Friday, December 31, 2010

My Experience of 2010

Our final article of the year comes to us from Damian Richardson. Damian contributed a series of interesting articles this season about his "Overseas Adventure". Damian is now back in the States and working full time at The Club at Mediterra in Naples, Florida.

As many of the readers on iaTURF may know, I recently spent 6 months in Hong Kong working at the Hong Kong Golf Club. For my final article regarding my time in Hong Kong, I decided that I would share a few things I learned from my experience.

Before I set off for Hong Kong, I stopped in Marcus Jones’s office to learn how to set up a blog and discuss his philosophy on blogging. Marcus is a great blogger and I really learned a lot from him. Blogging was going to save me from having to write multiple e-mails to family and friends. I also wanted to write for the iaTURF blog because I figured that many Iowa (and other) superintendents may find some of my experiences interesting.

I found writing for the iaTURF blog challenging because it made me think about my job and identify topics that were interesting to others. Through this experience, I think that in the future I will be able to write articles that other turf managers, club members, or anybody interested in turf may find interesting and educational.

While in Hong Kong, and during my college career I tried to build a network of friends and business professionals in the turf industry. As the network has grown I have come to fully appreciate how important networking is and have begun to see how valuable it is to have a network.

In my personal blog called Damian Richardson’s Hong Kong Adventure, I wrote about many of the unique friends and colleagues I met while in South East Asia. I also discovered that I like meeting new people whether they are in my line of work or not. Meeting a new person with new and different interests can open one’s mind to a whole new world.

Applying Knowledge
I’ll have to admit that I am not the world’s greatest mathematician, more precisely and candidly: I stink at algebra. I remember suffering through high school algebra, banging my head on my desk, wondering why or how in the world I could ever use matrices. To this day, I still have no idea how I would use a matrix, but I found it very rewarding when I could finally begin to really use what I learned in school.

One of my favorite parts about my internships was being able to apply what I have learned in school and use it in ‘the real world.’ I even wrote about the excitement and satisfaction I got from being able to use math in my job.

Discovering myself
While in Hong Kong, I was really able to learn a lot about myself and who I was. Personal reflection is a very important tool that we all can use in various aspects in our life. As the year is coming to an end, we may want to reflect on the most recent golf season and think if there is any way that you could have made it better, or to identify maintenance changes that could be implemented in to next year’s program.

Personal reflection can also be a great tool for managers and leaders. Was there recently a situation at work that you wish you had handled better or didn’t turn out the way you thought it should? While searching for more information about personal reflections, I found this great article.

Goal setting and planning
I have never been a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions, but instead I like to set long term, short term and weekly goals. While in Hong Kong, I was able to really see how important it is to set goals. I believe that without goals and a form of measuring the success of reaching goals true success can never be reached.

Damian Richardson

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Nick Christians
December 28, 2010

Undergraduate student Andrew Evans completed an internship at Vail Golf Club in Vail, Colorado in the summer of 2010. Here is part of his report on the experience. The actual report is much longer than the exert reported here. This is a course with some of the best scenery in in country.

Andrew Evans

Summer Internship 2010

This past summer, I completed an internship at Vail Golf Club in Vail, Colorado. Vail Golf Club is an 18-hole public course and is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. During my internship I had the opportunity to work in all areas of a golf course and had many of the responsibilities of an assistant superintendent.

Throughout the summer I was involved with many projects on the course. I led a small project involving reseeding two new tee boxes, laying sod around the new tee boxes, and the reconstruction of a cart path. I was in charge of 2-3 crew members and it was my job to tell them the things that needed to be done and help them complete the project.

At Vail Golf Club I was highly involved with the chemical and fertilizer application program. I applied chemicals to greens, tees, and fairways. I was also involved with irrigation repair and installation. I was able to install an irrigation system around the new pump house. This included wiring lines from an irrigation decoder to irrigation heads and valves.

One of the best experiences I received at Vail Golf Club was getting the opportunity to be the assistant superintendent for a week. During that week I gave daily tasks to crew members and worked closely with the superintendent to solve problems and get jobs done on the course.

Working at Vail Golf Club was a great experience for me because I got to work outside of the Midwest and get a hands on look at what it takes to maintain a golf course in such a unique environment.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Nick Christians
Dec. 22, 2010

Undergraduate Student Ryan Adams completed a 1-week internship with the USGA under the direction of director Bud White in the summer of 2010. The following is his report on the experience.During the week of August 2nd through August 6th I completed the USGA Green Section Internship in the Mid-Continent Region. During this week, I made visits all over Texas with Mr. Bud White. Mr. White and I visited:

Cleburne Golf Links – Cleburne, TX
Twin Rivers Golf Club – Waco, TX
Ridgewood Country Club – Waco, TX
Miramount Country Club – College Station, TX
GolfCrest Country Club – Pearland, TX
Timber Creek Golf Club – Friendship, TX
Club at Carlton Woods (Fazio Course) – The Woodlands, TX
Preston Trail Golf Club – Dallas, TX
Dallas Athletic Club – Mesquite, TX
Mira Vista Golf Club – Fort Worth, TX

I would first like to thank the USGA and Bud White for this opportunity. This opportunity was more than I could have ever imagined. The experience I gained during this internship was greatly beneficial, because I could see several different golf course operations. Growing up and going to the school in the Midwest, I have not been subjected to many warm season grasses. While visiting the South, I finally was able to notice sufficiency, playability and suitability of warm season grasses. I also learned that the warm season grasses require several different maintenance procedures such as: watering programs, vegetative propagation and aerification techniques. One of the biggest unforeseen issues I came across was the water usage issues in Texas. These water usage issues ranged from rationing and limitations to using brackish water.

Throughout my visit, I was able to compare these aspects and decisions based on budgets, water supply and location. For instance, in Waco, TX Twin Rivers Golf Club has been faced with a new statewide law prohibiting the usage of a submersible pump. This creates a major problem because they will not be able to irrigate the course until an alternative pump is purchased. In College Station, TX at Miramount Country Club they were forced to apply brackish water to all irrigated areas except greens; however, Miramount Country Club was able to coop with this problem by purchasing a DrainMaster.

This new age technology is a very crucial part of Miramount Country Club’s successful operation. The DrainMaster is able to add up to 8 inches of sand into the soil profile. This is significant because it allows water to remove the excess salts which accumulate in the soil due to brackish water.

Not only was I able to see some new cutting edge technology, but I was also able to view some of the new varieties of Bent, Bermuda and Zoysia grasses, ranging from Zeon to Tyee to TifEagle. While in Friendship, TX at Timber Creek Golf Club it was a wake-up call to see the potential hazards of a granular herbicide. The excessive rate of the granular herbicide had completely killed the grass. The recommendation to improve the situation was to use charcoal after aerification and topdressing, which neutralizes the remaining herbicide. While in Dallas, we visited Preston Trail Golf Club to see bacterial wilt. This is one of the few confirmed cases of bacterial wilt in the United States. This new potential threat is on the minds of superintendents and researchers everywhere. At Preston Trail the bacterial wilt was slowly thinning out the new Tyee bentgrass; however, in front of the fans, the turf remained unharmed.

In addition to seeing all of the varying operations, I was able to make contacts for the future. The best part of the internship was the ability to ask Mr. White every question I had, along with his recommendations for my future. I was also able to ask him everything about ornamental grass, specific cultivars and management practices. The ability to watch Mr. White approach a problem situation, view all potential causes, then use his judgment and expertise to make the correct recommendation to fix the problem was very intriguing. To see him able to do this in just a matter of minutes, speaks volume of the knowledge and experience of a USGA agronomist.

This is exceptional for any student to see, because it makes you think of alternatives and use past experience’s to draw up your own conclusions. You might not always be correct, but using your experience and education to make intelligent judgments based on all conditions. The internship with the USGA definitely opened my eyes to the possibility of trying to work for the USGA in the future. The ability to work with and help a superintendent through a tough situation would be a great accomplishment and something I could see myself doing in the future. This internship also showed me the importance of experience. The ability to actually visit and witness this firsthand is something I will never forget. Experience allows me to learn not only from my mistakes, but others as well. I would recommend the USGA Greens Section to any student in the turf industry. It is a valuable experience to see ten different programs and courses in the matter of a few days, as well to be privileged to speak with someone knowledgeable about the profession I want to spend my life doing.

History of the USGA Turf Advisory Section
First started in 1953, this service permits individual facilities to reap the benefits of on-site visits by highly skilled USGA agronomists located in Green Section offices throughout the country. Each agronomist visits more than 130 courses annually. Their experience helps golf course staff and officials produce the best possible golf turf for the dollars that can be spent. The TAS's purpose is not to tell anyone how to run a golf course or what products to buy. Rather, it seeks to bring a wealth of information and an impartial yet concerned perspective regarding turfgrass growth requirements, how these requirements might best be managed for golf, and ideas that other golf courses have found to be beneficial.

The Turf Advisory Service is a program of service. Its benefits to the individual club will be considerable. Countless times in the past one little bit of information from the Green Section has saved a club many times the cost of USGA service."
Richard Tufts, Chairman, USGA Green Section Committee 1953

The Green Section field agronomists:
  • Have more direct contact with golfers and course officials than any other department in the USGA. They are ambassadors and representatives of the USGA in the field.
  • Are the most knowledgeable, respected, and impartial golf-turf consultants in the world. Backed by the USGA, the Green Section's services provide dependable recommendations that course officials can count on.
  • Have lots of experience - they see many (100+) courses each year.
  • Know what to look for when observing the course and checking for problems.
  • Ask probing questions to identify symptoms or problems that the course personnel may not recognize.
  • Have seen symptoms countless times and can quickly identify problems and offer the best solutions.
  • Help establish long range plans and preventative maintenance programs to mitigate future problems.
  • Network frequently with other USGA agronomists for additional advice and suggestions.
  • Catch problems early, before they get out of hand, thereby preventing turf loss and/or large expenditures.
  • Serve as a sounding board for ideas.
  • Keep up with the latest in research, products and techniques. Information is backed up by the largest private turf research program in the world.
  • Serve as a key communications link between course officials and the golf course superintendent.
  • Write reports that serve as a planning guide and as a benchmark to compare with future evaluations.
  • Have only the club's interest in mind and have no financial interest in products or services recommended, unlike many private consultants.
  • Know good specialists to turn to for more detailed evaluation, if needed.
  • Have access to the cumulative knowledge of 18 USGA field agronomists who make nearly 2000 visits annually.
  • Know that one small suggestion can save many times the cost of the TAS visit.
  • Provide our clubs and courses with reports that deliver the only history of changes in maintenance practices and the actual physical design of the course over time.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Nick Christians
Dec. 20, 2010

Here is the 3rd post by undergraduate student Steve Johnson on his pathology project at ISU during the summer of 2010.

Steve Johnson, Soph. Summer Intern Blog #3

Following my last blog I will discuss the results of the experiment.

Assessments of the turf were made by my instructor Mark Gleason, Professor of Plant Pathology and Horticulture at Iowa State University. Data were recorded on 2 July, 15 July, 26 July, and 18 August at the Turfgrass Research Area of the ISU Horticulture Research Farm near Gilbert, IA, and at a green near the WOI Building on the ISU campus. Dollar spot was recorded as a percentage of the area in a 5-ft x 4-ft plot that was covered with the disease; all treatments had 4 replicate plots, arranged in a randomized complete block design. Turf quality ratings were set on a qualitative scale of 1 to 10 where 10 indicated no disease, excellent quality, and a 1 indicated very poor turf quality. Data were analyzed using the GLM procedure and SAS (statistical analysis software) with mean separations determined by Fisher’s protected LSD at P<0.05.

Weather conditions for the 2009 summer hit record highs in heat, rainfall, and humidity. Heavy rainfall caused extensive flooding in the Ames area which persisted from 11-13 August. There were no signs of phytotoxicity seen on the turf for the duration of the trial for either location. However, worth noting is that all four sub-plots for treatment 11 (a pre-mix of chlorothalonil and propiconazole) at the Hort Farm displayed a darker green coloration and sometimes slight browning on 15 and 26 July.

At the Hort Farm, dollar spot was light to moderate in disease intensity over the course of the summer. Intensity peaked in late July with a decline occurring by August. However, due to variation among subplots, most treatments did not vary significantly from the untreated control. Turf quality had similar results, with most of the treatments showing a consistent decline in the quality as the summer progressed.

However, many fungicide treatments exhibited significant difference in dollar spot severity on 2 July and 26 July. In addition, a few of the treatments maintained good quality the entire summer, indicating that that these treatments proved effective against dollar spot and preserved adequate turf visual quality despite the stressful growing conditions.

For WOI, the data were in question due to a severe outbreak of crabgrass. Creeping bentgrass at the location was overwhelmed to such a degree that WOI will not be used again for future experiments. There were two reasons for this. Golf course maintenance was inhibited due to tree damage from a storm in mid July that produced 70-mph winds, as well as severe flooding from 11-13 August. While I have made available the data in Tables, the results are questionable for WOI.

I have attached 4 Tables showing the data that were collected on check dates over the summer. Data Tables include: dollar spot % severity at the Hort Farm and WOI, as well as turf quality for the Hort Farm and WOI. On 26 July, Mark and I independently assessed % dollar spot severity at the Hort Farm. As was explained in the earlier blogs, this was to improve the reliability of the disease % ratings of dollar spot on turf by combining the impressions of two raters. The data was averaged between Mark and myself and was recorded under 26 July column for the Hort arm % dollar spot Table.

Despite the numerous and overwhelming weather issues and outburst of crabgrass at WOI, this experiment still yielded some good data concerning the effectiveness of fungicide treatments. Also valuable is the method of averaging disease ratings from multiple raters to reduce individual biases. The amount and reoccurrence of fungicide sprays are factors determined by accurate readings which can save money and resources as well as prevent over-applications of fungicides which can lead to phytotoxicity of grass blades. It is methods and good data learned from studies such as this one that can prove quite useful in telling how well established a disease is and aid owners in deciding upon a proper integrated disease management program for optimal disease prevention.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Nick Christians
December 15, 2010

In the next few weeks, I'm going to uplaod a series of posts from ISU students who have been working on research projects and from those who were on internships last summer. They submit written reports on their experience and many of these are excellent.

The post below is from an undergraduate named Steve Johnson. He worked for Mark Gleason in pathology this summer and established some trials at the research station. This is the second of three posts from him. The first was on Sept. 27. This is the second one and the third one will come in a few days.

Steve Johnson, Soph. Summer Intern Blog #2

In continuation from my first blog I will go over the methods I used to carry out the experiment. However, while the idea of improving disease ratings by using multiple raters to average the results was the primary purpose, useful information on the effectiveness of specific fungicides to combat dollar spot was also gained through the experiment. The overall idea was to rate and evaluate the effectiveness of 19 fungicide treatments against a selected fungus disease, dollar spot, at two locations and in the process improve the disease ratings by using two raters to average the results.

The first plot was located at the ISU Horticulture Farm near Gilbert, Iowa, and the second at an old golf green located just north of Roy J. Carver Co-Lab on the northwest edge of the Iowa State campus. This location was called the WOI green, since the former WOI-TV building is also located nearby. Turf cultivars were ‘Emerald’ at the Hort farm and ‘Washington’ at WOI. Four sub-plots were needed for each of the 19 treatments making 76 plots. Four more plots were added as a control and not sprayed, totaling 80 sub-plots per location.

The first step to setting up the experiment was creating the sub-plots. By using Pythagoras’ theorem, accurate plot dimensions were insured for both site locations. A method that uses nails and a ball of white string, which is represented by the pictures, was utilized so that the corners of every 5-ft x 4-ft subplot could be seen temporarily. Orange spray paint was then used to mark the corners of each subplot so that the string could be removed and the subplots could still be located. Re-spraying the subplot corners for both locations was necessary every few weeks, especially following a heavy rain. Assignment of the spray treatments to specific sub-plots at both locations was randomized and then marked on maps for both the Hort Farm and WOI.

After the individual plots were marked the Hort Farm plot was ready to be inoculated with dollar spot. The WOI plot was not inoculated. Rye grain seeds were infested with Sclerotinia homoeocarpa, the fungus that causes dollar spot, which were then spread evenly across the surface of the 80 sub-plots. The green was kept moist but not water- logged for five days without mowing to incite fungal growth.

Following the inoculation a spray calendar was made based on the experiment’s protocol. The first spray began on 7 June, except for treatments 18 and 19 which began 24 May, and ended on 17 August. Re-application of the fungicides depended on the protocol, which had varying spray intervals. Backpack sprayers were used to apply the fungicides at 30 psi and a dilution rate of 5 gal per 1000 sq ft.

The day before a spray was to be made, the fungicide treatments were weighed out at the ISU Curtiss Farm plant pathology lab south of the ISU campus. The treatments were put into 2- liter bottles. Only about ½ inch of water was added to make a slurry. The rest of the water would not be added until right before the sprays, so that the chemical reaction would occur during the spray and not the day before, when measuring took place. On spraying days the weighed samples, in a slurry form, were transported to both spray locations and filled with the appropriate amount of water. After the bottles were filled with 1.5 liters water, the treatments were immediately driven to the plots and then sprayed.

Marked stakes were placed at every sub-plot according to a map that indicated the location of every spray treatment. These stakes would be placed in the middle of every sub-plot and then pulled out after the spraying had finished.

Tyvek suits and dual-cartridge, full-face respirator masks, with the appropriate filter necessary for pesticides, were worn for protection during sprays. During a spray date all walking took place on the borders of the sub-plots. This prevented fungicide treatments spreading to sub-plots with different treatments which, if it had occurred, would have made the data unreliable.

The treatments were evenly coated at a consistent rate of application speed, moving up and down each sub-plot. The person spraying would spray one sub-plot at a time by going north and south, and then going in an east-west direction, so the spray occurred from two directions, thus fully and evenly coating a sub-plot.

In my next and final blog I will discuss the results of the experiment as well as the impact of natural events that plagued the experiment over the course of the summer.

Nails are placed appropriately on the outside perimeter of the

total plot. The nails held the string tightly in place so that the

corners in the inside not measured out or marked held by nails

can be seen and marked with spray paint. A single continual

piece of string was used to mark out the entire plot

One of the last of the inside corners, not supported by nails

but now visible because of the string, is being sprayed.

Filling the backpack sprayer with a fungicide treatment that

had been weighed out the day before in our Curtiss laboratory

and then transported (dry) to the location in a 2 liter bottle

and then filled with 1.5 liters water right before the spray.

Applying the fungicide treatment by backpack sprayer on

previously marked out 5-ft x 4-ft plots at the WOI green.