BAYER STANDS BEHIND IT’S CHIPCO CHOICE

Bayer's Topchoice product
I have to say that I love when people and companies keep their word. This spring, I contracted to have over 30 acres of turf treated with Bayer’s Chipco Choice for control of mole crickets. Chipco Choice’s active ingredient is fipronil which is very safe and effective at ultra-low doses. The product was sliced into the turf with perfection and carries a six month guarantee. We hit the tee tops, collars and all of the fairways.Mole cricket damage on 419 Bermudagrass

The application provided 98% control and I recently noticed small areas of cricket break through on a few fairways. I picked up my phone, took a picture of the damage, sent it to my vendor and within less than a week, I had Top Choice at my door step to treat the areas. Great job Bayer, and way to stand behind your products.

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FAIRWAY STRIPES – SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED

by Eric J. von Hofen
Over the last few months I have noticed a trend while attending and watching professional golf events on TV and around the world. I have even shot out a few Tweets about it and I think I have hit a nerve with some people. Question: Should fairways be striped or not? It seems like I might have lost my mind or I don’t know which country I’m in. This year there have been more courses on the European Tour that have striped their fairways than courses in the United States. Also the European Tour players are dominating the world rankings. This picture above is from the BMW PGA Championship on the West Course at the Wentworth Club in Surrey, England. What is going on? Are we slipping?
Torrey Pines by Eric J. von Hofen
We all know this course. Torrey Pines has hosted some big events over the years and it’s one of the greatest layouts in the world. Does that fairway look inviting to you? When I see this in my travels, I think damn, another victim. The asset manager or penny pincher strikes again. I can just hear it, “mow them all in one direction and we will save some money”. Or “we can say we are going green and cutting back”. Whatever! I think courses have lost their eye on the goal line.
Eric von Hofen at Kingsbarns Golf Links Scotland
I have played courses in Scotland, like this one above (Kingsbarns), and thought they did a great job with the mowing lines and patterns. The checker board look would be just too much.
Doral Blue Monster by Eric J. von Hofen
This picture shows the 16th hole at Doral during the PGA TOUR event in 2005. Guests paying $350 to pay the Blue loved the look and expected it to look like this.

I heard Jack Nicklaus tell a story in person about when he played the Masters in the 80’s.  He would pick a white mowing line and hit his tee ball at it to get a few more yards of roll. I grew up watching the Bear and loved the stripes at Augusta. Then they were gone. But Jack still wanted the fairways at Muirfield Village checker boarded. I mowed those fairways at Muirfield in the summer of 1990 and have to say they were perfect. Each pinch point and landing area was laid out perfect. You could never hit a white line of the tee because the pattern would not allow it. Let’s see how they will look and play this week.

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EFFECTIVE MOLE CRICKET CONTROL

mole cricket by eric von hofen
It’s amazing just how much damage this little guy can do to your perfect conditioned golf course. When you get a few thousand of them flying around your course at night looking for a mate and something to eat, the damage can be extensive. They love the warmer temps and are most active during a full moon. Areas taken over by mole crickets can look like someone went crazy with a 9 iron. See the picture below.
mole cricket damage in 419 bermudagrass by eric von hofen
During the months of March and April the mole crickets first become active in the bunkers. The crickets work their way into the greens and tees then to the fairways and roughs. Damage to bermudagrass can be so extensive that areas will have to be sodded if you don’t get things under control quick.
Mole cricket control
Chipco Choice provides one year of control for mole crickets in the areas that have been treated. At $300 an acre it’s a deal. Sod and your time responding to a full box of complaints is not worth it.
Choice applicator for controlling mole crickets
The application machine is attached to a small tractor which is driven over the areas you want treated. A small slit is produced in the turf where the Choice dropped into. You can treat 5 acres an hour with a good operator. A rate of 25 lbs per acre is required in order to get the full year of protection. If you have a mole cricket problem, Chipco Choice is the only way to go.

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Monument Doing the Trick on Taking Out Paspalum in Bermudagrass Fairways

Eric j. von Hofen
I wrote a post back in December about paspalum looking good but sometimes in the wrong places. We have paspalum tee boxes and now have been faced with paspalum popping up in areas where it should not be, like in the fairways. We have had a hard time removing it and end up spraying the areas with Roundup two times, then come back cut these areas out and install new 419 bermudagrass sod. Not anymore!
eric von Hofen
Monument to the rescue. We have been spot spraying these volunteer paspalum areas and have had great success. We are using 1/2 oz/gal of MSMA and .04 oz/gal of Monument with a 1oz of sticker. Two applications and it’s gone. No more sod work just some spot fertilizing to get the bermudagrass growing again to fill in the dead spot. Give it a try if you have this problem.

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Why Are The Fairways So Good This Year?

Eric von Hofen
Sometimes you have to go through hell to get to heaven. Same is true when preparing bermudagrass fairways for the winter golf season. Every summer we schedule a heavy verticutting on the fairways which removes five semi truck loads of thatch. This thatch accumulates all year long and if not removed it shuts down the drainage to almost zero. In a area of the country that receives almost 70 inches of rain a year this process is key to having good fairways. While the fairways are ripped up from the verticutting we take it a step further and run the spiker over them. This helps reduce compaction and gets oxygen to the root system. The next step is to circle mow the fairways, taking the rest of the grain out of them.  The height of cut is lowered to .375  for this part of the process.  We then double vacuum the fairways and get ready for the fertilizer/Ronstar application.  The following day we treat the fairways with TopChoice for mole crickets. The fairways take about a month to recover from all of this work.  This is a small price to pay to have perfection for seven months out of the year.  Please watch the video below showing how we verticut fairways.

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Dalit Bay Golf and Country Club in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Eric von Hofen in malaysia
The Dalit Bay Golf and Country Club is surrounded by the 400 acres of the Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort.  The course was designed by Ted Parslow. Brian Distel was just there to meet with fellow superintendent Goh Yat Hing for a tour of the course and to develop long range plans for the operation.  Brian reports that nine holes of the course are cut out of the jungle and the other nine border the Tambalang and Mengkabong rivers.  Mr. Hing has USGA spec greens grassed with Tifdwarf Bermudagrass and 419 Bermudagrass fairways, roughs and tees. There are 15 golf courses in this area, none of which are under construction.  The population in this region is 617,000 people.

Dalit Bay has an aqua range that has 15 hitting stations.  This range gets a ton of use throughout the year because it’s the only game in town.  Warming up on this range prepares players to see water on each hole, which is what they will experience as they play the course.

The climate has year round high levels of  humidity and receives over 100 inches of rain a year.  The course is located very close to the equator.  This tropical region is full of clay soil that runs through the Kinabalu mountains. The fairways and tees are capped with sand and the rough is pure clay.

While you are there you can meet the areas icon, the Orangutan. You will also have unexpected encounters with hornbills that glide right overhead. Peacocks walking by during breakfast, a friendly bear cat greeting you from a tree and iguanas and squirrels crossing your path are all part of the magic of this remarkable resort.

Thanks Brian and keep them coming from your travels.

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What are you doing with the data from your soil sensors?


What are you doing with the data from your soil sensors? Many golf courses have installed soil sensors in greens, tees, fairways, and landscape beds to help manage water use. This trend was very popular 3 to 5 years ago and has hit a wall with the slow down in the development of new golf courses. The sensors tell you sodium levels, moisture and temperature of the soil where the unit is buried. The units that I purchased update every five minutes with data. Now what do you do with that data? The picture below is a overhead shot of a green complex showing where the unit is buried in the green.
I use this data for a wide range of topics. I monitor the sodium levels daily due to the fact that we are pulling water from four wells that have high level of sodium in the water. Every night we water, we are contaminating the turf with salt. A good Miami down pour is welcome once a month. When this happens, I can see the sodium levels invert showing the top layer(root zone) drop and spike in the lower level of the sensors. This is about 5 inches from the top of the turf.

This picture above shows 20 days of data from both sensors. I use this screen shot to educate my staff and golfers when it comes to the affects of rain and cold weather. Last winter, Miami had four mornings with frost and the greens lost some color but they picked up a ton of speed. We had a low soil temperature of 27.2 degrees for a few hours. Bermudagrass likes a soil temperature at 58 degrees or above. I printed this out and posted it in the locker rooms for everyone to see. Some people understood it and others could care less. They just loved the fast greens and asked why they could not be like this all year.

The biggest reason I use the sensors is to cut back on water use. I now have a way to see what’s happening below the turf. I hold off on watering a day or sometimes two after heavy rains. This saves on water and electricity and helps the course play firm and fast. Turfunderground would like to hear what you are doing with your sensors. Please let us know.

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Rebuilding bunkers next summer, what are you doing with the old sand?


I managed a great bunker project last summer and had tons of old sand to get rid of. I priced out having it hauled away and that was not in the cards. Leaving it in piles was not an option either. We under shot on the amount of sand coming out of the bunkers. There were bunkers that had faces or lips with 2 feet of sand on them. We planned for 5 inches as an average. The project produced enough sand to topdress the fairways with at least a half inch of coverage. We stocked piled the old sand in three locations around the course. I wish I would have screened the old sand to remove the rocks but time was not allowing that either. So I had a company come in and topdress the place using three monster truck units. They did the course one day after we verticut the fairways, so they were open and ready to take on the sand. We spent the next four days picking rocks up on the fairways.
Check out the video below.

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Turfunderground’s first report in from China.


Xili Golf and Country Club in Shenzhen, China. With help from, Brian Distel Director of Agronomy, we have some dirt for you. Brian reports to me that his course in China is doing well. From the looks of his picture I would have to agree. This course was built 14 years ago by Nelson & Wright design and is located 1 hour from Hong Kong. The town of Shenzhen has 14 million people in it and is growing every day. The 36 hole country club has 1200 members and is open year round. Memberships are going for $250,000 USD and you still pay $200.00 USD for your round of golf. The course has Tifeagle greens and Zoysiagrass fairways, tees and roughs. Brian is working on some renovation plans for next year. He also tells me that the course receives over 150 inches of rain a year and sometimes it could be even more if the weather is just right. This rain makes it tough to maintain the course due to it’s location in the mountains. Brian congratulations on your job at Xili and keep sending us some dirt.

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Seashore Paspalum looking good but sometimes in the wrong places


This is the time of the year that Seashore Paspalum shines. The heavy summer maintenance is all done, the rain has stopped and temps have cooled off. I have been using the Harrell’s 8-0-0 Paspalum liquid fertilizer with Primo and a high Mag combo product to produce some great results. I tried this Harrell’s product during their research period and it worked great. I will continue to groom and lightly topdress the tees over the winter months depending on the weather. Miami had a cold last winter but it did not affect the Paspalum on the tees, although it slowed down the 419 bermudagrass on the fairways and rough.

You see here when Paspalum looks good in the wrong places. This problem is a project in itself. We continue to spray out and remove the Paspalum each summer but spots keep showing up. To be continued….

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