Golf Course Management

FEB 2019

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

Issue link: http://gcmdigital.gcsaa.org/i/1073136

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Top: A look at the 18th hole at Colbert Hills Golf Course in Manhattan, Kan., where staff members prioritize superior conditions with fewer inputs. Photos by Matt Gourlay Bottom: Colbert Hills has removed the buckets from its green mowers, returning the clippings into the greens. As a result, the course has seen a 25 percent increase in fertilization. Innovative Conservation Award This award will recognize individuals who utilize or invent unique and innova- tive strategies for conservation at their facility. Matt Gourlay, CGCS Colbert Hills Golf Course Manhattan, Kan. At Colbert Hills Golf Course, less is more. That's less, as in, less fertilizer, less mowing, less labor, less aerification. Heck, the course even has done away with collecting clippings. Matt Gourlay, CGCS, Colbert Hills' director of golf course operations, long has been a proponent of lowering the bar on use of inputs, even before Minimum Levels for Sustain - able Nutrition soil guidelines became a thing. "I think our innovation stems from the way we changed our fertilizing practices," says Gourlay, winner of the 2018 ELGA for Innovative Conservation. "We fertilize significantly less than what the textbook says. We implemented MLSN theory, and we're probably even below that, just pushing the envelope to produce the best course we can and save money. We still have superior conditions." It didn't take Gourlay, a 16-year GCSAA member, long to see a domino effect to his ap - proach. In addition to a smaller fertilizer bill, Gourlay realized fewer costs associated with mowing, labor and equipment. "The way we looked at it was from a business standpoint," he says. "How can we provide conditions golfers want and save money? And what's great about MLSN is, if conditions deteriorate, we can always add (inputs), and the response is immediate." Gourlay thought he was toeing the line of course acceptability heading into the 2018 season. Predicting a need to increase fertilizer, he opted to remove the buckets from his mowers. Rather than collect clippings, Gourlay decided to return them into the greens. 54 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 02.19

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