COURSE CARE
Positive Trumps Negative Every Time June 2, 2010 By R.A. (Bob) Brame

Play volume seems to be moving in the right direction, and, even though the economy remains a concern, there has been an upbeat mindset on recent visits. Maybe it’s simply to move forward as best as possible, despite economic challenges. Life is a journey of never-ending change, and in the final analysis, our attitude is the only thing we completely control. Positive trumps negative every time, so here’s to hoping the upbeat mindset spreads and grows.

The Challenge of the Primary Rough

The playability of primary rough has received a lot of attention. ‘‘It’s too difficult, I can’t get it (the ball) out,’’ and ‘why can’t we mow this stuff,’’ are a few of the golfer comments. Actually, this is a recurring issue every spring. Sometimes the response to these comments is, ‘‘how did the ball get there?’’ If you choose to respond that way, be sure to add a big smile.

The important issue to remember is that the primary rough should have enough of a penalty to reward a player hitting the fairway. Closely tied to this issue is the fact that the play of a course changes with the weather. There are many courses that have cut back on labor to help address the tough economy, and this decreases rough mowing frequency. It is always better to mow more frequently when growth is aggressive, as opposed to lowering the cut. While lowering the cut can appease the moment, it can set the stage for turf decline should summer and early fall weather be harsh. So, give the maintenance staff some slack and hit it straight, as opposed to always having to hit a driver.

Be Alert to Potential Troubles

Several diseases have been spotted over the last few weeks, although most spray programs are holding damage to minimal levels. The heat and humidity ahead may well test summer fungicide spray programs, so now is a good time to review and make any necessary adjustments. Check out the following links for more information:

/content/dam/usga/pdf/imported/course-care/ppa1.pdf

http://www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/factsheet/2010/052010_pathogens.html

/content/dam/usga/pdf/imported/course-care/2-L187_Diseases2008.pdf

A significant amount of time on Turf Advisory Service visits is spent discussing wetting agents. Although there can be value, there also can be side issues, such as the cost – value. Review the following link as you consider this aspect of your operation.

http://www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/factsheet/2010/SpringSoildSurfactants_042010.html

The use of plant growth regulators has become the norm at most operations. Some are using Embark or Proxy-Primo to block Poa annua seed heads in the spring. Others use the foliar active Primo alone throughout the season. On the other hand, a soil active regulator like Turf Enhancer, Trimmit or Cutless will typically be in place when Poa annua suppression is an objective.

Bottom line, there are multiple ways to use growth regulation to enhance maintenance efforts, depending upon the specific objectives being pursued. If a product can help, it also can hurt when not used properly or in the wrong combination with other products. A site visit to your course will make it possible to zero in on specific recommendations for your operation. Have you scheduled a Turf Advisory Service visit yet? Give us a call – we’re always available.

Source: Bob Brame, bobbrame@usga.org or 859.356.3272