'Tis the Season for Overseeding

Fall in Arizona means the arrival of cooler, drier, chamber of commerce weather. For golfers, fall also signifies the annual return of overseeding, where most our 300+ courses discard their thick Bermuda summer grass and begin the transformation into lush, green winter Ryegrass.

  • The Specifics
    Overseeding is a multi-week process that occurs during the months of September, October and November. During overseeding, most courses shut down completely.

  • Turf Changes
    Here golf course superintendents and their staffs work diligently with the ultimate goal of producing the most aesthetically pleasing and playable course conditions. One to two weeks before the actual overseeding, courses begin to water less and dry out the Bermuda, creating harder and faster conditions. Then the course is prepped, scalped to the dirt and a heaping dose of Ryegrass seed is put down. With a precise, heavy watering cycle and cooler nighttime temperatures, the seed germinates and then grows to maturity. Upon reopening, the grass is sparse but eventually will grow to full postcard perfection. In the beginning, greens are slow and heavily sanded. Nearly all course institute a “cart path only” rule until November. This protects the grass (and the substantial investment) but makes play much slower.

  • Playing Tips for the Fairway
    “When hitting off thin Ryegrass that hasn’t taken hold yet, try to use irons — especially wedges — because they have less bounce,” says Golfer’s Guide contributor and Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Mike Malaska. “The thick bounces on game-improvement irons won’t work as well because there’s less of a cushion underneath the ball. After overseeding has taken, the lush fairways permit very little roll, so go with a driver that’ll give you as much carry and distance as you can get.”

  • Putting Pointers
    “Switch to a putter with more loft to make it easier to get the ball rolling,” Malaska says. “If you don’t switch, then at least move the ball forward in your stance and remember that there won’t be as much break.”

  • Other Considerations
    After overseeding, rates tend to escalate at the courses. The time to play a round also increases so learn how to play during this time (take multiple clubs to your ball, play ready golf, etc.)
    Without proper equipment and/or playing adjustments, you can expect to lose two to ten shots off your normal scores.




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