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.

1 comment:

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