By: John C. Fech University of Nebraska-Lincoln Introduction A lot of knowledge, time, and effort are necessary to keep the golfscape functional and aesthetically pleasing. As a golf club manager, you must ensure that your superintendent has a well-organized yet flexible maintenance schedule and reports to you weekly in this regard. The Value of Scheduling As with most tasks at hand, it’s best not to rely completely on your own memory for the details of what, when, and where. Notes from previous years to supplement your recollections should be the foundation of assembling a quality schedule. Information gathered from weekly meetings with staff can supplement, providing detailed information, recollections, and history. Involving golf maintenance crew members is not only an informational step; it gives recently hired workers a sense of understanding and connectedness. Without the opportunity to provide observations to the superintendent, new hires often feel disenchanted, taking on an “I’m a dime-a-dozen strong-back dude to them” attitude. Essential Practices Weekly meetings with your greens superintendent are essential. Many of his procedures are predictable and regular, as routine as changing the oil in your car. They are not only important in their own right; various cultural practices have a major influence on the number and severity of pest problems. For example, core aeration is a common practice that leads to improved drainage of the playing surface, and subsequently, reduced infestations of crown and root diseases such as summer patch and anthracnose. Common practices can prevent pests in the ornamental landscape as well as the recreational surfaces. Pruning is a practice that removes diseased or damaged wood from shrubs and trees. Tissue of this type is quite susceptible to pests such as cankers and borers. Regular inspection of ornamental plants and usage of proper pruning techniques is crucial to their success in the golfscape. The most common essential practices for turf include monitoring and managing thatch, topdressing, verticutting, core aeration and slicing. An important (but sometimes avoided because it’s time consuming) operation is the irrigation audit, a procedure designed to make sure that the distribution uniformity is as efficient as it can be. (Sidebar – Weed scientists tell us that there are between 10,000 and 40,000 weed seeds per every cubic foot of soil. So, since the pest is so prevalent, so likely to occur, preventing them through preemergence herbicide applications is routine. Also, it’s easily justified. Most pests are treated for on an “as needed” basis, but annual grassy weeds and white grubs are the exception. The other pests are best managed through Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a model that utilizes all available methods to keep pests at acceptable levels. IPM strategies include cultivation, seed selection, disease resistance, insect resistance, proper irrigation, balanced fertilization, separation of turf and ornamentals, equipment calibration and proper timing of all inputs.) Inspection Should Be Scheduled Too Certain pests – insects, diseases, weeds – call for inspection on a regular basis to make sure that they can be nipped in the bud in the case that they do arise or start developing. A pest calendar is one of the best ways to plan for the future. Because horticultural pests have a way of repeating themselves, the three-step protocol of looking backwards to gather information, considering current weather trends and planning pest control with a calendar is a sound approach for the current year’s potential problems. A pest calendar will be helpful when scheduling pest control applications, both from an equipment and labor standpoint. If the calendar shows a large number of expected pests in a certain time frame, more workers can be scheduled and materials purchased to accomplish the work. In turfgrass, silvery thread moss, chinch bugs, sod webworms, pythium blight, armyworms, spittlebugs, yellow and purple nutsedge, goosegrass, crabgrass, white grubs, bacterial wilt, stem rust, billbugs, basal rot anthracnose, algae, and mole crickets are common pests to monitor while scale, aphids, apple scab, cedar apple rust, borers, pine sawfly, pine moths, powdery mildew and decay should be regularly noted on ornamentals. Closing A good greens superintendent is well-trained and versed regarding any of these potential problems. The golf club manager, although not trained specifically in this area, should always seek to learn from and become more aware of all turf maintenance and procedures that can affect play at his facility.
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