The application of sand will not only refine the quality of the grass itself, but will make it more impervious to wear. Not only that, but it will tend to minimize the worm nuisance. Concerning worms, it may safely be said that the richer the soil the greater is the wealth of worms, and, inversely, the poorer the soil the greater freedom from this curse. As I have already remarked, the soil on the majority of greens needs impoverishing. This alone would beget a better, because poorer, quality of grass. We are not seeking to raise hay crops.
There are some worm mixtures on the market which are excellent but somewhat expensive. A very good and inexpensive substitute may be found by boiling a couple of bars of ordinary yellow laundry soap, and mixing it with a barrelful of from thirty to forty gallons of water, applying the mixture freely through an ordinary watering - pot. This will bring the worms to the surface in myriads, when they may easily be gathered. A few applications during the spring and autumn months, when the worms are most active, will materially abate this nuisance. Care must be taken not to have the solution any stronger than recommended, otherwise the alkali present will injure the grass. With the proportion suggested, however, no possible harm will result.
Before cutting or rolling a green where worm casts are in evidence, they should first be thoroughly scattered by brushing with an old house or stable broom. This is very important. Unless this is done the roller will plaster them down and kill the grass so covered, and bare, moth-eaten appearing patches will assuredly be produced. Apart altogether from worm casts any green may be improved by "combing" or lightly brushing before cutting or rolling.
The holes should be changed frequently. Do not wait until signs of wear are apparent. In cutting new holes, especially during the summer months, when the ground is dry and crumbling, the top sides may the better be kept intact by filling the hole with water immediately it is cut. And the same practice applied to the old hole before refilling will give the transplanted inset a better chance to quickly mould itself into and become an integral, even part of its new home. Many green-keepers do not cut the holes sufficiently deep. The upper edge of the tin or cup should be about half an inch below the surface of the ground. It frequently happens, especially during a tournament with a large number of players, that a circular depression about a foot from the hole is caused by the heels of the caddies, particularly when the ground is soft. This does not by any means assist the ball in finding the bottom of the hole. This state of affairs will continue to exist so long as caddies are allowed to stand close up to the hole. But it may be remedied by having a man go around with a tamper, formed by joining together a couple of pieces of solid pine each a full inch or so thick and about eighteen inches square, with a handle in the centre running through the top plank. A few gentle taps with this around the neighborhood of the hole will flatten down any irregularities.
Nothing improves a green so much as being constantly played upon, provided that the holes are frequently changed, before they show any evidence of wear in close proximity to the hole. The human foot is a great agency, and wonderfully assists the work of the roller. Every green should be rolled daily with a light roller - whether it apparently needs it or not. It sometimes happens that in anticipation of an important tournament the powers that be elect to give the greens a rest in order that they may be in apple - pie condition during the meeting. The grass is allowed to grow and the greens are left fallow for a week or so beforehand, general play in the mean time being confined to some rough part outside of the sacred precincts of the regular green. This is a grave mistake. When the grass is cut a day or two before the event, the truncated portion left is necessarily more or less stubbly and rough, and putting, actual putting, is wellnigh impossible. The ground itself, by reason of the cessation from rolling, naturally works up and forms itself into all sorts of roughnesses, so that, in order to work it down into comparative smoothness of surface, a very heavy roller must be employed - to the possible injury of the grass later on.
I am firmly of the opinion that the present method of closing and covering up the greens upon the approach of and during the winter season is unwise. Leaving out of the question for the moment the actual playing on them, it seems to me that the artificial protection afforded by covering them with manure, straw, or anything else (save a little sand), unfits the grass to withstand the severities of play, especially during the summer months. This hot - house kind of pampering care may be adapted for lawns, but not for putting - greens. When uncovered in the early spring a beautiful green oasis is disclosed, which quickly vanishes after a brief spell of cold or hot weather, and the blades soon wear a shrivelled - up appearance. Moreover, greens so treated are more susceptible to wear from ordinary play. Except in the case of a newly seeded green, I question the advisability of any winter covering. On a new green it is of course necessary to aid the roots as much as possible in getting well started, more especially if sown in the fall. But we are now more immediately concerned with greens that have been down for several seasons, and which have become fairly well rooted.
It is the common opinion that a green will be irretrievably ruined by playing on it during the winter months. This is a delusion. Observe carefully, at the beginning of spring, the actual condition of temporary greens set apart on many courses for the winter. There is nothing then - or subsequently - to give the slightest indication that the roots have been impaired in the least degree - nor have they. Yet play has gone on alike when the ground has been as hard as adamant from severe frost and as soft and spongy as a quagmire from resultant thaws, and when putting can only be done with a mashie, owing to the pock-marked state of the surface from heel-marks and muddy unevennesses. Yet such greens come out all right and seem rather to be improved than otherwise. On some courses, indeed, general play is maintained throughout the entire year on the regular greens, without detriment or injury of any kind. This is doubtless due to the fact that the roots are, during this period, in a quiescent state and cannot sustain any harm so long as the greens are kept rolled when the ground is soft. With a light roller too much rolling in winter can hardly be done with any possible injury, thanks to the upheaving influences of frost, which prevent any possibility of the ground being packed so hard as to cause the grass to become root-bound.
From May until October each green should be rolled daily with a light roller, rather than once or twice a week with a heavy one. A roller, moreover, should always be pulled, not pushed. And, except in July and August, the grass should be kept closely mown and freely watered when necessary. During the extremely hot months the cutting-bars of the mowers should be slightly raised, so as to allow a somewhat denser growth as a protection for the roots. The proper care of greens demands unceasing care and unre-mittent, intelligent attention. Eternal vigilance is the price of first-class greens.