Sports Turf Management

Course CodeBHT202
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to Become a Greenkeeper

Sports turf is different to other types of turf in various ways but in particular because sports turf may suffer more wear and tear than ornamental lawns.  An ornamental lawn may be walked over very little, and when it is walked upon the effect of foot traffic is generally mild. By comparison sports turf has to be tough to withstand play and the surface may have to have certain qualities according to the type of play it is exposed to, such as encouraging resistance, smooth movement or the bounce of a ball.

Towards becoming a sports turf manager

Through studying this course you will learn a range of techniques for managing sports turf grasses on different types of sportsgrounds. Learn about how different surfaces are prepared for play, how to fertilise, water and cultivate sports surfaces. See what equipment is needed and how it is used. Find out how to choose appropriate grasses for sportsgrounds and ways to maintain them and limit sports related damage. Devise a maintenance program for a sports facility.

This course assumes a basic knowledge of turf care, either through experience or prior study (e.g. our Turf Care course). From there it develops your ability to manage the maintenance of sports turf. It is relevant to the maintenance of all sports turf including golf courses, bowling clubs, playing fields, cricket wickets and other sporting facilities.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Turf Variety Selection
    • Introduction
    • Turf Varieties in Parks
    • Sowing
    • Feature Lawns
    • Picnic Areas
    • Sports Grounds
    • Gardens
    • Parks
    • Turf Species; bent, fescue, rye, kentucky, couch, etc
    • Turf Cultivar Selection Criteria
    • Mixing Varieties
  2. Mowing
    • Introduction
    • Types of Mowing Equipment
    • Mower Types; slasher, cylinder, flail
    • Preparation before mowing
    • How to Mow
    • Leaf Rakes and Vacuums
    • After Mowing
    • Changing Mower Blades
    • Mowing Sports Turf
    • Sports Turf Mowers
    • Problems that can Occur when Mowing
    • Edging
    • Options for Mower Power Systems; 2 stroke, 4 stroke, electric
    • Hover Mowers, Ride on Mowers
    • Choosing a Mower
  3. Cultivation Techniques
    • When to Cultivate
    • Methods of Cultivation
    • Spiking, coring, drilling, grooving, forking, raling, air blast, etc
    • Coring and hollow tining for Sports Turf
    • Scarifying (Grooving)
    • Dethatching (Vertical Mowing)
  4. Preparing for Play on Sports grounds
    • Introduction
    • Dew Removal
    • Water Removal
    • Combing
    • Vertical Mowing
    • Mowing
    • Rolling
    • Marking for Play
  5. Preparing for Play of Greens
    • Golf, Croquet, Lawn Tennis, Lawn Bowls
    • Cricket Wicket Preparation
  6. Turf Protection and Preservation
    • Managing Use
    • Minimising Damage on Turf
    • Why Repair Turf
    • How to Repair Turf
    • Reconditioning Soil
    • Reducing weed populations in turf
    • Managing turf Pests
    • Managing Demand
    • Repairing Turf
  7. Irrigation and Drainage
    • Introduction
    • Travelling Sprinkler Systems
    • Quick Coupling Valve Systems
    • Manually Operated Irrigation Systems
    • Semi automatic Irrigation Systems
    • Automatic Irrigation Systems
    • Sprinklers, Valves, Controllers
    • Management of Water Features on Golf Courses
    • Improving Surface Drainage after Construction
    • Understanding Soils and Drainage, and Soil Compaction
  8. Soil Treatment and Sprays
    • Major Nutrients and Trace Elements
    • Fertilizer Types
    • Fertilizer Application
    • Soil pH and Soil Ammendments
    • Cation Exchange Capacity
    • Pest Control; ants, beetles, caterpillars, grasshopers and crickets, leatherjackets
    • Disease Control; viruses, bacteria, fungi
  9. Evaluate Maintenance Facilities
    • Bent Grass for Bowling Greens
    • Couch Grass Greens
    • Analysis of Park Maintenance
    • Park Maintenance Tasks
  10. Develop a Management Plan
    • Common Environmental Problems; folia burn, pollution, lack of water
    • Drainage Problems in Turf
    • Frost
    • Temperature
    • Wind
    • Plants have Varying Tolerance Levels
    • Programming Works; maintenance, new works, construction crew
    • Weeds
    • Weed Control Methods
    • Developming a Management Plan for a Specific Site

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Select turf varieties to suit different sports surface requirements; including different climates & soil types.
  • Select turf varieties to suit different sports surfaces (eg. lawn bowls, fairways, greens, league football, cricket)
  • Identify turf blends, their application and reason for use.
  • Explain alternative procedures for sports turf maintenance, used for different types of facilities.
  • Explain specific wear problems and solutions for the five types of turf facilities
  • Evaluate procedures being used to maintain different types of facilities.
  • Determine the resources required to maintain a selected sports turf.
  • Develop management plans for different types of sports turf facilities.
  • Explain the management of a turf nursery to produce a reliable supply of sod.
  • Explain the irrigation and drainage requirements for sports turf

Choose and Use the Most Appropriate Grasses
Some turf surfaces are designed, created and maintained with the intention of being used; while others are created for aesthetics.  A playing field that is used extensively will be likely to be damaged. Shoes can bruise or dislodge plant material, soil can become compacted; and when the surface is too wet or too dry, these problems tend to become exaggerated. Some grass cultivars are more tolerant of these problems, and have a greater capacity to regrow quickly after they have been damaged.
The hardiest grass species that are able to best cope with the most wear and tear might not always be the best looking grasses though. If a sports ground is to be used for elite sporting events, televised to millions of people; there is normally a compromise that has to be made. A less hardy but better looking grass may be used; more time and effort may be allocated to care for the turf surface, and the amount of use (hence potential damage) may be limited to perhaps only occasional games. The athletes may practice elsewhere; and only use the main ground for the important games.
The lawn created for a home garden or at the front of a commercial property may be a very different cultivar to the elite playing field. These lawns may not be run across at all, and may even be rarely walked over. Grasses that are more sensitive to physical damage may be appropriate; if they look better.
Tips for Managing the Use of Turf

A major problem for any turf is that people and machines move over the surface, and in doing so, cause damage such as compaction, dislodgment, bruising of turf plants, and so on. It may be that an area of turf suffers wear and tear because people drive cars over it and/or park on it, or because it is used for playing sports on. Different uses will result in different problems. Generally, turf areas are more susceptible to damage when wet. Therefore, if traffic can be avoided when the turf is wet this will help to lessen the damage.

Damage to turf can be affected by both the type of usage and the quantity of usage. Both are, of course, interrelated.

Type of Use


  • Weight of people using it (children may cause less damage than adults).
  • What it is used for (a football game may cause more damage than a picnic).
  • Condition of the ground (less healthy turf will be damaged faster)
  • Level of Activity
  • Some types of footwear can cause more damage than others (particularly on fine turf such as golf greens).
  • Some types of tyres, such as those on mowers, are prone to cause more damage than others.

Quantity of Use


  • How many people are using an area of grass?
  • Intensity of people (how many people per square metre?)
  • Length of time it is used (if used for a sporting game, how long is the play?).
  • Frequency of use (how many games per week?).

Turf Friendly Footwear

Flat and ripple soled shoes provide less grip on the ground, but also cause less damage to turf. Shoes with spikes have the potential to rip or tear out turf as a person twists and turns their feet, particularly if this happens fast (ie. running and turning increases the pressure way beyond the force created by walking. When walking, gravity is the main factor contributing to the force of footwear on the ground (ie. The body weight of the person is the main influence upon the turf). When a person runs and turns, the force of body weight is increased by extra forces from the muscles of the person as they move.

Golfers may wear any of the following types of shoes:

  • A ripple soled shoe. These cause very minimal injury to the turf but they provide less grip.
  • A shoe with spikes and a shoulder. This causes the most injury because weight is concentrated in the shoulders, creating intense pressure.
  • Spikes without a shoulder. This causes much less damage than spikes with a shoulder.

Machinery Damage

Vehicles can include mowers, tractors, golf carts, and so on. The amount of damage is affected by:

  • Weight of the machine
  • Area which touches the ground: a machine with wide tyres spreads pressure over a greater area, hence pressure and potential for damage is reduced
  • The way the vehicle moves: Quick starts, stops and turns, can result in skidding, sliding or ripping of the turf surface
  • Type of tread on wheels: Wheels with a rough tread have a greater potential to cause damage.

Minimising Turf Damage

In some situations, damage to turf may be minimised by the following:

  • Using concrete/plastic grids buried in ground
  • Chitted seed on sports grounds for instant greening
  • Using covers for protecting turf in wet weather
  • Using very hardy turf varieties
  • Cutting grass a bit taller can increase protection
  • Covering grass during times of heavy use (a party or garden show)
  • Controlling traffic flow by fencing off susceptible areas, putting in a pathway/track for golf carts, and so on.

Preparing for Use

If an area of turf is properly prepared before use, it may be less likely to be damaged.

For example, rolling a green or turf wicket before play will compact the surface and make it more difficult for soil or, sods of turf, to be dislodged. If an area is fed and watered well in the period leading up to a major event, the turf plants will be healthier, stronger, and more able to recover after play.

How This Course Could Benefit You

This course is of value to people who have an interest in sports grass and playing surfaces. It will also appeal to anyone with a general interest in turf care and repair. People who take this course are most likely those working in or aspiring to work in:

Sports turf maintenance
Green keeping
Lawn mowing
Grounds maintenance
Parks & gardens

The course will also be of value to people wishing to include a sports turf maintenance service as part of an existing mowing, turf care or landscaping business.


More from ACS