The USGA's annual program at GIS focused on how superintendents can improve their odds at work, even if the house always wins when they play the slot machines. Northwest director Larry Gilhuly hosted the program.
The USGA Green Section also presented its 2012 USGA Green Section Award to Wayne Hanna, Ph.D., for a lifetime of outstanding work in turfgrass (particularly, bermudagrass) breeding. Hanna developed the "Tif" bermudagrasses, including Tifsport, Tifeagle, Tifdwarf and the new TifGrand. The award is presented annually as "special recognition for distinguished service to golf through work with turfgrass." Hanna said that he was "embarassed for getting rewarded for something you love so much." Patrick O'Brien presented the award on behalf of the Green Section.
Special guest David Zuberer, Ph.D., from Texas A&M spoke about "Turfgrass Microbes: Some Practical Perspectives," telling superintendents that soil microbes are the least of their worries. Sports fields and golf courses typically have many millions if not a billion microbes per gram of soil and do not require additional applications of microbes. In addition, many claims for biostimulants do not hold up — they will not loosen compacted soil or make depleted soils come alive. And just in case you were wondering, molasses, karo syrup and sugar do not enhance your soil or your turf. Zuberer's final tips were to read USGA TERO and to remember that agronomy comes first!
USGA directors and senior agronomists offered numerous turf tips. Senior Agronomist Keith Happ and Director Bud White talked about how a superintendent can convince the course of his value even when times are tough. Playability is the golfer's No. 1 priority, and golfer satisfaction is what superintendents work to achieve. When the budget is limited, help the green committee understand which core practices cannot be cut; have field days for members so they can see the equipment and maybe even try it out; multi-task so that crew members can rake bunkers, blow leaves and do other maintenance chores as they go from hole to hole; and make sure golfers know what you do and how it improves the course.
Adam Moeller, agronomist from the Northeast region, spoke about the benefits of using moisture meters on golf courses. At some point, everyone is forced to conserve water, and establishing how much water you actually need to use is the first step in conservation. Soil moisture meters allow superintendents to be more objective about the amount of water they need to use, apply irrigation more accurately, detect irregularities and deficiencies, and accurately and quickly assess soil moisture. Moisture needs vary considerably between courses, and keeping daily records will help superintendents maintain appropriate levels for their grass species and soil type.
Additional tips included "Things I wish our superintendent knew" from Pat Gross, director of the Southwest region and Senior Agronomist Chris Hartwiger's presentation about putting the fun back in golf. Derf Soller, agronomist for the Northwest region, provided tips about putting food back in golf by growing it on the golf course property. More information from the presentation can be found in the Green Section online publication and in the pages of GCM.