Golf Course Management

MAR 2018

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

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50 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.18 to and from the green across bridges. Once on the green side, imagine three 30-foot-tall elms to the front right of the green and a massive oak to its left. Trees and scrub brush wrap around the green along the property line. In addition to this poor placement, the quality of the green's build is shoddy. A general inconsistency exists in the greens mix, with distinct variations vis - ible in the profile: fine sand here, course sand there, and occasional ribbons of clay. With a bad soil mix, trees all around and proximity to a low creek bed, shade and lack of air movement become huge negative influ - ences on turf health. Add to this the heat of a central Oklahoma summer plus fans that haven't worked in years, and the prognosis for a bentgrass green becomes very dim. What - ever the cause of these conditions, the long and short of it was that Silverhorn No. 11 was de - signed to fail. And fail it did. Constantly. Every year brought another 4,000 square feet of failure at the end of September. Some were more dramatic than others, but all were failures. A steady parade of superintendents made their way through the property, but no one was able to solve the problem. Assurances were made that the issue could be managed — it just re - quired good moisture monitoring and an ex- cellent fertility program. Yet even diligence in those areas was for naught. Species swap During my tenure at Silverhorn — from June 2013 to October 2017 — the same failure plagued me. Finally, in the summer of 2015, the whole course was hit by a particularly vir - ulent pathogen, leaf blight, that rolled across the greens undeterred by fungicides. I'd sent a sample to Oklahoma State University's Turf - grass Diagnostic Lab, and Nathan Walker, Ph.D., reported the lab had never seen the pathogen on a course in Oklahoma before. The damage from the disease was catastrophic. The facility's response to such desperate circumstances was to convert all the greens to Champion ultradwarf bermudagrass. The sprigs went down on the course on Aug. 21, 2015 — a very late date to undertake a con - version, but success for 2016 required the risk. Above: A core sample of No. 11, taken after the conversion to Champion ultradwarf bermudagrass in summer 2015, shows the green's subpar soil mix, a visible ribbon of clay winding throughout it. Right: Silverhorn No. 11 before (top) and after its nematode diagnosis and subsequent treatment regimen in 2016. Every year brought another 4,000 square feet of failure at the end of September. Some were more dramatic than others, but all were failures.

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