict presenting smooth and fast putting surfaces.

European Turfgrass Laboratories (ETL) tests organic matter at 20mm segments for hundreds of golf courses annually, from over thousands of individual greens from local authority low budget courses to the world best championship courses. This data helps Course Manager communicate better with its stakeholders and make more informed decisions. Read more…

Organic Matter Testing #3

In this, our third article on organic matter, agronomist, Charles Henderson will cover the complex subject of its reduction. Organic matter, in general, is on the increase. Therefore, this makes the reduction of organic matter in greens, relevant to over 90% of us who are involved in managing golf (and bowling) greens, an extremely important subject. Read More.

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