It was in 2011 when Glenl Wear heard that a few golf courses had begun rolling fairways. This practice, he discovered, improved playability and reduced incidents of dollar spot — a common golf course turf disease.
Wear, the director of grounds at Brigham Young University, decided to give the practice a try on some of the university’s athletic fields, and that same year purchased a roller. He was, as far as he knows, the first in his profession to use a roller in such a capacity.
Wear reports the results are fantastic. Even though he touts his findings to others in the field, BYU, it appears, is one of the only universities that rolls its athletic fields. Wear confines the practice to the football, baseball and soccer fields. Initially, his reason to begin rolling was to “tighten up” his patterns when the turf didn’t need mowing but a game was to be played.
Wear also believes rolling mitigates problems brought on by Rhizoctonia. The fields at BYU are 90 percent bluegrass and 10 percent rye, which is susceptible to Pythium.
“It seems to help reduce disease pressure,” Wear says.
Wear is unsure why rolling combats Rhizoctonia. One theory says that, just as rolling reduces disease on golf course fairways, moving dew off the leaf blade might be the key.
Wear and his staff began monitoring results of rolling this year. If his findings hold up, the plan is to bring in the BYU landscape management department to conduct legitimate field trials. Disease pressure is usually greatest at BYU from mid-July to early September.Another unforeseen advantage of rolling is that it improves the playability of the grass for soccer.
“The women’s [soccer] coach noticed it almost immediately,” Wear says.
According to Wear, the coach walks and inspects the field daily.
“We have to stay on top of our game, let’s just say that,” Wear adds.
Since he began rolling in 2011, Wear has been using a roller specifically designed for golf fairways, a new trend in the golf business where perhaps no more than 20 facilities engage in the practice.
He says he normally rolls before each home game and adds that the women soccer players report that a rolling soccer ball reacts differently depending on the direction in which the grass is rolled, actually causing it to alter course.
For that reason, Wear rolls the field length wisely in three directions, rather than side to- side in multiple directions like he would do on the football field.
Wear also adds there have been no complaints from the baseball team about rolling affecting play.