Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Nick Christians
Aug. 31, 2010

I have had several calls and have received a few samples of what people describe as a foxtail-like weed growing in lawns that form clumps of grass that tend to shred at the tips when they are mowed.

These are Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides). This is an ornamental grass that self seeds into lawns. It has a very tough blade that does not mow cleanly. It shreds at the tip. It also produces a foxtail-like seed head when mowed.

Here is a picture of Fountain Grass on a berm in my lawn and some of the surrounding patches. I also included a picture of a sample that I received last week from Keokuk.

How do you control it? Zac Reicher did a lot of work on this when he was at Purdue. The best way to kill it is Roundup, but this has to be done non-selectively. Quinclorac was the best postemergence selective material in his trials. For an article on this work, see the article by Voigt and Reicher, 2010:


Here is Fountain Grass used as an ornamental in my yard.

Here is Fountain Grass that has escaped into my lawn

Here is the sample from Keokuk.

Monday, August 30, 2010

New Turfgrass Disease Culprits

This article comes to us from David Maubach, Senior Sales Specialist, BASF Professional Turf & Ornamentals.

The presence of several new turfgrass diseases has increased on U.S. golf courses in recent years. Three new diseases in particular – Pythium root dysfunction, brown ring patch and rapid blight – are a challenge for course superintendents. Fortunately, researchers have made headway regarding how to detect and treat these destructive new diseases.

Tackling New Diseases
New turfgrass diseases can evolve for a number of reasons and several factors contribute to the prevalence of disease such as geography, moisture and temperature.

Stress caused by heat, drought and excess moisture can weaken turf and make it more prone to disease. Put simply, healthy turf is less susceptible to disease. The challenge with golf courses, particularly on the greens, is that turfgrass is kept short by plant growth regulators and/or frequent mowing, which causes stress.

Players expect superintendents to provide the best of both worlds – short grass and healthy turf. It is a difficult balance, especially when new diseases emerge and superintendents do not know how to treat it.

University and industry researchers are addressing these three emerging problem diseases. To avoid being caught off-guard, superintendents should take time to learn more about these diseases. Doing so will help identify and treat the diseases, and in some cases, avoid them altogether.

Pythium Root Dysfunction
Discovered in North Carolina in 1994, Pythium root dysfunction attacks putting greens and is limited to newly constructed greens less than eight years old. It is most commonly found in the Southeast, but also occurs in Midwestern areas with harsh summers. Bentgrass is most susceptible to the disease, which occurs on turf stressed from one or more of the following factors: high heat, repeated close mowing, low fertility schedules and drought.

Pythium root dysfunction causes the roots and crown of turfgrass to turn brown or black. The symptoms are most visible during the summer, but the disease actually spreads during spring and fall, when it is cool and wet.

Because symptoms are less prevalent on plants with a strong root system, there are several cultural practices superintendents can undertake to minimize damage caused by Pythium root dysfunction. Root enhancement techniques – specifically aerification, nutrition supplements, verticutting and reduced irrigation – are helpful in counteracting symptoms of the disease.

Irrigation management is also extremely important. Clay and compacted soils are more likely to harbor Pythium root dysfunction because of reduced drainage.

It is less difficult and less expensive to prevent Pythium root dysfunction than it is to try to cure it. Fungicides such as pyraclostrobin and triticonazole are two of the most effective at preventing the disease.

Dr. Lane Tredway, turfgrass pathologist at North Carolina State University, is one of the foremost experts on Pythium root dysfunction. To learn more about his research and information on NC State’s Center for Turfgrass Environmental Research & Education, visit www.turffiles.ncsu.edu.

Brown Ring Patch
Formerly known as waitea patch, brown ring patch has been reported sporadically throughout the Midwest and is a mounting problem in Southern California. Occurring primarily on greens with high annual bluegrass (poa annua) populations, the disease is prevalent in warm and moist conditions.

Initial symptoms of brown ring patch are thin, yellow, concentric rings several inches in diameter that turn brown under hot or wet conditions. Once established, brown ring patch can quickly damage turfgrass. Temperature plays a significant role in regards to whether or not brown ring patch occurs. The disease does not spread in hot or cold conditions, but rather during times of mild (mid-60s to low-80s F) temperature.

Cultural control options of aerification and higher mowing heights are sometimes used to combat brown ring patch. Alternating among several fungicides – pyraclostrobin, propiconazole and triticonazole – has been an effective treatment.

Dr. Frank Wong, assistant plant pathologist at the University of California-Riverside, is considered one of the top brown ring patch researchers. For more information, visit UC Riverside’s Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at www.plantpathology.ucr.edu.

Rapid Blight
Rapid blight occurs in the fall and winter, affecting several annual winter grasses used to overseed Bermudagrass. Affected species include ryegrass, annual bluegrass and poa trivialis. It is primarily seen in the Southwest, including Nevada, Arizona and Southern California, as well as on coastal areas in the Southeast and Northeast. Perennial grasses are not affected by rapid blight.

The disease is associated with a marine organism and cases of rapid blight rise significantly in areas where superintendents use reclaimed water or water with high salinity for irrigation. The disease can occur on any area that has been overseeded, but is usually treated only on putting greens.

Dr. Mary Olsen, plant pathology specialist for the University of Arizona-Tucson, has confirmed that rapid blight is caused by an obscure microorganism that prior to its discovery in turf was known to infect in marine plants such as seagrass, diatoms and algae.

Rapid blight shows itself as water-soaked, slightly sunken and darker looking turf. It turns yellow and dies in patches.

The primary cultural control option is to use better quality irrigation water, avoiding reclaimed water, if possible. Pyraclostrobin provides the most effective preventative control, with mancozeb as a less effective alternative.

Olsen is a leading rapid blight researcher. The University of Arizona’s Division of Plant Pathology and Microbiology is available on the Web at http://ag.arizona.edu/PLP.

Prevention, Education Key
To avoid being caught off guard by new diseases, it is important to stay educated on new diseases, be consistent with preventative tactics and devote time to detection efforts.

Part of being proactive is keeping up with the latest research and information about turfgrass disease. Superintendents who collect and absorb background information are better prepared when they encounter a problem – they know what they are dealing with and who can help them.

Some superintendents are quick to write off an undiagnosed problem as being untreatable by a particular fungicide they have already applied, so they simply retreat with a different product. Instead, they should take a turf sample and send it in to a diagnostics lab.

Fungicide manufacturer representatives, university extension personnel and other course superintendents are also good sources of information. It is wise to seek the help of others if they encounter an abnormality they do not recognize.

It may seem like common sense, but it is important for superintendents to walk their courses every day to keep an eye out for abnormalities. New diseases such as pythium root dysfunction, brown ring patch and rapid blight can cause problems quickly if undetected.

David Maubach
Senior Sales Specialist
BASF Professional Turf & Ornamentals

Friday, August 27, 2010

What's the Web Saying About Turfgrass: 8-27-10 Edition

This week brought a break from the rain and we were treated to cooler temperatures. It's looks as though things will heat up again next week. Until then, here are some turf and golf related thinks.

iPhone at Work: Certified Golf Course Superintendent. How does a golf course superintendent use his iPhone to get the job done and what iPhone apps help get him through his day? Here’s one superintendents answer and as a small token of thanks we’re sending him a $20 iTunes gift certificate. http://www.tipb.com/2010/08/11/iphone-work-certified-golf-superintendent/

Golf's biggest problem-Women may be solution. The overwhelming problem facing the golf industry is finding new players while retaining those who already play. Money and time have been spent to find a fix. Just not often enough to generate a pattern of growth rather than decline. The Right Invitation makes the case for additional investment in order to attract and retain women customers and that these women are the source of growth for the golf industry. http://frontpagegolf.com/News/News2010/Golfsbiggestproblem081510.html

The History of Golf Course Superintendents. This is a great video for anyone that loves Golf. As a matter of fact, it is great even if you dont like Golf, but would like to learn some things that didn’t know. http://golf-game-equipment.com/?p=945

Hey golf gods, what did Dustin Johnson ever do? This letter of complaint is for the gods of golf: Which one of you has Dustin Johnson ticked off? You've shown this kid no mercy. What next, the rack? http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/lopresti/2010-08-16-lopresti-johnson-gods-of-golf_N.htm

Nuisance ants on golf courses. Mound-building nuisance ants have become one of the most troublesome pests in golf course maintenance. This article provides an update on our current USGA-funded research project concerning biology and pro-active management of turf ants on golf courses. http://usgatero.msu.edu/v02/n22.pdf

Enemy Number One to Black Cutworms. Superintendents can feel alone in their battles to protect golf courses from the ravages of insect invasion. They are not - Mother Nature is on their side. University of Kentucky entomologist, Dr. Dan Potter, and his talented group of graduate students, investigate how natural enemies of turf insects can help limit turf damage to golf courses. One such enemy is a type of virus that attacks black cutworms-and it works. http://turf.lib.msu.edu/gsr/article/nus-potter-8-9-10.pdf

Marcus Jones
Graduate Research Assistant

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Nick Christians
August 26, 2010

I have looked at a number of lawns this year that looked like they had been damaged by Pythium Blight. I was always there after the fact, however, and was unable to diagnose it for sure. Pythium on golf course turf is a common problem, but it is fairly rare on lawns.

Here are some pictures from Jorden Kolpin in the plant and insect diagnostic clinic at Iowa State. These are pictures showing the mycelia early in the morning on Kentucky bluegrass lawns in Iowa. These have been verified to be Pythium by the lab.

This disease is also called "Cottony Blight". You will be able to see why in the pictures. The mycelia generally go away in mid day. Jorden makes a positive identification by looking under the microscope. The individual hypha lack cross walls and spores of the Pythium are generally present.

The hot, wet conditions are what brought this on. Wet conditions, with night temperatures above 68 F and hot days are required for its development. The problem should be over for the season, but watch for it next year.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Goodbye Warm Summer Nights

Although you might not have been aware, Central Iowa had quite the streak going. June 6 was the last time the nighttime temps went below 60 degrees…that is until last night. Most of the state was greeted to early morning temperatures in the low to mid-50’s this morning. Some northern locations even saw temperatures dip in the 40’s. A cool reminder that fall conditions and improved growing conditions are upon us.

The weather this summer has been unusual to say the least. Most of the readership would probably use a different adjective to describe the weather but I’ll stick to “unusual” (This is a PG rated blog site after all). The consecutive day’s streak of nighttime temperatures above 60 degrees officially ends at 79 days. This falls just short of the record set back in 1983 when Central Iowa ran up a streak of 81 days. Good bye and good riddance. Don’t come back until next year.

Even with the cooler temperatures there are still disease and insect pressures that continue to cause problems. We have quite a bit of type II fairy ring working at our research station. Type II fairy rings have only a band of dark green turf, with or without mushrooms present in the band. On areas that are mowed frequently (greens and tees), mature mushrooms may never be observed but the "button" stage may be present at ground level. These rings have coalesced together and cover a fairly large area of turf but they have yet to cause any damage.

We also have noticed a tremendous increase in bird activity lately as they hunt after black cutworms that are feeding on our green and fairway height creeping bentgrass. I was able to find this sample by digging through a wedge I sampled from a putting green. I was surprised to observe just how deep into the soil profile the tunnel went.

Sand bunkers continue to make news as a Connecticut man was arrested in part for taking a joyride on a golf course which caused an estimated $10,000 worth of damage. Maintenance workers arrived at work to find a car in the greenside bunker on the eighth hole. There hasn’t been any word if local rules deemed it a waste bunker allowing golfers to ground their club. Maybe we can get a ruling from the PGA on this.

Marcus Jones
Graduate Research Assistant

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Nick Christians
Aug. 24, 2010

These two pictures are both from the intramural field on ISU campus. The first one is from last November. It shows a strip of warm season grasses that have been planted on the steam tunnel that runs through the area. They include bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and buffalograss. They are all dormant as would be expected in November. The Kentucky bluegrass/perennial ryegrass turf is green.

Now look at this picture taken yesterday, Aug. 23, 2010, approximately two weeks after the flood. This area was completely under water for at least 3 days. The bluegrass/rye is dead (although I think the rhizomes of the bluegrass are alive) and the warm-season grasses have recovered. This is a good demonstration of how well warm-season species can take flooding.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Turfgrass Mathematics Around the World

Some of the best parts of my internship experiences are actually learning how to use what I have learned in school. Being able to fully begin to realize the application of my years of schooling and hours of studying for tests makes me truly appreciate my education.

Learning turfgrass identification, and how to read soil tests all seemed like I was just studying while in school. Now that I have begun to work with various types of grasses, my ability to identify different species has become very handy. I have also worked with the superintendents here on interpreting soil tests and learning how they make fertility adjustments. But what I believe to be one of the greatest skills I learned in school is all the calculations used in managing turfgrass.

Calibrating a sprayer or fertilizer spreader was a skill I really got to practice a lot while on my internships and it was a great way for me to apply what I had learned in school, and finally get some hands on experience with performing the calibrations. Ever since I took Dr. Christians Hort 351 Fundamentals of Turfgrass Management I, and was introduced to his book, I have not gone to any internship without taking the book along.

While I have been in Hong Kong, I have also had to adapt to using the International System of Units (SI) or Metric System. When I first came here it was unusual for me to think of temperatures being 32 C degrees as hot (89.6 F) or to be able to think of our mower heights in millimeters. I now have to think more about if a 12mm mower should be used for tees, green surrounds, fairway step-cut, par-3 fairways, or tee banks (0.4724 inches, used for green surrounds.)

I would encourage all superintendents who have interns, to ask them to perform chemical calibrations and calculations, and work with students on learning how to do it properly. Not only does this help the intern be able to learn a great skill, but also it teaches them about responsible chemical application.

For those interested, here are some useful conversions and measurements I have become familiar with while using the SI system:

It may be a great teaching tool to challenge interns to perform calibrations in both United States Customary Units and in International System of Units. If you are interested in more conversions, here are some great sites I have found:

http://www.wolframalpha.com/ (this is by far my favorite math/conversion related site)



For those of you with Windows Vista or Windows 7, there are also many Gadgets available for download that make conversions on your desktop incredibly easy.

Damian Richardson

Friday, August 20, 2010

Help Support Research and Scholarship!

The ITI, in concert with the Iowa Golf Course Superintendent Association, holds the annual ITI/Iowa GCSA Benefit Golf tournament to secure funding for Research and Scholarship.

The ITI/Iowa GCSA Benefit has a long tradition of support from Sponsors and Players. Thanks to all who continue to contribute to making this the best of events that support Turfgrass Research & Education.

ITI/Iowa GCSA Benefit Golf Tournament
August 30, 2010

Des Moines Golf & Country Club
Host Superintendent: Rick Tegtmeier, CGCS
11 AM Buffet lunch - Noon Shotgun Start
2 Person selective drive/ alternate shot
$100 per player

Click here to download the team registration form.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Organic Golf Course

Here is an article that was recently published in the New York Times about the Vineyard Golf Club located in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard.  The golf course opened for play in 2002 and was only allowed to be built under the provision that the facility would operate without the use of any synthetically produced products.  The club is thought to be the only completely organic golf course in the United States. 

Jeff Carlson, course Superintendent, talks about the creative methods he uses to manage the course and how to tries to promote the idea of playability over visual perfection.  Carlson admits that a higher budget is needed and that their practices might not work as well in other parts of the country. 

It’s definitely an interesting read and makes you stop and think.  But do you think articles like this help or hurt Superintendents and the Golf Industry?  While I think most would agree that moving towards a sustainable approach is a step in the right direction, this article focuses on one course in a particularly unique environment.  Will the general masses who read this article understand that environmental conditions play such an important role in managing diseases?  Or after reading this article will they expect their local course to abandon their current practices and adopt new ones?

Your thoughts?    

Exclusive Golf Course is Organic, So Weeds Get In
Standing alongside the 13th green at the Vineyard Golf Club on Martha’s Vineyard, Jeff Carlson spotted a small broadleaf weed between his feet. As the superintendent charged with maintaining the club grounds, he instinctively bent to pluck it, then stopped.  Click Here to read the rest of the article. 

Marcus Jones

Graduate Research Assistant

Monday, August 16, 2010

Drama at the PGA Championship

The fourth and final major of the year concluded yesterday with 25-year old Martin Kaymer taking the 92nd PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in a 3-hole playoff. The final round wasn’t without controversy though.

Dustin Johnson who finished in a 3 way tie with Kaymer and Bubba Watson was excluded from the playoff after a ruling on the 72nd hole. Johnson grounded his club in what was deemed to be a bunker before his second shot, leading to a two-stroke penalty.

As the drama unfolded, I was curious as to how the USGA defines a bunker. Their definition is as follows.

A "bunker" is a hazard consisting of a prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand or the like.
Grass-covered ground bordering or within a bunker, including a stacked turf face (whether grass-covered or earthen), is not part of the bunker. A wall or lip of the bunker not covered with grass is part of the bunker. The margin of a bunker extends vertically downwards, but not upwards. A ball is in a bunker when it lies in or any part of it touches the bunker.

Yet, we heard all week about the “Waste Bunkers” at Whistling Straights. Are the rules governing these areas different? Another quick search on the USGA homepage and I was able to find this explanation:

Many modern golf courses have areas often referred to as "waste areas" or "waste bunkers." These are typically areas that don't meet the definition of either a water hazard or a bunker . Generally, they are unmaintained natural areas installed by modern-day course architects to add another test for golfers to negotiate (or to reduce maintenance costs), and are simply "through the green." That means the Rules allow you to ground your club and/or take practice swings in these areas. And that can be a good thing.

This is not the first time the “bunkers” at Whistling Straights levied a penalty on a golfer. At the 2004 PGA Championship at Whistling, Stuart Appleby was penalized 4-strokes for a mishap on the 16th hole. Appleby hit a shot outside the gallery ropes into a bunker, which he assumed was out of play, since spectators had been walking through it. Appleby moved a few twigs from the bunker, he drew a two-stroke penalty. Another two-stroke penalty followed when he ground his club in the bunker.

Before this year’s tournament all of the players were made aware of a “Supplementary Rules of Play” sheet that was posted in the locker room. Obviously, Johnson should have read and been aware of the rules and any exceptions to them.

But how fair is that rule? Should the bunkers have been declared waste areas? (They originally were in the '04 PGA but then officials changed their minds before the tourney, leading to a penalty for Stuart Appleby.) The “bunker” which Johnson landed in was unraked and unkept. Plus, spectators were standing in and around the “bunker” as Johnson played his shot. Should it have been considered a bunker or waste area?

What are your thoughts?

Marcus Jones
Graduate Research Assistant

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Nick Christians
Aug. 15, 2010

Greetings from Hong Kong. I am having a great time and learning a lot.

Here is a picture of Damian Richardson, intern at Hong Kong Golf Club, pointing to the tropical carpetgrass rough. This is a very unusual species. The only other place that I have seen used in golf is Jamaica. It makes a great rough here, because it is not very invasive into the other turf areas. The fairways are an interesting combination of bermuda and zoysia.

Here is a close up of the tropical carpetgrass. The leaves remind me of miniature corn leaves. It has a dense stoloniferous growth habit and lays flat along the ground surface.

The local Chinese don't like exposure to the sun. Notice the hats that the cadies wear and the long sleeves.

Here is one of those local problems. Giant snails that tend to get on greens and cause problems for greens mowers.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Floods of 2010

This is a week that people in Central Iowa will not forget for a long time. Ames received around 10 inches of rain in a three day period and the city experienced arguably its most devastating flood ever. The Squaw Creek and Skunk River are the two major waterways that run through town. Squaw Creek crested at 18.13 feet (flood stage is 9) which was just shy of the record crest of 18.5 experienced back in 1993. The Skunk River crested at 26.52 feet (flood stage is 20) which was above the 1993 crest of 25.53 feet. For those familiar with Ames, the picture above is a shot of Hilton Coliseum inundated in flood waters.

The majority of the flood waters have now receded and cleanup efforts are well underway. Trying to predict the survival of turfgrass in flooded conditions is tricky business and depends on so many factors. Weather is a big factor and has not been on our side so far this week. Temperatures have been in the low 90’s with the humidity pushing heat indices into the 100’s.

We were greeted to a healthy dose of mycelium at our research station this morning. During my time spend in industry, I learned that trying to visually distinguish between dollar spot and pythium blight is very difficult (at least it is for me!) so we brought the sample to campus for a closer look. Inspection of the sample under a compound microscope confirmed that the disease we were seeing was in fact Pythium blight.

We also stumbled upon some slime mold. Earlier in the year we had a post about slime mold on green height creeping bentgrass. This slime mold appeared on rough height Kentucky bluegrass. Remember that slime molds are more of an oddity, they’re unsightly but they are not considered harmful and control measures are not necessary.

I’ll leave you with a video courtesy of KCCI News Channel 8 showing an aerial view of the city this past Wednesday morning.

Marcus Jones
Graduate Research Assistant

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Nick Christians
Aug. 12, 2010

This is going to be another of those summers that we will not forget for a long time. In 1993, we had a flood in Ames that was referred to at the time as a 500 year flood. This one is actually worse. Two 500 year floods in 17 years. What's next?

Here is Veenker Memorial Golf Course (the University Course) this morning (Aug. 12, 2010). I took this from the 1st tee. Notice the crew in the background washing off #1 green.

Here is another shot from the same location looking west at the crew washing off a tee. We'll keep you posted on the aftermath of the flood waters in the next few days. For those of you wandering about Cold Water Golf Links, which is down river from Veenker, I couldn't even get there this morning. I saw helicopter pictures from yesterday, and the course was completely under water.

Here is the 9th green. Luckily, it is out of the flood water, but a mole decided to add insult to injury.

It has been an incredible year for crabgrass. This is a picture of one of our preemerge studies. The two products that are working very well are a CONTEC fertilizer with dithiopyr from Andersons and a new compound from Bayer called Indaziflam (Specticle) that will be coming out next year. Indaziflam works at the incredibly low rates of 0.0225 - 0.071 lb AI/acre. These new compounds are amazing.

Finally, a picture that I took at Veenker the day before the flood. This is mosquito repelant damage at the edge of the 1st green. Notice the foot prints. There were three of these close together. This area was under several feet of water the next morning.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lose a Battle to Win the War

This article comes to us from Ty McClellan, USGA Green Section Record Mid-Continent Region Agronomist.

In this case, the ‘battle’ is playability, i.e. putting green smoothness and speed, and the ‘war’ is turfgrass survival. With the summer’s weather challenges, some courses have already lost major portions of rough and fairways to natural physiological decline or flooding. Reports of greens being lost are on the rise and these facilities are now faced with re-grassing this fall. For others, the fight continues.

Root depth on greens is generally two inches or less, and heat indexes in recent weeks have exceeded 115°F with average daily relative humidities just shy of 100%. Soil temperatures are frequently in the mid-90s and above. (Note: Bentgrass root dieback begins when soil temperatures reach about 86°F.) Most of the weaker species that possess lower thresholds to environmental extremes, such as Poa annua, have long disappeared from greens and surrounds. Arguably the most difficult to manage area of the golf course, even during favorable conditions, putting green collars have been decimated regardless of species. For many, the only objective now is to preserve what bentgrass remains on the greens and what Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and tall fescue continues to hang on in the surrounds.

Given continuing weather extremes, golfers should forego high expectations for their bentgrass greens for the sake of preserving turf that remains. Look beyond today (August) so that golf can be enjoyed tomorrow (this fall).

Since my last USGA Regional Update in early July titled "Feeling the Heat", extreme conditions have only intensified with even more heat and rain. The perfect storm for turfgrass decline continues and on a devastating path. Areas in the upper Mid-Continent Region are still in the midst of record-breaking rainfall totals and heat waves. For most of the region, 10- and 30-day forecasts are not encouraging. Fortunately, it is August meaning day lengths are getting shorter and September is around the corner. We just have to get there.

Given the harshness of environmental extremes across several geographic regions this summer, some great resources have been generated and can be found below:

- Many recent USGA Regional Updates discuss summer struggles and outline excellent recommendations for survival. (http://www.usga.org/Content.aspx?id=26223)

- USGA Senior Agronomist Chris Hartwiger developed a webcast, “Bad to Worse for Creeping Bentgrass - Seven Steps to Help Your Greens Make it Through the Summer” that includes seven survival recommendations: 1) proper and continuous use of fans (i.e. 24 hours/day), 2) venting the greens when possible via non-disruptive aeration, 3) raising the mowing height and using solid front rollers, 4) mowing less frequently and rolling instead, 5) increasing the use of fungicides, 6) taking irrigation management to the highest level possible, and 7) reducing traffic on the greens. http://webcast.usga.org/usga/Bentgrass_greens_survival_Hartwiger.wmv

- Virtually every disease known, and even a few new ones, have been prevalent on cool-season turfgrasses under duress this summer. For instance, there have been a few titles on turf diseases over the last two weeks, and a daily blog by five contributing university turfgrass pathologists nationwide states, “Dead Bentgrass Makes Headlines”, “Heat + Rain = Dead Grass”, “No Wind = Dead Grass”, “Heat Wreaking Havoc on Courses Nationwide”, “Relentless Heat and Humidity” and “Stress, Stress, Stress.” http://turfdiseases.blogspot.com

This has been a trying summer for all. Cool-season turfgrass are in a fragile state and superintendents and their staffs are feeling the effects of long hours and touch-and-go circumstances. Now is the time to rely on the wisdom of your superintendent and support the recommendations from professionals. Slower greens are still quite playable and enjoyable. If nothing else, it’s an opportunity to enjoy hole locations in areas of the green that otherwise are not available when greens are fast. Respect course closure and cart restriction policies when saturated course conditions exist.

Know what is at stake and adjust your expectations of playability now in order to fight another day. Your fall golf season may just depend on it.

If you would like more information about a Turf Advisory Service visit, do not hesitate to contact either of the Mid-Continent regional offices: Ty McClellan at tmcclellan@usga.org or (630) 340-5853 or Bud White at budwhite@usga.org or (972) 662-1138.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


In an earlier post on possible June Bug damage, I showed some pictures from Racoon Valley Golf Course in Jefferson, Jay Goughner, owner and Supt. They showed what appeared to be June Bug damage in rough on a major part of the course. I stopped there last Friday and picked up some samples of the grubs for verification. This would be the first major June Bug damage that I have seen in my 31 years here and I wanted to be sure that was the problem. Below are pictures of the rough and a couple of insects in the soil.

Unlike the Chafer and Japanese Beetles, which do their damage in August to Oct., the June Bug does its damage in mid summer, July to early August.

The fairways in this picture were treated with imidacloprid (Merit) and the rough was not. It obviously worked on the fairway. If you have the problem now, you will have to treat with a Dylox or a similar compound and water it into the soil. That is very difficult to do.

The best way to identify the larvae is with the raster pattern. See the pictures below of a series of species.

I took the samples to Dr. Don Lewis in the entomology department on Monday. Here is what we saw under the microscope. These are June bugs (Phyllophaga spp)(also called May Beetle in some areas).

I have also had some other calls on suspected damage in Des Moines and other areas in central Iowa. If you have seen them, let me know.

Monday, August 9, 2010


This is a link to a Wall Street Journal article on the loss of grass on golf greens this summer. When the Wall Street Journal gets involved, you know that it has been a tough summer. You may want to send this link to your members.


Nick Christians

Friday, August 6, 2010

What's the Web Saying About Turfgrass, 8-6-10 Edition

Enjoy the first part of the weekend before warmer temperatures move in on Sunday and early next week. Here is your list of links to articles regarding turf. Have a great weekend!

MSU Turfgrass Field Day: 8/18/10. The 2010 MSU Turfgrass Field Day is open to all turf professionals regardless of affiliation. Spend a day with the experts and see what cutting edge research can do to make your operation more productive and profitable. We look forward to seeing you there! http://www.michiganturfgrass.org/msu-turfgrass-field-day;-8182010;-golf-course-turfgrass-field-day-140/

Canadian Tour Will Help USGA Test Shorter Golf Balls. Many of the game's experts - most prominently Jack Nicklaus - argue for dialing back golf ball technology as a way to reverse distance gains they believe are bad for the game's future and dismissive of the game's past. Where do you fall in the debate over distance in golf? http://golf.about.com/b/2010/07/24/canadian-tour-will-help-usga-test-shorter-golf-balls.htm

Why We Need More Par-Three Courses. Mike Keiser, who commissions everything at the Bandon Dunes complex in Oregon as a golf purist's fantasy, is building a fifth course to add to his famous four. It's something you don't hear about much anymore—a par-three. Construction on the 12-holer, tentatively called "The Bandon Preserve," starts in February. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703467304575382941326891262.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Golf Course Superintendents Embracing Social Media. Last Thursday, course superintendent Frank Tichenor arrived at work before dawn to discover a potential nightmare: hyperodes weevil. Naturally, Tichenor’s first reaction was to grab his BlackBerry ... and take a picture for his blog. “There’s always something happening on the golf course,” Tichenor said. “So I took a picture of it, put it up on the blog, and tweeted it and said, ‘Look, this is what’s happening and this is how we’re going to handle it.’ ” http://www.golfcourseindustry.com/gci-07261-superintendents-social-media.aspx

Kansas Turfgrass Field Day. Kansas Turfgrass Field Day, Thursday, August 5, 2010, Rocky Ford Research Center, Manhattan, KS, 8:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Cost: $30.00 (includes lunch), For more information, go to: http://www.hfrr.ksu.edu/DesktopModules/ViewDocument.aspx?DocumentID=2840

Bentgrass and Poa annua greens are hard-hit. Sometimes conditions can become so oppressive on a given site that it overwhelms creeping bentgrass and causes rapid decline, despite the heroic efforts of the superintendent and staff. This information in this article is designed to focus on what can be done amidst this difficult summer. http://www.usga.org/course_care/regional_updates/regional_reports/southeast/Summer-2010---Bad-To-Worse-For-Creeping-Bentgrass---July-2010/

A detailed labor analysis is effective for tracking costs and making decisions. Golfers, owners, and course officials often have a difficult time understanding how it can take so many people to perform a relatively simple task. So, how many people does it really take to maintain a golf course? Here is the definitive answer: It depends. Accurately forecasting such emergencies is difficult, if not impossible. Read on for a step-by-step procedure showing how to perform a labor analysis at your course. http://turf.lib.msu.edu/gsr/2010s/2010/100524.pdf

The career assistant superintendent. It is a tough time to be an assistant superintendent of a golf course in the present job market and economy. It seems to me that if you are fortunate enough to have a job right now, you are holding on to it and riding out this ugly wave. http://www.golfcourseindustry.com/gci-080210-guest-column-jeff-wichman-career-superintendent.aspx

Marcus Jones
Graduate Research Assistant

Thursday, August 5, 2010


The two pictures below are from Tim Christians at Makray golf course in Chicago. It has been very wet there and night temperatures have been high. He is seeing a lot of Brown Patch on greens and Pythium on bluegrass along the fairways. The fairways are bentgrass and they have been treated with phosphites to prevent Pythium. He is reporting a lot of success with phosphites the last two years for Pythium controls. I was a little nervous about relying on
phosphites, but I cannot argue with success.

I had some other calls about brown patch earlier in the week. We had a lot of brown patch at the research station in June, but I usually don't expect it in early August. By Thursday, however, we were seeing a lot of brown patch on our bentgrass cultivar trial at the station as well. It must be the saturated conditions.

For some reason we are getting surprisingly little dollar spot at the station this summer. Last year we had plots loaded with dollar spot all summer. This year I had graduate student Derek York start a study on dollar spot. As would be expected, we have almost no dollar spot in the study area. Next year we'll do a study on saturated soil conditions and we'll get a drought.

I can report that our crabgrass work is doing extremely well at the research area this summer.

I have had a lot of questions on water grass lately from homeowners. As many of you know, there is no such thing as water grass. They are generally referring to crabgrass and other annuals that take over in wet weather. There are a lot of people out there who did not put on a preemerge this spring and are interested in the services of a good lawn care company next year.



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We’re Not in Iowa Anymore! Part 2

As in my previous posts, I have discovered a wide array of differences between golf courses in Iowa and the U.S. as compared to golf courses in Hong Kong. Here are just a few of my other observations I think readers may enjoy.

Land ownership in Hong Kong is very different than compared to the States. Here, land is owned by the Government and leased by the HKGC from the Government. Even though the club rents the land, the villagers are still entitled to use it. The land is used by the villagers for two main reasons: Golf and Burial Grounds.

Every morning villagers are allowed to “play” the courses using one club and one ball from daybreak until 7:30 A.M. Most of the villagers use the time as a social recreation period where they walk around in groups of 3-5 friends, talking, and hitting golf balls. Most are pretty courteous about giving the maintenance staff the right of way when we are doing our morning preparations, although I have had a few close calls of getting hit by a villager golf ball.

A group of villagers playing the course together in the morning. Notice how each player only has one club.

A villager getting in an early round and some Tai Chi.

One of the most unique aspects of the Hong Kong Golf Club, to me, is the many tombs scattered around the course. Some of them are very old and decrepit and are tucked way off to the side in out of bounds rough, but some are very ornate and spectacular. It is difficult for me to learn much about the tombs as everything on them is written in Chinese, but after talking to my co-workers I have learned a bit about the history. Some of this history could be hearsay, as many people don’t know much about villager ways.

This is one of the oldest graves sprinkled throughout the golf course.

Until 1997, Hong Kong was under British rule, therefore, there is a strong British presence in the personality of the club. It is built in the traditional British Links style of course, with only the tee and the 18th green located next to the Clubhouse. There are also no beverage carts on the course, and buggies (golf carts) are very popular. British believe golf was supposed to be a sport of walking and enjoying every aspect of the course and game. However, to provide the golfers with food and drink during the game, to help keep them cool during the hot weather, there are halfway houses located at the turn of every course. The halfway houses are all constructed in a traditional Chinese architecture.

These food stands or halfway houses are constructed with traditional Chinese architecture.

Another influence of the British on the club is our security guards. The HKGC uses members of the British Army’s Brigade of Gurkas to provide security for the club during all hours of the day. It is not uncommon to find uniformed guards driving golf carts on the course, or to find them standing at attention at the entrance to the club.

I hope you have enjoyed this look in to the understanding of a different golf culture. I will be sharing more information about my travels and what I have learned about various turf related topics while on internship in Hong Kong with the readers of iaTURF soon. If you would like to follow my personal blog about many of my other experiences, please feel free to follow along at http://www.drhka.blogspot.com/ .

Damian Richardson

Monday, August 2, 2010

Goodbye July, Hello August

We close the book on July and welcome August with open arms. August means that we are that much closer to September and better growing conditions. July was full of stressful conditions throughout most parts of the state and it contributed to general decline of our cool-season turf. Last July we were spoiled as the average temperature of 68.3 degrees ranked as the coolest July among 137 years of state records. July 2010 returned to normal with average temperatures of 75 degrees, just slightly above normal.

The hottest day of the month occurred on July 14 with daytime temperatures reaching 95 degrees. The Des Moines area experienced the most days with temperatures in the 90’s with 6 followed closely by Ames (5) and Lamoni (4). Waterloo, Mason City, and Ottumwa each had 3 days in the 90’s. The high air temperatures also contributed to further heating of the soil profile. Soil temperatures spent much of the month in the high 70’s low 80’s further leading to turf decline.

The wettest June on record was followed by a July which brought above average rainfall amounts for much of the state. Waterloo and Ottumwa were hit hard with each location receiving over 10 inches of rain. Marshalltown (6.32), Lamoni (5.69), Des Moines (5.44), and Mason City (4.94) each received rainfall amounts above average for the month of July.

The above average temperatures along with excess amounts of rainfall created conditions favorable for disease development. The picture below is a disease that showed up on one of my research plots. The grass is ‘L-93’ creeping bentgrass maintained at 0.5 inches. The turf is planted on a sand-based rootzone and was established during the fall of 2008. The symptoms first appeared during the middle of July yet the turf hasn’t really declined and continues to grow.

Taking a closer look using a compound microscope I was able to find hyphae infecting the roots of the plant. Hypha on the roots is characteristic of both summer patch and take-all-patch. The plant disease clinic here on campus is helping to diagnose exactly which disease this is.

Let’s hope August brings everyone a break from the rain. September 1 is less than 30 days away!

Marcus Jones
Graduate Research Assistant