19 Aug Your New Turfgrass Enemy: Hand Sanitizer
Throughout the ongoing fight against COVID-19, I think it’s safe to say we have all now learned the importance of washing your hands and using hand sanitizer. It truly is the best way to avoid spreading germs. Even on the course! However, though hand sanitizer helps your golfers play safely and comfortably, what is less commonly known is that hand sanitizer is harmful to your golf course turfgrass.
Everyone’s safety is the most important thing. Remember, it was just a few months ago that supers were stressing out over how to get their mitts on hand sanitizer in order to meet reopening requirements mandated by their state. Now, like with toilet paper, sanitizer is back on the shelves and available to help golfers play safely.
At any facility, the course needs to have hand sanitizer, disinfectant and wipes, along with good ol’ soap and water available to golfers at the entrance, in all restrooms and beverage carts. Staff also need to frequently sanitize and clean common areas. It’s important to sanitize range balls in between use as well. It’s a hassle for sure to keep up with all the cleaning and sanitizing regulations, but it’s our reality this golfing season, and maybe for the next one too. We all want to be out there on the course, and for everyone to be safe and comfortable, we gotta be clean.
Sanitizer + Turf = Trouble!
What’s interesting though, and something most people haven’t considered, is we’re all so focused on using hand sanitizer and having it readily available, that we never stopped to consider how it could affect the course itself. Hand sanitizer is made up of 60% to 95% alcohol and contains chemicals–chemicals that are damaging to turfgrass! We came across a study from Iowa State University that showed how damaging sanitizer can be on the course. The study showed that just having some hand sanitizer on your hand—before it’s dried–and then touching the turfgrass, will discolor and sometimes kill the grass.
So what should you do if your turfgrass has hand sanitizer damage? You could make the argument to change your sanitizer to a non-alcohol form of it, but it’s nowhere near as affective in killing germs and in most cases, not state approved. So we recommend two things: 1) Definitely make your golfers aware of this issue and suggest they keep the sanitizer bottles in their cart and make sure their hands are dry before touching clubs, balls, tees, grass, etc. 2) If you see some mysterious dead spots popping up on your course, keep in mind that sanitizer could be the culprit, and you’ll need to get plugging and patching, removing the dead area and replacing it with fresh grass.
Soil & Water Can Help You Produce High Quality Turf
In the end, Superintendents need to do what’s best for their golf course, making timely and cost-effective decisions. Soil & Water Consulting has decades of experience consulting and testing turf for courses around the country. You’ll get an in-depth review of your entire course—or just one area if you prefer. We’ll conduct thorough, quick and accurate testing as needed, resulting in an in-depth strategy and course recommendations—so you don’t waste time and money on a plan that doesn’t suit your course’s needs.