July 2012

Summer is finally here and with it has come some very nice summertime conditions. Conditions of late have been, for the most part, dry and warm. For our property here at the Wilderness, this is a great turn of events in that we now have control of the moisture levels on the golf course. Contrary to popular belief, most superintendents (those with a good irrigation system and a crew that knows how to use it) prefer dry conditions for the golf course over wet conditions. We can control how much water makes it onto the golf course and so control playability. Managing a golf course is not about keeping things green all the time-it is about playability.   This is especially true at the present time with the need for golf courses to work within smaller budgets. With less money to spend comes the need to add less input to the golf course. What comes to mind at the moment is fertilizer as we continue to reduce our usage of fertilizers on the golf course on our rough and fairways.

On the subject of golf course rough, many have wondered why we keep our rough longer than in years past. The reasons why we do this are for better drought tolerance (longer rough means deeper root systems) and less fertility requirement. This allows us to maintain healthier rough at less cost. The added definition on the golf course is another nice bonus. While this may seem penal to some, the benefits outweigh the downside. If you have trouble hitting these fairways-or at least the intermediate rough that borders them-then I suggest you take a golf lesson from one of our qualified staffJ.

Golf course greens have been measuring a fairly consistent 9 to 10 feet on the stimpmeter for the last 6 weeks or so. This is a perfect speed for these greens and the severe undulations on them. We could easily maintain these greens at a speed of over 10 feet in the summer but doing so would create numerous issues for us. Pin placement locations would be cut in half (or more) and the complaints from the vast majority of golfers would be overwhelming. In addition, all wear from golfers would be funneled into these few available pin positions, resulting in thin turf and overall inferior conditions.

Speaking of thin turf, with summer conditions come annoying insects-usually mosquitoes. When using insect repellent on the golf course, please spray yourself on a cart path or some other non-turf area or the following will result:

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Assistant Superintendent Trevor Rintala mimicking an aerosol-spraying golfer

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The end result after a day…note foot prints from where the aerosol did not hit the turf.

On a final note, I would like to share another photo of a mother snapping turtle laying eggs in one of our flower beds on the golf course.

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The course is teeming with wildlife as it always has-contrary to what many people who listen to the anti-golf course media about golf courses being damaging to the environment. While this was partially true over 20 years ago before more responsible regulation, testing processes, and proper professional training were put into place for plant protectant development and usage, the positives of golf courses far outweigh the negatives. Please read the attached article for more information regarding golf course pesticides and environment impacts.

The facts about golf course pesticides

Well-managed golf courses provide substantial ecological and community benefits.

Golf courses are:

  • Community greenspaces that provide recreational opportunities and also offer and enhance wildlife habitats.
  • "Air conditioners" that produce vast amounts of oxygen while cleansing the air of pollution and cooling the atmosphere.
  • Water treatment systems: Healthy turfgrass is an excellent filter that traps and holds pollutants in place; courses actually serve as catch basins for residential and industrial runoff; many courses are effective disposal sites for effluent wastewater.
  • Among the best ways to reclaim and restore environmentally damaged sites, such as landfills.
  • Businesses that contribute substantially to communities through employment, taxes, property value improvement and enormous charitable support.

Science is on our side.

  • Independent university research supports the fact that well-managed golf courses do not pose significant risks to environmental quality, wildlife or human health.
  • The modern pesticides and fertilizers used to maintain healthy golf course turf have been thoroughly tested and are considered safe when used according to label directions.
  • A pesticide product today has typically undergone more than 120 studies at a cost of $50 million before it is registered by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Today's golf course superintendents are educated professionals who care about environmental quality.

  • Most of today's superintendents have college degrees and substantial continuing education.
  • Superintendents are the nation's leading practitioners of integrated pest management, a philosophy that reduces the potential environmental risks of pesticide usage.
  • Virtually all golf courses employ at least one state licensed pesticide applicator who is trained in environmentally sound pesticide use.

Are golfers at risk?

  • No. There is no scientific evidence that golfers face any chronic health risks from the pesticides used to maintain courses.
  • Once a liquid pesticide product is applied and the turf is dry or the product has been watered in, there is very little chance of exposure to golfers or others who enter the area.
  • Golfers with possible chemical allergies are always encouraged to contact superintendents to find out what products might be in use.

The entire golf community is committed to being a model environmental industry for the 21st century.

  • The United States Golf Association is pouring millions of dollars into independent research to study issues such as water quality and wildlife habitat.
  • GCSAA has made environmental education a major focus of all of its education and information programs.
  • The nation's golf course architects now design courses that reduce the need for pesticides, water and costly maintenance practices while preserving habitat and environmental quality.
  • The Allied Associations in Golf have developed a set of "Environmental Principles" that offer guidance for responsible development, design, maintenance and facility operation for the future.

We are working to correct misconceptions about golf.

  • Much of the environmental criticism of golf courses seems to be linked to local opposition to community growth.
  • Local "anti-growth" sentiment has often led to unscientific claims about pesticide usage and other highly charged issues such as wetlands and wildlife habitat.
  • These isolated development disputes have led to public misperception.

Greentips are published by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and are designed to help those involved in golf course management keep the golfing public informed about practices on golf courses. The information provided in this publication is advisory only, and is not intended as a substitute for specific manufacturer instructions or proper training in the use, application, storage and handling of the products or processes mentioned. Always read and follow label directions. Use of this information is voluntary and within the control and discretion of the reader.

Thank you for your business and stay cool.

Vincent Dodge CGCS