Golf Course Management

OCT 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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10.17 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 63 The foundation and success of the program hinges on strong and healthy turfgrass, which is the result of properly applied cultural prac - tices. Mowing, fertilization and irrigation all contribute to the density, health and vigor of the turfgrass stand. The healthier the stand, the better the turf will withstand the biotic and abiotic stresses that invari - ably appear throughout the season. This also relates to turf recovery should insect damage or other in- season stresses occur. A poor stand of turf will not withstand minor insect infestations, respond to insect control applications or recover well from insect damage, so cultivating healthy turf is a crucial com - ponent of building your agronomic program. The key is to find a balance between excessive and insufficient in - puts. For example, too much fertility creates lush growth and increases organic matter and thatch depth, which then attracts insects such as chinch bugs, billbugs or sod webworms. Excessive irrigation creates moist soils that attract many adult beetles of white grubs searching for locations to lay their eggs, which will ultimately become destructive white grubs. However, on the flip side, low fertility and low irrigation that might deter insects from the area can also cause poor turf qual - ity. Identifying and understanding the requirements for each turfgrass species you are managing is critical to planning and implementing a comprehensive program. Site assessment and monitoring Unlike some turfgrass diseases whose symptoms are exhibited on the surface of the turf, turf insects can be challenging to find. They reside or lay their eggs in the soil, and their larvae or grubs feed under the surface or in plant crowns and stems. Adult insects are mobile and escape or hide deep in the turf canopy. Fortunately, most turf insects have preferences for certain species of turf, and these preferences offer clues about where and in what time of the season to find them when carrying out scouting and mapping tasks. If there is a history of the type of insect that is damaging certain areas of the course, it may be beneficial to record and refer to this in - formation when forming a plan of action for the following year. For example, annual bluegrass weevil, as the name implies, feeds primarily on annual bluegrass. The adults are active in spring and move out of tree-lined areas into fairways, tees, collars and green surrounds that contain annual bluegrass. These are the areas to scout first. Keep track of any insect activity that may be occurring either through visual ob - servations or by using pitfall traps designed to capture and monitor adult movements. Another example is the European crane fly. This insect prefers cool-season turfgrasses that have excessive thatch with high organic matter and moist soils. Damage from the larvae, called leatherjackets, can occur in fall after egg hatch and also in spring before pupation. In some instances, soap flushes — a practice that brings the soil- or canopy-dwelling insect to the surface — are an excellent way to moni - tor both population density and the current life stage or stages that are present and may be causing the damage. Coupling pest history and lo - cation enables targeted insect monitoring to be performed in hot spots and indicator areas to predict further pest outbreaks on the course and provide valuable data for future treatment decisions. Know the cycle While knowing what to look for when scouting and mapping areas of the course for insect frequency is essential, understanding the life cycle of the insect is just as important, especially if cultural control methods aren't enough.

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