Topdressing turfgrass is a management practice that has been adapted by turf managers over the years to help maintain a healthy stand of turfgrass. Whether sand topdressing after an aerification event or topdressing to smooth up an aera that might have settled, it is a very common practice on golf courses. With recent equipment innovations, it has been made much easier and efficient for superintendents to accomplish this task. We will help break down the various types of topdressers available on the market today, depending on the goal you are trying to accomplish.
First, lets breakdown the two different types of topdressers available – drop type and spinner type. Each type of topdresser has its purpose and application method.
Drop Type Topdressers
Let’s first talk about drop type topdressers. A couple of example models of these topdressers are the Toro TD2500 and TD1800. Like several models available, these topdressers can either be mounted onto a heavy-duty utility vehicle or towed behind one. For the Toro models, the TD 2500 is a tow-type and the TD1800 is mounted. These topdressers are typically used in smaller areas around the golf course and are used to apply heavy amounts of sand. A lot of turf managers prefer these styles of topdressers because they evenly apply the sand by directly dropping the sand into the turf’s canopy, just like the name suggests. A disadvantage of these types of topdresser is their limited capacity and longer application times. Since the sand is dropped, the working width is limited to that of the utility vehicle’s width – often very narrow. This requires multiple passes to be made in larger areas such as greens or approaches and multiple trips back to the sand pile to refill. Drop type topdressers often are perfect for smaller areas such as tees, collars, or small approaches. The small, compact unit can be easily maneuvered by the operator in these areas. Most golf courses have at least one of these units in their equipment fleet.
Spinner Type Topdressers
The second type of topdresser is the spinner type. These units come in both large and small capacities. Let’s breakdown the small capacity models first. An example of the small capacity unit is the Toro ProPass 200, either tow type or utility vehicle mounted. This style of unit must be operated by a heavy-duty utility cart such as a Toro Workman. These spinner type units can be used to apply heavy amounts of topdressing sand to very light amounts of topdressing sand, simply by adjusting the settings. A turf manager will select the amount of topdressing sand he or she would like to apply depending on the application or goal trying to be accomplished. The versatility of these topdressers have made them the most popular type of topdresser in the market today. Unlike the drop type, a spinner type will apply the sand by broadcasting it into the canopy similar to a fertilizer spreader. With this method of application, an operator can cover more ground per pass than the drop type, making the application more efficient. These units are typically used on greens, tees, and approaches of a golf course.
The larger capacity spinner type topdressers, such as the Toro MH-400, are used in larger areas around the course like fairways and roughs. Like the smaller units, these models broadcast the topdressing sand from light amounts to heavy, depending on the end goal. With their larger capacity, the operators can cover more ground without having to transport back to the sand pile to refill the hopper as often.
Topdressing is a key practice for turf managers in their effort to maintain the healthiest, safest, and most playable turf surfaces possible. Selecting the right tools for this job is essential in making this practice both possible and efficient.