Originally Posted by foreplease
I think the industry (golf primarily) jumped on the USGA sand-topdressing bandwagon too early (late 1970s) and without enough exploration and explanation of other methods. I think soils with high sand content are great but straight sand...I have tried it and am unconvinced. It is expensive to use and demanding in terms of maintaining it. I use a sand plus compost mix on athletic fields now wherever practical. I have one coming up soon that will be straight compost.
Sand topdressing and sand-based rootzones are used for a very specific purpose. The USGA Recommendations for a Method of Putting Green Construction do not call for straight sand -- they call for a rootzone mixture meeting a specific set of particle size distributions and specific physical properties. Among those physical properties is that rootzone mixtures be 1 to 5% organic matter by weight.
Topdressing with straight sand is common because sand serves to dilute organic matter in the upper portion of the rootzone, in order to reach that 1 to 5% goal.
If you're managing athletic fields, construction and maintenance standards are available from ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials) and STMA (Sports Turf Managers Association). Those are different from USGA (US Golf Association) recommendations because they serve different purposes.
Trying to manage lawns the same way putting greens are managed is going to require putting green budgets and efforts.