What Goes on Behind the Curtain at Golf Courses?

Friday, April 8, 2016
By: Jonathan Jones and Laurence Mudge,
Is you course teed up for summer?

With golf season in full swing, golfers, spectators and course maintenance staffs are gearing up for one of the most popular tournaments of the year. For years, the courses that the majors are played on have been praised for their beauty and upkeep. In many ways, the playing conditions for the each of the major courses, area pinnacle of achievement resulting from meticulous management practices exercised at the course. Outside of this week’s spotlight, golf course superintendents are doing everything they can to provide great playing conditions on thousands of courses across the U.S.

We reached out to two of Bayer’s Golf Course Management experts to get the scoop on how golf course superintendents manage their turfgrass to achieve optimal conditions. From careful water and fertilizer usage, adjusting for environmental conditions and controlling weeds, insects and diseases, here are a few insights on how golf courses find solutions for their biggest challenges on the golf course: 

The biggest challenge for superintendents is managing turfgrass according to its physiology. Cool-season grasses like bentgrass used on some putting greens, grow well in warm weather but can suffer in the summer heat. Warm-season grasses like the bermudagrass, used as the base of some of the majors’ fairways, grow great in hot weather but can struggle in cooler spring and fall weather. Interestingly, a mix of cool- and warm-season grasses (perennial ryegrass and bermudagrass) is being used in this week’s tournament to get the best of both worlds for a spring event.

Throughout the year, superintendents follow good agronomic practices and pest management to care for their turf. For example, a lot of effort is spent promoting cool season turf growth in the spring to get the most robust turf to withstand summer heat and humidity while in the summer, diseases that attack summer stressed cool-season turf must be controlled. Conversely, much effort is spent on pest management for warm-season turf in the cooler fall through spring weather when those species are low in vigor. Each course differs in needs of water, fertilizer and pest management programs depending on its location and types of grasses it uses.

Good agronomic practices are the foundation for great course conditions. Turf needs nutrients and water according to its needs. Using fertilizer at the wrong time or over watering can easily result in dead turf. Superintendents use the latest technology to manage plant health and soil structure to allow for fast and firm play. Maintaining optimal course practices and staying up to date on the latest trends, disease control and water management help courses provide the public with great conditions.

While warm weather inspires golfers to get out on the course, it also inspires weeds and grassy plants to spring up in unwanted areas. Selecting the best herbicides at this time is critical for keeping unsightly weeds out and keeping courses looking crisp and fresh.

Insects also get active in the spring. Larvae of many beetles are common pests that destroy plant roots and often, small animals like skunks and raccoons will damage greens, tees and fairways while digging for these to snack on. Many golf courses in the southern U.S. have to content with fire ants that can cause painful stings to unsuspecting players. Properly timed and applied insecticides are critical tools for managing these.

When turf is stressed, destructive diseases can cause havoc on courses. Diseases like large patch, dollar spot and take-all can ruin playing conditions. Utilizing the right fungicide to help stop these from developing on turfgrass is key.

Bayer is proud to provide solutions that any golf course can use. With a number of products available for every need, course will be ready for a great golf season. Follow along with us as we kick off majors season and keep up with best management practices by following @BayerGolf and @Bayer4CropsUS.


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