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June 2009

Sodium Chloride for Weed Control


Another article about sodium chloride applications as a method of weed control in seashore paspalum has been published in Weed Technology. This research was done at Hawaii by Dr. Jim Brosnan, and I did some additional testing at Thailand and helped with the paper entitled "Sodium Chloride Salt Applications Provide Effective Control of Sourgrass (Paspalum conjugatum) in Seashore Paspalum Turf". Granular applications of sodium chloride at a rate of about 50 g m-2 can cause severe damage to many weeds without causing phytotoxicity to seashore paspalum. In our research at Thailand, we first wet the leaves of the grass, then apply granular sodium chloride (table salt) and allow it to sit on the leaves of the grass. Because the leaves are wet, the salt will stick to leaves, as shown below, with salt applied to seashore paspalum (variety Salam) mowed at 15 mm. In our experiments, we see no phytotoxicity to the seashore paspalum, but the same rate of sodium chloride applied to bermudagrass or carpetgrass (Axonopus compressus) or to some broadleaf weeds will cause severe phytotoxicity or plant death.

Nacl on leaf

The photo above shows sodium chloride crystals sticking to the wet leaves of a seashore paspalum fairway turf. If salt is used to control weeds in seashore paspalum turf, I think it will work best if applied when the weeds are still small. If weeds are allowed to proliferate, and sodium chloride is used to control the larger patches of weeds, then unsightly yellow patches will occur all over the turf. As with any weed control program, it is important to catch the weeds early. Earlier this week I was at Mauritius and visited Le Touessrok Golf Course at Ile aux Cerfs (see below); this is a seashore paspalum golf course where salt is regularly used to control bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.), St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secondatum), and broadleaf weeds from encroaching into the seashore paspalum turf. One thing to remember of course is that too much sodium in the soil can cause problems with soil structure in clayey or silty soils. Sodium chloride applications may work best on sandy soils, where there is little chance of any soil structural problems.


Turfgrass at Dubai

Dubai 3

I was at Dubai this week to see some golf courses and to learn more about turfgrass management here. There are many camels in the desert -- these ones are just outside the Al Ruwaya golf course at The Tiger Woods Dubai, which I visited for two days. The course looks spectacular. Three holes are completely grassed now, and the scale of the project is really mind-boggling. I was there in July of 2008 when rough shaping was just underway. What last year was just a vast expanse of sand now looks like a golf course, and one that will be a thrill to play. With huge grass nurseries, landscape materials being installed in abundance, an incredibly complex irrigation system being put together hole-by-hole, and the creation of such a beautiful course in the middle of the desert, this project is fascinating. The grow-in superintendent at Al Ruwaya is Cameron Thompson, who was previously at Amata Spring Country Club in Thailand.


Most of the courses at Dubai use hybrid bermudagrass, as on the Majlis course at Emirates Golf Club, site of the Dubai Desert Classic. But seashore paspalum can also be used at Dubai, as on the par 3 course at Emirates Golf Club shown above. Water is obviously an expensive resource in the desert, and golf courses use treated effluent water to irrigate the turfgrass, in some cases using a reverse osmosis plant to further purify the water before it is applied to the grass. Because of seashore paspalum's high salinity tolerance, salt is sometimes used to control weeds in the turf, and that practice was being employed on the par 3 course at Emirates Golf Club. Application of granular salt at a rate of about 50 g m-2 can provide control of some grassy and broadleaf weeds without causing phytotoxicity to seashore paspalum.

Dubai 1

The bermudagrass golf courses at Dubai are usually overseeded with perennial ryegrass during the winter months. This is The Els Club earlier this year when the perennial ryegrass was the primary playing surface. Because of the heat during the summer months (temperatures above 40°C are common), little golf is played, but during the winters the weather is quite clement and golf courses at Dubai are busy. The bermudagrass grows slowly at Dubai during the winter, nearly reaching dormancy, and the perennial ryegrass surfaces then provide a playing surface that can tolerate the heavy traffic during the winter months.

Cost Savings & Turfgrass Maintenance

There is a great article in the May/June 2009 issue of USGA Green Section Record about cost savings and turfgrass maintenance. Sometimes golf courses must find ways to reduce expenses on turfgrass maintenance, and the article "Dollars and Sense: Making It in a Tough Economy" provides a number of tips to save money.

Cost_save 1 (1)

Another way to save money on course maintenance is by modifying the growing environment to produce healthy turfgrass. I have written and spoken about the six key points of turfgrass maintenance many times, and articles about the six key points can be downloaded in English or in Japanese from the Asian Turfgrass Center's turfgrass information page.

Cost_save 2 (1)

The best way to save money while obtaining the best turfgrass conditions possible is to follow the basic principles of greenkeeping. The objective of greenkeeping is to modify the growing environment of the turfgrass in such a way that a playing surface for golf is created. The greenkeeper can modify the amount of light that reaches the turfgrass canopy, the amount of air in the soil, the amount of water in the soil, the quantitiy of mineral nutrients that are available to the plant, the mowing of the turfgrass, and the plan for control of disease and insect pests.

The article from the Green Section Record includes a number of excellent tips, and I encourage anyone interested in getting the most efficient use of their turf maintenance expnditures to read it. From the use of growth regulators to reduce mowing, soil nutrient analysis before fertilizer purchase and application to ensure unnecessary elements are not being applied, the use of cheaper fertilizer products, to more frequent rolling of the greens, there are scores of ways in which you may be able to save money.

Turfgrass Disease Blog


There is an excellent new blog about turfgrass diseases from five plant pathologists in the United States. This information will be most relevant to golf courses in the United States, but we can all learn some things about turf diseases from reading this blog, some of which will be relevant to turfgrass management in Asia.

The information at the Turfgrass Disease Updates blog is provided by Drs. John Kaminski, Megan Kennelly, Frank Wong, Lane Tredway, and Jim Kerns.

Course Accessories & Customer Experience


The distinctive "Amen Corner" sign from this year's Masters Tournament can only be at one course in the world. Although every golf course cannot be Augusta National, any course can provide an enhanced experience to the golfers through some distinctive course accessories. I think that golfers, in general, will first notice the color and texture of the grass, then they will notice the mowing patterns on the course, and then they will notice bunkers, the color of the sand and the edging technique employed. After the grass and the bunkers, golfers definitely notice the course accessories: flags, tee markers, signs, bunker rakes, ball washers. And course accessories can be unique in such ways that the golfer experience will be enhanced, the course appearance will improve, and customers will be sure to remember the good service at your course.


The Rancamaya Golf Club near Bogor has wonderful tee markers in the shape of a durian. I played there last week, and the overall course appearance and playability was great, the service was tremendous, and I especially remember the tee markers; it was a great pleasure to see these unique markers on each tee. And did you notice the divot to the right of the marker? Perhaps not until I mentioned it? When the course accessories are distinctive, some of the blemishes in the turf are less noticable, which is another reason to think carefully about the accessories used at your facility.


The Banyan Golf Club at Hua Hin sits in a beautiful valley that was formerly farmed for pinapples. The tee markers at The Banyan Golf Club maintain the connection to the property and its heritage. Even non-golfers notice the unique tee markers and at every hole the Banyan brand is reinforced.


The Challenge at Manele is a beautiful course designed by Jack Nicklaus on the island of Lanai. With its proximity to the ocean, there are always gusty winds here, and what better way to show the wind direction and provide a unique experience for the golfer than to use windsocks for the flag? These windsocks have the course logo and the course colors and are, in addition to the many memorable holes on the course, another unique part of the experience that will help the customer remember this facility.


These yardage signs at the tees of Nambu Fuji Country Club in Morioka, Iwate-ken make the course fun to play. See a few weeds in the rough there at the edge of the tee? Who cares! This is a beautiful 27-hole course in the Tohoku region, and the yardage signs at each tee have left a good impression of this course and its management in my mind three years since my last visit.


I won't venture to say much about clubhouse or food and beverage operations, as that is not something I have any expertise in, but at The Cypress Golf Club earlier this month, I was quite impressed by the personalized locker with my name and tee time imprinted. Want to make your customers feel special? I thought it was a great touch to put the names of the visitors on the locker, and this is something that will make me remember my experience at The Cypress Golf Club forever.