Stress management on golf greens during the summer

Managing turf stress on golf greens is crucial for maintaining healthy, high-performing putting surfaces.

May 24, 2024
3 mins
Henry Bechelet
ICL Technical Sales Manager

Undue turf stress can directly result in significant turf decline and it can also contribute to the development of damaging diseases.

ICL understands the importance of this challenge and offers a comprehensive range of products, along with advisory support, to help you develop effective stress maintenance strategies.

There are a number of key considerations for improving the stress tolerance of golf greens during the summer.

Water Management

Water management is one of the most crucial aspects of summer stress mitigation on turf. Our aim is to manage soil moisture contents at levels that are appropriate to the type of turf.

Implementing the use of high-quality surfactants like H2Pro TriSmart or Qualibra, combined with consistent soil moisture monitoring and the focussed hand watering of drying areas, can help ensure that the turf stays healthy and resilient.

Quality surfactants can improve water penetration, distribution and retention in the rootzone and prevent water repellency developing.

This helps us to maintain our desired moisture levels, avoid the development of localised dry spots and also reduce the background level of stress.

Nutritional Support

Proper nutrition plays an important role when reducing the plants vulnerability to stress, during high-pressure summer conditions when we might experience hot and dry weather.

Supplying sufficient levels of nitrogen and potassium are important considerations but any kind of nutritional deficiency should be avoided.

Liquid applications containing nitrogen and potassium would commonly be used during the summer to support plant health and aid stress tolerance.

Granular applications are also becoming increasingly popular because they can provide a more substantial nutritional boost at this time.

The popularity of granular applications is increasing

From ICL the slow-release Sierraform GT K-STEP 6-0-27 +TE and Greenmaster Pro-Lite Double K CalMag 7-0-14  formulations would be industry standards for the task of summer stress management.

We also think that hybrid fertiliser like Gronamic Golf 6-2-4, which blends mineral and organic nutrients with a biostimulant, is well-suited for this task.

The fertiliser’s 50% plant-based organic composition help supply a slow release of nitrogen and the mineral components like struvite and polyhalite supply phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which are crucial for root development, stress tolerance, and plant growth.

Optimal Mowing Practices

Mowing too low can significantly impact plant health and root development, leading to weak and stressed turf.

Finding the optimal cutting height that minimises stress without compromising playability is essential. An overly low height not only weakens the grass blades but also impairs the root system, leaving greens susceptible to disease and environmental stressors.

Find the optimal cutting height

Complementary practices like turf ironing, topdressing, and plant growth regulators (PGRs) can further refine and enhance your mowing strategy. Regular topdressing, helps maintain surface smoothness and firmness, providing quality playing conditions without overly reducing mowing heights.

Utilise plant growth regulators

Primo Maxx II has proven extremely effective at improving drought and heat tolerance, stimulating root growth, and reducing mowing frequency.

It helps to moderate growth rates, allowing turf managers to maintain consistent playing surfaces while reducing stress on the plants.

Turf Pigments

Specialist turf pigments like Ryder from Syngenta can help protect turf from harmful UV rays and excessive light, whilst also delivering improved turf quality.

The “fortnightly” tank mix containing Primo Maxx II, Ryder and Vitalnova Stressbuster is a particularly effective combination.

Long-Term Sward Composition Strategy

Switching to more resilient grass species over time may form part of a broader, long-term strategy. ICL’s advisors can assist in helping course managers to transition the greens towards more resilient species, enhancing stress tolerance and improving year-round performance.

For instance, moving from annual meadow grass to fescues or bentgrass, which have naturally higher drought and disease resistance, can strengthen greens over time.

This transition requires careful planning and patience. Sward composition changes should align with overall maintenance strategies, and adjustments to irrigation, mowing, and nutritional programmes will be necessary to support the new species. While this process demands commitment and expertise, the long-term benefits include more robust turf that requires less intensive maintenance.


Managing stress on golf greens requires a strategic approach that blends effective cultural practices with the right technologies. Optimal mowing practices, precise water management, proper nutrition, and a long-term sward composition strategy are all key components.

Together, these strategies can reduce stress and associated risks, such as disease outbreaks, while maintaining a high-quality playing surface.

ICL is committed to providing tools and support to help you build comprehensive maintenance programmes aligned with your quality objectives.

Our range of fertilisers, surfactants, and PGRs, supported by expert advisory services, ensures that your greens will withstand the challenges of summer stress. Reach out to ICL to discuss how we can tailor a stress management strategy that helps your greens perform to the highest level.