Proper golf course maintenance is essential to ensure that players get the optimum golfing experience. For the longest time, turf managers have studied the conditions of the greens to understand the linkage between firmness, playability, and sustainable turf management. Essentially, maintaining a good turf greatly looks into reducing and maintaining a good level of thatch.

Thatch refers to the layer of organic matter that is accumulated below the turf. It is a combination of dead and living plant matter which include roots, stolon, shoots, stems and leaf tissues. A thatched turf will cause the ground of your golf course to be soft and spongy, thus affecting the playability of your course. Footprinting on the golf course might even be more noticeable, thereby causing unevenness on the ground. Moreover, excessive thatch and organic matter will affect the growth of grass there. It will cause the greens to be saturated in the upper root-zone, reducing oxygen uptake and causing root decline. In other words, it will affect the firmness of the ground you are playing on. The saturated conditions can also further cause diseases like Pythium to occur.

Excessive thatching is undesirable on any golf course, but a healthy amount of that is still needed to provide support. A decent layer is about one quarter to half an inch of thatch for the soil to ideally maintain moisture. If the accumulation of thatch has exceeded more than one half to three-quarters of an inch, measures are to be taken. 

When we interviewed Ian Roberts, a professional golfer and the Director of Tanah Merah Country Club, he explained that the first part of any thatch reduction programme must be to slow the volume of organic matter being produced. One of the main contributors to thatch is shoot and stem growth. To ensure that stem growth is not excessive, nitrogen inputs can be evaluated to decide on the delivery of nutrients in a much more controlled manner. This can be done by spoon-feeding the greens with liquid fertilisers, rather than applying nitrogen-rich granular fertiliser (especially fast release nitrogen, and not using controlled-release or slow-release fertilizer). Applying nitrogen-rich granular fertiliser would only create growth spikes, resulting in excessive shoot growth and thus exacerbating the problem.

Here are 4 more tips to control thatch and keep your golf course healthy:

Vertical Mowing or Verticutting

Vertical Mowing for tatch control

Dethatching can be done by ways of core-dethatching or verticutting. These attachments are coupled to and driven by a triplex greens mower for efficiency, productivity and effectiveness. Thatch is the number one enemy of good putting surfaces. This layer of excess organic matter holds water and therefore encourages shallow-rooted turf. Thatch produces a surface that is soft and spongy when damp, yet quickly dries out and turns yellow at the first sign of a drought. Controlled dethatching prevents the excessive accumulation of thatch and leaves a beautifully groomed and immediately playable turf.

removing thatch

The Maredo GT230 HiSpeed-Corer works to remove thatch by small hollow tines punching to a depth of up to 1” (25mm). These holes are so small that play can resume almost immediately. It works as fast as mowing and produces approximately 4 million holes per hour, thus taking about 4 hours to do a 18-hole course at mowing speed. These holes are typically gone within 2–3 days. Meanwhile, the GreenTek Thatch-Away Supa-System Verticutter removes thatch with its 1.5mm tungsten tip blades spaced 10mm apart. The verticutter cassette slits and vacuums up an incredible amount of thatch with a strong draught created by the fin on the side of the blade and air inlet slots in the unit chassis. The working depths are between 2mm above ground level and 5mm below the surface. The best surface is achieved at a height of ground level to 1mm below the surface, as this removes the flat growth and some fibre on a regular basis without affecting the green’s playing surface. To know more about the Maredo GT230 HiSpeed-Corer, please contact Hamid Sonnosi ( or Jimm Leong (

Sand topdressing

Sand topdressing for tatch control

One of the many advantages of sand topdressing is its ability to improve the smoothness of your turf. The voids that naturally exist within the turf canopy between the turfgrass leaves and stems may negatively affect the overall playing experience. Fortunately, sand topdressing solves this problem by filling those voids and smoothening the ground. Aside from that, regular sand topdressing can also increase the firmness of your turf to make it more resilient.


Fertilisers for thatch control

The Compost De-Thatcher is a high-quality fertiliser made of a unique blend of slow-releasing nitrogen, naturally occurring soil digesting microbes, and powerful enzymes that work in breaking down components of organic matter in thatch. These elements work together to break down the high ratio of lignin and cellulose fibres in turfs. Additionally, the specific microbes formulated into the Compost De-Thatcher produce significant quantities of protease and cellulase that digest protein found in thatch and other organic compounds. Bacillus is also among the beneficial bacteria which produces cellulase, amylases, lipases, xylanases, and pectinases. They aid in breaking down organic matter into valuable nutrients. The right fertiliser can maintain the right amount of thatch, keeping your overall golf course healthy. Interested to know more about how the Compost De-Thatcher can benefit your golf course? Please contact Putra Fajar ( for more details.


Aeration for tatch control

Aeration is the process of perforating the soil with small holes to allow air, water, and nutrients to flow better into the grass roots. It is done when the soil beneath the surface of the greens has become compact, which could suffocate the grass roots. In other words, aeration is essential to break the thatch layer on your turf. This will aid the movement of important nutrients within the thatch and soil zones, while also creating deeper root systems. Overall, it promotes a better, healthier, and more dynamic microbial environment.

According to Ian Roberts, aeration is another key component in the thatch reduction programme. By getting air into the thatch, soil life would be increased and this, in turn, would help break the thatch down. When the thatch within the soil profile is reduced, the locked-up nitrogen can start to release, and the greens can then commence self-feeding. This self-feeding would mean a reduction in nitrogen inputs, and a small cost saving can be made.

There are two methods of aeration for golf courses which are solid tining and hollow tining. Solid tining or solid-tine aeration refers to punching holes into the surface of your lawn with metal spikes, while hollow tining uses specially designed metal tubes for a similar effect. For all your aeration needs, we highly recommend the Redexim Verti-Drain 7215 which is suitable for lower hp tractors as they are smaller and lighter. The Verti-Drain 7215’s extra fine needle tines pierce the ground to separate any compacted areas and add pore space to the soil profile. The tine angle lever can also be easily adjusted for conventional coring or hollow coring which is ideal for thatch removal.

Customise your solution

A good playing surface really does matter in a golf game. Knowing what’s best for your golf course now, the decision is yours to make. If you are interested to find out more about the Maredo GT230 Verticutter, the Douglas Plant Health range, or the Growth Products Compost Dethatcher, do check out our website for more information. For more questions about all your landscaping needs, simply get in touch with us at now!