USGA Northwest Regional Conferences In Full Swing February 27, 2015

USGA Northwest Regional Conferences In Full Swing

Derf Soller, Agronomist
March 18, 2008

The mainland portion of the Northwest regional conference schedule has just concluded and there was great turnout at all locations. USGA staff and others presented updates for the golf management profession in attendance. They included superintendents, general managers, golf professionals, course officials, and various other course workers. Thanks to all of the golf courses that sponsored these conferences.

Many renovation projects were discussed during the regional meetings, and the trials and tribulations of the planning, development, and completion of projects were highlighted. Even with a great plan and a tremendous amount of communication with the membership there can still be hiccups along the way. The most important component of a project is having a qualified golf course architect involved from the very beginning, whenever alterations are made that will affect how a golf course is played. A qualified golf course architect is the real link to providing appropriate information to course officials and the golfers during the design as well as during the actual construction renovation.

A big portion of the conferences encouraged all in attendance to reevaluate how they look at their golf maintenance equipment purchasing. A history of how the golf market has changed made everyone realize that all clubs and courses have been pushed to try to provide great playing conditions. No longer do private clubs just compete with other private clubs for new members. The increase in the number of good daily fee courses that provide a quality golfing experience also compete for these same players. Even older courses are being asked to improve their operations to be more competitive in the marketplace. This all starts with having good, reliable equipment.

Attendees were told to look at managing their complete fleet of golf maintenance equipment, not just a couple of pieces each year as has been done historically. Using equipment for its full useful life , and not beyond was the take home point. It helps courses save "spilled" dollars on expensive equipment repair, and also on staff morale and retention.

Tree management discussion also was on the agenda. This subject is always passionately discussed and the topic was expertly presented to look at trees as they relate to playability of a golf hole and how they affect the agronomics of growing good turf. Sunlight is needed! Research shows that a little sunlight does not give the turf playing surfaces a very good chance to withstand the stresses of close mowing, traffic, disease, and insect pressures that come with trying to provide good playing conditions. Evaluation of trees on a golf property should be a big picture discussion. Turf condition expectations, hole playability, safety, and aesthetics should all be included in whether to keep, trim, move, or remove trees on a facility property. As trees grow over the years on a course, the way a hole now has to be played is most often not the way the original course architect designed the hole to be played. Many risk and reward designed holes have totally lost their "risk and reward" component.

Changes in the Rules of Golf for 2008 also were highlighted, as were recommendations to give golf course turf its best chance to make it successfully through the winter.

Turf Advisory Service (TAS) visits will be starting soon and sign-ups are in full swing. The Northwest Region Green Section agronomists are available to consult with golf courses throughout the region on all topics relating to golf course maintenance. To sign up for a TAS visit please contact: