Feature Article - March 2003
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Good Sports Fields

How to make your grounds look like the pros

By Melissa Bigner

Mama Mia, what a mower!

Here's one that will make the little guys cheer. But first, a quick lesson: There are two main mower classifications when it comes to cutting grass, according to Landry. The first cut by reel, in which one blade lifts grass and a second blades it slices the tips off, much like a Norelco electric shaver operates on facial hair. The second (called a rotary mower) is akin to a spinning whip, in which the blades chop and whack grass short, not unlike a weed eater. The former gives a cleaner cut, Landry says, but they tend to be price-prohibitive for smaller operations. That's where the innovation comes in. Landry says he's been impressed with a new generation of rotary mowers that compensate for their shortcomings without breaking the bank. How? First off, they have shorter blades and multiple discs, which improve the mower's cutting radius, and allow for a better cut on contoured land. The result is a better look for less money done in less time. And, says George Van Haasteren, president of Sports Field Management Systems, there are rotary mowers outfitted to create the striped look of the pros—something only the expensive reel mowers used to do.

These two views of Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore show there's more
than one way to stripe a field, proving groundskeepers are truly the artists of
sports fields.
Another two-fer

Machines don't corner the market when it comes to product innovations. Landry says that companies are now combining lining paint with a plant growth suppressor. Why?

"The biggest reason that you have to paint and repaint your lining is that you end up cutting it off with a mower," he says. "By stunting the grass growth, you rule out the frequency of that problem."

Get Bowled Over

Several universities compete in annual turf bowls. Pitting team against team, they tackle everything from basic turf management to related trivia. In the Carolinas, Clemson is the reigning winner of the Carolinas Student Turf Bowl Competition, which takes place at the annual CGCSA meeting. For more information, visit virtual.clemson.edu/groups/turfornamental/.