There were numerous memorable events during 2016; here is a look at this year's top 10:
1. El Niño – The wet and cloudy weather conditions last winter significantly impacted golf courses. Turfgrass decline and drainage issues hampered playing quality and resulted in lost revenue at many facilities.
2. Extreme Summer Heat – Record high temperatures from June through August caused bentgrass putting green decline. Golfers also took time off because of heat indexes above 100 degrees on many days.
3. Hurricane Matthew – This strong, October storm amazingly traveled along the coastline from Florida to North Carolina, seldom touching land. However, the devastation from high winds, rain and storm surge took weeks to clean up.
4. Wildfires – Thousands of small fires throughout the mountainous areas of the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee caused smoky conditions and air quality issues this fall. It is difficult to golf when you can't breathe.
5. Labor – Finding quality staff for golf course maintenance operations remains a significant challenge in the region. If anyone wants a job, please apply at your nearest golf course.
6. A Legend Retires – At the end of this year David Stone, one of the most decorated superintendents in the region, will retire from The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn. Stone finished his career by hosting the successful 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.
7. More Options for Nematode Control – Several new products for nematode control on golf courses were released this year. Now our most significant root pest has new enemies.
8. New Plant Genetics – A more drought-tolerant bermudagrass called TifTuf™ was released this spring from the University of Georgia-Tifton. This turf has little thirst for water.
9. USGA Turf Colorant Workshop – Instead of overseeding, more golf courses are using turf colorants to provide winter color. A popular annual USGA workshop provides tips for success in all aspects of using turf colorants.
10. USGA Ultradwarf Bermudagrass Putting Green Management Workshop – For more than a decade the USGA has provided a workshop for Course Consulting Service subscribers to learn the best techniques for managing ultradwarf putting greens.
I'd like to end this year by again recognizing David Stone as a champion of our golf industry. He will be long remembered.
Southeast Region Agronomists:
Chris Hartwiger, director, USGA Course Consulting Service - firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Kammerer, regional director – email@example.com
Patrick M. O’Brien, agronomist – firstname.lastname@example.org
Todd Lowe, agronomist – email@example.com