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Innovative Approach Aims to Control Turf Grass Weeds and Golf Ball Roll

A WSSA member scientist explores how weeds influence golf ball roll on greens and organic approaches to turf grass management

Posted on June 11, 2024

WESTMINSTER, Colorado – 11 June 2024 – A Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) member scientist, Shawn Askew, Ph.D., and Virginia Tech professor is developing novel ways to control weeds on turf grass and improve golf ball roll on greens. This topic is proving timely since the United States Golf Association is in the process of releasing a new tool (GS3) to measure comparative attributes of ball roll on greens.

“We have conducted research using a putting robot and high-speed video to measure how weedy annual bluegrass affects directional imprecision and bounce of golf balls following a simulated putt on creeping bentgrass golf greens,” says Askew. “By controlling annual bluegrass on golf greens, or using management strategies that promote uniformity of mixed-species turf canopies, we can improve pace-of-play and the golfers experience.”

His team’s published research results show that an isolated patch of annual bluegrass causes the ball to miss the intended target by one inch for each 10 feet of ball roll. “That would cause a golfer to miss a perfectly executed putt at a distance of just over 10 feet,” notes Askew. When asked about the impact of this research, he jokes that the work “gives golfers a valuable new excuse for missed putts.”

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