Arizona Regional Conference Wrap-Up

By Brian Whitlark, agronomist, Southwest Region
March 29, 2012

On Monday, March 26th, the USGA, in conjunction with the Cactus and Pine Golf Course Superintendents Association, hosted the annual USGA Regional Educational Conference at the Gainey Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. The 100 plus in attendance were treated to a very informative educational lineup. A brief summary of the talking points is offered below:

  • Pat Gross, Director, Southwest Region, USGA Green Section - Topdressing Greens
    • Why is it important to topdress putting greens?
      • Answer: Topdressing dilutes thatch and organic matter. In excess, thatch and organic matter are responsible for soft putting surfaces that are prone to deeper pitch marks and inconsistent ball roll.
    • What separates a successful topdressing program from one where the results are inconsistent?
      • Answer: A successful program should include the following components:
        • Shoot for a goal of no less than 22 cubic feet of sand applied per 1000 square feet. annually.
        • Apply 1-2 cubic feet of sand per 1000 square feet per application, depending on turf growth rate.
        • Test the topdressing sand at least once annually to confirm the product closely resembles and is compatible with the construction sand. Click here for complete list of accredited physical soil testing laboratories. For turf varieties with dense canopies, topdressing with sand where the coarse fraction has been eliminated or reduced has shown good results. However, the construction sand should be used during core aeration events.
        • Lastly, consider employing a five-day strategy to encourage the sand to move into the canopy without being picked up by mowers.  For more information on this topic, review the article written by Todd Pippin, Superintendent at MacGregor Downs, Cary, N.C. (
  • Dr. David Kopec, University of Arizona – Mowing Native
    • Work continues on Saltgrass, a warm season turf species able to grow in water that approaches the salinity of seawater and will not wilt when starved of water for two weeks in the desert summer. One goal is to produce viable seed for commercial production within the next few years.
    • Sprucetop grama shows signs of potential for out-of-play areas where a low-maintenance, low-water utility grass may be a good fit.


  • Kai Umeda, University of Arizona – New Herbicides for Weed Control
    • Herbicide work with Specticle® and Sureguard® demonstrates that both products can be used very effectively as early postemergence and preemergence applications in non-overseeded bermudagrass fairways and roughs.
    • When applied in October to early November, Specticle® offered 90 to 98% Poa annua control through May of the following year (rate range 0.031 - 0.067 lbs. a.i./A)
    • With SureGuard®, October and November application timing offered 78 to 80% Poa annua control at 80 and 120 oz./A, respectively. Another study demonstrated 88 to 91% Poa annua control when applied on October 14th and November 10th at the rate of 120 oz./A.


  • Brian Whitlark, USGA - Colorants
    • In February of this year, a colorant study was completed on two ultradwarf bermudagrass greens. Thirteen products were evaluated for color, effect on surface temperature, soil temperature, soil moisture and ease of spray. All products tested encouraged growth and enhanced cosmetics during the winter. 
    • Mark your calendars for May 24th, 2012, when the USGA and University of Arizona will host a Colorant Workshop at Paradise Valley CC.  The half-day educational session will highlight recent research by Kai Umeda, University  of Arizona and Brian Whitlark, USGA, as well as a presentation from Dr. Grady Miller from North Carolina State University, a well known authority on colorant technology.


  • Michael Lacey, Deputy Director, AZ Dept. of Water Resources
    • The percentage of groundwater use by golf courses in the five active management areas continues to decline in favor of alternative water sources, such as effluent.
    • However, groundwater used by golf courses remains a significant source of water at about 50%. Effluent use has gradually increased to slightly more than 25%.
    • The 4th Management Plan is in draft form and turf managers and golf industry professional are encouraged to contact Michael Lacey to provide input regarding the future of golf course water use. Michael can be reached at 602-771-8426 or  ( The 4th Management Plan is scheduled for final adoption in early to mid-2013.


  • Scott Richardson, Jaburg and Wilk, P.C. Attorney
    • The Office of Pest Management is currently functioning under the Department of Agriculture, where the culture is less about enforcement and more about support, when compared to the former Structural Pest Control Commission.
    • The QP license as we know it will change to a new name and will require less stringent qualifications to obtain.
    • Document, document, document! Mr. Richardson emphasized the importance of documenting all pesticide applications and affiliated activities.


  • Chris Henninger, ADEQ, Water Quality Division: Permits: Stormwater
    • The AZPDES, is the Arizona  permit that authorizes the discharge of a pollutant to waters of the U.S. 
    • Many "Operators" are automatically covered and do not need to notify ADEQ.
    • Other "Operators" must submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) form to ADEQ.
    • A list of bodies of water that qualify as Waters of the U.S. can be found by subscribing to the following listserve: 


  • Dr. Chip Howard, TurfScience, Inc
    • Dr. Howard encouraged deploying a "proactive" transition strategy that may include such tactics as chemically injuring the overseeded ryegrass, scalping the turf and utilizing a road broom to completely remove dead and decaying ryegrass which would expose the underlying bermudagrass.


Dr. Jim Baird, University of California Riverside 

  • Research in the Palm Desert demonstrated that Scyth®, Reward® and Finale® can successfully be used to chemically prepare bermudagrass fairways for overseeding. Reward® and Finale® are by far the least expensive options and Finale® suppressed bermudagrass growth the longest. No products had any effect on ryegrass germination.
  • Poa annua control in overseeded bermudagrass trials revealed that PoaCure®, a product not yet available in the U.S., offers excellent Poa annua control. 
  • Prograss® offered excellent Poa annua control when applied according to the “Thanksgiving special” (late November application followed by another in mid-December).
  • Lastly, a new product to the Arizona market, Xonerate®, from Arysta Life Sciences, provided excellent Poa annua control with two early applications.
  • Research designed to evaluate ryegrass quality when irrigated with low and high salinity irrigation water demonstrated that when irrigated equal to or less than 100% of ET, the highly saline water (EC = 4.6 dS/m) resulted in reduced turf quality. When irrigated at 140% of ET, turf quality with the highly saline water was good, but playing conditions were wet and unfavorable.


In summary, it was a great day of education, followed by golf on a fun and challenging course at  the Gainey Ranch Golf Club, which is managed by Damien Smith, Director of Agronomy.  Thank you to the Cactus and Pine Superintendents Association, the speakers and the staff at Gainey Ranch Golf Club for a great day!


Source: Brian Whitlark, 


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