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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    For golf course superintendents who want to get the most from their spray applications and eliminate overlapping and waste, Lesco and SiteOne have introduced the Lesco Smart Guided precision spray system.
    With an easy-to-install GPS tracker, the Smart Guided system can be fitted to most common spray units used in the golf industry, including many Cushman, Hahn, John Deere, SDI, Smithco and Toro models, at a fraction of the cost of other built-in units. 
    The system's TerraStar GPS satellite technology allows it to spray within a 2-inch level of accuracy so there are no missed areas, overspray or overlap. If the operator maneuvers a vehicle such that a nozzle is outside the defined application boundary, the affected nozzles will turn off automatically.
    Each unit comes with an Android tablet, GPS antenna, electronic controller, wiring harness, mounting hardware, nozzle solenoids and sun shade.
    The Smart Guided system also tracks spray applications to make documentation and record-keeping easier. This feature also allows the system to remember and repeat boundaries after they have been driven once and saved.
    The Lesco Smart Guided system is available through SiteOne locations.
  • The Turf Prophit online maintenance tracking system for golf course superintendents includes a built-in weather component. As a former golf course superintendent, John Bladon knows how difficult it can be to justify a budget to a committee. Now, as an entrepreneur, he wants to do something to make it easier for superintendents to track what they do on the golf course and how much they spend doing it so they and other stakeholders can make smarter and more informed decisions.
    Bladon is part of an entrepreneurial team that recently launched Turf Prophit, an online turf management system designed to simplify assigning tasks, tracking labor and inputs. 
    The system also can spit out reports detailing how much time and money is spent on various maintenance tasks.
    "Being able to document everything we do and have it readily available for our members has made my life easier," said Matt Gourlay, CGCA at Colbert Hills in Manhattan, Kansas, an early adopter of the system. "It takes away from members the feeling that I am not doing my job. I can easily show them data on what, why and how we do jobs and spend money."
    With a built-in digital job board, the system allows users to schedule, edit and monitor tasks from any mobile device or computer. An online weather component also lets everyone on the staff follow weather conditions within the system in real time.
    Users can customize featured content to fit their specific needs and operational requirements, monitor staffing and expenditure efficiencies on a computer, tablet or smartphone; analyze data in Turf Prophit's GreenZone, forecast future budgets and expenses; and create reports in PDF or Excel format.
    The secure, cloud-based system, which comes from the same Canada-based team that helped bring to market the TarpDevil system for deploying and removing greens covers, has been tested on more than 100 facilities around the world. 
    "Our mission is to find a simple, effective way to collect key information that is going to make a powerful impression on those who superintendents report to," Bladon said. "Providing a return to them and the end user, that is our impression of a win."
    Set-up is easy and can be completed with a few simple step-by-step instructions sent to customers via email.
    Users also can place orders with vendor partners through the system.
    "This makes the office mobile and makes everything easier without making it painful," Bladon said. "The purchasing module lets users build and email P.O.s and track purchases. If you're tired of not knowing where you are budget-wise because accounting is way behind, this allows you to stay on point. 
    "The reporting function makes life easier throughout the season and budget-defensible items is why it came into existence."
    Gourlay is still in his first week of using Turf Prophit, but says to track inputs and expenditures and turn that information into usable data should help him in the day-to-day operation of Colbert Hills.
    "We've had it for two weeks, and have been using it for four or five days. Our equipment manager maintains all maintenance information on this program, my assistant runs the nine-hole course, and he runs everything on it, and our superintendent runs everything else on it," Gourlay said.
    "The data that is available is incredible. Communication is key for me. I have to be able to communicate effectively to members, the board and our president. For example, with equipment maintenance, if they ask why we are spending more this year than last year, I can pull up a spreadsheet and show them what we are spending to maintain greensmowers, and that maybe it's worthwhile to replace them as part of our capital expenditures. If they want to know why the bunkers are raked or the pins changed, well, here's our data about where our labor is going, and we either have to increase what we spend on labor to get some things done, or cut back in other areas. We're not hiding anything. We can share this with members who are used to doing business based on data and let them decide."
  • Through years of research and sharing their results with others, Thom Nikolai, Ph.D., and Michael Morris, CGCS, have changed the way golf course superintendents manage putting greens.
    Their work, which focused on maximizing putting conditions based on a combination of agronomics, budget limitations and (course-specific) customer satisfaction was the basis for a seminar entitled Taking Control of Green Speed.
    During the past four weeks, Nikolai, a professor of turfgrass science at Michigan State University, and Morris, superintendent at Crystal Downs Country Club in Frankfort, Michigan, have resurrected their research in a four-part webinar series sponsored by Grigg entitled the ABCs of putting green management.
    Although the live broadcasts have concluded, recordings of all four, along with archives of hundreds of other webinars, are available only through TurfNet University.
    In Part I - Speed does not kill, ignorance does - the presenters set the table for the subsequent three sessions by discussing the role of customer satisfaction in achieving consistent playing conditions, rather than a target green speed.
    This presentation challenges the notion that fast greens and compromised turf health go hand in hand. Specifically, Morris and Nikolai review how consistency and customer satisfaction were achieved at Crystal Downs Country Club through a four-part process that includes: measuring daily green speeds, surveying golfers to determine their target range, evaluating maintenance practices to manage those speeds and communicating results to stakeholders.
    Part II - Putting green management and the law of diminishing returns: cultural practices - focuses on achieving customer satisfaction through sound cultural practices, including irrigation, fertility, plant growth regulators and topdressing.
    Part III - Putting green management and the law of diminishing returns: mechanical practices - explores how processes, such as mowing, brushing and rolling, can help superintendents maximize customer satisfaction.
    The series concluded with Part IV - You cannot manage what you cannot measure - which ties together information from the previous three webcasts and focuses on how any golf course superintendent can develop a program that includes rolling, brushing,mowing and PGR applications to maximize playability, customer satisfaction and turf health.
    All TurfNet University webinars, including the live broadcasts and recorded archives, are free for everyone.
  • From the earliest stages of life, children are taught to respect their elders. The same philosophy, apparently does not apply to professional golf.
    Glen Abbey Golf Club, the historic site of the RBC Canadian Open, appears to be destined for real estate development, sending one of the oldest events on the PGA Tour schedule packing and in search of a new home.
    Clublink, which owns and operates more than 50 golf facilities in Canada and Florida, including Glen Abbey, wants to build 3,222 residential units and offices on the property, including nine high-rises ranging from nine to 12 stories each.
    The city is trying to block that plan, but Clublink's proposal received a boost recently when a judge said the owner can take its demolition plan to the local planning appeal tribunal.
    Clublink first expressed its plan to redevelop Glen Abbey in 2015. Since then, the property was designated by the city as a historic site, protecting it under the Ontario Heritage Act. City leaders, including Mayor Rob Burton, say that designation precludes Clublink's plan to redevelop the property. Earlier this year, Oakville's town council passed amendments to its zoning by-laws and a conservation plan and in February voted to reject Clublink's redevelopment plan.
    Clublink made its appeal to Canada's Superior Court of Justice in July. Justice Edward Morgan issued an opinion on Oct. 25 allowing Clublink to appeal its case.
    Morgan wrote in his opinion: "The evidence is that the golf course was constructed in accordance with Jack Nicklaus' professional design. It is not raw land, and it is substantially more than a landscaped garden. As ClubLink points out, portions of the course have been renovated and rebuilt over time, and like all such constructions these features have a limited life.
    "Counsel for ClubLink emphasizes the evidence in the record of substantial irrigation infrastructure, subsurface drainage construction, earthwork spectator mounds or berms, artificial reservoir ponds, complex designed greens constructed in accordance with specific United States Golf Association standards, engineered bunkers, paved cart paths, etc. All of these features require installation, physical maintenance, periodic renovation, and elaborate construction. ClubLink submits that features that need to be constructed are structures that can be demolished."
    The status of the golf course became a topic of debate in the recent Oakville mayoral race that concluded with Burton winning a fourth term on Oct. 22. His opponent Julia Hanna favored a plan that included converting the entire property to a green space for public use. 
    Under Clublink's current proposal, at least 12 acres of the current Glen Abbey site would be designated as a park.
    John McLaughlin, the third candidate in the mayoral campaign, said town officials were only waiting until after the election to get behind Clublink's plan, claiming that a clause in a 2006 planning report says the golf course can be redesignated for real estate development for "no valid reason."
    To that end, Burton has said that Clublink's development application could still be approved as long as the heritage elements of the land are preserved in the plans.
    The RBC Canadian Open is one of the oldest tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule. The tournament has been played at Glen Abbey, a 1976 Jack Nicklaus design, 30 times since 1977, including the past four years. 
    Co-organized by Golf Canada and the PGA Tour, the Canadian Open has been played annually since 1904, except for 1915-18 and 1943-44, when it was interrupted by World War I and World War II, respectively. Among current professional tournaments, only the Open Championship and the U.S. Open have a longer history.
    The 2019 RBC Canadian Open will be played 30 miles away at Hamilton Golf and Country Club.
  • Architectural renovation projects are supposed to be transformative for golf courses and those who play them, not for the superintendent who oversees these properties.
    Restoration work by architects Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, first at historic Los Angeles Country Club and now at Southern Hills, have helped rejuvenate and reinvigorate Russ Myers, who is three years into his second tour at the 1936 Perry Maxwell masterpiece in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
    "There's this line of how good can conditioning be, and how perfect can perfect be. I've been spending 24 years now continuing to teach people how to rake bunkers. That can get pretty mind-numbing after a while," said Myers. "What working with Gil and Jim did with me, it took me to a different level of what I was maintaining. It wasn't about creating perfect turfgrass, it was about creating an experience in golf."
    Hanse and Wagner completed a restoration of LA's North Course before Myers left there at the end of 2009 for his second turn at Southern Hills. That work signaled the first major restoration project there since architect George Thomas built the course in 1897. That same duo have since restored LA's South Course and recently embarked on a renovation of Southern Hills. Their work on Wilshire Boulevard, Myers says, has transformed the golf scene in Los Angeles and helped him reach for something higher than only providing great turf.
    "That was as good a six years as I could have wanted," Myers said of his time at LACC. "I had a blast and I love that style of golf. There is a lot of walking golf there, and it's more about playability than anything else. 
    "Golf has never been that good in LA as it is now. Gil and Jim have been a guiding force for the game's betterment. I want to identify with that."
    Myers recalls his discussions with Southern Hills GM Nick Sidorakis about making a return to Tulsa. 
    When Sidorakis asked him what he wanted out of a return to Southern Hills, Myers said he wanted to do something transformative and leave a lasting legacy on golf in Oklahoma.
    "I didn't know what that was at the time, but I want to be part of big things and do big things," Myers said. "Whatever we decide to do, let's do them great and not do things halfway."
    Imagine his continued exuberance when Hanse and Wagner were picked for the current renovation at Southern Hills, architect Perry Maxwell's 1936 masterpiece that last underwent a complete restoration by Keith Foster in 2004. 

    Russ Myers' son, R.J., left, and Gil Hanse, right, move some dirt at Southern Hills. The current Southern Hills project includes tweaking some bunker work, a new No. 7 green to reflect Maxwell's original intent and restoring some fairway features lost over time, including a split No. 2 fairway, and new tees. The other 17 greens were restored by Foster 14 years ago. Those are being rebuilt (no architectural changes) and regrassed only with Pure Distinction creeping bentgrass.
    "The bunkers are a continued restoration," Myers said. "From everything I could tell, Keith used Maxwell's original as a guiding principle when he redid them.
    "He put back in a lot of stuff that Maxwell had in there originally, and I think he would like to have done more."
    The project also includes the Precision Hydronics system that regulates soil temperature by water flowing through a series of underground pipes. It's a transformative system that Myers first became familiar when he worked at Augusta National.
    "If you are going to grow bentgrass in the South, you have to be fully committed to it," Myers said. "June and September are ideal months for growing bentgrass, but July and August are the worst. If you can make the grass think it is June and September, that is what drove us to put it in."
    The project intersects with work on the club's player performance center, cart barn, security entrance and tennis center. Work on the project began Aug. 1 and is scheduled to be finished in January, with a reopening set for June.
    "Originally, it was supposed to be a tee and bunker project. When you consider the lifespan of the greens and the Hydronics, it made sense to do it all in one chunk instead of some now and some later," Myers said. 
    "They didn't want to affect members now and hit them again with another closure in seven or eight years. That was the driving force."
    This infusion of passion that started in Los Angeles might have prevented job burnout that is so common among superintendents. It also has helped him make more time for his family.
    "It's not about creating perfect turfgrass. It's about creating an experience in golf," Myers said. "It's about firmness and the way the ball is bounding up to the green, the vista in the background, what the tee markers look like, what the benches look like, the atmosphere of the club. It's all-encompassing. My experience working with Gil and Jim embraced all of that. It's not just about what our turfgrass looks like. Admittedly, that might be down on my list of priorities. It's about who's playing today and what I can do to set up the course for that group to make it an interesting day for them.
    "It has reinvigorated my passion for the game of golf and made me feel like I was playing each day like I did when I first loved (the game), while still doing the nuts and bolts maintenance stuff. You could make the argument that I might have tried something different by now had I not come across Jim and Gil, because they really gave me a new love for the game."
  • Scientists from 15 universities in 14 states are set to embark on a study to learn more about annual bluegrass biology and provide turf managers with better options to manage it. Photo by Jim Brosnan, Ph.D., University of Tennessee. Researchers from more than a dozen universities are preparing to embark on what promises to be the most important and comprehensive study of annual bluegrass ever conceived.
    During the next four years, scientists from 15 universities in 14 states will collect data with the goal of providing a better understanding of annual bluegrass biology, factors affecting herbicide resistance in annual bluegrass and the mechanisms of resistance all in hopes of helping turf managers and researchers diagnose incidences of resistance quicker and identify potential management alternatives.
    The project, which will begin in early 2019, is being funded through a $3.2 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant.
    "I'm just one of many people involved in this, but to me, it's just about how to provide turf managers with more information about how to manage resistance," said University of Tennessee weed scientist Jim Brosnan, Ph.D., one of the researchers involved in the study. "That is going to be scientifically validated information that is both chemical and cultural, and it's exciting to finally have the resources now to do the cultural work and better understand this weed and how it performs and how it adapts in turfgrass systems, because that is what is needed to build a true integrated program. We can do a better job of managing resistance if we learn more about the biology of annual bluegrass. That's just going to help every turfgrass manager; golf, sports fields, lawns, sod farms, you name it.
    "To do something as thorough as this on the cultural side is really neat and much needed."
    The project is the idea of Muthu Bagavathiannan, Ph.D., assistant professor at Texas A&M whose focus is on weed science and agronomy, primarily in row crops.
    For Bagavathiannan, herbicide resistance in annual bluegrass became an issue when former colleagues Casey Reynolds, Ph.D., and Matt Elmore, Ph.D., now with Turfgrass Producers International and Rutgers University, respectively, shared with him concerns of golf course superintendents in Texas struggling to control it in warm-season turf.
    "We tested populations from different golf courses against commonly used herbicides, and we found widespread resistance," Bagavathiannan said. "It was incredible the level of resistance we noted. This is an area where not much research has been done. A lot of work has been done with herbicide pest management, but when you have resistance, we don't fully understand the nature of resistance, how it's spreading, if there are any non-chemical methods of control and the socio-economic constraints that prevent folks from using better management programs."
    The data this project will yield could make it the most important annual bluegrass study. It certainly makes it one of the most collaborative.
    Universities taking part in the group effort include Texas A&M, Arizona, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Oregon State, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Penn State, Portland State, Purdue, Rutgers, Tennessee and Virginia Tech. The study will focus on data relevant for golf course superintendents, sports field managers, sod growers and lawn care operators.
    Bagavathiannan's first grant application was turned down by a review panel because then the study focused only on herbicide resistance of annual bluegrass in warm-season turf. That's when he expanded the scope of the study by adding researchers at Rutgers, Purdue, Virginia Tech, Penn State and Oregon State to the trial. 
    "For a grant like that," Brosnan said, "you have to have some geographic reach."
    The different universities involved in the study have been assigned different tasks to expand the scope of the research, including non-target resistance, new and alternative methods of control, the role of fertilizers in resistance, socio-economic factors that influence selection and data analysis.
    "I've written many grant proposals, and this is one of the best I've written," Bagavathiannan said. "Even though this is a big team of scientists, they all come together and we have different aspects of the problem. There are different elements, and by addressing all these different elements, we can eliminate redundancy in research and make this study national in scope."
    Trials will compare similar data from different geographic locations, under different conditions.
    "The research panel felt strongly that this needed to be a national project. This was a good thing," Brosnan said. "For example, herbicides are used in cool-season grass seed production, and there is the potential for herbicide-resistant seed to be selected and moved into production, but we wouldn't know about it.
    "If everything goes as planned, it will be the best annual bluegrass data set ever, its really thorough."
  • The Cushman Hauler 4x4 has a 2,000-pound towing capacity. Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc. recently launched its new Cushman Hauler 4x4 to handle tough jobs at golf courses and parks. 
    With a 2,000-pound towing capacity, 1,500-pound payload and 1,000-pound cargo box, the Hauler 4x4 series is perfect for heavy lifting. A redesigned dash includes a multi-function display that communicates vehicle performance and diagnostics. Hauler 4x4 models offer several storage locations, including behind and under the seat, and a glove box ideal for transporting everyday gear such as gloves, goggles and tools. 
    The Hauler 4x4 is available as a three-person vehicle, and the Hauler 4x4 Crew accommodates up to six people. Both models are available in either a whisper-quiet 50hp gas engine, or a robust 25hp diesel engine. Electronic power steering is standard on Crew models, and available as an option on three-passenger models. 
    With standard safety features such as seat belts, doors and a rollover protection system, the Hauler 4x4 was developed to protect your crew. Other standard features include high/low-beam headlights, LED brake lights and taillights and a locking rear differential. 
    Hauler 4x4 series vehicles can be equipped with a wide selection of options and accessories, including a glass windshield, canopy, center seat console, under seat storage, rear-view mirror and more. 
  • A thriving bee population at PGA GC in Port St. Lucie, Florida is further proof that bees and golf courses can coexist. When it comes to lifelong learning, Dick Gray can get pretty philosophical in a down-home manner that mixes his Midwestern, Indiana upbringing and an Old Florida style that has defined him for the past 50 years.
    "If you're done learning, you're done," Gray said flatly.
    At age 75, Gray appear far from done when it comes to greenkeeping, learning, making the world a better place through golf and telling people about it.
    This summer, he had a pair of beehives installed on the ninth hole of the Dye Course at the 36-hole PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where Gray has been director of agronomy for the past six years. There are plans to put in a third hive with wild bees caught on the golf course.
    The project included planting a patch of wildflowers, courtesy of Syngenta, to help give the bees, which have a pollen-hunting range of about 2 miles, a headstart on their mission. The end result has been the ability to harvest a local source of honey, promote environmental stewardship and share the results with others.
    "We are an Audubon Signature course, and you can't just get that plaque and go about your business. You have to keep adding to it, and that is a good thing," he said. "This is a learning process. I had to put my ego aside, and that is awfully hard to do. Learning is the most important thing we can do, and the other part of that responsibility is to pass it on. Not that I'm the guru or mentor on this. I'm just one of the guys out there. But, we are stewards of the environment, and Mother Nature, she is on a fixed income, and so we have to do something about that; we can't just squander what's in the cupboard."
    Both hives are painted red to honor Gray's alma mater Wabash College in his native Indiana, and Texas Tech University, where he earned a master's degree in restaurant, hotel and institutional management.
    The project started when Roger Welker, a former superintendent at Vero Beach Country Club now with Independent Turf Partners, approached Gray about installing his hives at PGA. Gray, who didn't know much on the topic, finally agreed, but only after he studied a similar project at Broken Sound Club in Boca Raton. Gray knew Easter from the latter's days as superintendent at Piper's Landing in Stuart.
    "Not to follow the herd, but I was happy someone was out ahead of us on this," Gray said. 
    "Florida is a little different. A lot of golfers come here from their clubs up north, and they compare us to what they do up there. No matter what we do, it's questioned.
    "What makes it so incredible is he did it in Boca, if it was someplace else, that's one thing, but Boca? How'd he do that? Those people are fussy, and when you introduce bees on a golf course, someone is going to get sued, and there will be an attorney for every bee."

    PGA GC director of agronomy Dick Gray, left, here talking with assistant superintendent Jesus Romero, says locally sourced honey off the golf course has been a hit in the club's restaurant. The hives are part of a larger get-back-to-nature effort that Gray is putting into place across the 350-acre PGA campus that includes natural areas that have created habitat for birds and insects.
    Both components of the program can help show others that bees, wildlife and golf courses can coexist, Gray said.
    "I've studied pollinator decline for several years, and I've wondered ‘Am I part of that? Am I contributing to that?" he asked. 
    "We've taken about 35 acres, about 10 percent, that we used to mow every week and we now mow eight times a year. We've reduced our carbon footprint by mowing 90 percent of what we did weekly, and created habitat for birds. You can't believe the diversity of birds that now feed there, and that area helps define the golf course. It works in well with what we're trying to do, and the bees fit right into that. It's the cherry on the whole thing. If we can keep these pollinators healthy, that takes the check mark off the golf course as being part of the problem."
    The honey off the golf course is now offered inside the club's grill under the name Dye's Reserve #9, and that has been a hit with golfers, especially women, Gray said.
    Welker first installed a hive at Sailfish Point Golf Club near Stuart, where Gray once worked, because that club, too, wanted to show that golf courses and bees can coexist in harmony. When Gray learned about that, he contacted Welker to get some hives at PGA.
    "He told me 'We should put those out here. The PGA needs to be doing that,' " Welker said. 
    Welker has since installed hives at The Floridian and Lost Lake as well as at the Miami Dolphins sod facility. 
    "I thought I'd have three hives in this year. I know have 26," Welker said. "It will be close to 60 in a couple of months because we split the hives every year. What started out as a hobby is now looking like a secondary business."
    A new colony of bees were found at PGA swarming around their queen on a tree near the No. 10 tee of the Ryder Course. Welker collected them and is going to install a third hive.
    "We have the prettiest patch of wildflowers you ever did see," he said. 
    "I'm not trying to landscape the whole place in flowers, don't get me wrong, but it works well with pollinators, and it's a movement that I like to be part of. We have mulie grass and burgundy grass and white fountain grass. The only thing we're missing is the aroma from the orange blossoms we used to get. We're here to help Mother Nature. This is a strong message, and it's one that has legs."
  • Covers can help protect ultradwarf Bermudagrass greens even under extreme winter conditions are much less costly to a superintendent's budget and career goals than replacing dead turf. Photo by The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay If it seems like just yesterday when superintendents managing warm-season turf were feeling the effects of lingering winter damage, it is because it was yesterday. Literally.
    How to manage Bermudagrass damaged last winter was fodder for university research updates, fact sheets, webinars and field days. Although the effects of last winter are still fresh in the minds of many, like it or not, suddenly it is time to start thinking ahead to winter.
    The USGA Green Section has a some tips to consider for superintendents growing Bermudagrass to consider before winter arrives and it is time to drag out those greens covers.
    > Apply wetting agents before it gets really cold to maintain proper soil moisture levels. It is important to maintain adequate soil moisture in the upper rootzone of putting greens to prevent desiccation during extremely cold weather. According to University of Arkansas research, using wetting agents can help ensure adequate and uniform moisture levels that will reduce the risk of turf injury during severe winter conditions.
    > Temporarily remove covers after four to five days to irrigate putting surfaces during prolonged cold weather events. High winds and low humidity often accompany extremely cold weather and can dry out the upper rootzone. Taking covers off for two to three hours and irrigating putting greens will restore rootzone moisture.
    > Create an air gap under turf covers at the coldest putting green sites. Turf covers alone may not provide enough protection when temperatures drop below 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Putting greens on north-facing slopes and those with winter shade issues are prone to lower soil temperatures than other putting greens. Placing pine straw on a putting green before installing a turf cover creates an air gap between the turf and the cover that helps keep soil temperatures several degrees warmer than a cover alone. This increase in soil temperature might prevent turf injury.
    > Manage winter shade. Shade will reduce soil temperatures, increasing the risk of cold temperature injury. Shaded greens are particularly susceptible to winter injury if they are not protected by a cover with an insulating air gap.
    > Remember, covers are expensive, but they work. Even if covers are seldom necessary, they work. There are the cost and the hassle of deploying and removing them, but that cost is much cheaper than rebuilding greens and using them results in far less down time in spring and summer than what it takes to replace dead turf.
    Recent research conducted at the University of Arkansas looked into the effects of covers on Champion, TifEagle and MiniVerde greens at 25 degrees, 22 degrees, 18 degrees and 15 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the study, TifEagle and MiniVerde were more cold tolerant than Champion.
    According to the study, 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.
  • The Miami Biltmore has been an on-again, off-again retreat for the rich and famous for nearly 100 years. Nearly a century ago, The Biltmore opened its doors as a playground to Florida's well-heeled residents and only the most prosperous snowbirds. 
    When the 273-room hotel opened in 1926 in Miami's posh Coral Gables neighborhood, it boasted the tallest building in Florida and the world's largest swimming pool. It ushered in the jazz era and was a regular stomping ground for celebrities like Bobby Jones and Babe Ruth, the Duke and Duchess of York, Bing Crosby and Judy Garland, and even Al Capone, whose bodyguard was shot to death there in 1929. Nightclub entertainer Desi Arnaz got his start at the Biltmore and Hollywood Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller once was a swimming instructor there. While he was president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt maintained a working White House office at the hotel.
    Built by real estate developer and Coral Gables city planner George Merrick, The Biltmore also was the site of a Donald Ross-designed golf course.
    Since those early days, the hotel and its golf course have had their ups and downs. The hotel also has been a hospital (twice) and medical school and the golf course, once the home of the prestigious Miami-Biltmore Open, wasn't always a showplace. Today, both are enjoying a renaissance that most recently includes a restoration of the Ross design that was among some of the last of the 44 he planted in Florida.
    In a project that began this summer, architect Brian Silva, along with Duininck Golf, have focused on lengthening the course and making it relevant to today's equipment, while also recapturing Ross's original intentions. The project includes new Tif Eagle greens and 419 tees and fairways, adding and moving bunkers lost through the years and expanding practice areas.
    Silva also had overseen a 2007 renovation that included new irrigation and drainage, rebuilding all greens and restoring Ross's original bunkers, including many that had become grassed over throughout the years.

    The golf course restoration at The Biltmore will help bring the course back to Donald Ross's original vision. During World War II, the hotel at The Biltmore served as a wartime hospital, then a Veteran's Administration hospital and later was the site of the University of Miami's medical school until 1968 when it was abandoned. The city of Coral Gables took over management of the historic, and empty, property in 1973 and a decade later sunk $55 million into a renovation that took four years to complete. It reopened as a hotel in 1987.
    When the course reopens it will look more like it did when Ross built it in 1926 than at any time since.
    According to The Biltmore, the work will include:
    > No. 1, the bunker behind the green has been restored and a right greenside bunker removed to bring back the original Donald Ross design.
    > No. 3, four Australian Pines and one large ficus tree were removed from the northeast side of the green, enabling visibility of the Biltmore tower from additional vantage points.
    > Nos. 1 and 5, a corridor connecting the fairways was restored by removing trees and a bunker. The left-corner fairway bunker on No. 5 was also restored and the original fairway bunkers on the right corner of the dogleg were restored.
    > The practice green was expanded from 5,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet, and the short game practice area was increased from one green and one bunker to three greens, two bunkers and a grass bunker.
    > No. 12 was restored to the original 249-yard Par 3 design with no greenside bunkers.
    > No. 14 green was restored to the original 1925 green design.
    > No. 18 green was expanded from 5,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet; the expansion brings the steep fall-off on the left side of the green into play, and bunkering around the entire left side of the green was restored.
    The golf course is scheduled to reopen in December.
  • The Loxahatchee Club in Jupiter, Florida converted tees, fairways and roughs to Latitude 36 in 2016. Even for someone who has more than a quarter of a century of experience as a golf course superintendent in multiple countries, there still are opportunities for on-the-job training.
    Two years ago, when it was time for a full-scale renovation at the Loxahatchee Club in Jupiter, Florida, Jim Sprankle was looking for a grass that could perform well on tees, fairways and roughs year-round in South Florida. What he settled on was a turf type that up until that time had not been used extensively anywhere in Florida, and his decision to go rogue has touched off a cascade effect of other courses following his lead.
    Talk of a renovation began in 2013 at Loxahatchee, a 1984 Jack Nicklaus Signature design. Sprankle, a 27-year veteran of the industry who has managed golf courses in the Philippines and Mexico, began experimenting with various Bermudagrasses and paspalums in hopes of finding something that would outperform the Sea Isle I that he was growing at the time.
    "Members were tired of muddy golf balls," Sprankle said. "And they were not getting the roll that they wanted."
    He planted Latitude 36 Bermudagrass on the practice range and grew-in a 1-acre plot in the fairway of a short part 4.
    "We had it on the range tee right next to Celebration (Bermudagrass) and nine out of 10 golfers were hitting off the Latitude 36. They loved it," he said. "Then we planted a fairway with it and played through the next season."
    Developed by breeders at Oklahoma State University, Latitude 36 exhibits a fine texture and upright growth characteristics that Sprankle said reminds him of creeping bentgrass. As its name implies (think 36 degrees latitude here), it was bred for cold and wear tolerance that make it suited for use in the transition zone and beyond. It is recommended for use in a wide swath of the country that stretches from Southern California, Texas and Florida to the South and as far north as Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
    Recommended mowing height ranges from one-half to one-and-a-half inches (or shorter, depending on who you ask). It does not require much water and also performs well under shade.
    But it is Latitude's resemblance to bentgrass that has made it a hit at Loxahatchee, Sprankle said.
    "It's not stoloniferous. All recovery is through the rhizomes," he said. "It's like hitting through butter. Divots just explode off the club. Everyone loved it."
    Fast forward to 2016, and Sprankle grew in Latitude 36 wall-to-wall, except on greens, in what is reported to be the first extensive use of Latitude 36 on any golf course in Florida.
    "It is bred for the transition zone. It likes cooler temperatures, so we went wall-to-wall because we didn't want to risk contamination," Sprankle said.
    "I've worked around the world and back, and this is the most beautiful Bermudagrass I've ever seen. It looked good on a small trial, but to put it out on the whole golf course is a different story. What sold me was planting it on an entire fairway. I was able to test herbicides, pre-emergent fungicides, height of cut, cultural practices. With just a couple of pallets you can't do that."
    Sprankle mows tees down to 0.350 inches, and said Latitude is more tolerant to drought and traffic than the other varieties he tested.

    Latitude 36 also has done well at Old Marsh Golf Club (here and below) in Palm Beach Gardens. "It has more of a lime green color like 419, and that is fine for us," he said. "Our club is not about color; playability is our main concern. We have an old irrigation system, and a lot of times we don't know we have a problem until we have a hot spot. This grass bounces back well, whereas paspalum could take months to recover."
    About the same time Loxahatchee was going through a renovation, so too was nearby Old Marsh Golf Club. Superintendent Tony Nysse also was looking for a new grass for the fairways and rough areas at the 1987 Pete Dye design nestled among 400-plus acres of environmentally sensitive wetlands in Palm Beach Gardens.
    After the club tested several varieties, the decision there too was made to grass with Latitude 36.
    Celebration didn't have the wow factor members were looking for, and zoysias that were tested there lacked the desired traffic tolerance and were susceptible to encroachment from common Bermuda types.
    "This is an environmentally sensitive area, and the thought of making 12 or even 15 herbicide applications to keep out off types did not seem like a sound solution," Nysse said. 
    "2015-16, that was an El Niño year, and (Latitude 36) was phenomenal. It required few inputs and members liked it. It took a good renovation and put it over the top."
    Other than at Loxahatchee up the road, Nysse had not heard of Latitude 36 in Florida.
    "Where was the farthest south I'd heard of it? I don't know. Oklahoma?" he said.
    Latitude 36 has become a favorite on sports fields in locations as far north as Cincinnati and as far east as Philadelphia.
    Although the grass performed well under trial conditions in South Florida, Nysse, too, couldn't help but feel he was taking a chance.
    "Oh yeah, I had several people ask me why did I go with a grass that was unproven across the entire golf course," he said. "We at least had a neighboring course going through this at the same time."
    That skepticism on the part of others has since turned to optimism.
    Since Loxahatchee and Old Marsh made the move to Latitude 36, several other courses throughout Florida have followed. Sprankle said superintendents and others from no fewer than 30 golf courses have toured Loxahatchee to get a better look at the grass in real-world conditions.
    "I was sticking my neck out putting it on 70 acres on the golf course, and I was concerned," Sprankle said. "But, grass is grass. You eventually figure it out."

  • If you missed this week's free TurfNet University Webinar - The ABCs of putting green maintenance: Speed does not kill, ignorance does - by Thom Nikolai, Ph.D., and Michael Morris, CGCS- fear not; the recording is available on-demand .
    The Webinar is the first in a four-part series by Nikolai and Morris on their years of research, dating to the late 1990s, on rolling and mowing and how they affect putting green speed and turf health.
    In this Webinar, Morris sets the table for the subsequent three broadcasts by recalling how attaining customer satisfaction and consistent playing conditions, and not a specific green speed, were the driving forces behind his greens management program. 
    The presenters challenge the notion that speed kills and demonstrate a proven method to find any golf courses ideal green speed that maximizes the ABCs of putting green management: Agronomic conditions, Budget and Customer satisfaction. 
    Specifically, Morris and Nikolai revisit how consistency and customer satisfaction were achieved at Crystal Downs Country Club through a four-part process that includes:
    Measuring daily green speeds Surveying golfers to determine their target range Evaluating maintenance practices to manage those speeds Communicating results to stakeholders.  
    Other archived Webinar recordings can be found here. All TurfNet University Webinars, live and recorded, are sponsored by Grigg and are free for everyone.
    Part II of the ABCs of putting green management - Putting green management and the law of diminishing returns: cultural practices - is scheduled for 1 p.m. eastern on Oct. 18. In this Webinar, the presenters will focus on achieving customer satisfaction through sound cultural practices, including irrigation, fertility, plant growth regulators and topdressing.
    Session III - Putting green management and the law of diminishing returns - will focus on mechanical practices, such as mowing, brushing and rolling, and they will conclude the series on Nov. 1 with You cannot manage what you cannot measure, a review of the previous three sessions and how the lessons learned in each can be used together to maximize consistency, customer satisfaction and turf health. The calendar for these and other upcoming broadcasts is available here.
  • Choosing from paints, pigments or dyes depends on the application and factors such as dormancy level and traffic. Photo by North Carolina State University Extension It wasn't that long ago when superintendents throughout the south spent much of the fall season overseeding ryegrass into soon-to-be-dormant Bermuda.
    Overuse of water during fall establishment and challenges associated with spring transition back to warm-season turf, along with the accompanying financial considerations were among the many factors that eventually led so many superintendents to chuck overseeding in favor of a dormant Bermuda surface.
    In recent years, painting or coloring turf has played an increasingly important role across the South in helping superintendents providing green putting surfaces in late fall, throughout winter and into early spring. 
    Professor Grady Miller, Ph.D., and research technician Drew Pinnix of North Carolina State University have compiled the Guide to Turf Colorant Use that covers everything from types of products for specific uses, the effects of colorants on turf, application tips, pros and cons of colorant use and more.
    Miller wrote: "Colorants and related products offer an alternative to overseeding that may be more cost-effective while still providing an aesthetically pleasing turfgrass surface during dormancy of warm-season turfgrasses. These products do not provide a wearable surface like a growing turfgrass. But under moderate wear, using such a product may result in healthier Bermudagrass due to less competition during the spring and summer months. The products vary in color, longevity, and ease of application (among other attributes), so turfgrass managers have options that they may consider."
    Colorants fall into three categories: paints, pigments or dyes. 
    Paints contain four basic components: solvent, pigment, binder and additives. Solvent consists of water; pigment is an insoluble product that provides color; binder - often a resin - is a film-forming component of paint that adheres pigments together; additives consist of surfactants, thickeners and emulsifiers to aide in mixing, application, dispersion or adhesion.
    Colorants can be a dyes, pigment products or paints, and usually are considered to be a product used to treat completely dormant turfgrass.
    Pigment is a highly concentrated, insoluble substance that forms a suspension when mixed with water forms a suspension. Pigments usually contain little or no binder.
    Dye is a liquid that contains soluble ingredients such that it forms a solution and often is used as a spray indicator.
    Pigments have a lower viscosity and do not express the same color longevity as a paint, and they often work much better when applied to naturally greener turfgrass that has some photosynthetically active tissue to enhance color for short durations.  In contrast, the products with higher binder content can be applied to dormant turfgrass and still have acceptable, lasting color.
    Potential drawbacks of using colorants include: once dormant tissue is worn or torn away, no regeneration occurs until spring, so wear factor must be considered; application error or blemished turfgrass can result in an uneven appearance.
    Wrote Miller: "Turf managers can pick from several spray-on products to keep their turfgrass green regardless of the turf's condition. These products can accentuate light-green grass, mask blemishes, or cover the tan color of dormant turfgrass. They can be used on warm-season or cool-season turfgrass and may be applied on lawns, sports fields, or golf courses. There are several products currently on the market, so picking the best one for a situation may require some experimenting. Because there are two significant product categories, one may want to begin their decision process by deciding how they will use the product based on selected use characteristics."
  • EPA OKs Sipcam granular fungicide
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently granted federal registration to Endow, a granular fungicide from Sipcam Agro. 
    With the active ingredient azoxystrobin, Endow G is a Quinone Outside Inhibitor fungicide registered for use on all turf types and use sites including golf courses, commercial turf and residential lawn.
    Available in 30-pound bags, Endow G offers broad spectrum control of multiple diseases, including anthracnose, brown patch, Pythium blight, take-all patch, gray leaf spot, spring dead spot, gray and pink snow mold by impeding the fungus cells' ability to produce energy, causing the fungus to die.

    Textron launches fleet-management system
    Textron Specialized Vehicles recently launched its Textron Fleet Management Shield Plus technology designed for professional turf equipment, utility vehicles and golf cars.
    Shield Plus is a web-based management solution that can be accessed anywhere, at any time, on any web-enabled device, from a mobile phone to a desktop computer that enables golf course staff to monitor, maintain and protect their equipment in real time, increasing productivity and more effectively managing course operations.   
    The system tracks equipment activity and location, enabling course managers to monitor their equipment and work crews in real time. Shield Plus also uses geofencing and user-defined speed zones which will send you instant alerts detailing the location of equipment when exceeding speed limits or entering a protected geofence location.
    Shield Plus also monitors equipment travel history and usage, mileage, hours, and idle time, and produces work efficiency reports.
    PBI-Gordon adds to sales force
    PBI-Gordon recently named John Wiblishauser and Matt Ayala as regional sales managers.
    Based in Philadelphia, Wiblishauser is responsible for PBI-Gordon product sales to turfgrass management customers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
    His previous experience in the industry includes positions with Grigg Brothers and Bayer.
    Ayala has joined the company's sales team as Florida manager. Based in Fort Myers, he is responsible for PBI-Gordon product sales to golf course and turfgrass management customers in Florida and the Caribbean region. 
    He comes to PBI-Gordon from SePRO Corp., where he was sales manager for the turf and landscape markets in western Florida.
  • Work is starting this week on a five-month greens renovation project at Chambers Bay. Dictionary.com defines evolution as "a process of formation, growth or development." Using that description, evolution is a natural progression for any living thing, including a golf course.
    The municipal course in University Place, Washington that was the site of the 2015 U.S. Open closed Monday for a five-month greens renovation that will include regrassing the fine fescue putting surfaces with Poa annua, the dominant turf type in the Pacific Northwest.
    "In the old greens, it's fine fescue and Colonial bentgrass, and now you have Poa, so you have three grasses. You can have three to 10 different grasses in there because of the different stages of Poa," said Eric Johnson, director of agronomy at Chambers Bay. "Visually, it looks (expletive deleted) right out of the gate because you see all these different grasses, so it must be bad. I think a lot of it's perception, and rightfully so when you get up above and see all this mottled look, so it's gotta be bad. I think that's part of the push to resod; it's so uniform. 
    "In the Northwest, everything is pretty much Poa. The only thing that's not Poa is a brand new green."
    At 11-12 years of age, the greens at Chambers Bay no longer are new.
    Chambers Bay opened a decade ago with fine fescue greens, but thanks to warm, dry weather in the run-up to the U.S. Open, Poa began to invade the putting surfaces and dominated headlines during the tournament.
    The 2007 Robert Trent Jones Junior design was supposed to be the site of next year's U.S. Four-Ball Championship, but the city that owns the course abandoned those plans last year in favor of installing new greens. 
    Four putting surfaces, Nos. 7, 10 and 13 and the practice green, were regrassed with Poa last October. Conditions are so favorable, it prompted the current greens renovation.
    Ridgetop Golf of Gig Harbor and Desert Green Turf in Moses Lake will get started Saturday fraise mowing 5 acres of fine fescue, Colonial bent and various types of annual bluegrass.
    There had been discussions about letting the Poa take over naturally, but that is a lengthy process and still does not result in a mono stand.
    "It came to not wanting to wait for 10 to 15 years for a complete takeover of annual bluegrass. It was an easier decision to jump 10 years ahead by resodding," Johnson said.
    "A lot of the annual bluegrass that does come in is the coarse annual type that reverts to the perennial type Poa, and that's not real desirable. It's coarse and nasty looking."
    Johnson established a 2-acre nursery on site using sod from Bos Sod in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
    "He can clear his field, and we can take the harvest from that," Johnson said. "Once we tap him dry, we'll harvest here for the balance."
    Feedback on the four renovated greens has been positive.
    "The people I have talked to have been nothing but positive about the Poa annua greens that they've played," said Larry Gilhuly, USGA agronomist, in a news release from Chambers Bay. "Players think the greens are spectacular. They're firm. They have good pace."
    The course is scheduled to reopen in March, and the USGA will bring the Four-Ball back in 2021.
    "With all the tournaments coming up, we thought it would be better to accelerate the process by resodding. This way, we don't get that mottled look. It's a uniform look. By that standard, it's a no-brainer to resod," Johnson said. 
    "We'll keep growing it as much as we can over the winter and using all the tools in our toolbox, including covers. We're shooting for a March opening. The Farmer's Almanac says it's supposed to be a warm, wet winter. That can be good, and it can be bad. As long as we don't get any long cold spells, we should be able to keep everything on schedule."
  • Sipcam names 2 new managers
    Sipcam Agro USA named Todd Mason to the position of speciality manager of its southeast accounts and southern region product development team. His responsibilities will include sales and management for the southeast region and product development for the southern region.
    Mason has experience in sales, marketing and product development, including Belchim Crop Protection, where he was a key account manager. He also has worked at John Deere/LESCO and Arysta Lifescience.
    In other news, Augie Young was promoted to specialty manager, northeast accounts and northern region product development, where he will have responsibilities similar to Mason.
    Target launches Turf Fuel Cleanse to combat LDS
    Target Specialty Products launched Turf Fuel Cleanse, a product for turf professionals to treat soil that displays signs of localized dry spot, poor infiltration or poor soil health. 
    Cleanse combines Turf Fuel’s proprietary Soil Sync technology with a stronger solvent than previous formulations that breaks down the cause of localized dry spot. 
    This two-part system works to attack hydrophobic organic acids responsible for localized dry spot while delivering enzymes to promote healthy soil biology and root system development. This combination gives treated soil an improved rewetting capability, the company says.
    PBI-Gordon names Cleveland as VP/GM
    PBI-Gordon recently named Neil Cleveland as vice president and general manager.
    Cleveland will oversee all aspects of the PBI-Gordon professional turf and ornamental and home lawn and garden unit, including product sales, marketing, operations, research and development, regulatory, and technical services. He will be based out of PBI-Gordon headquarters in the Kansas City area.
    Cleveland replaces Tom Hoffman, who is retiring from PBI-Gordon this month after 35 years with the company.
    Cleveland was director of commercial operations for Bayer CropScience division since 2012. Before that, he held a series of positions with Bayer and ChemLawn Services during his 30-year career.