Golf Course Management

JUL 2014

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

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78 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 07.14 On June 8, 2014, Paul Eugene Rieke, Ph.D., became the worst golfer in history to be inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, or for that matter, any golf hall of fame. The honor was not bestowed upon him be - cause of his great athleticism, but because of the numerous contributions he has made to the advancement of golf course management. At the induction ceremony, his achievements were enumerated and praised, but that is not what this article is about. This is a story about his last research project, its relevance today and how it came about prior to his retirement in 1999. For longer than he can remember, Rieke believed that the root zone of a putting green could be constructed in a manner to increase its water-use effciency. His idea was to decrease the rooting depth at the acme of slopes while increasing the rooting depth at the base, or valley, of slopes. An obstacle with testing his hypothesis was it would be very expensive to build and perform the research. However, as Rieke's retirement approached, the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation allocated funds for the construction of 12 sloping research greens, and GCSAA, USGA, the O.J. Noer Foundation and Tri-Turf contributed funds for equipment and labor to test his hypothesis. Bernd Leinauer, Ph.D., currently of New Mexico State University, was a post-doctoral researcher at the time, and he was hired to con - struct the greens, install monitoring equipment and gather data. He was the perfect candidate given his graduate work focused on soil water use. The research greens were constructed with a 7 percent slope running down one side of the acme and a 3 percent slope down the opposite side. At the acme (or top) of the slope, the root- zone mixture was constructed to an 8-inch depth, while the root zones at the base of the slopes had a depth of 16 inches. Rieke's vari - able-rooting-depth construction method was compared to standard 12-inch uniform root- zone mixtures. Results from the research clearly indicated that decreasing the depth of the root zone at the acme of the slope while increasing the depth of the root zone in the low portions of the green led to more uniform moisture retention in the root zone. And increased uniform moisture re- tention in the root zone led to signifcantly less localized dry spot at the acme of the putting green surface and, ultimately, a more effcient use of water. For over 30 years water conservation has been touted as one of the biggest challenges facing the golf industry, with rising water costs and water restrictions looming in many parts of the world. To address this issue, the use of effuent water, advancements in wetting agents and time domain refectometry (TDR) tech - nology have been embraced by the golf indus- try as means to replenish water in a scientif- cally responsible manner. For those considering the construction of a golf course or reconstruction of a green, Rieke's variable-rooting-depth construction method should be utilized. Water use can be maxi - mized when this construction method is com- bined with the use of wetting agents, irrigating within plant-available water thresholds deter - mined with TDRs, and using sound cultural management practices. The only problem I have with this con - struction method is that is it often referred to as a variable-depth or modifed USGA root zone. The lack of a consistent name leads to confusion, which limits the use of this novel construction method. I propose that, from this point forward, we refer to the variable-depth root-zone method as the "USGA Rieke root zone" in honor of the soil scientist that cre - ated it and the institution that helped fund it. I look forward to attending the offcial naming ceremony, perhaps during the USGA Green Section session at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio? Thomas A. Nikolai, Ph.D., is the turfgrass academic spe- cialist at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., and a frequent GCSAA educator. Thomas A. Nikolai, Ph.D. nikolait@msu.edu Water conservation from the ground up For over 30 years water conservation has been touted as one of the biggest challenges facing the golf industry, with rising water costs and water restrictions looming in many parts of the world. (up to speed) 078-079_July14_UptoSpeed.indd 78 6/17/14 2:32 PM

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