Golf Course Management

FEB 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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58 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 02.17 other inputs throughout the course's creeping bentgrass greens, tees and fairways. "We're able to see how we can work with the golf course to provide a plant that's healthy on its own — that doesn't need a pounding of inputs," says Stuedemann, who hails from Minnesota and earned a degree in environmental horticulture from the University of Minnesota. Last summer, for example, brought an influx of rain and high humidity, which Stuede - mann says led to the release of nutrients from organic matter in the soil. "We had fertilizer that we'd planned on applying, but we stepped back and said, 'The grass is healthy — the soil testing is confirming that — so let's leave the fertilizer in the facility,'" he says. That commitment to listening to the land and thoughtfully solving any puzzle it may put forth is no doubt driven by Stuedemann's desire to furnish top-notch turf at TPC Deere Run, designed by D.A. Weibring and host to the annual John Deere Classic since 2000. His resolve is heightened, however, by his reverence for the space with which he has been entrusted. The 400-acre expanse of Midwestern prairie was previously an Arabian horse farm owned by descendants of John Deere, who donated the land to the PGA Tour in the 1990s for the purpose of preserving it and creating a golf course that would be a showcase of environmentally beneficial management. In addition to its John Deere family ties, the tract is also the site of Native American burial grounds, a fact Stuedemann has taken special care to acknowledge and honor, con - necting with the chief of the local tribe and asking him to visit and perform a blessing. "It was enlightening to listen to him talk about the history of his tribe and the significance of us preserving these burial grounds," Stuedemann says. "It integrates well with how we maintain this property." That maintenance regimen features particular attention to water, a focus Stuedemann sharpened while working on the construction of TPC San Antonio from 2007 to 2012. During grow-in, the region of Texas was experiencing a drought, and the facility had to adhere to a strict daily allotment of water. By the time Stuedemann returned to TPC Deere Run to assume the head superintendent position in 2014 (he had previously worked there as an assistant superintendent from 2002 to 2007), those lessons in water frugality had become ingrained, and the course employs a wealth of water-conserving measures — everything from advanced weather station technology that accommodates the precise irrigation needs of each microclimate to the regular evaluation of nozzles, which elimi - nates any non-target watering. While judicious water use is standard protocol for greenkeepers nowadays, Stuede - mann also turns his shrewd eye to mat- ters beyond agronomy. In the maintenance building, you'll find supplies purchased in bulk to trim waste output, biodegradable equipment and facility cleaners, LED light bulbs, and weather-tight exterior doors. Just switching from the old hollow-core doors has resulted in a 3 to 5 percent energy sav - ings every month, Stuedemann says — yet another example of the attention to detail that the 18-year GCSAA member hangs his hat on. "Whether it's replacing inefficient light fixtures or putting a bead of caulk around a vent stack, you've ultimately just made a big difference in your energy consumption," Barred owls and biology students alike belong at TPC Deere Run, which is overseen by Alex Stuedemann (bottom photo, center), pictured with assistant superintendents Jonathan Graham (left) and Tony Gustafson. The local high school biology class visited the course last spring to participate in Audubon International's BioBlitz species-counting competition. Photos courtesy of Alex Stuedemann

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