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October 2010

Seminar Report from Saujana

Woods_bakar I've just returned to Bangkok after the Sustainable Turfgrass Management seminar held at Saujana Resort on October 26 & 27. This event was supported by The R&A and was presented by Saujana in partnership with The R&A, the Malaysian Golf Association, Golf Course Superintendents Association of Malaysia, Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF), and ATC. John Geary, Environmental Agronomist from the Australian Golf Course Superintendents Association, spoke about water management plans, preparing for drought and managing turfgrass through drought conditions, and on irrigation water quality and grass variety trials conducted at Australia.


Kenne James (from Toro) and David Patterson (from RainBird) gave a presentation on optimized irrigation of golf course turf on behalf of AGIF and during the field seminar demonstrated the procedure for measuring the distribution uniformity (DU) during an irrigation audit. I found this session especially helpful. Understanding how much water is applied and where it is applied and how one's irrigation system is operating in the field is critical to the maintenance of high-quality playing surfaces. James and Patterson provided a number of helpful tips to ensure that an irrigation system will operate at its optimal level of efficiency.

Woods_field_seminar Geary and I spoke during the practical session about optimizing the rooting system of turfgrass, techniques on organic matter control for putting green turf, and the importance of organic matter management in general, and on problem-solving techniques, drainage, and a host of other topics as we had a look round the newly-renovated Bunga Raya course at Saujana. During the classroom session, I gave seminars on grass selection for golf courses in SE Asia, irrigation water quality, and golf course renovation with more discussion of grass choices. It was an excellent program at a superb venue with an engaged and inquisitive audience.


Turfgrass at Okinawa


After last week's Asian Amateur Championship at Kasumigaseki CC, I came to Okinawa for a meeting of the Okinawa Greenkeeper's Association. The meeting was held at Unimat Okinawa Golf Club and I spoke about optimizing playing conditions for warm-season turf, the challenges of overseeding bermudagrass greens in the climate of Okinawa, and on my experiences working at the Masters, US Open, and Open Championship this year.

Okinawa has eighteen golf courses and they use a range of grasses, from A to Z, Axonopus to Zoysia, as Dr. Hikaru Akamine from University of the Ryukus told me. I met him yesterday and he provided me with a reprint of an intriguing paper he wrote about morphological characteristics of Zoysia tenuifolia and how to distinguish it from Zoysia matrella. This is something I am quite interested in, as the standard classification involves leaf widths but is not useful in practice. Why? Z. tenuifolia tends to be more narrow-leaved while Z. matrella tends to have a slightly wider leaf, but there actually is a lot of overlap in leaf width with some Z. matrella types having very narrow leaf blades. Dr. Akamine's paper shows that folded leaves in the bud are Z. tenuifolia and rolled leaves in the bud are Z. matrella.

Zoysia_ana_okinawaThere are many excellent zoysias here, and that is what I see in the lawns around the pool as I look out from my room this evening. But in visits to two golf courses today, I also saw bermudagrass, carpetgrass, St. Augustinegrass, and centipedegrass in addition to the ubiquitous zoysia. And there is one golf course here with bentgrass greens, while at least two others are planted to seashore paspalum.

I suggested to the greenkeepers here that they establish more evaluation plots on their courses. I think that seashore paspalum may be particularly good on putting greens in the climate of Okinawa, and I made some suggestions in a second seminar today about the management of ultradwarf bermudagrass greens. You will find some dramatic golf courses and a wide range of grasses on this small island.


Asian Amateur Championship at Kasumigaseki Country Club


I'm at Kasumigaseki Country Club this week for the Asian Amateur Championship, where the champion will receive an invitation to the 2011 Masters Tournament and both the champion and runner-up will earn a place in the International Final Qualifying for the 2011 Open Championship. This is the most-televised amateur golf tournament in the world, with coverage in over 150 countries, and Kasumigaseki Country Club near Tokyo is in excellent condition this week for the championship.


The championship is being contested over the West Course here. The tees and fairways are manilagrass (Zoysia matrella), the roughs are Zoysia japonica, and the greens are creeping bentgrass. Zoysia matrella provides an excellent playing surface on these fairways which are in immaculate condition, being mowed daily at 10 mm, and producing the type of surface that is appreciated by Asia's elite amateur golfers along with the average golfer.

Bent_nursery_kasumigaseki The Tokyo area has a challenging climate for creeping bentgrass during the summer months, and the summer of 2010 was extremely hot. I am impressed with the creeping bentgrass nursery here. Too many courses at Japan go without a nursery. At Kasumigaseki CC, the well-maintained nursery provides both a source of high-quality turf for any repairs to the greens along with a testing ground for improved bentgrass varieties and course maintenance practices. Through testing work over the past few years, the greenkeeper at Kasumigaseki CC has identified varieties of bentgrass that perform much better than some of the older grasses and these improved varieties are now used to improve the green conditions.

This is a classic Japanese golf course and the players this week along with television viewers around the world have a great opportunity to see this famous course and its wonderful turf.