Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Molding The Future

This time last year we had snow on the ground, instead, warm weather in the high 60’s, low 70’s this year. The variation in weather is an example of what we deal with annually when we maintain the turf. Temperature is a key factor between growing healthy thriving turf, to doing what you can to keep it alive. That is how much of a role Mother Nature has in affecting how easy or how tough our jobs can be. I want to take a little time to explain what we have done to begin paving the path toward the successful future of our club.

This is the start of my fifth year with The Rim. Of course, you could probably guess what the first item on my list of important procedures ‐ aerification. Anytime we can get oxygen into the soil profile, we increase the breakdown of thatch. Better yet, adding sand into the open holes mixes with the thatch to create a healthy soil profile. The third dimension to this process is building a soil profile, which we have been lacking for many years. There is no getting into the decomposed granite; our only choice is building our own soil through repetitive punching and topdressing to build a new profile on top of the existing granite.
Water adjustments and savings have been another player in our quest for healthy turf. When you don’t need to put the plant under as much drought stress or, like years ago re‐seed everything in the fall, you give the turf a season to build up healthy carbohydrates and much needed energy for the next summer. Three seasons ago we attacked the irrigation system and made changes in all facets from computer programming to field adjustments to effectively save water.  Since this major revamp we have undergone the driest monsoon in many years, but still we were able to maintain the driving range and golf course under healthy conditions. The turf will continue to become healthier each year.

Our Integrated Plant Management Program incorporates the use of degree day modeling, insect trapping, and effective scouting to properly time our applications and successfully control pests that compromise the health of the turf.  I have mentioned how our climate is one of the more difficult climates in the state and this solution has given us the ability to avoid the devastation we had in years past when we did not control for any of these pests. This is our road map to healthy and successful turf management.

Integrated Plant Management is not just controlling insects or disease with chemistry, but rather a well‐rounded approach that takes into account cultural practices that are required to promote healthy turf. Raising the height of cut is a good example of an integrated approach to healthy turf. The longer turf has the advantage toward weed competition and withstanding some disease and insect pressure. A larger plant can create and store more energy for the tough times like summer. Grass is just like us. When you are weak the pathogens can take over and when you are healthy you have the strength to fight off illness. Nutrition, water and sunlight are the basics for healthy turf. The items listed above are all designed to make the basics readily available.

We are keeping the basics in mind as we plan for the future. The most common saying I have heard over the past two years throughout my trade is, “we need to do more with less”. The actions we took three and four years ago are starting to payoff and make that statement a reality. Continuing to bring fresh ideas and new management strategies into our daily operations will increase our future and the sustainability of The Rim Golf Club.

I am always open to comments and concerns that anyone may have about the golf course or our maintenance staff.

If you have any questions or comments please contact me.
Justin Ruiz, CGCS


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