By Michael Gardner, Senior Director of Huma Gro® Turf Sales at Bio Huma Netics, Inc.
[NOTE: This article first appeared in the May 2018 issue of Tee Times Golf Guide Magazine.]
The arrival of spring brings a flurry of activities to the golf course. The volume of play increases, as does the volume of work for the superintendent and staff who keep the course in tip-top shape. At the same time, it’s important to take steps to improve turf health at the same rate activity increases. This can be a major challenge. Tee times are reserved earlier each day, putting a time-crunch on the grounds crew to prepare the course for daily play.
In addition, special events throughout the golfing season require the course to be in excellent condition. Club championships, qualifying events, and tournaments bring hundreds of participants and spectators to the course all at the same time.
Getting turf into tournament condition while preparing for scheduled events and increased play takes planning. Superintendents must have a strategy and contingency plan in order to meet the superior course conditions expected by tournament attendees, spectators, and club members. Not only can additional traffic damage turf, but the disruptions and practices a superintendent must engage in to prepare greens for events can be potentially harmful to the turf.
In order to schedule greens to peak during tournaments and special events, a superintendent must carefully plan backwards to perfect application timing, irrigation, and course management. Attaining firm and fast playing conditions without harming turf health is a priority and a challenge. To do so, a golf course superintendent should schedule a complete NPK liquid fertilizer program enhanced with micronutrients and iron every 7–10 days, beginning two to three weeks prior to the date of the event.
Light, frequent hand-watering prior to and during tournament play prevents a wet, soft, and slow green and maintains a firm and healthy green. Brooming the greens is a less-abrasive approach to enhance greens prior to and during tournament without damaging weak spots. Mowing heights can be safely lowered prior to tournament play. A superintendent should double-cut four days prior to special events and roll daily during event play. The least disruptive method of aeration should be scheduled prior to events so the green has time to heal. Greens should be aerated immediately again after events to relieve stress.
To help superintendents achieve and schedule the superior tournament conditions they desire from their course, Huma Gro® Turf has developed a Tournament Preparation Program. By providing soil and turf nutrition, our products build healthy soil and strong, healthy turf. Two to three weeks prior to tournament play, the following Huma Gro® Turf products can be easily mixed together and applied at a volume of 2 to 3 ounces per thousand square feet.
Because turf health starts with healthy soil, Multi-Purpose® builds soil health by feeding beneficial bacteria in the soil, creating a carbon-rich soil and improving the soil structure.
Breakout® provides the necessary nutrients for root growth and root mass development. Encouraging horizontal turf growth, Breakout® creates a dense, uniform and consistent turf for superior ball-rolling characteristics. In the fairways, Breakout® speeds recovery from verticutting, aerating, and ball marks.
Max Pak® is a stress fighter that promotes healthy turf by providing a highly stable source of many important macronutrients to ensure maximum absorption of nutrients.
Turfplex® IV contains macro- and micronutrients with organic acid to increase the absorption of nutrients, producing a vigorous turf. It’s fast acting and long lasting.
Tuff Greens is a blend of potassium, calcium, and silica, designed to strengthen the turf blades to withstand heavy traffic and provide a superior playing surface.
For best results, this turf prep program should be started two to three weeks prior to tournament play. A second application should be applied again one to two weeks before tournament events.
As the event date draws close, and superior turf conditions have been established for tournament play, Turf-Iron should be applied together with an additional application of Tuff Greens two or three days prior to the event. Turf-Iron enhances the turf color to put the finishing touches on course conditions.
Additionally, superintendents can prevent the appearance of ugly white pesticide residue by using safe, effective, and residue-free turf protection products such as Promax® or Proud 3®. Promax® prevents and controls nematodes and soil-borne diseases. Proud 3® is a foliar applied insecticide, miticide, and fungicide.
During this two- to three-week process, our products provide soil and turf nutrition, building a healthy soil structure and pushing turf to beautiful, strong, superior conditions. Overall turf health is increased through balanced nutrition. Optimal playing conditions—faster, firmer, smoother greens—are achieved by managing proper plant growth and turf blade strength. Most importantly, the course is ready for heavy play and tournament events.
Consult your local Huma Gro® Turf representative or turf specialist for specific recommendations. All Huma Gro® Turf products can be mixed together. All Huma Gro® Turf liquid products include Micro Carbon Technology®, a proprietary blend of very small organic molecules that allows more effective absorption of nutrients by plants.