COURSE CARE
The 2013 Ultradwarf Bermudagrass Field Trip February 13, 2013 By Patrick O’Brien and Christopher Hartwiger

Approximately 50 superintendents and industry professionals gathered in Atlanta, Ga., for a two-day USGA-sponsored field trip to discuss ultradwarf bermudagrass winter management topics and how to convert bentgrass putting greens to an ultradwarf.

For a third consecutive year, an Ultradwarf Bermudagrass Winter Field Day was hosted by the USGA Green Section and several golf course superintendents in the Southeast Region. Approximately 50 people attended Jan. 29 and 30 in the Atlanta, Ga., area to discuss and observe winter ultradwarf bermudagrass management strategies and review recommended preparations for a successful conversion from bentgrass to an ultradwarf. 

The Oaks Course served as the host for the first day and both the owner, Dick Schulz, and superintendent, Curtis Singleton, reviewed how ultradwarf bermudagrass putting greens improved their business and why they decided to become the first facility to convert in 2005. The conversion has been a major success on both the expense and revenue sides of the ledger. Dick Shulz has been so confident with the quality of the putting greens year-round at The Oaks Course that he offers a money back guarantee to any golfer not pleased with their quality. 

Curtis Singleton discussed the importance of using covers on putting greens for prevention of winter injury. His staff of four demonstrated the process of covering and uncovering a putting green. Curtis also conducted a live demonstration on how to paint a putting green. 

Attendees gathered the second day at the Cherokee Town & Country Club. Our hosts were director of golf course maintenance Tony Mancuso and North Course superintendent Ken Lee. Tony gave a presentation on the no-till conversion practices performed at Cherokee Town & CC and offered tips for success. He provided an economic analysis of the costs involved, too. Afterward, the attendees viewed the winter putting greens at this highly regarded private facility. 

Painting to provide winter color has been a big success at Cherokee Town & CC and this year the low-mowed chipping areas around the greens were also painted. Further, the staff has been experimenting with painting tees and fairways. These test plots were reviewed. Based on the positive results, it was reported there are plans to extend painting to these areas next winter. 

A field trip is always a good method to learn more about new topics and business models. The superintendents and assistant superintendents who came on this field trip came away with valuable new information that will help them make this transition smoothly. Here is one example of a thank you note sent our way after the meeting: 

“I want to thank you for inviting me to the winter field days. Great information was provided on both days and I learned a lot! Having so many superintendents/assistants there who are managing ultradwarf greens made this a tremendous seminar.”

For facilities considering a move from bentgrass to an ultradwarf bermudagrass, the Southeast Region Green Section agronomists offer Turf Advisory Service visits focused on this topic. We can help you with conversion planning, equipment needed after conversion, as well as making the transition from grow-in management to playability management. Call or email us for more information.

Source: Patrick O’Brien patobrien@usga.org and Christopher Hartwiger chartwiger@usga.org)