COURSE CARE
Great Ideas From The Great White North August 19, 2014 By Larry Gilhuly

(L) Quilchena G&CC Superintendent Jason Hooper uses a small area of his practice green to demonstrate to golfers what the turf would look like without fertilizer and plant protectants. (R) At the Marine Drive GC, Superintendent Wade Hawksworth physically removes difficult-to-control fairy rings outbreaks and re-sods the area with turfgrass not impacted by the organism.

One of the great aspects of working in the Northwest Region for the USGA Green Section is the opportunity to visit so many different golf facilities in 11 states and four Canadian provinces. A recent trip to our friends in British Columbia revealed many new and different ideas that are worthy of consideration at any golf facility, regardless of budget.

Seymour Golf & Country Club (North Vancouver, BC): Seymour is located at the base of the Cascade Range. As such, the maintenance staff has the unenviable task of dealing with over 100 inches of annual rainfall that could certainly be used in many other areas of the Northwest. Last year, the Northwest Regional Update It's In the Bag was written after visiting the course in July. Their unique use of burlap bags filled with a sandy loam soil has now been in the ground for 18 months with the following positives noted: 

  • As expected, the burlap is deteriorating as the regionalUpdateContents of the perennial ryegrass have taken over on bunker edges. There are very clean and sharp bunker edges with no contamination from the bags. Also, there are no rocks, as the bags filled with the mix of your choice provide approximately one foot of clean soil.
  • Bunker edges are very consistent and drought tolerant, as the mixture used in the bags was not 100 percent sand that is generally found around most bunkers.
  • More bunkers have been completed with equal success with future plans to renovate   all remaining bunkers using this type of edge definition.

Superintendent Jim McGarvey and his staff have taken an old idea and truly created an inexpensive and simple way to eliminate bunker contamination from regular edging.

Quilchena Golf & Country Club (Richmond, BC): Do you ever wonder what a golf course putting surface would look like without any fertilizer or products for disease prevention? Rather than waiting to find out the answer and wanting to educate his membership, Superintendent Jason Hooper decided to give them a real-life display on the edge of a practice putting green. Every time a fertilizer or fungicide application was made to the green, a small piece of plywood was placed over the same area. The result is a very off-color, weak stand of Poa annua with small bentgrass plants that become established during the summer months. Without spending considerable time explaining the topic, one can simply see just how important fertilizers and fungicides are to achieve healthy putting surfaces. This is a simple and great way to educate players and voters on the importance of plant protectants and fertilizers on sand-based surfaces.

Marine Drive Golf Club (Vancouver, BC): Everyone that has ever had to deal with fairy ring knows that this is a major problem that is difficult to eradicate. However, Superintendent Wade Hawksworth and his staff have successfully used a technique that is worthy of trying at your course if the pathogen is near the surface. The fairy rings at Marine Drive were within an inch of the surface and mostly found in the thatch over several inches of sand topdressing. Rather than going the way of various products for chemical control, the decision was made to physically remove several inches in, and just outside, the infected area where the pathogen was active. The combination of organic material and sand was discarded and replaced with a clean sandy loam and resodded with Poa annua sod. When combined with their May through September wetting agent program and careful hand watering of these locations when the sod was new, the results have been very good. While this was labor intensive to complete, the cost of the fungicides were offset with better results. Players much preferred the results of this practice to a mixed bag of bare soil and moisture-stressed turf. Marine Drive is no longer stuck behind the 8-ball when dealing with this problem.

Source: Larry Gilhuly (lgilhuly@usga.org

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