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From the TurfNet NewsDesk


  • John Reitman
    Along Interstate 10, just west of Palm Springs lies a collection of ponds that sprout from the arid surroundings like a desert oasis.
    Unlike a life-saving desert refuge, the water on the 900-acre Whitewater Groundwater Replenishment Facility in the Coachella Valley isn't for drinking. Not yet, anyway. 
    These long, slender percolation ponds, as well as those on a few other nearby sites, collect water from the Colorado River through 200 miles of aqueducts and serve to recharge the valley's aquifer below. Despite this elaborate system of conveyance that has been filling desert recharge ponds for 45 years as well as decades of conservation efforts by farmers, golf courses, businesses and homeowners, aquifer levels are below where they should be. And the Coachella Valley Water District would like to see users, namely golf courses and agricultural lands, cut back even more to ensure the supply there does not become a mirage.
    In an effort to boost levels in the aquifer and preserve its long-term viability, the CVWD drafted a conservation plan in 2002 asking customers to reduce their use. That document, known as the Coachella Valley Water Management Plan, was updated in 2010. In it, the CVWD seeks savings of 10 percent by 2020, a goal that at the time received the full support of the area's golf community. The plan has since been amended again to use 2013 as the baseline for superintendents to use to determine cutback levels.
    In a report published by The Desert Sun, the CVWD says that groundwater use is down 34 percent from last year, while the local agriculture industry's draw from Colorado River water is essentially unchanged.
    Of the 121 golf courses in the valley, 59.5 are on recycled water, Colorado River water or a mix of the two. The remaining 61.5 still must pump groundwater, a number the CVWD is working hard to reduce. Those courses still pumping groundwater are using the same amount of water used in 2013 and 6 percent more than in 2010, according to the CVWD, which said it doesn't have complete numbers on water use by ag or golf.
    Some golf courses have met and even exceeded that 10 percent goal, such as The Lakes Country Club in Palm Desert, which has cut use by 14 percent since 2014, according to Jim Schmid, director of operations. Many took advantage in recent years of a rebate program by the water district that paid golf courses to reduce irrigated acreage. Among the many that did was Ironwood Country Club in Palm Springs cut its use by taking 23 acres of managed turf out of irrigation, eliminating two ponds and replacing more than 100 water-hungry trees with more drought-tolerant species. Golf course architect John Fought is overseeing efforts to remove 10 acres of irrigated turf at Ironwood Country Club in Palm Desert after taking 13 acres out of play in 2017.
    Part of the problem, says Craig Kessler of the Southern California Golf Association, is superintendents are on board with using less water, but are overruled by owners and green committees because there is no incentive to comply or penalty for not complying. 
    Often, it's a case of business first. Their concern, he said, is making the requested cutbacks then losing members to a course down the road that did not.
    "(Superintendents) are being blocked. They won't go on record with that, but it's going on," Kessler said. "They want to comply but they're being told to reverse course by the person who signs their paycheck."
    Kessler believes the 10 percent goal is unrealistic given the current state of the industry locally and should be adjusted.
    When the plan was developed, it was based on water used by the 128 golf courses that existed at the time along with 12 others that were to be built in the valley. The savings sought by the CVWD was an aggregate of those 140 facilities.
    Since then, seven courses have closed, another is on the precipice and none of the 12 planned golf courses were built, so the 121 remaining courses should be able to reach that aggregate number. Whatever that number is, it should be one the CVWD and the local golf industry agree upon.
    "I don't know what that number should be," Kessler said. "But it's probably less than 10 percent."
    Despite the call for ag and golf to reduce their water use further, conservation efforts as a whole are up over the past nine years, the district says. The Whitewater replenishment facility took on 385,995 acre feet of water last year, thanks in large part to a rainy 2017, and the aquifer took in more recharge water than was pumped out
    California is plagued by wildfires, and scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography recently recorded the highest temperatures ever in the coastal waters of the Pacific off Southern California. Not complying with water-guidelines is not a good look.
    When it comes to water use, the Coachella Valley has stood out from the state's urban centers. When the state implemented mandatory use restrictions of its urban water districts in 2013, the valley's users were exempt because it is not an urban water district. 
    Kessler warns that if agriculture and golf don't do more to comply with the water district's wishes, more state restrictions could be on the way.
    "It's in the best interests of the whole for everyone to do what's right," he said. "California is on fire, and the Pacific has never been hotter. Sacramento will exercise more control the more it thinks areas like this need to be under their control."
  • Pampas grass has become a common ornamental on golf courses. Looks can be deceiving.
    Known for its striking beauty and sold throughout much of the world as a prized ornamental, pampas grass is found on a lot of golf courses throughout the sun belt. Easy to grow and relatively maintenance free, pampas grass and its sprouting plumes of white and purple often is seen on golf courses at entryways to parking lots, along fairway boundaries and on teeing areas to frame signage. It does not enjoy such a flowery reputation, however, in places like Hawaii and California, where it is fuel for wildfires and is considered a noxious weed. Its proliferation in Hawaii is so unchecked that there are efforts afoot there to eradicate it from the landscape.
    A native to the Pampas region of South America, which comprises nearly 300,000 square miles of remote pasturelands in parts of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, pampas grass has been sold around the world as an ornamental for more than 150 years. It can grow in low-lying wetlands and on the slopes of mountains, and if left unmanaged can grow to more than 10 feet in height. Each year, a single plume can produce up to 100,000 seeds that, in contradiction to the plant’s robust mature state, are so small and light they can be carried on the wind for 20 miles or more.
    That makes pampas grass troublesome for those who do not want it, and the Big Island Invasive Species Committee on the island of Hawaii is on a mission to ensure that part of the state is rid of it. The committee is even asking for help from private landowners, including golf courses, to help identify it and remove it. That mission started more than a decade ago, and is still in progress, though officials there say they are close to eradicating it.
    Complicating the efforts of those trying to remove it is that even when mature plants are subtracted from the landscape through herbicide applications (fluzazifop, glyphosate and imazapyr are common tools against it) and digging up what is left underground, seeds can remain viable in the soil for several years, according to BIISC, so removing the plants and ensuring they do not return can seem like an expensive and never-ending process. That’s a problem in areas plagued by wildfires.
    Once a coveted ornamental in the southeast, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences now considers it an invasive weed and recommends against planting it anywhere in the state.
    The grass first was brought to California, Santa Barbara specifically, as an ornamental in 1948. Today, its range is widespread around the state and efforts to remove it have been ongoing for more than 10 years. Its aggressive nature is a dead giveaway that it is out of its element when planted near populated areas, like California, even if it seems at home.
    For example, Georgia-Pacific, one of the world’s largest paper producers, reportedly abandoned a 1,000-acre site in central California in the 1960s after it planted the tall-growing grass to prevent deer from eating new tree seedlings. The grass was so prolific it overwhelmed the field. The deer didn’t return, and neither did the trees that G-P had planted.
    Other parts of California have struggled with pampas grass and the fire threat it presents for years. Once an area has burned, pampas grass and other non-native species tend to grow back stronger than ever. Nearly 3 million acres, mostly in the state’s northern tier, have burned the past three years.
    The East Bay city of Ashland currently is considering a wildfire ordinance that would ban more than 20 varieties of trees, shrubs and grasses, including pampas grass.
    Three years ago, the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy in Rancho Santa Fe, located 25 miles north of San Diego, began a program of removing highly flammable invasive species to reduce fire risk. The project started with just a few acres along the river, but private landowners seeing the benefits have joined in, bring the number of acres to be denuded of invasive plants to nearly 200.
  • In the never-ending quest to drive revenue at golf courses in ways that do not include traditional golf, enter FlingGolf.
    The game is played on a traditional golf course with regular golf balls. But instead of golf clubs, players use what is called a FlingStick. Sticks start at about $110 and look like a hybrid lacrosse stick. Players insert the ball into a basketlike cup at the end of the stick, then swing it using mostly a baseball swing, releasing the ball up to 200 yards down the fairway with a snap of the wrist. Walk, scoop and repeat until you reach the green. The swing actually looks a lot like a disgruntled golfer heaving their clubs in disgust after an errant shot.
    Finally, players use the same stick, rather than a putter, to gently push the ball along the surface toward the hole.
    "People see the stick, and they think it is a ball retriever," said Kathy VanDeHey, owner of Mid Vallee Golf Course in Wisconsin, which has offered FlingGolf since 2014.
    Like FootGolf, it is promoted, sort of, as a revenue-driving alternative to traditional golf in much the same way that snowboarding served as a surrogate to downhill skiing. The game first came on the scene about four years ago, but has struggled to catch on. The web site flinggolf.com claims the game is played on hundreds of courses across the country, but some cold-calling revealed a half dozen courses that had never heard of it, one that no longer offers it and another that has offered it since 2014, even though few if any people play it.
    "We saw it at a golf course owners convention and decided to give it a try. People were more interested in it then than they are now," VanDeHey said. "People still do it occasionally, but I think the novelty has worn off.
    "If someone is interested in learning it, we give them a bucket of balls and go to the range with them to teach them how to do it. You do have to get that release point down."
    The upside is the game is easy to learn, it's fast (balls stay in the middle of the fairway, allowing a twosome to play nine holes comfortably in 45 minutes), players don't have to know how to play traditional golf yet, unlike with FootGolf, they can be mixed in with regular play and can even fill out a foursome of traditional golfers. And since the game is pretty much throw, scoop and throw again, there are no divots to fix.
    Ideally, the game is designed for nine holes from the forward tees.
    "You are really tired after nine holes," VanDeHey said. "I've never seen anyone play 18 holes."
  • Knowing where to put water and when to apply it is critical to surviving summer stress. Photo by the USGA More than 500 miles separate Chicago and Knoxville. For superintendents growing cool-season grass, the upper Midwest and eastern Tennessee have much more in common than meets the eye. At least this year, anyway.
    A warm spell in late winter followed by a cooler-than-normal spring and blistering hot temperatures by late May have conspired to make the spring and summer of 2018 an inhospitable growing environment for cool-season grasses, say a handful of leading turf scientists. 
    "It was hot and humid by Memorial Day and dollar spot was severe by then. We usually don't see that until late June," said Purdue turfgrass pathologist Rick Latin, Ph.D. "Those 90-degree temperatures Memorial Day weekend put the turf under a great deal of stress. 
    "It was cool and dry in April at a time when Poa is supposed to be thriving and rooting itself. It was held back because of those low temperatures and dryness and prolonged late winter. Then by Memorial Day is was so hot and raining all the time. The Poa never got the rooting it needed in April and May. By June and July, what roots were there were not enough to support the plant."
    Up the road from Purdue in Chicago, weather conditions have been on a roller coaster run from late winter through late spring.
    In February, the low for the month was minus-3 on Feb. 5 and the high was a balmy 66 on the 20th. In March, the thermometer never reached 60 once. The high reached just 58, and that came on the last day of the month. By Memorial Day, the temperature had reached a scorching 97 degrees, a full 21 degrees above the monthly average.
    "The problems we're seeing this summer probably were set into place in February. These conditions hastened the decline of Poa," Latin said. "We don't see this every year. It's something we see once about every 10 years."
    The story has been much the same in Knoxville, where a record high for February of 81 degrees on Feb. 23 beat the historic average of 54 by 27 degrees.
    The average high for March is 61, but the highest temperature this year was 78 degrees on St. Patrick's Day. By April, the average daily high was nearly 5 degrees below normal, followed by mid-90s by mid-May.
    That set the stage for less-than-ideal growing conditions for those in the transition zone who grow bentgrass, said Brandon Horvath, Ph.D., of the University of Tennessee.
    "By now, whatever troubles you have are baked in. If you're struggling now, you're going to struggle until you get cooler weather," Horvath said. "Now, you just have to follow the hippocratic oath: Don't do something dumb and cause more damage than what you already have."
    Horvath said most transition zone superintendents he visits have become very good at managing moisture, and thus avoiding disaster during the summer. That's because they know two numbers from their soil meters - the point near wilt and the point near field capacity, and applying water early in the morning so as to avoid both of them.
    "When I speak at events, I talk about how good superintendents in the transition zone are," he said. "They know how to lose just a little bit of turf without losing whole greens.
    "They know that when you put water down when it's 86 and humid, those stomata are closed and there is no evapotranspiration in the afternoon. The plant is not moving water. Thinking the plant needs water in the afternoon to cool off is a misguided notion. You need to encourage air movement and air-filled porosity in the soil."
    Ohio State's turf pathology department has been flooded with disease samples since late spring.
    Todd Hicks, the department's program manager, said in his latest Turf Tips video that the disease cycle in Ohio is running about a month ahead of schedule.
    He said most of the superintendents he has talked with have managed to avoid any full-blown disasters in what has been a trying summer. The bad news, he said, is there is a lot of summer weather left.
    "Don't take your foot off the gas. Be proactive with chemicals and cultural practices trying to relieve stress from diseases on turf, because whatever you have show up is not going to go away and you're not going to grow out of anything. Not really with what we're seeing," Hicks said in the video. "That means every disease known to man that we've seen so far is going to stay active all the way through August. And who knows what we have for the fall?"
    Hicks suggested altering some cultural practices throughout the summer, as well.
    "Superintendents who have done well have taken away one rolling or more if on a rolling pattern, or they're raising mower heights, and they seem to be doing fairly well," Hicks said. "I know that goes against the grain of trying to have a super slick fast green, but the take-home point is it's better to have a little slower green now than have no green in the fall."
  • 2017 Superintendents of the Year, Rick Tegtmeier, left, and Jorge Croda. The ink is barely dry on Jorge Croda and Rick Tegtmeier's TurfNet Superintendent of the Year plaques, nonetheless it's time to start thinking about their successors. And with so many superintendents across the country experiencing a difficult summer this year, the list of potential suitors for the 2018 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year award presented by Syngenta should be a long one.
    Today's golf course superintendent must wear many hats to provide the best possible playing conditions for the club's golf clientele with the resources at hand. 
     
    To do that, he (or she) must be a self-disciplined, multi-tasking agronomist in charge of managing the clubs most valuable asset; a multi-lingual personnel manager; babysitter; therapist; accountant; electrician; politician; hydraulics expert; ditch digger; plumber; arborist; environmentalist; integrated pest management specialist; turfgrass pathologist; entomologist; irrigation expert; and mechanic. One only need look to the abundant seminars and educational programs for superintendents that focus on topics besides agronomy for proof of the evolving role of the golf course superintendent.
      
    Since 2000, the Superintendent of the Year award has recognized dozens of nominees for their work in producing great playing conditions often during times of adversity. If this sounds like your golf course superintendent, or someone you know, nominate him (or her) for the 2018 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award.
     
    Nominations can be submitted by golf course owners, operators, general managers, club members, golf professionals, vendors, distributors or colleagues, even by mothers and wives. The nomination deadline is Nov. 30.
     
    The winner, who is selected by a panel of judges from throughout the golf industry, will be named at next year's Golf Industry Show in San Diego, and will receive trip for two on the 2019 TurfNet members golf trip, courtesy of Syngenta.
     
    Nominees are judged on their ability to excel at one or more of the following criteria: labor management, maximizing budget limitations, educating and advancing the careers of colleagues and assistants, negotiating with government agencies, preparing for tournaments under unusual circumstances, service to golf clientele, upgrading or renovating the course and dealing with extreme or emergency conditions. 
     
    To nominate a deserving superintendent for this year's award, visit the 2018 Superintendent of the Year Award nomination page. For more information, email John Reitman.
     
    Previous winners of the award include Jorge Croda, Southern Oaks Golf Club, Burleson, Texas, and Rick Tegtmeier, Des Moines Golf & Country Club, West Des Moines, Iowa; Dick Gray, PGA Golf Club, Port St. Lucie, Florida, 2016; Matt Gourlay, Colbert Hills, Manhattan, Kansas, 2015; Fred Gehrisch, Highlands Country Club, 2014, Highlands, North Carolina; Chad Mark, Kirtland Country Club, Willoughby, Ohio, 2013; Dan Meersman, Philadelphia Cricket Club, Philadelphia, 2012; Paul Carter, The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, Harrison, Tennessee, 2011; Thomas Bastis, California Golf Club of San Francisco, South San Francisco, California, 2010; Anthony Williams, Stone Mountain Golf Club, Stone Mountain, Georgia, 2009, Sam MacKenzie, Olympia Fields Country Club, Olympia Fields, Illinois, 2008; John Zimmers, Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania, 2007; Scott Ramsay, Golf Course at Yale, New Haven, Connecticut, 2006; Mark Burchfield, Victoria Club, Riverside, California, 2005; Stuart Leventhal, Interlachen Country Club, Winter Park, Florida, 2004; Paul Voykin, Briarwood Country Club, Deerfield, Illinois, 2003; Jeff Burgess, Seven Lakes Country Club, LaSalle, Ontario, 2002; Kip Tyler, Salem Country Club, Peabody, Massachusetts, 2001; and Kent McCutcheon, Las Vegas Paiute Resort, Las Vegas, 2000.
  • A July 16 storm in Fayetteville, Arkansas destroyed one structure on the University of Arkansas research farm, damaged another and uprooted this one before sending it crashing into a clump of trees. Photo from the University of Arkansas At first, Doug Karcher didn't think much of the storm that blew through the University of Arkansas campus late in the day on July 16. Then he looked across a field at the three structures that protect some of the trials being conducted there. When he saw only two of them, he knew it was time to start worrying.
    The steel support structures and anchors were damaged on two of the structures. The third was ripped from its moorings and hurled into a grove of walnut trees more than 50 yards from its original location.
    The damage, which included a fence surrounding a newly constructed tennis center, was estimated between $60,000 and $65,000 and forced Karcher and Mike Richardson to cancel their bi-annual field day scheduled for July 25.
    "The crazy thing about it was it was so localized and isolated," Karcher said. "A quarter-mile away in another building on campus, you had no idea there was any damage occurring.
    "The tennis court fence was the first thing I noticed, and that wasn't too bad. Then I saw the structures. I saw one, then another and one was missing. It snapped the cables anchoring it into the ground and blew the structure 60 yards into a grove of walnut trees. It was a catastrophe."

    More importantly, the damage compromised some drought-tolerance research being conducted by master's candidate Tyler Carr.
    His NTEP trial on drought tolerance of Kentucky bluegrasses and tall fescues that was supposed to last for 100 days was halted after 42 days because the structure above it collapsed. He will resume the study next year and will include this year's partial data in his findings for his master's thesis.
    "We'll start collecting data again in 2019," he said.
    "I can at least report what we found so far. After I'm gone, maybe they can keep that project going for another season so they can publish a manuscript on the data. At least I have enough to report for my thesis."
    His second trial on the effects of deficit irrigation on Kentucky bluegrass was interrupted when the top ripped on another structure. Fortunately, that whole in the plastic prevented the wind from causing even more damage or destroying the structure entirely. The top already has been replaced, and work on that study has resumed.
    "One project was temporarily halter, and one just hit a speed bump. It's frustrating, but it's out of our control," Carr said. "It's not something that is going to affect whether I graduate, so it's not something I can fret over."
    The every-other-year field day has been rescheduled for 2019.
    "I told Tyler that sometimes conducting research is tough," Karcher said. "More often than not, you have to go through a lot of hurdles before you get good quality data you can use for a paper. Hopefully, we'll get good data next year.
    "We're just grateful no one was out there when this happened. It would have destroyed anything in its path."
  • Marshland and water come into play at nearly every turn at Old Marsh Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Photos by John Reitman  
    Pete Dye once described it as perhaps his finest-ever design. That's a good thing, because Old Marsh Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens is, by many accounts, a one-of-a-kind golf course.
    What Old Marsh is not is simply a golf course with a wetland surrounding it. What Old Marsh is, is a rustic 440-acre natural area that happens to have a 150-acre golf course in the middle of it. A really, really nice golf course.
    "It's a spectacular golf course in the middle of a wildlife sanctuary," Dye once wrote in Florida Golf Magazine.
    Because it is surrounded by so much water off the golf course, managing the water on it has always been paramount. And making sure irrigation water and runoff do not travel off a golf course completely surrounded by water has been a challenge since Old Marsh opened in 1987. And the ability of superintendent Tony Nysse (pictured at right) and his predecessors to keep that water confined, is a big part of what makes the golf course so special.
    Those wetlands surrounding Old Marsh on three sides dictated Dye's design plans 30 years ago, a 2016 renovation he presided over and pretty much everything Nysse and his team do on a daily basis today.
    "We still meet with those government agencies about how water moves off this property and how it affects the preserve," said Nysse, who came to Old Marsh in 2015 after six years at Pine Tree Golf Club in Boynton Beach. "We make sure none of the water leaves this golf course."
    Dye's vision perhaps never was tested as much as it was when he designed Old Marsh.
    He built what is essentially a series of moats that separate marshland from fairways - just in case anyone had any thoughts on venturing into the wetlands. And fairway boundaries were built with waste areas in some places and a raised lip in others to keep errant golf balls, nutrient and pesticide runoff as well as irrigation water in the fairways. Because of that bathtub effect, all water filters to a drainage system that leads to the irrigation ponds, ensuring that everything that is supposed to stay on the golf course does just that.
    It was a good thing Dye built this course when he did, because doing so in today's political and environmental climate likely would be impossible.

    Water management officials say it is unlikely a project like Old Marsh could pass the permitting stage today. "This really was a unique project. When we were constructing the club, all the environmentalists and water agencies were out here, because it was a first-of-its-kind experience for them too," said Steve Ehrbrar, the grow-in superintendent at Old Marsh and now director of golf course operations at nearby Jupiter Hills. "What I remember is that Pete wanted to retain all the water on the golf course. This was the mid-1980s and even the environmentalists at the time said it was OK for some runoff to go into the wetlands, but Pete wanted to retain all the water. The outskirts were higher than the center of the fairways so runoff and surface water was contained. There was no agency then dictating that we do that. That was all the thought process of Pete Dye. You wonder now if another golf course could ever be built like that."
    "We are told time and time again by government agencies that this property could never be built again," Nysse said. "They say it would not pass any sort of permitting process."
    There is more water on and around Old Marsh than most golf courses, even those in Florida. Water and wetlands are in play on every hole, and the property abuts the even larger Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area. At nearly 13,000 acres, the Loxahatchee Slough is an environmentally sensitive, state wetland in north-central Palm Beach County that state and regional government agencies, including county authorities as well as the South Florida Water Management District, go to great lengths to protect from outside influences, like Old Marsh. 
    The golf course and surrounding areas abound with alligators, countless varieties of snakes, deer and bobcat just to name a few. Also at home here are hundreds of species of birds, all of which you will hear before reaching the second tee. 
    "We do nature walks in the winter, and we've been an Audubon Sanctuary for more than 20 years. We do everything we can to promote the habitat out here," Nysse said. 
    "This is tighter-run ship than anywhere else I've ever been because of how we manage the water."

    Old Marsh is home to hundreds of species of birds.  
  • Photo by the USGA With nearly five months left in 2018, it already has been a long year for many golf courses in South Carolina. Devastated by what some have described as the worst winterkill in decades, golf courses in the Myrtle Beach area finally are getting back to business as usual.
    According to reports along the Grand Strand, at least 12 courses in the area closed at least nine holes this spring to repair damage from winterkill after January brought three solid weeks of daily low temperatures below freezing to the South Carolina coast.
    Those that closed slowly are beginning to reopen as they set their sites on a successful fall season.
    According to the Sun News, Aberdeen Country Club, the International Club, Lion's Paw and Panther's Run are among those that have reopened with new greens.
    Several other tracks are either partially open, with some greens still closed, or are expected to reopen in the next couple of weeks. Many of the courses in the area have taken advantage of the down time to work on other projects, including drainage work, fairway renovations, rebuilding bunkers and tree management.
    Bruce Martin, Ph.D., who officially retired in June from his post as Clemson University's turfgrass pathologist, told TurfNet in the spring that winterkill affected as many as 30 percent of the roughly 100 courses in the Myrtle Beach area this year.
     
    "This is the coldest I've seen ultradwarfs exposed to here since I've been here at Clemson," Martin said prior to his retirement. "And that's been 20 years."
    A long, cold spring, which along with autumn is the money season in Myrtle Beach, further delayed green-up for those courses that did not use covers and do not overseed. But even many of those that did overseed experienced some winterkill during transition in the spring.
     
    According to university research, Bermudagrass greens covered when temperatures reached 15 degrees survived throughout the winter with improved spring green-up. Covered greens even survived two days of extreme cold temperatures where overnight lows dropped to 0 degrees on consecutive nights.
     
    According to Martin, courses that used two layers of protection, such as a cover placed atop a blanket of pine straw that promotes airflow, came through the winter better than those with a single layer of cover.
    While covering greens protects them from cold weather damage, it also requires more manpower to deploy and remove, adding to the course's operating costs. But, that's cheaper than regrassing 18 greens.
  • Syngenta has launched Posterity and Secure Action, two new fungicides that deliver long-lasting control of some of the most troubling diseases facing turfgrass managers.
     
    Posterity features the active ingredient pydiflumetofen, which was released into the agriculture market two years ago under the trade name Adepidyn. Posterity, which is available for sale beginning today, is an SDHI class fungicide that provides control of dollar spot for up to 28 days. It also is labeled for control of spring dead spot, fairy ring and microdochium patch. It can be used alone or in a tank mix and can be used in rotation with other products as part of an IPM program.
     
    "Posterity was engineered to uniquely provide power and endurance, when controlling key diseases," Steve Dorer, Syngenta's fungicide brand manager for turf, said in a news release. "It was designed for greater affinity to binding sites in the pathogen, to provide more consistent control that superintendents need for these common but tough-to-control diseases."

     
    With the active ingredient fluazinam, Secure Action includes a boost of acibenzolar-S-methyl to help boost the turf's natural biotic (plant diseases and pests) and abiotic (weather conditions, agronomic practices) stress-management capabilities. The enhanced formulation provides increased disease control — including a 21-day interval for dollar spot control and suppression of bacterial wilt.
     
    "With the addition of ASM, Secure Action kick-starts the plant's natural defenses for increased disease control and overall turf quality," said Mike Agnew, technical services manager for turf at Syngenta. "Research has shown that ASM works best when used throughout the entire season. Rotating Secure Action with Daconil Action or Heritage Action fungicides provides superintendents with a very powerful result in terms of drought mitigation, improved disease control and the ability to recover from abiotic stress for their entire course."
     
    Posterity is available starting today, and Secure Action should be available in early September. 
  • Increases in the minimum wage in some states could affect golf course operations in some states. Photos by John Reitman To say the golf business is facing a labor crisis is an understatement that could make Captain Obvious blush.
    Whether it is on the course or in the clubhouse, golf facilities unable to keep up with wages offered in retail and other segments are struggling to attract and retain employees. In an industry where the cost of doing business continues to rise (including mandated minimum wage increases in some states), while the number of people who supporting the game declines, as Bachman-Turner Overdrive said so eloquently in 1974: "You ain't seen nothing yet."
    In 2016, New York passed legislation that mandated gradual minimum wage increases across the state. The schedule varies depending on location, but eventually the law will bring the minimum wage up to $15 per hour from Buffalo to Brooklyn and everywhere in between. Some areas, like New York City, will reach the mandated wage by next year. Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties will reach that goal by 2021. The schedule for the rest of the state will be determined by New York's budget director.

    Justin Mandon at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, California, has been trying to stay ahead of the minimum wage curve for several years. That's a lot of golf courses in the Met area, including the Seawane Club in Nassau County on Long Island.
    "In five years, that is an increase of $5 per hour," said Seawane Club superintendent Brian Benedict. "That's a one-third budget increase. Add taxes and benefits to that, and that is a substantial amount for one department.
    "Throw in the pool, valet and clubhouse, and it's the same thing for them."
    The problem, of course, beyond finding new money in a declining business model, is how finding a way to keep seasoned employees happy so they don't feel like they are getting the short end of the stick while their colleagues with less tenure get regular pay increases.
    "What do we do about the other guys," Benedict asked. "There is going to be a revolt when they find out some people are getting a $1 raise every year and they get nothing.
    "This is just the tip of the iceberg."
    A very small tip.
    The minimum wage in California increased to $10.50 per hour last year, $11 this year and will continue to climb $1 per hour each year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2022.
    At Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz, superintendent Justin Mandon has been trying to stay ahead of the coming curve by giving his employees regular raises before he is told he has to.
    "We're trying to be proactive. For our core group, we've been giving them raises to get them above $15 so we're not hit with one huge expense," Mandon said. "The average is about $16.75. It was closer to $14 a couple of years ago.
    "We're not just bringing some up to $15. We're moving everyone equally."
    With about 20 people on the maintenance team, the impact is substantial.
    "We ran the numbers, and pushing everyone up over six years is about a $250,000 impact just in maintenance," Mandon said. "It's a huge impact. We're trying to pick it off slowly, $40,000 to $45,000 a year and work it into our budget.
    "The cost of golf is the bigger issue, and how do you address that. You're going to have to increase the cost of golf or lessen expectations because you are not going to have the same number of people you had before."
    So far, at Pasatiempo, the solution has been to increase the cost of golf to the consumer. 

    Austin Daniells at Navy-owned Monterey Pines in California says higher wages will mean making do with the number of employees he has on staff now. In an effort to keep pace with the rising cost of paying its employees, Pasatiempo has raised green fees each of the past few years since Gov. Jerry Brown signed the minimum wage legislation. Fortunately, Mandon said, the club has had a good season this year, but he also knows that in a game that has been steadily leaking players for more than a decade, the number of people willing to pay north of $300 for a round of golf is a very finite one.
    "In the past, we've had as many as 22 to 24 people on staff. That's just not going to be the case anymore," he said. "We've already made the reduction and eliminated a few positions. I feel like we can maintain this moving forward."
    That won't be the case for everyone.
    At Monterey Pines Golf Club, a U.S. Navy-owned course in Monterey, California, the defense department has been proactive in keeping up with wages.
    "Nobody's leaving, but we can't get more bodies," Daniells said. "We're making it with what we have.
    "In-N-Out Burger is paying $15 an hour. We have to compete with that."
    Back in New York, Benedict believes changes to the pay scale and shifts in the golf industry could alter how some facilities conduct business at a very basic level.
    "Big clubs are always going to be OK, but there are a lot more mid-level clubs than high-level ones," he said. "When you put pen to paper and look at the economies of scale, you're going to have a lot of superintendents become general managers and do both jobs. At the end of the day, are you going to pay a GM and a superintendent? Members aren't going to want to give up service, so give me the superintendent who can do both jobs."
    Making ends meet also might mean more golf than ever at some facilities, he said.
    "Do we do 36 outings instead of 18?" Benedict asked. "What if a member comes in on a Thursday and wants to play. 'Sorry, we have an outing so we can keep dues down for you.' "
    Even with changes in the minimum wage structure coming to some states, no one is getting rich mowing greens on golf courses.
    Despite the efforts at Pasatiempo to keep wages up and retain employees, most of the help there has more than one job.
    "What is a living wage in California? To buy a home here, you need a dual income of at least $150,000," Mandon said. "The guys here get off at 1:15, and go to another job for seven hours."
    It's the same on Long Island.
    "Where are you going to live in Nassau County for $15 an hour for 40 hours? Benedict said.
    "I understand why the state did it, but it's going to hurt small businesses. What is the threshold someone is willing to pay for services because wages are going up? We're headed in that direction.
    "It's going to be up to us to adapt."
    Whether it is a private club on Long Island, or a Navy course on the West Coast, golf facilities of all kinds will face a common goal, Daniells said.
    "As superintendents, we put out the best product we can with what we have," he said. "But at some point something has to give."
  • For those looking to get the most out of their utility vehicle, Toro recently expanded its Workman GTX line with new new electronic fuel injection models and additional attachment options, including new flatbed solid side kits, fold-down side kits and fold-down rear facing seats. The new options provide operators with more choices to build the perfect utility vehicle for each application.
    The Toro Workman GTX EFI models feature a closed-loop EFI system, eliminating the choke for maximum performance and reliable starting. This system continually adjusts the engine calibration for changing weather conditions and altitude, as well as the quality, grade and type of fuel.
    Unlike a carburetor or open-loop EFI system that does not calibrate itself based on combustion feedback or adjust for fuel quality and other factors, the new Workman GTX's closed-loop EFI system has an oxygen sensor that provides continuous feedback on quality of combustion. Because of this, the system always delivers the correct amount of fuel and continually checks itself to optimize performance — increasing efficiency for a lower total cost of ownership.
    The Workman GTX line also features new attachments designed to help superintendents and grounds managers adapt to any task. The new flatbed solid side and fold-down side kits are designed to provide added flexibility for containing materials on a 6-foot flatbed. The solid side kit features a rear foldable tailgate with lanyards and durable steel sides, while the fold-down side kit allows the option for the flatbed to be used for large items when sides are not required. Each kit can be installed on any existing GTX 6-foot flatbed with no modifications.
    The Workman GTX is also available with a fold-down rear-facing seat option that provides seating for two additional passengers. It replaces the standard cargo bed and is compatible with both the standard and extended GTX models, converting them from a two- or four-passenger configuration to a four- or six-passenger configuration, respectively. When the vehicle is not needed for transportation, the seat folds down and doubles as a flatbed with rail sides to increase the productivity of the vehicle for other needs.
    The new model and attachments deliver the same benefits that define the entire Workman GTX line. These grounds and turf crossover vehicles boast an unequalled combination of comfort, utility and control, thanks to features like the split frame and gimbal joint. This design allows the Workman GTX to articulate on uneven terrain to keep all four wheels on the ground. An automotive-grade rack and pinion steering system also provides exceptional control with minimal steering effort. Coil-over shocks on all four wheels provide a smoother ride. Finally, four-wheel hydraulic disk brakes give the Workman GTX reliable and consistent stopping power with less maintenance.
  • Sunday's final round of the Open Championship was a like sitting front and center for a Broadway performance.
    From the highs like Francesco Molinari's bogey-free day (and weekend), to lows like 54-hole co-leader and defending champion Jordan Spieth giving back five shots to the field, and everything in between, the final day of the 147th Open was tremendous theater.
    If only all major championship golf could be this way - where realistic conditions and a great set up allowed for difficult and well-placed hole locations that truly tested the mettle of the world's best players without the sideshow that typically accompanies these tournaments.
    You know what I'm talking about.
    Molinari's two-stroke win over Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele was the first major championship for an Italian golfer and the closest any have come since Constantino Rocca finished as runner-up to John Daly after a four-hole playoff in brutally windy conditions at the 1995 Open at St. Andrews.

    As players moved on and back off the leaderboard throughout Sunday's final round, Molinari was the constant. He shot 70-72 with seven bogeys and a double in his first two rounds, then went bogey-free over the weekend at 65-69. 
    On Sunday, he carded 16 pars and two birdies on the back nine, including a four-footer on 18 forcing Schauffele, playing behind him, to make eagle on the last for any chance at a playoff.
    That followed a similar third-round performance on Saturday in which Molinari registered 12 pars and six birdies - three on the front and three on the back. His last bogey in the tournament was a double on the par-4 17th in Friday's second round.
    Just as dramatic as Molinari's final round, during which he had to scramble early on a few times to save par, was how so many other players moved in and back out of contention throughout the day.
    McIlroy, Spieth and Tiger Woods, all past champions, held at least a share of the lead Sunday and Rose at one point was the clubhouse leader.
    As the eventual champion walked off the 14th green, nine players were within two strokes of the lead.
    It's the stuff the final round of majors is made of.
    Not many remember Greg Norman's six-hole playoff win over Larry Mize in the 1986 Kemper Open at Congressional. But several still can recall Mize's chip in a year later to beat Norman and Seve Ballesteros on the second extra hole of the 1987 Masters.
    The chance to see something memorable, maybe even historic, like Jack Nicklaus winning the 1986 Masters at age 46, or Tom Watson's chip in on No. 17 at Pebble Beach to edge Nicklaus in the 1982 U.S. Open stand out as examples of can't-miss major championship drama.
    So too does Jean Van de Velde's self-destruction on the 72nd hole of the 1999 Open at Carnoustie when the Frenchman took a three-shot lead over Justin Leonard and eventual winner Paul Lawrie to the 18th tee before making triple-bogey in an epic collapse.
    It seemed as though something equally dramatic could be in store this time, when Woods, who hasn't won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, was in sole command of the lead at the turn. His chances at a 15th major unraveled with a double-bogey at 11 and a bogey at 12.
    All sorts of drama wandered to the first tee with Spieth, who shared the 54-hole lead with Kisner and Schauffele. 
    After a bogey-free 6-under 65 on Saturday, Spieth was pursuing his second straight Claret Jug and what would have been his fourth major title before his 25th birthday this week. The last player to win consecutive Open Championships was Padraig Harrington in 2007-08. The only other 54-hole leader to win in seven Opens contested at Carnoustie was Ben Hogan in 1953. Spieth's chances at joining both of them fell apart early with a bogey on 5 and a double on 6 to go along with two bogeys on the back nine.
    It was refreshing to see the world's best players second-guess club selection, find most every pot bunker and bush on the course, flirt with the Barry Burn and grind on every putt thanks to slower-than-average conditions that allowed for well-placed hole locations, before walking off the 18th green confounded and confused. 
    But Carnoustie is no run-of-the-mill golf course.
    While the world's best players were battling Carnoustie, the PGA Tour's B-team had little trouble with the tour's official event, the Barbasol Championship in Kentucky, where 72 of the 73 players who made the cut finished under par, 49 finished 10-under-par or better and 6 shot 20-under or better, including winner Troy Merritt (-23).
    No thanks.
    Nearly 4,000 miles away, the surly side of Carnoustie was on full display for Sunday's final round when benign conditions on Saturday gave way to winds streaming in off the North Sea. A total of 52 of 79 players who made the cut shot over par on Sunday, 13 shot even-par 71 and only 14 were in red figures.
    Carnoustie is generally regarded as the toughest test of golf on the Open Championship circuit if not anywhere in the world. Watson, who won the first of his five Open Championships there, has called the course "unfair". It didn't earn the nickname "Carnastie" for nothing.
  • When it comes to hot dogs and hardship, Jesus Romero knows a lot about both. After all, it was too much of one that years ago prevented him from enjoying any of the other.
    An assistant superintendent at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, for the past three years and a 20-plus-year veteran of the golf business, the 59-year-old Romero has seen his share of adversity since crossing the Rio Grande from his native Mexico into Texas three decades ago.
    He made that long journey toward the American dream with a pregnant wife and ever since the two have led a hardscrabble life that he looks back on today as a gift. They came from nothing and lived in the U.S. for months without their two children, who were left behind in Mexico until they became settled. They didn't speak English, and made a living in those early days - barely - milking cows and picking fruit across Florida, and in the meantime raising four children in a new land while trying to teach them the importance of hard work and traditional values that would help them find an easier life than that of their parents. His life story is the stuff of a Hollywood script.
    "There is a lot of stuff that happened in our lives that is like 'wow, that's incredible,' " Romero said in a thick Mexican accent. "I don't regret any of it. I'm real happy."

    Jesus Romero has gone from milking cows and picking oranges to assistant superintendent at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Photos by John Reitman That sense of satisfaction comes from knowing he and wife Estella have tried to do everything the right way - from becoming U.S. citizens 18 years ago to showing their four children that nothing in life comes without a price.
    "We make a plan. Our goal was to help our kids to help themselves so they would have enough money, enough studies, enough resources to take care of their families. We've raised four kids who are good kids and are able to take care of their families. I can die today. I'm very satisfied."
    That satisfaction also is a product of trying to live a humble and virtuous life not only at home, but at work since then-assistant superintendent John Cunningham hired him onto superintendent Dave Oliver's crew at Martin Downs in Palm City, Florida more than 20 years ago.
    In those days, Martin Downs was the first western outpost along State Road 714 before arriving in Stuart from farming communities like Okeechobee and Indiantown.
    "He stopped in looking for work. He didn't know what a golf course was. He just wanted to work," said Cunningham, who still counts Romero as a close friend today. "I took him around on his first day. He said he'd never seen such a beautiful park. He had no reference of what a golf course was."
    Romero picked up the work quickly, earned a spray license and after working several years under Oliver, Dick Gray and Cunningham, the last for six years, was named head superintendent at Martin Downs for two years until the property was sold.
    He rejoined Gray at PGA three years ago, when his position as crew coordinator for a restoration project at Sailfish Point was eliminated. In his three years at PGA he helped oversee the renovation of the Dye Course and is looked up to by just everyone who crosses his path, regardless of their first language.
    "His story is the American dream," Gray said. "Born in Mexico; got his shirt wet getting here; picked fruit and vegetables; and we caught a break when we met him.
    "We made him an assistant superintendent at Martin Downs, then after Johnny and I left, he became the superintendent. The place then sold and Jesus became expendable. I was lucky enough to draft him as the best available athlete even though I didn't have the immediate need. He worked himself back to the top again. He's a great coach and a great philosopher. He's the person that has put the Dye back together. He has a delivery, especially in making suggestions, that is just pure. I put in his evaluation, the portion that he doesn't see, that he has qualities as a person that I wish I had."
    Romero's childhood in Mexico was no easier than the road he found before him in Florida. His father walked out on the family when he was a child. His wife shared a similar childhood experience.
    "My father, he leave us when I was 10," he said. "My wife, she's been cooking for her family since she was 7. Her father left, too. We both are from broken families. We come from the same page. If we don't have it, we don't need it. We always believed that."
    And they went without a lot.
    Romero was working in an accounting office in Mexico City when a friend convinced him to emigrate to the United States.
    "He said you can find money everywhere in the United States. Money was in the ground, you just had to come and get it," Romero said. "It's not true."
    The journey itself into Texas was an ordeal, and one which he thought he might have to pay with his life. The couple had left two young children with family in Mexico until they could get situated in the U.S. Estella, pregnant with their third child, had a hard time at the border, where nar-do-wells had earned a reputation as predators, robbing, raping and killing those in search of a better life.
    "It was real bad. My wife was pregnant, and that made it double hard," he said. "A bunch of times she fell. There are a bunch of gangs at the border, and the people leading us across, they tell us 'if you stay, they'll rape and kill your wife in front of you.' We fell behind. It was hard."
    They made their way almost immediately to Okeechobee, Florida, where the promise of work was plentiful. 
    The couple worked long, hard hours, first milking cows, then picking fruit, all in hopes of creating a better life for their family, but all Estella could think about was her children, Ruben and Diana, back in Mexico. 
    "Our daughter was 1, and our son was 4 when we left them with (Estella's) mom. Three months later, my wife was not doing anything but crying," Romero said. "She wake up and cry, go to work and cry, come home and cry. She was ready to go back."
    That's when a family they met in Florida helped bring their children to the U.S.
    With two more children born in the U.S., no marketable skill and no grasp of English, life in the citrus groves was hard for Romero. When he needed to communicate with Americans and required the help of a translator, he was startled and disappointed at what he learned about his community.
    "If I need someone to translate, it was 'OK, that's $5.' If I needed a ride, 'OK, that's $5,' " Romero said. "I worked hard to learn English. In three months, I was translating for other Spanish people. I was bad, but I was a translator, and I decided I'd never charge a penny for a translation or a ride. I didn't think it was right to take advantage of your own people. I don't work like that."

    Jesus Romero, left, and superintendent Dick Gray check things out on the Dye Course at PGA Golf Club. Not all field supervisors in the ag business were trustworthy in those days, either, and Romero bounced around from one field to the next. With little money and so many mouths to feed, times were tough. When his car broke down, he walked four hours each way to work.
    "We struggled for three years real bad. I was paid $140 a week. I had to pay rent, buy food and pay bills. At the end of the week, I had $1 left over. What do I do with it? Buy myself a piece of sweet bread, or a beer?"
    Watching every penny was part of the plan he and Estella put into place, and they stuck to it.
    "The bus taking us to pick oranges would stop at a store that sold coffee, soda, things like that. They sold hot dogs, and everybody on the bus grabbed a hot dog for 99 cents," he said. "We just had to look at it. I really was hungry, but we had to put our face down. We had no money. We never had a hot dog. It was eight years before I could go back to that same store and buy a hot dog. Now, I love hot dogs."
    Their life became a simple model of "if we don't have it, we don't need it," he said.
    "Our first house, we had no furniture for three years, only beds," he said. "We were happy. The kids had a place to stay. There was a time we had no house and had to hide in an abandoned trailer in a citrus grove in Vero Beach. I had to leave at 4 a.m. before the other workers showed up, and my wife had to keep four kids quiet during the day. I don't know how she did it. We lived there like that for eight months."
    It wasn't until he started in the golf business that things began to look up.
    He made more money at Martin Downs than in the fields, and made even more as a spray tech.
    "He was always thinking there had to be something better," Cunningham said. "When he was milking cows, there had to be something better. When he was picking oranges, there had to be something better. Before he got his spray license, there had to be something better."
    Golf helped him learn English, which opened a lot of doors. His kids all went on to college and are successful in their own careers with their own families. Two are in the military, one works for the Martin County Sheriff's Office in Florida and the fourth is a teacher.
    "He and Estella are very traditional, and they raised great kids," Cunningham said. "It was lights out and in bed at 10 p.m. every night."
    Romero prefers to deflect praise to those who've helped him along the way.
    "I love to work on the golf course. I was fortunate to find people like John Cunningham, like Dick Gray," he said. "They see something in you and let you grow. 
    "I've been working in this business for 20-something years and my kids are grown and out of the house. The difference is that I was able to find honest, not greedy, people in my life. That's the key. In citrus, I had some real bad bosses, but I had to take because I had to work. When you have a boss who trusts you, it helps you grow. When you do something that's not right, but they tell you to keep going. Without guys like John Cunningham, like Dick Gray, my life would be a different story."
    So would many others.
    "We have a significant bond for sure," said Cunningham, now the general manager at Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia. "When you're a young superintendent, you need to get things done, and you need people you can rely on. He was that person for me. And I think he needed me, too. It was mutually beneficial. I learned as much from him as hopefully he did from me."
    Their kids grew up together, and Cunningham's brother, Dan, a lieutenant with the Martin County Sheriff's Office, helped Romero's son, Ruben, get on the force.
    When Cunningham interviewed for the GM position at Aronimink, he was asked to define his greatest accomplishment.
    "I said it was Jesus Romero," Cunningham said. "From milking cows to where he is now - what a story. I can honestly say I'm a better person for knowing him."
  • New York OKs Bayer's Exteris Stressgard
    Exteris Stressgard, a combination fungicide from Bayer Environmental Science, has received label registration for use in New York.
    With the active ingredients fluopyram and trifloxystrobin, Exteris Stressgard is a succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor offering both preventive and curative disease control as well as formulation enhancements through a combination of Leaf-Cote technology and Stressgard formulation technology.
    With two active ingredients, Exteris Stressgard is formulated for broad-spectrum control of foliar diseases like dollar spot, brown patch and leaf spot while also offering additional benefits, such as fast knock-down of damaging mycelium and dew mitigation under certain conditions. 
    With Leaf-Cote technology, Exteris Stressgard offers improved product retention on the leaf surface, sticking where it's needed most – at the site of fungal activity. Additionally, thanks to Stressgard formulation technology, it also has been shown to deliver stress mitigation and improved turf quality.
    Exteris Stressgard is not registered for use in Nassau and Suffolk counties in New  York.
    Wiedenmann taps new territory manager
    Wiedenmann North America recently named Kent Orban as territory manager for parts of eastern North America.
    Orban brings more than 17 years of experience in the turf industry, including the past five as territory account manager for Shearer Equipment.
    He will be responsible for all sales and customer support initiatives for north-central and northeastern North America.
    He can be reached at kent@wiedenmannusa.com.
    California gives thumbs-up to PBI-Gordon's Tekken
    Tekken fungicide from PBI-Gordon Corp. has been approved for use in California.
    A combination product with the active ingredients  isofetamid and tebuconazole, Tekken is approved for use on golf course greens, tees and fairways for control of more than 20 turf diseases, including dollar spot, anthracnose and brown patch in cool- and warm-season turf.
    Tekken's dual mode of action provides preventive and systemic control for up to 28 days per application. Research trials show that it can also result in increased turf quality and reduces phytotoxicity and thinning of creeping bentgrass, compared with DMI-only applications.

  • Roundup ready creeping bentgrass seed is planted in an Oregon field 15 years ago. Photo by The Oregonian Remember the promise of glyphosate-resistant creeping bentgrass that was all the rage about 15 years ago and has been all but dead for the past 10?
    Turns out, we've not hear the last of this genetically modified turfgrass that promised so much to golf courses at the height of the construction boom nearly two decades ago.
    Farmers throughout Oregon are still battling this GMO, and many are at their wit’s end over what to do about it.
    Click here to read the rest of the story in The Oregonian.
  • Studies conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota showed that late-season applications of plant growth regulators could prove detrimental to spring green up, or worse, have no effect at all other than impact a superintendent’s bottom line.
    Trials were conducted in 2017 at three courses in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, testing the effects of paclobutrazol, prohexadione calcium and trinexapac-ethyl on a variety of cool-season grasses.
    Their advice to superintendents in Minnesota is to follow current PGR guidelines and cease applications by mid-September.
    Researchers wanted to learn whether these products, if applied in early October, would: 1. injure turfgrass, 2. impact spring turfgrass quality and recovery, 3. have any effect at all, and 4. reveal whether mixture combinations are better than single product applications.Each chemistry was applied at varying rates at all three properties, and results were measured on Oct. 13 and Oct. 24.
    According to the results, no differences from any applications were detected on creeping bentgrass on the first collection date, and the annual bluegrass and Kentucky bluegrass stands at at least one site were injured on the second collection date.
    The researchers determined that late fall PGR applications are too risky, that they might injure turf and delay spring recovery. In some instances, they might have no effect at all, and thus the expense might not be justified.
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