The key to achieving healthy greens is consistent rolling. It reduces stress on the turf, suppresses disease, and results in a surface that can support higher green speeds than non-rolled greens.
According to Dr Thomas Nikolai, rolling also helps increase green speed by reducing the resistance between the ball and the putting surface. Other agronomic practices that decrease resistance include the height of the cut, fertilizer application, mowing frequency, and verti-cutting.
Reduces Soil Erosion
Rolling can reduce the wear on putting greens caused by golfers and mowing equipment. In addition to lowering turf injury, rolling can also help minimize the effects of wind on greens by creating a more uniform surface that is easier for balls to move across.
The most obvious benefit of a greens roller is increased green speed as the surface becomes firmer and smoother. However, rolling can have many other agronomic benefits as well. It has been shown that moving can increase soil volumetric moisture content, and research at Michigan State University has found that rolled plots have decreased occurrences of dollar spot disease compared to non-rolled plots.
Using a roller requires an investment of both time and money, but the return is high. Accessory rollers that attach to a greens triple mower can be operated in the same amount of time it takes to mow the greens, making them an attractive option for superintendents. There are also a variety of self-propelled rollers available that provide excellent rolling action.
Reduces Soil Compaction
As demand for faster-putting greens has increased, many superintendents have experimented with various methods to decrease resistance and promote ball speed. This has included lower Nitrogen levels, verti-cutting to promote upright growth, use of PGRs to thicken the turf canopy, and rolling the greens regularly.
Rolling is a great way to smooth out surface imperfections on the green, which produces a fast and accurate putting surface. In addition, moving can help reduce the stresses of daily mowing, helping to maintain plant health.
However, it is essential to note that excessive rolling can add some compaction. This is why it is necessary only to use lightweight rollers and avoid doing it on wet or saturated ground. Also, if rolling is done regularly, it should always be countered with a solid aeration program.
Reduces Weed Growth
Putting green requires a combination of maintenance practices to achieve the desired surface quality and health. Proper mower setup is crucial to attain an appropriate cut height and limiting the turf’s stress. Using a roller to improve surface smoothness and trueness and reduce bruising can complement these agronomic practices and improve overall turf health.
Adding to the benefits of rolling, research conducted at Michigan State University showed that putting greens rolled three times per week has less broadleaf weed, moss, and algae encroachment than those not moved. It is thought that regular lightweight rolling causes an increase in turfgrass density, which accounts for this drop.
Several roller attachments are available to mount on a greens triple mower, delivering an additional rolling action to the surface. These units can replace daily mowing, reducing plant stress and improving surface quality without impacting green speeds.
Reduces Dry Spot
After investing time and effort into aeration and relieving compaction, it may seem counterintuitive to roll the greens. However, using a lightweight roller to flatten surface irregularities can improve playability without adding additional mechanical stress and damage.
For example, a study by Michigan State University revealed that putting greens rolled three times per week had significantly fewer localized dry spots than putting greens not moved. This is likely because rolling removes dew, decreases wet duration, and promotes turfgrass density.
The same study found that a light rolling program increased green speed and helped sand topdressing move into the root zone more quickly. According to Tom Nikolai, the “Doctor of Green Speed,” a rolling putting surface has a firmer and smoother surface, increasing green speed.