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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    To help golf course superintendents and other professional turf managers control mature grassy weeds in warm-season turf, Syngenta has launched  Manuscript herbicide. 
    With the active ingredient pinoxaden, Manuscript is an Acetyl CoA Carboxylase inhibitor formulated to provide post-emergent control of weeds, such as tropical signalgrass, bull/thin paspalum, crabgrass and dallisgrass in Bermudagrass and zoysiagrass.
    "Syngenta is delivering an exciting new technology for managing mature weeds that are tough to control," said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager for Syngenta. "Now available during the GreenTrust 365 early order period, Manuscript will help our customers manage their golf courses, sports fields and sod farms while the turf is actively growing throughout the season." 
    Manuscript can be used anytime  weeds are actively growing, including in the heat of the summer when desired turfgrass is actively growing and fills in more rapidly. For sod growers, Manuscript also can be used on St. Augustinegrass.
    Manuscript is formulated with a built-in safener that speeds the metabolism of pinoxaden in desirable turf to help improve turf safety without sacrificing control of mature, difficult-to-control weeds. This allows for effective spot treatments, further improving selectivity against tough weeds.
    "Manuscript was specially designed for turf safety and potent activity on certain weeds," said Lane Tredway, Ph.D., technical services manager for Syngenta. "These are just a few of the unique features that enable Manuscript to improve the uniformity, playability and aesthetic quality of treated turf."
    Manuscript is packaged with Adigor surfactant from Syngenta, which is custom-built for use with Manuscript for improved rainfastness and faster weed control. Using Adigor with Manuscript maximizes the quantity and rate of absorption of pinoxaden, as well as the degree of translocation once pinoxaden is in the plant.
    Manuscript has been shown to be safe to use around ornamental beds and shrubs. 
  • Research conducted at New Mexico State University indicates that Kentucky bluegrass might be a better choice for those managing turf under drought conditions than previously thought.
    New Mexico regent's professor and extension turfgrass specialist Bernd Leinauer, Ph.D., and research assistant professor Matteo Serena, Ph.D., are finding the idea that Kentucky Bluegrass is a poor choice for droughty climates to be misleading if not incorrect. They are looking to change the public's perception on which turfgrasses can survive the best in the drought conditions we find in our region.
    Research historically has shown that warm-season grasses have greater drought tolerance than cool-season grasses. There also is the perception that cool-season grasses require more water, but Leinauer says it's not the grass that's the problem. He and his team established test plots with different grasses receiving different amounts of water. 
    "If you think your grass is using too much water, apply less. Let's find out how much water we can save," Leinauer said in a release by New Mexico State. "And that's what our research is looking at."
    Test plots were irrigated to 100, 80, 60 and 40 percent of ET. Early results of the induced-drought trials show that Kentucky bluegrass requires much less water than other cool-season grasses. 
    "When we factor in both the amount of water needed and recovery after drought stress, the winner among cool-season grasses is Kentucky bluegrass. It's not only about performance during drought, it's equally important how quickly and well grasses can recover after drought. Such considerations are important for our region," Leinauer said.
    Such findings are different than what has been previously stated. The general opinion has been that Kentucky bluegrass should not be used because of the amount water that it needs to survive.
    "This message is the complete opposite of what we've been hearing . . . . Kentucky bluegrass has been perceived as the worst of all and uses the most water. However, our findings don't support that," Leinauer said. 
    Once a fairway favorite, Kentucky bluegrass had fallen out of favor. Newer varieties, however, can tolerate mowing heights as low as a half-inch, and it can withstand a variety of soil conditions.
    "Our results show that if a cool-season grass is chosen," Leinauer said, "Kentucky bluegrass should be (the) grass of choice."
  • Conditions in Ohio this season, like this flooded fairway at Terrace Park Country Club, have been anything but average, but the struggles superintendents there have been facing are typical of what others are facing elsewhere. Photo by Scott Les Chander via Twitter When it comes to average, Ohio literally is as much like anywhere else as it gets. 
    The population is so diverse, that Ohio is considered a nearly perfect cross-section of the rest of the country; so much so that when restaurant chains like McDonald's, Fazoli's and Taco Bell want to roll out new menu items they test them in places like Cincinnati and Dayton first. When Panera, Max & Erma's and Ohio-based Wendy's considered changes to their store designs, they tried them out first in Columbus, which has earned the nickname of America's Test Market. Several years ago, when Frito-Lay rolled out Biscuits and Gravy-flavored potato chips, they did not do so until the Toledo market, where it was tested, gave its approval.
    It's the same in golf in Ohio. The state is so much like the rest of the country that many of the troubles experienced by superintendents elsewhere, occur there, too.
    "We've been getting our teeth kicked in," said Scott Les Chander, superintendent at Terrace Park Country Club in Milford near Cincinnati. "Our member-guest was over three days the first week of June, and we got 6 inches of rain and a lot of wind. Since then, it's been deluge after deluge."
    The daytime highs, according to the National Weather Service, have reached or surpassed 90 degrees on 37 days since May and overnight lows during that same span have averaged between 72 and 77 degrees. Both marks are far above average for this cool-season neck of the woods .
    When the temperature has not been climbing past 90 degrees, it's usually because it has been raining.
    A total of 8.2 inches of rain was observed at the airport in August, including 5 inches on Aug. 16. The monthly total  is more than double the historic average of 3.4 inches, but 3 inches below the August record of 11 inches. At Terrace Park, Les Chander's weather station has recorded 12.43 inches for the month, blowing away the airport's record. To date, he's measured more than 9 inches of rain in September alone.
    It's the wettest summer here in 54 years and the sixth-wettest on record, according to the NWS. That means it also has been a good summer . . . for anthracnose and summer patch on Terrace Park's bent/Poa greens, and pythium and "brown patch galore" on tees and fairways.
    A 2007 Ohio State graduate, Les Chander typically is on a 14-day interval between sprays, but he's adjusted that to 10 days, sometimes eight, this year because of the rain at Terrace Park, located on a point where the Little Miami River and the East Fork of the Little Miami River meet. 
    "There's a direct correlation between the rain and how much disease pressure we've faced," he said. "There's no miracle product that is going to stay in the ground with that much rain.
    "In one day, we had 8 inches of rain in 24 hours. We drain really well. We are on sandy, loamy soil because we're at the confluence of two rivers, and I've still had fairways under water multiple days when it's over 90 degrees. 
    "It has been a nightmare."

    It's a similar story at nearby Hyde Park Country Club, a 1920 Donald Ross layout, where superintendent Pat O'Brien has been overseeing a renovation project that includes not only work on the golf course, but a new practice range, short-game area and golf training building, as well as a new pool, paddle tennis courts and pickle ball courts.
    "Gas lines, sanitary, everything's new. There are a lot of moving parts," O'Brien said. "The weather and more than 50 inches of rain since spring has made it a challenge to get things done and done well and meet deadlines with this project."
    The effects of the weather on the golf course include dollar spot, anthracnose on creeping bentgrass, brown patch, summer patch and even large patch on zoysiagrass.

    The crew at Hyde Park Country Club sneaks in a quick mow between rain showers recently. Photo by Pat O'Brien via Twitter "Spring here wasn't much of a spring. With almost 40 days over 90 degrees, I'm seeing conditions I haven't seen before in my career," O'Brien said. "It's almost October, and we're still over 70 degrees at night."
    He's had to delat aerification until the last week of September, and has spent much of the summer leaning on the expertise of assistants Dan Lawendowski and Aaron Garrett to manage the golf course while he continues to oversee the various parts of the renovation.
    "Nothing has been normal this year. Conditions are dynamic and we're learning how to make adjustments to maintain playability and turf health," he said. "I've really relied on the guys, especially my assistants. Observation is huge under these conditions, and they've done a good job doing that and adapting while I'm torn in other directions."
    As further evidence that this area is indeed a microcosm of the rest of the country, the end of the golf season here can't come soon enough.
    "Fall 'recovery' has been far from pleasant so far. But the days keep getting shorter and we'll be bitching about snow and shoveling paddle courts soon enough," Les Chander said.
    "It is safe to say, I will not miss the 2018 season and most certainly will never forget it."
  • Syngenta's Stephanie Schwenke presents Superintendent of the Year plaques to Jorge Croda (left) and Rick Tegtmeier. 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.
  • Whether you are an accomplished golf course superintendent, groundskeeper looking to expand your knowledge base or someone looking for a career change, the University of Massachusetts has a program for you.
    Applications are being accepted for the 2019 University of Massachusetts Winter School for Turf Managers as well as the UMass Extension Green School. 
    The UMass Winter School is a compressed certificate program that covers all the concepts essential to maintaining high quality turf, with emphasis on environmental stewardship and fiscal responsibility. This comprehensive, dynamic short course is ideal for experienced professionals associated with the management of golf courses, athletic fields, parks, municipal and private grounds, fine lawns and landscapes.
    Scheduled for Jan. 7-Feb. 15 at the UMass campus in Amherst, in an updated, time-efficient, six-week format, the UMass winter school is certificate program designed to help experienced turf professionals brush up on their skills or provide aspiring managers who can’t squeeze a traditional academic schedule into their calendar with the skills necessary to succeed.
    Classes meet 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m.-noon on Fridays to accommodate weekend commuters. Some area hotels offer special packages for UMass Winter School students.
    UMass Amherst faculty and distinguished guests lead a combination of classroom, laboratory, group project and discussion activities. Close-knit classes offer an opportunity to learn from the experiences of fellow students and to form relationships that will last a lifetime.
    A Certificate of Completion will be awarded to those who satisfactorily complete the program requirements. A high school diploma or GED is required for admission. 
    Every other year, UMass also offers its Green School for aspiring and busy turf management professionals.
    Designed for turf and landscape professionals hoping to get a better understanding of horticulture fundamentals and management strategies but who just don’t have the time for full academic course load, the Green School is a comprehensive certificate short course taught by UMass Extension specialists and faculty. 
    Attendees will learn the latest about sustainable methods of plant selection, plant maintenance, and pest and nutrient management which lay the foundation for environmentally appropriate decision-making. 
    The Green School curriculum, which emphasizes a systems-based approach to plant care, is based on current research and focuses on environmental stewardship, best management practices and integrated pest management. Students can choose from one of three tracks: turf management, landscape management and arboriculture. Classes will meet twice a week from Oct. 29 through Dec. 13 at the Doubletree Hotel in Milford, Massachusetts. 
    The goal of the turfgrass management track is to help turf managers "produce surfaces that meet functional and aesthetic expectations while at the same time minimizing the impact of management practices on human health, natural resources and the greater environment."
    Pesticide recertification contact hours will be offered for all New England states, and CEUs are available through both programs.
  • Bunkers at Corica Park are lined with artificial turf, including some from the nearby Oakland Raiders practice facility. If any of the Oakland Raiders show up to play a round at Corica Park Golf Course in nearby Alameda, they should feel right at home.
    As part of a recent renovation project, bunkers on the redesigned South Course at Corica Park were lined with pieces of artificial turf, including some from the Raiders practice facility located just a mile down the street.
    "It works pretty well, it's cheap and it's not tossed into a landfill," said Jason Cook, regional superintendent for Greenway Golf, which has managed Corica Park since 2012. "If you see any green, it's a good indicator that you're light on sand. I wouldn't say this is a new philosophy, but on a large scale like what we're doing here, it is. We have a high volume of bunkers."
    The use of artificial turf to keep rocks out of the bunkers and sand in is just one example of some of the ingenuity that went into the three-plus-year renovation of the South Course at historic Corica Park.
    Formerly known as the Chuck Corica Golf Complex, Corica Park is a 45-hole, city-owned facility that abuts the northern edge of Oakland International Airport. Greenway Golf has a 40-year contract to operate Corica Park, and is making significant long-term investments to make it more attractive to local golfers.
    "This project focuses on water recapture, target irrigation, native grasses, the design and playability," said Cook. "The cost of water, the cost of labor, aging infrastructure all are impacting golf significantly, especially in California. Investing in infrastructure now saves money down the road. I don't see the cost of water going down."
    The original routing, now Corica Park's North Course, was designed in 1927 by William Park Bell. The South Course, added in 1957, was the work of architect William Francis Bell. That layout recently was renovated by Rees Jones and Steve Weisser along with Greenway Golf principal and chief agronomist Marc Logan, the architect of Greenway's fertility program.
    The new-and-improved version of the South Course, which reopened June 22, is an Australian Sandbelt design patterned after such historic Aussie layouts like Royal Melbourne and Victoria Links. The North Course is being renovated nine holes at a time.
    Key elements of the South Course renovation, which was precluded by rebuilding the practice range and par-3 course, include multiple turf types, target irrigation and adding landforms all designed to help minimize inputs and improve playability at a city-owned muni in one of the country's hottest golf markets. 

    Several types of turf are grown at Corica Park in an effort to better manage water and golfer traffic. Most of the 120-acre South Course was capped with a 6-to-8-inch layer of sand to add contouring and interest to the once-flat layout and to help manage water. More than 600 catch basins installed throughout the South Course help to capture rainwater for irrigation use.
    "We are putting in an extensive drainage system that is going property-wide, but on the South Course alone we've installed 172,000 linear feet of drainage and more than 670 catch basins that are able to capture stormwater. The entire property drains into a closed system for irrigation.
    The South's large greens were grassed with Pure Distinction creeping bentgrass. At an average of 7,500 square feet, each has enough contouring for three exit points for surface water and enough to make them interesting yet not too difficult for golfers.
    At one time, among California golf courses, only Torrey Pines was busier than Corica Park. Since then, the South Course sees about 200-220 rounds per day
    "With all that sand, you have to do everything three times. You have to shape and finish then sand and refinish again," Cook said.
    "It's enough subtlety to make them fun, but also to be able to move golfers around."
    Nearly 34 acres of fairways were sprigged with drought-tolerant Santa Ana Bermudagrass, believed to be the first successful sprigging of that variety on the Northern California coast. Collars are Seaside II seashore paspalum to handle mower and roller turns, and bunker edges are covered in Agrostis pallens, a cool-season grass native to California that Cook says looks and performs like a tall fescue.
    Water use in the fairways is down about 60 percent since grassing with Santa Ana, says Cook. In fact, everything here was done to handle golfer traffic and minimize water use. Even the irrigation system, with 5,300 heads, was designed to target the specific needs of each variety.
    "We're not trying to overwater or waste water in a non-target area," Cook says. 
    "The water requirements of warm- and cool-season grasses are different."
    The investments by Greenway are aimed at making the property a viable competitor in the San Francisco area golf market for decades to come.
    "This is about water recapture, target irrigation, use of native grasses, innovative design and improving playability," Cook said. "That's all very important, especially now and especially in California."
  • Bert McCarty, Ph.D., here at a recent Clemson field day, was named the recipient of the Carolinas GCSA's Distinguished Service Award. Whether it is advice on managing bentgrass or Bermuda greens, controlling weeds or getting the most from PGR programs, Bert McCarty, Ph.D., has been helping golf course superintendents throughout South Carolina, around the Southeast and across the country tackle some of their biggest challenges for three decades.
    Superintendents have expressed their collective thanks by naming McCarty recipient of the Carolinas GCSA Distinguished Service Award, the association's highest honor. 
    "We are very proud of Dr. McCarty," Carlyle Brewster, Ph.D., chair of Clemson's plant and environmental sciences department, said in a news release. "His achievements are making positive impacts on our students, on the turfgrass industry and on our state."
    A graduate of Clemson with a bachelor's degree in agronomy and soils and a doctorate in plant physiology and pathology, and North Carolina State with a master's in crop science, McCarty was a professor at the University of Florida for nine years before returning to Clemson nearly 23 years ago. 
    The golf industry has an annual economic impact of about $7 billion on North and South Carolina. McCarty's work helps golf courses throughout the area maintain their status, said Tim Kreger, executive director of the Carolinas GCSA.
    "It's very easy to make a case that Bert McCarty's career is one of the reasons we can bank on this economic benefit year after year," Kreger said. "He makes the game better from below ground level through his research and from above through his teaching and support of future and current superintendents."
    During his career, he has authored or co-authored 15 books, 93 book chapters and 114 peer-reviewed journal articles. He has chaired 37 graduate students and been a committee member for 30 more. He currently chairs two doctoral candidates and two master's students. He is the coordinating author of Clemson's Annual Pest Control Recommendation Guide for Professional Turfgrass Managers. 
    In 2012, he was named the recipient of the Godley-Snell Award for Excellence that is given to the top agriculture researcher at Clemson University, and in 2010 and 2013, won the Notable State Document Award from the South Carolina State Documents Depository System from more that 3,000 entries. In 2014, he was the recipient of the Fred Grau award through the Crop Science Society as the top national and international turfgrass science researcher. In 2016, he was named a Fellow for the American Society of Agronomy, the first for any Clemson researcher.
    Among his works are: Common Weeds and Wildflowers that he authored with botanist David Hall, Golf Turf Management that includes 16 chapters on common turf species and cultivars and how to manage them, and Best Management Practices for Carolina Golf Courses, which was published by the Carolinas GCSA in 2015.
    McCarty will receive the award at the Carolinas GCSA Conference and Show scheduled for Nov. 12-14 in Myrtle Beach.
  • Golf courses as far inland as Charlotte, like TPC Piper Glen here, are feeling the effects of Hurricane Florence. Photo by Aaron Jayjack via Twitter @aaronjayjack Hurricane-related damage on golf courses is not always about wind damage and uprooted trees. Excessive rain and prolonged exposure to floodwater can be the real culprits, especially in a year already defined by weather challenges.
    North Carolina State and Clemson University have produced a hurricane-preparedness guide to help golf course superintendents recover from events like Hurricane Florence that dumped more than 30 inches of rain in parts of eastern North Carolina and nearly a foot in northeastern South Carolina.
    The guide tackles topics like weed control due to herbicide loss from floodwaters. Included are tips on fall Poa control in the aftermath of a storm and a reminder to consider skipping overseeding if Bermuda has been weakened too much.
    It already has been a rough year for growing grass throughout the transition zone, including North and South Carolina. Warm temperatures in late winter, followed by abnormally cool conditions in early spring and blazing hot temperatures in May and June confounded superintendents growing warm- and cool-season turf. And hot, wet conditions throughout much of the summer have turned many courses into grass-covered petri dishes.
    Several courses throughout the transition zone had to regrass Bermuda greens this year because of winter damage that former Clemson turf pathologist Bruce Martin, Ph.D., called the worst in South Carolina in decades. Bermudagrass can survive prolonged periods under water, but courses with new greens that also flooded might be in for a long recovery.
    "Those newly established areas might not survive submersion ... ," Martin said. "The Carolinas seem jinxed in recent years."
    The hurricane relief guide also has advice for irrigation water that might be contaminated with saltwater. Hint: total dissolved salts readings of 500 parts per million or pH levels of 7 might be a cause for concern, according to Clemson's Dara Park, Ph.D.
    Other topics in the guide include tree damage, soil fertility and disease pressure, which can be especially high because of weather conditions and the threat of leaching or degraded fungicides due to flooding.
    Conditions will be right for diseases such as pythium and take-all root rot, Martin said. 
    Places like Morehead City and Wilmington in North Carolina got the worst Florence had to offer, with more than 30 inches of rain falling there. Flooding on golf courses has been reported at least 300 miles inland Charlotte.
    Early forecasts called for rain totals up to 40 inches in areas like Myrtle Beach. The Grand Strand was spared from anything like that with only about 5-6 inches of rain falling there. However, the worst might be yet to come there with south-flowing Waccamaw River draining harder hit areas to the north. The river, which runs right through Myrtle Beach, is expected to crest at 19 feet later this week, a mark that would break the all-time high of just below 18 feet set in 2016.
    "There will be major disease issues for them, as we were already above average rainfall in most areas that were severely affected," said Jim Kerns, Ph.D. of North Carolina State University. "I suspect courses are going to have a hard time with revenue as many will be closed for some time cleaning up.  This could be devastating for many courses in our region unfortunately.
  • Joel Kachmarek hasn't pulled a core from the greens at Tacoma Country and Golf Club in five years. When Joel Kachmarek says he spends a lot of time venting on his greens, he's not talking about anger management issues associated with poor putting conditions. In fact, it's quite the opposite. After nearly two decades, Kachmarek couldn't be happier with the putting conditions at Tacoma Country and Golf Club.
    "No more hollow tine aeration," Kachmarek said. "I haven't done any of that since 2013.
    "Our greens are almost 120 years old, and they're the best they've ever been."
    There are differing schools of thought on aerifying greens - namely whether to pull a core, and what to do with them after extracting them.
    Kachmarek, a 19-year veteran of the club in Lakewood, Washington, wasn't always a devotee of solid tining. He tried it initially as a way to stretch the season for golfers.
    "That whole thing was facilitated by me wanting to get the greens leaner. I was just tired of watching the greens heal. When coring with hollow tines, it takes three to four weeks to heal. That's not cool for membership," Kachmarek said. "I wanted the greens to be good for them for more days out of the year. I didn't want to take away that perfect stretch of weather in the spring and that last stretch in the fall. I was always looking for a way to make this less painful for golfers."
    Through the years, he's gone from removing as much material as possible to aerating with solid tines at varying depths. 
    "When I first started, I was on the other side of the spectrum where I was trying to figure out how to remove more material each time," Kachmarek said. "Now, I've really gone backwards the other way."
    It's a philosophy made popular by Roch Gaussoin, Ph.D., of the University of Nebraska, who for years has disputed the need to pull a core on greens. It also is one that works well for Kachmarek in the Pacific Northwest, but he admits might not be everyone.
    "Everybody should do it, but I don't think it would work everywhere," he said. "But I do think a lot of people would like to see if they could modify what they're doing."
    Venting and aerifying with solid tines are important components of Fred Gehrisch's regime at Highlands Falls Country Club in western North Carolina, but they're just that - part of his program. So are core aerification and dry injection of sand topdressing.
    "I believe aerification is more than just a single type of aerification," Gehrisch said. "I'm a believer in core aerification and a believer in DryJect. I don't think one works that well without the other.
    "I think it takes a combination of all types to be successful."
    At Laurel Creek Country Club in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, John Slade runs DryJect over the greens usually in early May. With the end of the golf season in view, he core aerifies in mid-August.
    "In this area, people are all over the map, and it all has to do with the golf schedule," Slade said. "I've always said, 'you can aerify in March and you'll look good in May, or you can aerify in May and you'll look good in May.' You're going to look at holes for a long time if you aerify in March.
    "Because the greens are under stress in August, I don't want to put giant holes in the ground that are going to struggle to recover. Some guys wait until October because of golf. In that case, you're probably looking at holes all winter. Personally, I think what we are doing now is as good as we can do to help the greens make it through the summer."

    Aerification gets under way at Laurel Creek CC in New Jersey. In Tacoma, Kachmarek does not see the dramatic weather swings that necessitate such cultural practices on golf courses on the country's east coast or, for that matter, the eastern edge of Washington.
    "Growing Poa in this climate in the Northwest, I know it works. You can't push nitrogen if you do this," Kachmarek said.
    "Hollow tines create vigor in the turf, and that is important. If your greens already are healthy and have adequate sunlight, then I should never feel the need to increase vigor."
    As much as core aerification helps Gehrisch provide optimal conditions at Highlands Falls, he's nearly as concerned about the effects of a program that wouldn't include it - namely all that sand going into the profile and nothing coming back out.
    "You're putting all that material down and taking nothing out. At some point you are changing the shape of your green," he said. "That's a physical fact, and I don't see how you can maintain that. Eventually, it won't be the same green it was designed to be."
    That has occurred to Kachmarek, as well.
    "What will it take, 100 years of doing this to elevate a green 2 inches? It would be a soft build-up, not a ledge. And is that bad?" he said. "I don't know. I don't see it as a bad thing. 
    "That's part of golf. Golf courses change. Weather, trees, architects all come in and change things. Golf courses are living things, they're not meant to be created and remain static forever. What we do to golf courses and what Mother Nature does to golf courses is part of golf, and it's part of what is cool about it: It's forever changing."
  • Click to read Horry-Georgetown student Parker Stancil's blog about his summer in Denmark.

    Ralph Kepple is getting a little unexpected extra help in preparation for this year's Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Photos by John Reitman When one door closes, another opens. That's true in most instances, even if the door that closes is to the state of South Carolina.
    With Hurricane Florence steaming toward the southeast coast, four turf students from Horry-Georgetown Technical College scheduled to volunteer for the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club are headed to Atlanta a few days early after South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on Sept. 10 ordered evacuations of several coastal counties. That list includes Horry County, where Horry-Georgetown is located.
    H-G students Nate Hewitt and Mark Harrison went to Atlanta on Sept. 11, and Will Hord and Don Baggett will head out the following day. The group was supposed to work at the Tour Championship next week, but now will get in a few extra days of work on for the tournament scheduled for Sept. 19-23 at East Lake.
    Charles Granger, associate professor at Horry-Georgetown, lobbed praise toward Ralph Kepple and Charles Aubrey, director of agronomy and superintendent, respectively, at East Lake, for agreeing to take the group of four early as they bugged out of the Myrtle Beach area.
    "The good thing is they get more experience. That's a win-win for everyone," a grateful Granger said. "The PGA Tour gets so much publicity already for their charitable donations. There's not a lot of time given to what the agronomy teams do for folks. That charity extends to the agronomy team, as well.
    "God bless Ralph and Charles and (administrative assistant) Mandy Rowell. I called them and explained what was going on, and within 45 minutes they had things taken care of for these young men."
    Kepple was only too happy for the extra help. His volunteer list will number about 75 for the tournament, with 35-40 staying for the entire week and the remainder working anywhere from two to six days. This is the fourth year that students from Horry-Georgetown have volunteered for the event.
    "We've had a few (volunteer) cancellations, so we just had to call the hotel and transfer some things around," Kepple said. "We now get them for more than a week. This is the best of all worlds for us. 
    "We're happy to get them right through the weekend. It's some extra help we were not expecting. Once they get here, we'll work them right in with our crew every day from 6 a.m. until dark."

    Charles Granger of Horry-Georgetown, here at Chicago Golf Club earlier this summer, praised East Lake's agronomy team for taking volunteer students, who had to evacuate the Myrtle Beach area anyway, a few days early. This year's tournament, which will include Tiger Woods' first return to East Lake since 2013, is the 23rd for Kepple, and its his 27th year overall at the home course of the great Bobby Jones.
    He's hoping he is able to keep his staff intact throughout the tournament, but whether that happens is out of his control.
    Aubrey and wife Anne Marie are expecting their first child any day now.
    "I'm hoping she's able to hold off until after the tournament," Kepple said. "But we'll see how that goes."
    Granger was supposed to accompany his students to East Lake, but his departure was delayed while he battened down the hatches on his home. He and wife, Michelle, a speech pathologist at Grand Strand Medical Center who is considered essential personnel, did not evacuate.
    Another H-G student, Josh Taylor, is a member of the South Carolina National Guard, and is waiting to see whether he is mobilized for disaster relief efforts in response to Hurricane Florence. A helicopter mechanic in the guard, Taylor was supposed to graduate last May, but that was delayed because he was on active duty in Afghanistan. The storm is expected to make landfall Friday morning along the coast in South or North Carolina.
    "This is a feel-good story in a time of need," Granger said. "It's a good feeling when you call a club you have a relationship with and ask them to change things and they say 'OK' in the blink of an eye. That speaks volumes about this industry. 
    "Everything is about relationships; I don't care what business you're in. We think the world of every superintendent we have a relationship with, and we do a lot of tournaments."
  • The New York State Integrated Pest Management Program posthumously awarded its Excellence in IPM award to Bob Portmess.
    Portmess, who died in 2016 at age 60, had been an extension specialist at Cornell since 2009 and dedicated his career to helping golf course superintendents maximize playing conditions while minimizing chemical inputs. His guide to developing IPM programs has become a standard for golf courses throughout New York and beyond. The award, which is presented by the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program to those responsible for advancements in IPM program, was announced last month.
    "It is easy to measure Bob's impact on the adoption of Progressive IPM programs among the NY State Park golf courses. He worked tirelessly for years assessing pest management programs, adjusting nutrient management programs, raising awareness of point source pollution issues associated with mixing and loading, rinsing and washing stations," Cornell turfgrass professor Frank S. Rossi, Ph.D., wrote in a letter nominating Portmess for the award. "But by far the greatest impact, almost impossible to measure, is the individual attention he paid to the golf course superintendents. He would visit the courses regularly, review practices, inventory and prioritize equipment needs, and then day after day, answer those same superintendent's phone calls. Walking them through some of the progressive practices we established for adoption. Listening to their concerns and helping them set realistic goals that aided with adoption of some of the most progressive IPM practices used in the industry to this day."
    A mechanical engineer and telecommunications executive prior to joining Cornell, Portmess approached Rossi about a career change in 2006, expressing a desire to help superintendents.
    Two years later, he received a master's degree in professional studies in agriculture and life sciences specializing in turfgrass management. He worked with Rossi and Cornell senior extension associate Jennifer Grant, Ph.D., in developing an Integrated Pest Management Handbook of best practices for sustainable turf. The publication, which also is available in Spanish, has served as a guide to low-input management of New York's 29 state park golf courses and golf courses around the country.
    A graduate of Syracuse University where he earned a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering, Portmess worked at Alcoa before a career in sales with Cox Communications.
    "Little did I know that a short meeting with this 'mature' prospective student interested in working with golf course superintendents would turn out to be one of the most important partnerships of my entire career," Rossi wrote. "For that I owe Bob more than simply a nomination for an award he is more than worthy of, but rather my own continued commitment to the work that he started. Nominating Bob for this award allows me to do both."
  • In the battle of positive public relations, it isn't always enough for golf course superintendents to tell people what they are doing in the name of environmental stewardship. Sometimes you have to let them see, touch and, in the case of Highlands Falls Country Club, taste what is taking place.
    "Not everybody thinks country clubs or golf courses are great places for the environment," said Fred Gehrisch, CGCS at Highlands Falls Country Club in Highlands, North Carolina. "I tell our members part of my job is to convince people on your behalf that we are great."
    Three years ago, Gehrisch joined the growing number of superintendents who are keeping bees at their respective golf courses. His members have embraced the project and what it stands for, as has much of the community around the club in Highlands, North Carolina.
    "We watched other clubs doing it. It's a great thing to do," Gehrisch said. "There are a few environmentalists in this area, and this is a great way to prove to people that golf courses don't just dump chemicals everywhere. If you can raise bees here, it demonstrates the environmental consciousness of our programs.
    "People who don't like golf courses can make life difficult. I'm trying to head off issues before they become issues. We give some honey away as gifts to people we we know are not so wild about golf."
    The program has been the subject of stories in two local newspapers and city leaders, including the mayor, have stopped by to learn more about it. The town of Highlands has since been named a designated Bee City by Bee City USA, a program that recognizes municipalities that provide bees with "healthy habitat, rich in a variety of native plants and free to nearly free of pesticides." Bee City USA is an initiative of the Xerces Society, a non-profit environmental organization that "focuses on the conservation of invertebrates considered to be essential to biological diversity and ecosystem health."
    "The members love it," Gehrisch said. "They show it off to their guests every chance they get when they get to No. 14."
    Gehrisch has wanted to start a bee program for a long time. Once he decided to do it, he and assistant superintendent Josh Cantrell spent the winter three years ago on Youtube learning the tricks of the trade, like how to calm the bees through the use of a smoker to inspect the hive and harvest honey.
    "I've been stung about 20 times," Gehrisch said. "But they're usually very docile. Most of the time I wear, it's just a jacket with a hood on it, but if I'm just checking it, street clothes are fine.
    "If you check them at the same time every day, they're usually very docile. If you're erratic about it, they don't like it. Each hive has its own character, and you get to know that. And don't check them when it's cloudy or drizzling. They don't like that and are super aggressive then and will sting the daylights out of you. Then there are some days they just don't like to be bothered and they'll just hit you and warn you that a sting is coming next."
    At a start-up cost of about $2,000, which includes hives, bees and equipment to collect honey, they started with two hives, and have since grown to six, including two native swarms they captured.
    Even the dealer who sold bees to Gehrisch did so with some skepticism, thinking that all of them would die due to their exposure to the golf course and chemicals used to manage it.
    "The first year, we had a huge honey harvest," Gehrisch said. "Usually, it takes three years to have one, and we did it the first year. When I told the woman at the bee-supply company who sold us the bees, she was surprised.
    "She actually thought we'd be killers of bees."
    Each year, Gehrisch and Cantrell collect the honey, filter it and bottle it for sale through the club for $8 for an 8-ounce jar. The proceeds are minimal and go back into the maintenance department budget.
    "The members love to buy the honey and say it is from their club," Gehrisch said. "I tell them 'you live here, it's your gardens that helped make this.' It brings them more into the process."
    Gehrisch said it is critical to communicate as much as possible with all the necessary stakeholders about the bees and the significance of such a program. It doesn't hurt that he can show them how docile the bees are - most of the time.
    "There are native bees already here; we're just managing them and collecting the honey," he said. "When the members see me out in the apiary with no protective clothing on, it becomes a non-issue."
    The bees are susceptible to cold weather in the North Carolina mountains, and Gehrisch lost four of his six hives this past winter when high winds knocked toppled four of the structures. He bought two new colonies and captured two wild ones to rebuild his numbers.
    "It was like a punch in the gut," Gehrisch said. "Every hive has its own identity, and you get to know that. You start thinking 'was there more I could have done to save them?' It happens and you start to think how you can be better the next year and use it as a learning experience."
    Every step along the way also represents a teaching moment.
    "We probably have about $2,000 total in this," he said. "Has it paid off yet? No, but it's worth it for the PR. It's not a huge expense at all for the kind of public relations we've gotten from it."
  • John Sorochan, Ph.D., of the University of Tennessee (center) discusses research on zoysiagrass for putting greens during the university's recent field day. Photos by John Reitman University field days are the place to be for those who want to stay on the cutting edge of what is happening in turfgrass management. There, attendees can get everything from the most up-to-date data on the latest products and and management practices to information on trials that are so new that protocols haven't even been developed and implemented yet.
    At the recent University of Tennessee Turf and Ornamental Field Day, trials underway range from weed-control and disease-management experiments to finalizing practices to better understand green-height zoysiagrass and developing a growing degree day model for plant growth regulator use on ultradwarf putting surfaces.
    One cultivar, a hybrid bred at Texas A&M and grown by Bladerunner Farms under the experimental name DALZ 1308, has shown promise for use on putting greens, in part, because of its shade tolerance.
    "When it comes to shade, Bermuda will come in fourth in a three-horse race," said John Sorochan, Ph.D., professor of turfgrass science at UT. "Zoysia has better shade tolerance than Bermuda, though not as good as bentgrass. It has a dark green color that looks more like bentgrass than zoysia."
    Zoysiagrass can require fewer inputs and can be more tolerant to biotic stress factors, including diseases, insect pests, shade and salt than ultradwarf Bermudagrasses, according to Texas A&M. The primary drawback for use on greens has been ball roll speed.
    "It's dense, durable and has excellent wear tolerance," Sorochan said. "The recuperative potential is slower than Bermuda. Right now, we're looking at the best cultural practices and how it reacts to plant growth regulators.
    "We want to know how to manage them before they get onto a golf course. We want to know what diseases will be prevalent. What are the fertility rates? How do we manage them? These aren't going to be greens that you'll want to come in and  aerify in the middle of summer."
    Also in its infancy is a trial to develop a growing degree day model for PGR use on ultradwarf greens.
    Plots under trial since May at the East Tennessee Ag Research and Education Center are receiving 3 ounces weekly, 3 ounces every 220 GDD and 1.5 ounces twice per week.
    So far, that 200 GDD trial has shown UT's academic team that many superintendents growing ultradwarf greens in the transition zone probably are using too much product without appreciably more benefits.

    Jim Brosnan, Ph.D., shares research on developing a growing degree day model for PGR use on ultradwarf Bermudagrass. "There is 6 inches difference between the growing degree day program and two shots per week. Is that 6 inches worth it?" said UT's Jim Brosnan, Ph.D. "Maybe there are clubs where that matters. 
    "What we want you to take away is to think about it. We've gotten to the point where it goes into the tank every time you spray greens regardless of what you're spraying and no thought behind why you are doing it."
    Excessive use can make turf more susceptible to disease, including curvularia and take-all root rot.
    "We need to space those applications out and get off those growth regulators as we go into fall," said UT plant pathologist Brandon Horvath, Ph.D., in a recent TurfNet University webinar on fall and winter prep. "It is important to remember that Bermudagrass is much more sensitive to these growth regulators than bentgrass is, so the growing degree day model that was developed for bentgrass is not applicable for Bermudagrass, and that's a really critical piece of making sure that we reduce these diseases."
    The study is ongoing.
    "We're getting to a point in the season where it soon will no longer be optimal for ultradwarf growth anymore, especially here in eastern Tennessee," Brosnan said. "I know superintendents who are on a 3-ounce or higher program through September and even into October. We're not talking about taking any of these programs lock, stock and barrel on all 18 greens. Our hope would be that you take this and think about how you've been using plant growth regulators and some changes you could make: A, to make things easier for yourself and B, an environment where you get similar conditions and less disease after we get all the data in house."
  • 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."