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May 2009

Indonesian Golf & Environment Forum

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The Indonesian Golf and Environment Forum was held on May 28 & 29 at Damai Indah Golf's BSD facility. This forum was conducted by the Asosiasi Pemilik Lapangan Golf Indonesia (APLGI, the Indonesian Golf Course Owners Association) and the International Golf and Life Foundation (IGOLF). I was invited to give a presentation and spoke about Reducing Chemicals: Five easy steps to identify turfgrass problems and solve them using a minimum of chemicals. The program focus was on Managing Golf for Nature and People, and much like the golf course operation and management conference at Taiwan the previous week, this forum at Indonesia was a well-organized event with high attendance and seminar content that provided applicable information to the delegates.

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The presentations at this forum covered a range of topics, from turfgrass management, hybrid mowing equipment that reduces oil use, sustainable energy practices for golf facilities, governmental regulations in Indonesia, to managing a golf facility to increase bird and wildlife populations.

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I was able to have a quick look at the Nicklaus-designed BSD course at Damai Indah Golf during the afternoon break, where there are new Miniverde bermudagrass greens after a recent renovation. If you have a chance, I suggest attending one of these IGOLF events in the future, as the information provided can help in the improved operations of any golf facility. I personally learned a lot at this forum. Golf courses must be sustainable if they are to be successful, and this type of event is a great opportunity to gather the information and contacts necessary to move in that direction.

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Articles Available in Chinese


Two articles I have written for the Asian Golf Course Owners Association (AGCOA) magazine, Golf Business Asia, are now available for download (in Chinese translation) at the ATC Turfgrass Information page.

Course Maintenance Standards (in Chinese)

Course Maintenance Standards (in English)

Turfgrass Information Resources (in Chinese)

Turfgrass Information Resources (in English)

The Right Work at the Right Time (in Chinese)

The Right Work at the Right Time (in English)

You can find a number of other reprints at the turfgrass information page on the Asian Turfgrass Center website.

Taiwan Golf Course Operation & Management Conference


This week's Taiwan Golf Course Operation & Management Conference, organized by the Asian Golf Course Owners Association (AGCOA), was one of the best golf course conferences I have attended in Asia. At this event, there were two full days of educational seminars, all of which provided information that the 140 attending course owners and club managers could put to use at their respective facilities. The simultaneous translation of all talks allowed the entire audience to understand nearly every word, and the conference dinners and then the final day of networking and golf at Sunrise Golf Club provided ample time for additional discussion.


My talk was on ten ways to improve turfgrass conditions, and I discussed topics such as setting course maintenance standards, applying the optimum amount of water and fertilizer, implementing an effective aerification program, and collecting relevant data about turfgrass conditions and course playability.


Among the many other interesting speakers were Eddie Buddhani from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Steve Wilson, above, from Bernhard and Company, James Sua, CGCS, from National Service Resort & Country Club in Singapore, Darren Cribbes from Nexus Agronomy, James Quilley from Emerald Golf, Peter Morison from Jacobsen, JP Schneider from Thai Country Club, and Ross Perret from Thompson Perrett Golf Course Architects. I found Wilson's talk on maintenance of equipment fleets especially interesting, as I know a lot more about grass than I do about maintenance equipment, and Wilson provided a number of excellent ideas about fleet management.

Ramkhamhaeng University Students Visit ATC Research Area


Golf Management students from Ramkhamhaeng University (มหาวิทยาลัยรามคำแหง) visited the Asian Turfgrass Center research area on 10 May to see the different grasses we are evaluating and to see how these grasses perform in the Bangkok area.


When the construction of the research area began in 2006, we had only three types of grass: Tifway 419 bermudagrass, Salam seashore paspalum, and Zoysia matrella, which ATC's research director Dr. Micah Woods is shown planting here. Now we have well over fifty varieties of grass, variously maintained as putting green, fairway, or rough, on a range of different soil types.


When the Golf Management students visited, they were able to see how different grasses perform and were able to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of each grass. There is no other place in Thailand where one can see so many types of grasses, and for students in the golf or sports turf industry this is an excellent opportunity to learn.

Mowing Patterns & Grass Color

Did you watch the Masters Tournament in April? Did you notice the immaculate appearance of the wide fairways? Please have a look at the photo below, taken from behind the 9th green. Do you notice a color difference between the 1st and 9th fairways?

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The reason for the color difference is the mowing pattern; for the Masters Tournament, mowers drive in the direction from green to tee, and this causes a slight leaning of the grass blades, and then there is a noticeable color difference in the grass.

Why do I mention this? To emphasize the importance of having a well-considered mowing program. The way the grass is mowed has a huge impact on the appearance of the golf course. Grass may not be perfect, but if the mowing program is planned to accentuate the appearance of the grass, then the course will look better. It is possible to make the grass look greener without using more fertilizer, appear weed-free even when there are some weeds, and to emphasize the fairway or the rough or other areas of the course, all by implementing an effective mowing program.


This is the 2nd hole of Kentos Golf Club in Tochigi-ken, Japan. This mowing pattern emphasizes the center of the fairway as an aiming target, saves mowing time (perhaps 20% time reduction at the average facility), and in this case the left side of the fairway is mowed from tee to green, while the right side of the fairway is mowed from green to tee.


Here we see the 9th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links in California, where a diagonal or "diamond" mowing pattern is used. This pattern takes skilled operators to implement, and it takes more time to mow the fairways in a diamond pattern, but it can create a visually stunning fairway appearance.


Above we see the 18th hole at Hanoi Golf Club in Vietnam. This is what I call a "zebra" mowing pattern, and is one that is often used on courses in Asia.

The important thing to remember is that the way grass is mowed has a tremendous impact on the visual appearance of a golf course and the golfers' perception of the course. Below we see a beautiful golf hole with an unclear mowing pattern in the fairway. The grass is mowed, and the playability is excellent, but there is not a striking mowing pattern. Any small imperfections in the grass could be overshadowed by a clear mowing pattern. I hope you will think about the way the grass is mowed at your facility, to make the most efficient use of your mowers and at the same time optimizing the visual appearance of your grass.

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At Hawaii . . . More About Salt Applications to Seashore Paspalum


Hawaii has beautiful golf courses and a lot of seashore paspalum turf; this is a seashore paspalum green at the stunning Challenge at Manele course on Lanai. I was at Hawaii last month and saw two interesting uses of sodium chloride for weed control in seashore paspalum. Because of seashore paspalum's relatively high salinity tolerance, salt can be applied to damage weeds without harming the seashore paspalum. The exact rates of salt to use and the effectiveness of the weed control are not certain, but we have been involved with some research projects with salt and will continue this work.

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This is an interesting use of salt, at the Cavendish Golf Course in Lanai City. The greens are seashore paspalum and the fairways and green surrounds are a mixture of grass species. The salt is used to keep the surounding grasses from growing into the greens, essentially this is chemical edging. The salt is toxic to the plants growing outside the green, and the greens can be kept as pure seashore paspalum by occasional banding of the greens with salt.

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How about this seashore paspalum green on the Challenge at Manele course? Does that look like a disease? Maybe dollar spot? A type of leaf spot, maybe Curvularia? Actually, the discolored spots on the green are individual goosegrass plants. The course superintendent, Les Jeremiah, has made weekly applications of sodium chloride at a rate of about 5 grams m-2, with the idea of gradually damaging the goosegrass but without causing any phytotoxicity to the seashore paspalum.