Golf Course Management

JAN 2017

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

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64 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 01.17 cost of his environmental pesticides, and was on track to do it again for 2016. The course had previously never gone more than two months without a fungicide treatment. "We are matching the growth rate and the environ - ment," Haines says. "I don't know if it's com- mon sense. Well, it is — but it's not common, really, yet. But it will be." Sunblock for turf One day back in 2006, while he was work - ing as the superintendent at Manufacturers Golf & Country Club in suburban Philadel - phia, Scott May, who'd spent 12 years main- taining golf course turf, hit upon what he calls a "silly idea." The thought was that if peo - ple benefited from sunscreen, why wouldn't plants? Or, more specifically, why wouldn't turfgrass plants? May tested the ingredients of sunscreen (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) on his golf course and saw significant results — less after - noon wilt, less localized dry spot and healthier turf. When he combined the ingredients with other turf products, those products seemed to work better, too. It took four years of research and testing for May to bring his product, Turf Screen, to market in 2010, and at first, he was met with skepticism from his fellow superintendents. "I started talking about UVB damage to turf and got blank stares. People thought I was off my rocker," May says. These days, however, May's business is thriving, with orders coming in from super - intendents all over the country. May says Turf Screen scatters and absorbs harmful UVB radiation, letting in beneficial sunlight wave - lengths critical for photosynthesis. The prod- uct is sprayed foliarly and costs about $30 to $40 per acre. For the investment, May says golf course superintendents save on water costs and employee time spent syringing dur - Jason Haines, superintendent at the nine-hole Pender Harbour Golf Club in Madeira Park, British Columbia, employs a different meth - odology, applying fertilizer only when the weather is warm enough for the plant to be actively growing. Haines adopted this new program after reading a paper published in 2013 by Micah Woods, Ph.D., of the Asian Turfgrass Center, about using temperature to predict turfgrass growth potential and estimating turfgrass nitrogen use. When Haines encountered the paper, he said it was as if a light bulb flashed on above his head. "It's all based on timing," says the one-year GCSAA member. "If the grass isn't growing because it's too cold to grow, I don't force it to grow. I'm not really guessing. There's a math formula that is helping me decide what rates I go out with. From October through May, I apply virtually no fertilizer. I'm still applying it, but in super-small quantities. I apply every - thing in liquid form, granular in four years. I use soluble fertilizers that are inexpensive, and I apply small amounts of fertilizer." Haines applies 90 percent of his fertilizer from June through September. He's dramati - cally reduced his nitrogen applications from about 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet to about 2½ to 3 pounds, or about 15 pounds of fertilizer per acre, total. In August, his weekly fertilizer application cost $10.20 for his 1 acre of greens. "I've seen no real drawbacks — zero nega - tive consequence — for me fertilizing the new way," Haines says. Less disease has been among the benefits, and in 2015 Haines was able to make a 30 percent reduction in the Left: Jason Haines, superintendent at Pender Harbour Golf Club in Madeira Park, British Columbia, experimented with timing and quantity of fertilizer applications to come up with a formula for his course that resulted in improved turf and environmental practices. Photo courtesy of Pender Harbour GC Right : Scott May took a self-described "silly idea" and turned it into Turf Screen, essentially a sun screen for turfgrass plants. Photo courtesy of EPIC Creative

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