Monday, July 28, 2014

Aerification … “A Necessary Evil”

Over the last week the golf course operations staff was extremely busy performing the beneficial cultural practice, aerification.  Aerification is the mechanical process of creating air space in the soil, which promotes a healthy rooting system.  

Turfgrass on a golf course endures significant stress and compaction from golf play and equipment traffic. Through aerification, an infusion of air, water and nutrients brings a resurgence of growth, keeping turf durable during stressful conditions.
#4 Green

While somewhat disruptive to golfers, aerification is absolutely necessary to maintaining a healthy stand of turfgrass. Failure to perform sufficient aerification often results in poorly drained soil, thin turfgrass stands, and problems with disease and insects.      


Thursday, July 17, 2014

GCSAA Summer Board of Director Meeting

Today I'm in route to Chicago to participate in the Golf Course Superintendents Association (GCSAA) Summer Board of Director Meeting. A third year GCSAA Director, I am currently serving the second year of a two-year term on the board after being elected at the association's 2013 annual meeting in San Diego. This follows a one-year appointment to the board, which I received at the 2012 annual meeting in Las Vegas. 

The GCSAA is the professional association for the those who manage and maintain the game’s most valuable resource — the golf course. Today, GCSAA and its members are recognized by the golf industry as key contributors in elevating the game and the business of golf. Since 1926, GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage courses worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kansas, the association provides education, information and representation to over 18,000 members in more than 70 countries. GCSAA’s mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf.

The GCSAA headquarters is also home to the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG) the philanthropic organization of the GCSAA. The EIFG is a collaborative effort of the environmental and golf communities, dedicated to strengthening the compatibility of golf with the natural environment. The Institute concentrates on delivering programs and services involving research, education and outreach that communicate the best management practices of environmental stewardship on the golf course.

During the two-day GCSAA Summer Board of Director Meeting, the board will meet with two GCSAA affiliated chapters, the Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents (founded in 1968) and the Chicagoland Association of the GCSAA (founded 1926). The board and staff of GCSAA is dedicated to being responsive to the needs of the membership. Therefore, at each of the quarterly board meetings, a concerted effort is made to meet with local affiliated chapter leaders to gather feedback and ensure GCSAA is fulfilling their chapter and member needs. 

At the summer board meeting the GCSAA board will also focus on numerous strategic issues including the EIFG, the 2015 Golf Industry Show, membership growth and retention, governmental and regulatory issues, the financial strength of the association and the 2014 GCSAA Chapter Delegates Meeting.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Drainage... Drainage... Drainage...

Today as my staff began work on another 700 feet of subsurface drainage, I was reminded of a funny event that occurred a few years ago... 

The incident happened on a routine morning ride around the golf course with my assistant. That day as we drove and chatted, my peripheral vision spotted a wet area on the 16th fairway. With my right hand grasping the steering wheel and my eyes forward, I reached to the floor of my utility vehicle with my left hand, grasped the handle of my trusty paint gun, and within seconds my index finger hit the trigger and I began painting another drainage project for my staff. I have to admit that I am fairly skilled at having a paint gun in my hand and in use in seconds, all without slowing down my utility vehicle. As I finished painting the project, my assistant remarked, “You know Darren, I'm worried about you.” I stopped the cart and asked, “What do you mean? What’s up?” He looked me in the eye and said, “I think you may need to attend ... meetings.” With a quizzical look on my face I said, “Huh? What meetings? He said, “You know ... drain-aholic meetings” Without missing a beat he added, “Hi, my name is Darren Davis, and I am a drain-aholic.” I had to laugh and compliment his humor. Truth be told, my assistant is not far off on his assessment. In my 21 years as the Golf Course Superintendent at Olde Florida Golf Club, I have painted, and my staff has installed over 15 miles of subsurface drainage. I give blame, or more appropriately, I give credit for my addiction to drainage to one of my former professors and mentor, the late Dr. Joesph Duich.

In 1957 Dr. Duich developed the two-year Turfgrass Management program at The Pennsylvania State University. The famed turfgrass professor was known for his wit and challenging teaching method. I can vividly recall many examples, one of which involved drainage. During a class in the fall of 1991, after my classmates and I couldn’t provide Dr. Duich with a suitable answer to his question, “What is one of the most fundamental aspects of successful turfgrass management?,” Dr. Duich informed us that the correct response was, “Drainage, drainage, drainage.” My classmates and I, who could rarely provide Dr. Duich with an acceptable answer to one of his oral pop quizzes, sat quietly, somewhat confused and definitely speechless. After what seemed liked minutes, but in hindsight was probably seconds, Dr. Duich continued, “It’s not rocket science. If you want to be successful at growing turfgrass, you need air drainage, surface drainage and subsurface drainage.

The steps in our drainage installation at Olde Florida are as follows: Step one is to figure out the best method to get water from “point A to point B”. After I paint out the drainage project, which is the easy part, my assistants consult our irrigation as-built, a wire tracer, etc., to determine if there are any subsurface items that the staff will need to avoid. Next, a sod cutter with a 12-inch blade is used to remove the turfgrass. The soil is then excavated to a depth of 16 inches and a width of 12 inches. Flexible, perforated drainage pipe is laid in the bottom center of the trench and pea gravel is carefully installed and compacted.
Drainage project being installed on #6, July 7, 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Organic Fertilizer for Free!

Golf Course Superintendents and their staff arrive early each morning to prepare the golf course for daily play. Occasionally staff members encounter a surprise. A lightening strike, an irrigation break or a stuck irrigation head are fairly common, but non-routine occurrences. Occasionally an act of vandalism or something more severe is discovered. This week the staff at Olde Florida Golf Club was greeted by a new surprise – a group of stray cows and longhorn steer meandering the course. The animals are very passive and have not created any safety concerns to the membership or staff.  However, the problem is that the animals are causing physical damage to the golf course, and have created an additional morning task for a staff member, because they are “taking care of their business” on the golf course. Since Olde Florida is located in a rural area, it is assumed that an nearby rancher has lost a portion of their herd. The Agriculture Bureau of the Collier County Sheriffs Office has been contacted, and in conjunction with Olde Florida management, is working on a solution.

Hole #6, 6/30/14
Photo provided by 
Matthew Klein, Assistant Golf Course Superintendent