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From the TurfNet NewsDesk


  • John Reitman
    With summer conditions hanging on throughout much of the country, it might be difficult to remember that autumn is right around the corner.
    Gordon Kauffman III, Ph.D., and Grigg developed a three-part Fall and Winter Prep TurfNet University webinar series centered on fall and winter golf course preparations.
    Things kicked off Wednesday when Doug Soldat, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin presents Fundamentals of fall fertilization. In that webinar, Soldat focused on late-season fertilization of cool-season turf as it recovers from summer stress.
    The second installment on Thursday featured Brandon Horvath, Ph.D., of the University of Tennessee delivered Diseases to prepare for this fall and winter on warm- and cool-season turf. 
    The program concluded Friday when Kauffman presented Managing fine turf in low light with limited water.
    In this presentation, Kauffman discussed how low light and limited water affect plant physiology. He also reviewed important cultural practices to improve turf vigor and provide insight about new technologies and how they fit into a management strategy, including the most current science. 
    The recorded archives are free for everyone to view on-demand.
  • Tom Samples, Ph.D., right, talks turf at the University of Tennessee Turf and Ornamental Field Day. Some things in life just aren't fair, like giving Tom Samples, Ph.D., 25 minutes to discuss a topic like "35 Years of Turf Tips" at this year's University of Tennessee Turf and Ornamental Field Day.
    The unofficial, or maybe official, ambassador of Tennessee's turfgrass program, Samples has been a fixture of the program in Knoxville since earning a doctorate from Oklahoma State in 1985.
    "I warned them," Samples said at the field day held Aug. 30 at the East Tennessee Ag Research and Education Center in Knoxville. "It takes me 10 minutes just to say 'hi.' "
    Samples' experiences during parts of the past five decades could fill a book not to mention a weeklong turfgrass seminar. At Tennessee's field day they were squeezed into a 25-minute window with other golf-specific topics that included weed management, developing fungicide programs and the latest on zoysiagrass for putting greens (more on those topics coming next week on TurfNet).
    Professional turf managers from the golf, sports field and lawn care operator markets turned out in droves for the information. The event attracted a record 417 who pre-registered and at least 100 additional walk-ups who registered the day of the event.
    Lingering cold conditions followed by brutally hot temperatures in late spring set the table for difficult growing conditions for warm-season turf throughout Tennessee and much of the rest of the transition zone. Summer conditions that have been defined by hot, humid and cloudy days and high temperatures overnight have made it equally difficult for those growing cool-season turf.
    To get through such challenges, he said, sometimes you just have to throw the book out the window.

    Tom Samples says sometimes turf managers have to throw out the book and get creative, like during the growing season of 2018 in the transition zone. "Some things don't change in turfgrass care, but if there's one thing I've learned over the years is you're not going to learn it all in a textbook," Samples said. "How many of you went the college route and two years into the real world realized 'boy, I don't know as much as I thought I knew?' Now you're being asked to solve problems you never read about in a text book."
    Samples' take-home message to attendees were: above all else always protect the crown of the plant, make sure you have the right turf for your location and climate, embrace change - especially new technology and never stop asking questions.
    "You're in one of the most challenging places in the country to grow quality turfgrass," he said. "You can grow anything here. They will look good seasonally, but I guarantee you will have to prepare that grass for some stress whether you are preparing warm-season grass for winter dormancy, or if you are preparing cool-season grass for heat stress and drought stress."
    When making turf variety recommendations, Samples scours test results not only for how new varieties are performing in Tennessee, but in places like Lexington, Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina, as well.
    "Varietal selection is important," he said. "If something performs well in all those areas, it's going to perform in Tennessee."
    And if you don't maintain a nursery area or test plot, start one to explore new turf varieties and new products.
    "There are some products out there that are snake oil, and those companies usually don't stay in business very long, thank goodness" he said. "But there also are some very good products out there that the companies who manufacture and market those products cannot afford to have research conducted so that they can provide you with research-based information.
    "Because there is no research doesn't mean they are snake oil or not. My job is to provide you with research-based information that can benefit you or your clientele. So, when people call about them, I want you to try them out on a small scale on a test area, never on all your turf. I would encourage you to have an inquiring mind and be a lifelong learner. And I think you are, or you wouldn't be here."
  • After four years of renovation and construction projects and prepping for a Solheim Cup that captured the collective heart of an entire state, you would think a guy could catch a break.
    More than four decades into a career of managing greens, tees and fairways, Rick Tegtmeier, CGCS MG at Des Moines Golf and Country Club, called 2018 one of the most challenging growing seasons he has faced. The experience, Tegtmeier said, illustrates the importance of communicating with members and other stakeholders.
    "Nothing was ever normal. It's been a year of extremes," Tegtmeier said. "We've been constantly adapting to whatever the conditions are.
    "Sometimes, a superintendent can get into trouble by not conveying what's happening with the weather. We've put a lot of posts on social media to show people what we're dealing with."
    It was so dry so early into the winter season as well, that Tegtmeier had to crank up the irrigation system in December to get some water onto the turf. By March, temperatures in Des Moines reached the mid-60s according to the National Weather Service, and Tegtmeier was rushing to open the course. Winter returned in April, with average high and low temperatures nearly 10 degrees below normal.
    Then things really got rough.
    In early May, temps in Des Moines were abnormally high, reaching into the low 80s. Two weeks later, it was in the mid-50s. The topsy-turvy conditions culminated on May 27 when the mercury reached 102 degrees. Tegtmeier recorded record rainfall for June at DMGCC, including 10 inches in one 24-hour period.
    "After adding nine miles of drainage during four years of construction," Tegtmeier said. "And it's still not enough."
    Cast into August-like conditions before Memorial Day weekend, the bentgrass at DMGCC never had a chance to develop long strong roots throughout the early part of the growing season.
    It was new territory for Tegtmeier, who has been in the golf business for 46 years and oversaw four years of restorations in the lead-up to the 2017 Solheim Cup before eventually being named, along with Jorge Croda of Southern Oaks GC in Texas, the recipient of the 2017 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award presented by Syngenta.
    "It was so abrupt and so sudden, it was brutal," Tegtmeier said of the weather changes. 
    "The roots were really compromised."
    Each year, Tegtmeier budgets for one wetting agent application in June, July and August. This year, he made his first application, albeit an unplanned one, in May. He also was getting as much air as possible into the rootzone.

    "We spent the entire month of May dealing with localized dry spot. We made an additional wetting agent application, and we were needle tining a lot," Tegtmeier said. 
    "We were constantly sending aerifiers out. There was a two-week stretch where one of them was running somewhere every day. We were hand-watering everywhere, then the rainy period hit. That's where guys lost grassy, when it was rainy and hot. There's always a little bit of concern about mechanical damage and lifting turf when it's stressed and you run a solid tine over it. You have to water to get some depth.
    Through the heart of the summer, DMGCC faced nearly two months of conditions more suited for the Sahara than Iowa.
    "We've had seven weeks of no rain," he said. "The water here is very sodic, so we have built up salinity in the top inch and we have to flush that."
    Throughout a career that started learning at the knee of Bill Byers, who was at DMGCC for 49 years, Tegtmeier writes his own fungicide programs, and he has been put to the test this year, making changes to a program that goes out every 14 days.
    "At times, I flip-flopped chemicals based on what I needed," Tegtmeier said. "Everything we do is based on sound agronomic principles.
    "I don't do anything based on what anyone else does. With 36 holes, you only have so much of a window to spray. I spray every two week, and I don't stretch that window. I have no idea what the guy down the street or across town does.I relied on experience more this year than I ever have."
    That includes communicating with members about what is happening on the golf course and why it might be necessary to spend a little more to keep the bentgrass happy.
    "Anything is better than losing grass," he said. "Now, we lost a little Poa on a couple holes, and I communicated to the GM and the green committee that this was an opportunity to seed in some new bentgrass, and that's what we did, and we're all bentgrass now. Communication is important. If you can tell them how you are going to fix it rather than give them excuses of why things didn't get done, I think they are happier that way."
  • Japanese beetles and many other types of beetles are dependent on moisture if their eggs are to hatch. Photo by Ric Bessin, University of Kentucky Many superintendents no doubt have not been happy with the hot, wet conditions that have prevailed over much of the eastern half of the country this summer. White grubs, on the other hand, are in hog heaven.
    "In this part of the country, we've had plenty of rain, so the turf is not as stressed as it otherwise might be, but that also means that grubs probably have had a good hatch," said Purdue University entomologist Doug Richmond, Ph.D. "The moisture has been there, so the survival rate is probably going to be pretty good."
    Grub populations in western Indiana, Richmond said, mostly are in the second instar stage with a few third instars mixed in. Anyone with a history of grub populations in their highly maintained turf knows what's next.
    "They're well on their way," he said. "As a matter of fact, some areas already are seeing damage."
    It is still early enough in the season that most of the traditional products for grub control still are viable.
    "This time of year, we're still in August, almost any of the tools we have will still be effective," Richmond said. "I don't have a favorite choice. That is up to the superintendent and what their budget will bear, but you really can't go wrong at this point."
    It is important, University of Kentucky entomologist, and 2010 USGA Green Section Award winner Dan Potter, Ph.D., said, to hit grubs as early as possible.
    "Once the grubs are nearly full-sized, we typically see no more than about 70 to 75 percent control," Potter said.
    If damage already is evident, Richmond and Potter both  recommend a curative response that includes something fast-acting like trichlorfon or chlothianidin.

    White grub populations should be booming this summer in the eastern half of the U.S. Photo by Clemson University, USDA Cooperative Extension "The monsoon rains in the Ohio Valley region will have encouraged egg survival so there should be plenty of grubs in the field," Potter said. "Also, we had a very heavy Japanese beetle flight this year. But, all that rain means is that the grubs will be more dispersed than normal. Ordinarily, non-irrigated roughs and other grassy areas that go summer dormant won't attract much egg-laying, so our grubs are concentrated in irrigated turf. This year, I expect we'll find plenty of grubs even in non-irrigated areas. Hopefully, by the population being more spread out, we'll see fewer in the usual prime areas like fairways and tee banks. If it stays wet, then moderately infested turf will outgrow the root loss and may not show as much damage. But, if we get into drought these next three weeks, it may accentuate it. But who knows? Predicting where grubs and damage occur is not an exact science."
    White grub damage typically is most evident in August and September. Symptoms of an infestation are gradual thinning, yellowing, and weakening of the grass followed by scattered dead patches. As damage continues, the dead patches may increase in size, and apparently healthy turf areas may exhibit sudden wilting. The turf may feel spongy as you walk over the infested area.
    Heavily damaged turf can peel away easily. If damaged areas do not pull back easily, the problem might be attributable to something else, according to Potter. 
    Preventing grub damage might be as simple as learning the history of prior grub-related issues.
    Adult beetles are likely to return to lay eggs in areas where infestation has occurred in the past, Potter says. 
    Early scouting also is important.
    "It doesn't have to be too labor intensive," Richmond said. "Just take a few cup cutter samples or wedges of soil. If you find grubs, you know you have something you have to keep an eye on."
    Even then, not all grubs are created equally. Larger species, like the masked or European chafers, are larger and can do more damage than say the smaller Japanese beetle. Likewise, the European chafer has a longer life cycle, and can be feeding on roots earlier in the season and later into the summer. 
    "As educators, we tend to throw all white grubs into the same basket because the same tools work on all of them," Richmond said. "But some are larger and cause more damage at lower densities, so they have lower thresholds. It is important to understand how the feeding ecology, behavior and size come into play."
  • Mike Huck, right, and Ted Horton catch up at a recent Golf Industry Show. Live long enough and eventually everyone experiences an event that reshapes their future.
    For Mike Huck, an irrigation consultant and one of Southern California's leading voices on water issues affecting the golf industry, that moment occurred nearly two decades ago, and he carries around reminders to this day.
    Surgery 19 years ago to remove a benign tumor the size of a golf ball that was pushing against his brain and a cluster of nerves has left the 61-year-old Huck essentially with one good ear and a positive outlook that can inspire others.
    "The sky was never bluer, and flowers were never brighter than they were then," Huck said. "You think about your own mortality when you're recovering using a walker."
    He has advice for anyone facing a life-changing health issue: Don't "settle" for just any doctor, and for goodness sake, refrain from scouring the World Wide Web to self-diagnose the problem.
    Indeed, the road to a place of serenity was one wrought with potholes.
    When Huck complained of impaired hearing in his right ear in 1999, doctors initially could find nothing wrong. Then an agronomist with the USGA Green Section and a former superintendent, Huck found solace from the daily grind in skeet shooting, and doctors said his hearing loss might be attributed to repeated exposure to loud machinery at work, or gunfire after it.
    It wasn't until Huck sought help from an ear, nose and throat specialist that he learned neither his hobby nor his job was to blame. An MRI revealed a tumor, called an acoustic neuroma, the size of a golf ball in his inner ear.
    "I knew with that type of tumor there was a good chance it was benign," said Huck, now 61. 
    "But when a doctor tells you that you have a tumor, your world is rocked."
    Huck stressed the importance finding the right doctor. He searched far and wide, including one in Newport Beach that he compared to a used-car salesman. 
    "I couldn't sleep at night, so I was always on the computer doing research. Stay off the Internet. All I read were the horror stories. It scared the living hell out of me," he said. "Do your homework picking doctors, and find someone you trust and believe in."
    Through the connections of a family member who is a pediatrician in Chicago, Huck eventually connected with the team at the House Clinic in Los Angeles.
    There he worked with Dr. William Hitselberger, who explained the positives and negatives about the procedure and all the steps involved.
    It wasn't until after the tumor was removed that the surgeon could perform a biopsy that showed the growth was benign. That was the good news. The bad news was that in the meantime, it had crushed the acoustic nerve, resulting in a 90-percent hearing loss in his right ear.
    "The problem wasn't that it was cancerous; it wasn't.The problem was space occupation and location," he said. "It was wedged against the brainstem and where the spinal cord and nerves come together. If it were allowed to grow, it could crush a nerve that controls involuntary functions, like breathing. Then you fall over and they think you've just had a heart attack."
    His recovery was slow, and involved learning to walk all over again and more than a half-year of severely compromised equilibrium brought about by an intense case of vertigo.
    "When I woke up in recovery, it felt like my bed was pinned to the wall sideways," he said. "I remember I had to close my eyes again right away, or I was going to throw up."
    Doctors told him that vertigo was normal in such cases and that it should last about six weeks or so.
    It was about eight months before everything Huck was seeing stopped moving long enough so he could walk a relatively straight line or safely get behind the wheel of a car again.
    "I still have issues with that," he said. "I wander a bit when I walk. My eyes have to see where my feet are going, because I don't have a sense of balance. If I get up in the middle of the night, I have to hold onto the walls. If I try to walk without being able to see things around me, I don't work so well anymore."
    Doctors told him no drinking, smoking or coffee during his recovery. It was at a subsequent Golf Industry Show in New Orleans, where drinking, smoking and strong coffee are in plentiful supply, that he began to write his own prescription for his recovery.
    A friend convinced him that one beer couldn't do much harm. In fact, he claims it has done wonders for his equilibrium.
    "The previous morning, I was walking to the convention center and stumbled into the people I was with," he said. "The next morning after a beer the night before, I was able to walk a straight line. I nicknamed it the Miracle on Bourbon Street. When I told my doctor my cure was to have a couple of beers, he said it was a good story, but he wasn't buying it. It's my story, and I'm sticking to it."
  • The recent launch of the new Umount blower system for utility vehicles is the culmination of almost seven years of brainstorming, strategizing, prototyping, testing and reworking for Kris Shumaker. As yet another superintendent-designed solution to what was a nagging problem with no commercially available answer, it represents a better way for Shumaker, superintendent for the past 15 years at The Mines Golf Course in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
    "This is a very heavily wooded course with lots of cart paths and many tee boxes that back onto native areas," Shumaker explained, "so maneuverability of the large tow-behind blowers was a problem. There's nowhere to turn around on many of our tee boxes, so my options for blowing off divots were either unloading and reloading a walk blower or trying to find a front-mounted blower for a utility vehicle."
    Therein lay the rub for Shumaker, who found the power of most walk blowers insufficient for the amount of leaves he had to move at some times of the year. He also didn't want to jerry rig a homemade bracket or platform that took up space and was cumbersome to hook up and remove.
    "Grand Rapids is a manufacturing city, and some of my employees were retired from manufacturing jobs so there was a strong engineering and fabricating mindset among the crew," Shumaker said. "I started playing around with a hydraulically powered unit, then an electric/battery system, but the cost and complexity was too much. I found the regular four-cycle gasoline engine to be the most efficient and affordable."
    As a self-described "greenskeeper" for more than 30 years, Shumaker realized the limitations of his engineering skills so he brought on a mechanical engineer as a partner.
    The end result is a lightweight PVC blower housing with a bronze, lock-tight tapered mounting system, an integral 7hp Kohler cast iron gas engine, remote-operated directional chute and storage stand/dolly.
    Once the mounting system is bolted onto the utility vehicle, the blower is installed and removed with no tools or pins for a solid, rattle-free connection.
    The unit has no wheels and is mounted inches from the axle so as to disrupt as little as possible the balance and ride of the vehicle.  The nozzle is positioned within the operator’s line of vision to eliminate guesswork, improve productivity and reduce operator training.
    The patented nozzle  system employs electrical 200-degree swiveling, up/down settings and a ratcheting tip adjuster.  The flexible nozzle can bend or break away utilizing a magnetic system upon impact. 
    The engine is recoil start. Why not remote electric? "I started out thinking and designing that way," said Shumaker, "but that required a battery, battery box, starter, larger control box and wiring harness. All told it added about  20 pounds  to the weight and would have added several hundred dollars to the cost, so we went with the simpler solution for the time being. It's really not a big deal to get off the vehicle and pull start it."
    Shumaker said it would be no problem to offer a remote start option if there is sufficient demand.
    The unit is priced at $3,495, with free shipping during the introductory period. 
    Umount currently has distribution agreements with JW Turf in Illinois and Wisconsin and Podolinsky Equipment in Ontario, and will be setting up additional distributors.
    Contact information:  www.umountblowers.com | info@umountblowers.com | tel 616-648-4528 | @UmountB
     
  • Collier's Reserve in Naples, Florida, was the first property in the Audubon Signature program in 1994. Audubon International is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its Signature Program.
    The program was created to help new developments, including golf courses, adopt a more sustainable approach to design, construction and long‐term management, according to Audubon International.
                        
    The Signature Program premiered in 1993 and focuses on promoting sound land management practices and appropriate land use changes based on sound scientific research. Signature Sanctuaries are currently located in 29 states and in Puerto Rico, China, Portugal, and Spain.
                        
    Audubon International has updated the program guidelines to reward Signature Program members that have successfully followed the program for 20 years or more. To do that, properties that were certified at the bronze level now have the opportunity to move to the gold level. Among the requirements is an evaluation of the property and its changes over the years including its maintenance facility, and its outreach and education efforts.
                        
    Collier's Reserve Country Club in Naples, Florida, is the first certified Signature Program member to take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade its status. In 1994 Collier's Reserve the world's first Certified Signature Sanctuary.
                        
    Currently, the Signature Program certifies a new project in one of three levels: bronze, silver and gold. There were no levels when Collier's Reserve was certified in 1994. 
    Ongoing environmental stewardship, community outreach, promoting wildlife habitat, sound water management, waste management and recycling efforts all are part of why the property was certified initially and has been recertified since.
    "It was an exciting time for Collier's Reserve to have reached this benchmark and be further recognized for our continued commitment of care for the land and educating our community about our conservation efforts, " Collier's Reserve general manager and former superintendent Nicholas von Hofen said in a news release. "The Gold Signature Sanctuary Certification is another outstanding achievement for our team and club and we are truly honored to be recognized for all our efforts. Collier's Reserve Country Club is a better place thanks to being a member of Audubon International's Signature Program."
    Currently there are 82 total properties in the Audubon International Signature Program, 79 of which are golf courses or residential golf communities, according to Audubon International.
    To become certified, "Signature Program members must implement and follow a site‐specific natural resource-management plan that addresses wildlife conservation and habitat enhancement, water quality monitoring and management, integrated pest management, water conservation, energy efficiency, waste reduction and management, and green building products and procedures," according to Audubon International.
                        
    Other changes to the Signature guidelines include those regarding level requirements for registration in the program.
  • Members of the crew and tournament volunteers help inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open winner Laura Davis celebrate her victory last month at Chicago Golf Club. Photos by John Reitman Laura Davies wasn't the only beneficiary of last month's inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open.
    The Wee One Foundation and those it serves also benefited from the first-time event held in mid-July at Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Illinois, that Davies won by 10 strokes.
    A bevy of corporate sponsors stepped forward to help provide food and uniform golf shirts, hats and more for superintendent Scott Bordner's team of staff employees and volunteers that numbered about 70 throughout the week.
    Anything that was left over was given to the Wee One Foundation. Although some bills continue to trickle in, the donation will be between $7,000 and $8,000, said Bordner.
    Additionally, solar-powered, portable lighting used by the maintenance department was donated and now is being used by those in need in Guatemala.
    "The team here was able to accomplish a lot on the course, but the things we were able to do off the course I am just as proud of. A lot of people on staff and companies allowed us to do a lot of good with the event and for that I am grateful."
    One of the four clubs that founded the USGA in 1894, Chicago Golf Club originally was built by golf course architect Charles Blair Macdonald in 1892 and 1893 and was reworked by Seth Raynor in the 1920s. Since it opened, it has been the site of several USGA events, including the U.S. Open on three occasions (1897, 1900, 1911), the U.S. Amateur (1897, 1905, 1909, 1912), U.S. Women's Amatuer (1903) and the U.S. Senior Amateur (1979). It was only fitting that it was chosen to hold the inaugural Senior Women's Open.

    Competitors at the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open gushed about the conditions and recent restoration work at Chicago Golf Club. Players raved about playing conditions, architecture, recent restoration work that included establishing fescue perimeters and the club's history.
    "It was a treat. Not everyone gets to play here so we feel privileged for that," Davies said. "The conditions, I'm assuming the conditions are always like this, but it was spectacular.
    "The USGA has put on a spectacular event. I mean it really is, the galleries that have come out, just sensational really to see a bunch of old birds play golf."
    The Wee One Foundation was founded in memory of longtime superintendent Wayne Otto, CGCS, who died in 2004 of cancer. Its mission is "o assist golf course management professionals (or their dependents) who incur overwhelming expenses due to medical hardship without comprehensive insurance or adequate financial resources."
    To date, according to its web site, the foundation has gifted more than $1 million to those in need in more than 20 states.
    Those who helped support the event included: Advanced Turf Solutions, Arthur Clesen, Barenbrug, Bayer, BASF, BTSI, Burris Equipment, Chicagoland Turf, Cushman, EZ Locator, Floratine, Great Lakes Turf, GroHort, Harrells, Healthy Grow, Jacobsen, John Deere, JW Turf, Leibold Irrigation, Nufarm, Rain Bird, Reinders, Syngenta, Toro, Turf Ventures and Worm Power.
     
  • 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."
  • 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."
  • 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."
  • 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.
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