Poa, annual bluegrass and Poa annua, are all proper names for this plant. Po-anna & Po are also frequently pronunciations, most often heard on television. While these pronunciations are technically incorrect, you may feel free to call it whatever you like. In our putting surfaces, it’s an undesirable grass, and we treat it with disrespect, you may feel free to do so as well.
If you read this earlier post, titled Why Bentgrass, you’ll recall that keeping our putting surfaces at or near 100% bentgrass is one of the three main goals by which I manage the surfaces. I frequently get questions about the Poa on our putting surfaces; most of which come during periods when the Poa has a noticeably different appearance than the bentgrass. Here are a two questions, various versions of which make up the most frequent of the Poa questions I receive.
Q: Why is the Poa so much more noticeable this year, do we have more?
A: Management practices this season have really focused on “hurting” the Poa. In exploiting its weaknesses, the visual appearance of the Poa versus that of the bentgrass is much greater and thus the Poa we do have is more noticeable.
Q: Can we ever really get rid of it?
A: This is a complicated question with a couple of answers. 1) No, we can never truly “get rid” of Poa on our golf course. It will always be present in various areas of the course. 2) However, management techniques can limit, or even eliminate, the Poa from our bentgrass surfaces. Greens, tees and fairways are all managed to limit/eliminate Poa.
Clubs who choose to re-grass their surfaces do so for many reasons:
- less water, nutrients and chemicals are needed
- better ability to handle extreme heat
- better winter survivability
All of the reasons a club would choose to re-grass with bentgrass are advantages we exploit in making sure Poa stays a negligible part of our putting surfaces.
In non-technical terms Poa is a high-maintenance grass, while bentgrass is low maintenance. Poa needs greater amounts of nutrients to survive, while bentgrass can thrive on very small amount. The same can be said for water. When it comes to turfgrass disease, Poa is more susceptible to a greater number of diseases. When receiving less water and fertilizer than it desires, Poa becomes even more susceptible to disease. The careful exploitation of these differences between bentgrass and Poa are what leads to limited Poa in a bentgrass surface.
In the photo above, you can see bentgrass beginning to take over a spot of Poa. The darker green bentgrass plants are intermingled with the lighter green Poa. As the Poa wilts away, the bentgrass is well poised to fill in the void.
In this photo, you can clearly see a spot of Poa having a great deal of difficultly. I like to imagine it this way: if one had an entire green made up of Poa in the same condition as this spot, would one have a quality putting surface? If the answer is no, our management practices are probably on the right track.
Upon reading this post, one might ask; "if you are seeing such postitive results on the Poa this season, why have we not seen such results in the past?" With every season that passes, we become more comfortable with the management of these putting surfaces and more knowledgable in how to deploy different strategies. Managing any set of putting surfaces is a learning process, and the more one learns, the better one becomes.
A couple other notes:
- With over one inch of rainfall, we've just exited a period of two-plus weeks without rain. When a golf course is managed on the dry side, periods without rainfall in mid-summer will leave the course looking dry. You'll be pleasently surprised by how quickly it bouces back.
- The Green Committee would like to remind all of our members of the responsibility to repair your ballmarks. They'd also like to remind you, the responsibility also extends to the approaches, especially in the areas immediately forward of the putting surfaces. Repairing your ballmark, and one other, in these areas will improve their appearance and playing condition.