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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52 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.18 Prior to the switch, an experienced turf manager had told me that the worst greens on the course would become the best greens with Champion, and that prediction was spot-on. The results were nothing short of phenom- enal. The 11th green grew in more rapidly, more densely and with better color than any other green on the course. Throughout the conversion process, No. 11 would consistently be about a week ahead of all the other greens. Prior to the switch, an experienced turf man - ager had told me that the worst greens on the course would become the best greens with Champion, and that prediction was spot-on. All the things that made No. 11 a death trap for bentgrass were irrelevant to Champion. The poor soil mix and restricted air move - ment made no difference. Because of ber- mudagrass's shade intolerance, we'd removed the trees surrounding the green, eliminating the only element that would have presented a problem for the new sward. From that point on, all was well, and the troublesome little green lived happily ever after. Except that wasn't all. A new (old) nemesis During late spring of 2016, I noticed that No. 11 and some of the other greens didn't seem to be thriving. While still in good shape, they lacked the vigor others were exhibiting. As the weeks wore on, No. 11 and its friends started to turn color. A chlorotic look took over the greens, signaling turf that was under stress. I could see no indication of a pathogen, and the temperature and weather were ideal for bermudagrass. By mid-June, the situation had once again become serious, and when samples I'd sent to the lab came back negative for pathogens, an Oklahoma State turfgrass pathologist suggested a nematode assay. I had not considered nematodes as a pos - sibility, as I'd been assured when I first inter- viewed for the Silverhorn job that there was no history of nematode activity. The 2016 test results dramatically contradicted that notion, however, as populations of ring nematodes on No. 11 were five times above the recom - mended threshold (212 per 100 cubic centi- meters of soil, compared with the threshold of 40 per 100 cc). In retrospect, that single bit of information may have been the most impactful of all re - garding the poor turf performance on Silver- horn's 11th green. I had noted in the past that poor rooting was common on the green, but had assumed it had something to do with all the other negative factors afflicting the area. I'd never considered that the roots were under attack by something, and during the conver - sion, with the plants pumped on high nutrient loads, the roots looked quite good. Previous pathogen tests had never revealed anything, and, of course, it couldn't have been nema - todes — there was no history of them! I try to take some comfort in the fact that even if I had discovered the nematode issue be - fore the renovation, I still wouldn't have had an effective way of treating it. It wasn't until 2016 that a new nematicide was available to fill the void left by Nemacur's removal from the mar - ket. Interim products offered only a wish and a A green redeemed: A fresh grass species and a proper nematode-nixing program rehabilitated Silverhorn's once-perplexing No. 11.

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