Now What? Take One Step Forward At A Time! December 1, 2010 By Keith Happ

During the recent Penn State Turf Conference, many superintendents were discussing their fall activities in preparation for winter and snow mold control.  Other issues, such as putting green topdressing, late season aeration, drainage, tree maintenance and equipment maintenance were discussed in detail.  However, one of the biggest concerns focused on dealing with another summer like 2010.

There are still many agronomic programs that need to be completed before winter is here, and it is never too early to communicate with golfers and committees about course setup for the New Year.  Defining the course setup allows for a more accurate determination of the necessary programs to achieve course playability criteria.  The Green and/or Golf Committees define the course setup, and the maintenance staff are charged with meeting golfer expectations.  Without a defined setup document, it is very difficult to meet expectations.  In effect, it is like trying to hit a moving target.  Now is the time to come together, put on a pot of coffee, and decide how the course should play and, ultimately, be maintained. Only then can an accurate and realistic budget be outlined. 

This past season, there was much discussion about developing fast and firm conditioning.  Contrary to many golfers’ beliefs, fast and firm playing conditions are not achieved by simply turning off the irrigation.  There must be a holistic plan put forth to develop this playing condition, and once the plan is in hand, it may need to be implemented over a number of years to achieve the desired playing quality.  The Mid-Atlantic regional conferences scheduled for Richmond, Virginia on March 8th and Baltimore, Maryland on March 15th will offer presentations on the issue. 

As we move into the next phase in the change of season, put forth every effort to do at least one or two things that will make your course operation better.  For example, it is not too early to give us a call to schedule a Turf Advisory Service visit for next season.  Open discussion with course officials can be very productive.  Golfers’ concerns can be addressed, programs can be discussed, and realistic expectations and goals can be put forth. 

The Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists are part of your agronomic support team.  If you have a question or concern, give us a call or send an e-mail.  You can reach Stan Zontek ( and Darin Bevard ( at 610/ 558-9066 or Keith Happ ( at 412/ 341-5922.