Previous month:
December 2010
Next month:
February 2011

January 2011

Two Excellent (and free) Resources about Turfgrass Diseases

Controlling turfgrass diseases is one of the most important ways turfgrass managers modify the growing environment to produce the desired playing surfaces. Two resources that I find quite useful as reference material and as a source of new information are the Turf Diseases website and the University of Kentucky's Chemical Control of Turfgrass Diseases 2011.

At the Turf Diseases site, you will find updates about disease outbreaks, control options for different diseases, new information about ongoing research, and witty banter from an interesting group of university professors. The associated page on Facebook also contains information that can help turfgrass managers in their efforts to produce better playing surfaces.

Chem_control_disease_2011 The 24 page Chemical Control of Turfgrass Diseases 2011 was written by Paul Vincelli and David Williams at the University of Kentucky and is a guide that you are likely to find useful throughout the year. Not only does this document contain the latest information about fungicides and which products are most effective at controlling specific diseases, it also discusses cultural controls of turfgrass diseases and gives suggestions on how to minimize disease intensity. There is a wealth of useful information in this free document.

January Seminars at Japan and Seminar Workbook Uploaded

Jozankei_view I've been at Japan for two weeks this month and have given a series of seminars at Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Hokkaido. Some of these seminars have been about why Japan is such a difficult place to grow cool-season grass. The quick explanation is because the low temperatures in the summer can exceed 27°C for more a month. I've also given some seminars about what I learned while working at the Masters Tournament, US Open, and Open Championship in 2010. And I gave two full-day seminars that discussed the effects of temperature on photosynthesis and the use of a growth potential model (生長能) based on optimum temperatures for turfgrass growth.

The seminar workbook for the January Turf Science Seminar 2011 is now posted at the Asian Turfgrass Center website and can be downloaded by clicking here or by clicking the workbook image below.


Greenkeeper International Article on Turfgrass in Asia

Gi-jan2011 Greenkeeper International, the award-winning publication of the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA), has published my article on turfgrass management in Southeast Asia. The article, featured on the cover of the January 2011 issue of Greenkeeper International, provides information about the grasses used in Southeast Asia and how the management of grass on golf courses in this region differs from management of turfgrass in the UK.


An Interesting Technique to Modify Fairway Conditions in Thailand

Laem_chabang Many of you will be familiar with the Laem Chabang International Country Club and its typical (for courses built in the 1990's) Tifdwarf bermudagrass greens and Tifway 419 bermudagrass fairways. Laem Chabang has been one of the sites for the Asian Turfgrass Field Day in recent years. Bermudagrass in this part of Thailand is notorious for having a high susceptibility to weed invasion, especially during the rainy season, and to require large amounts of nitrogen fertilizer to produce the desired surface. Seashore paspalum, as you know, performs better than bermudagrass in wet soils, and has a lower nitrogen requirement once established than does hybrid bermudagrass.

At the Sustainable Turfgrass Management in Asia 2009 seminars, I advocated the tolerance of, and sometimes even the deliberate planting of, turfgrass polystands in fairways and roughs. Why? Because the various attributes of the turfgrasses used in Southeast Asia can be complementary when the species are grown together, and the grasses are very difficult to eradicate when they begin to invade a monostand of a different species.


How many courses in Southeast Asia that try to have a seashore paspalum monostand fight bermuda as a weed? I would venture to say that all do, and especially in areas with poor irrigation coverage or where the turf is maintained at moderate to high mowing heights, I suggest that in the long term it is a losing battle. Bermuda will outperform paspalum in those areas. How many courses trying to maintain a bermuda monostand fight zoysia encroachment? Many do, and it is usually the zoysia areas that get larger and larger. And seashore paspalum can invade zoysia and bermuda as well — all this is natural. Why not take advantage of these grasses that seem to want to grow, and manage them to create a visually attractive playing surface?

Paspalum_convert At Laem Chabang, the Tifway 419 fairways were sliced on 10 cm centers and then caddies from the club planted individual plants of seashore paspalum into the fairways. How long does that take, you might wonder? About eight hours of work for 200 caddies to do one par 5 fairway.

After this slicing and planting of paspalum the fairways were topdressed with sand, and then it was maintenance as usual. I visited Laem Chabang five months after seashore paspalum was introduced to this fairway, and I found the conditions and the appearance of the fairway to be very good. The striping and color of the fairway appeared as would a paspalum fairway, but there is still a large amount of bermuda in the fairway. I expect that in wet areas and during the rainy season the paspalum will grow well and provide a dense turf cover when bermuda would not, and that during the dry season the bermuda will thrive and provide a dense turf cover when the paspalum would require large amounts of supplemental irrigation to produce such a surface during that season.


Thanks to course superintendent Mr. Boonthong Ngamsapang for the photos of the seashore paspalum planting process.

Seashore Paspalum in London?

I visited the herbarium at Kew Gardens last summer for the purpose of looking at grass specimens from Southeast Asia. I was especially interested to see what types of seashore paspalum and manilagrass were in the herbarium collections. If you read the paper in Weed Science about weeds in seashore paspalum in southern China, in which manilagrass overgrew a stand of seashore paspalum, or if you have read some of my posts at the Turf Diseases blog in which I have mentioned the challenges of trying to maintain seashore paspalum in Southeast Asia, or if you have grown seashore paspalum in Southeast Asia, you will understand that the turf-type seashore paspalum requires more inputs than other common turfgrasses in order to persist in this growing environment.

Seashore paspalum is not a new grass in Southeast Asia. The image above shows a turf-type seashore paspalum collected at Bangkok in 1923; the common type at right was collected at Koh Tao, an island in the gulf of Thailand (see image below) in 1927. Other seashore paspalum specimens in the collection were collected more than 120 years ago, including from the Philippines in the 1880's.

Seashore paspalum on golf courses in Southeast Asia today, without extensive inputs, will be overtaken by manilagrass or bermudagrass. The common type of seashore papspalum with long internodes is a weed that invades wet areas on golf courses and other turfed landscapes. The turf-type of seashore paspalum, with short internodes, has been growing in the wild in Southeast Asia for over a century, but it does not spread as a weed; it grows only in a very specific niche, similar to its native habitat. The sample collected at Bangkok, according to the specimen notes, was found "on open ground in tidal swamp."

Manilagrass and hybrid bermudagrass grow aggressively in Southeast Asia and make a better general-purpose turfgrass. Turf-type seashore paspalum requires extensive inputs and constant vigilance in an attempt to replicate that "tidal swamp" environment while still producing suitable playing surfaces for golf.

Why I Study Japanese

There are two monthly magazines that go to almost every golf course in Japan. One is Golf Course Seminar, published by Golf Digest Japan, for which I write a column about turfgrass science; the other is Monthly Golf Management, published by Ikki-Web, who also produce the annual Greenkeeper almanac. The Greenkeeper 2011 has five sections, the first three being reviews of major tournament preparations, what appears to be a turf science quiz, and reviews of some turf science meetings held at Japan in 2010.

It is the final two sections that make up 80% of this 358 page book, and these are the sections that I find the most interesting, and that I can, with my rudimentary Japanese, understand to some extent. These sections include the fertilizer and pesticide and mowing programs (and much much more), giving the entire maintenance schedule, really, for 26 golf courses, and then a Golf Course Data File with general information, including grass types down to variety, for 949 courses at Japan.

What specifically do I find most interesting in this book?

Green_maint 1. The very fact that it is published, that there is a demand for such data, that the publishers go to the effort to compile it and print it, and that so many golf courses share the information.

2. The huge variations in fertilizer application ratios and timing. Some courses are using less than 10 g N m-2 per year for creeping bentgrass in a growing environment in which I believe 15 to 20 g N m-2 are required. Some have an N-P-K ratio of approximately 8:1:8, which I understand, or 8:1:4, which I think in most situations would be optimum, and some have approximately 8:1:16, which I think is too much K, but I understand that also. Then there are those with approximately 1:1:1 ratios, or 3:4:2 ratios, and then I wonder what those greenkeepers are trying to accomplish by applying so much phosphorus. Or the course applying just over 6 g N m-2 annually, but more than 13 g Mg m-2? Why? Or how about 33 g Ca m-2 and 1 g Mg m-2? That is a 30:1 ratio, but in the grass Ca and Mg will have a nearly 2:1 ratio.

3. The mowing heights and number of greens mowing events are given by month, and I find it interesting that at a particular course with an unusual fertilizer ratio, the putting greens were mown 31 times in July, 16 times in August, and only 9 times in September. Did the fertilizer applications have anything to do with that? Fert_table This is voyeuristic, I know, but for a turfgrass scientist who is interested in the practical aspects of turfgrass maintenance, I find it fascinating to have all this information in front of me and it gives me a tremendous number of ideas for information to discuss in training programs or magazine articles or even research projects or consulting programs.

4. I may be completely missing it, but I see nothing in the course data guides about what the soil pH or nutrient levels are, nor anything about soil organic matter content, nor anything about irrigation water quality. For some reason, these types of data are given much more weight in the United States.

5. Penncross is the preponderant bentgrass variety growing on putting greens. There are 949 facilities listed in Section 5, the Golf Course Data File. This represents nearly half the golf courses in Japan. Of these, 649 have Penncross greens.

6. The book is fascinating but seems to be lacking something that greenkeepers can actually use to help them improve playing conditions. The book is 358 pages packed full of data about golf course operations, and specifically grass types used and maintenance practices employed, on golf courses in Japan. Yet the information is, to some extent, of little practical use, because it is all passive, just in a book; it is not necessarily correct — writing out the detailed maintenance program for a course does not necessarily mean it is a correct program or one that should be copied; and for a greenkeeper who is managing Penncross, it may be of some solace to know that so many others are also managing the same grass, but it doesn't change the fact that almost any variety other than Penncross would have better performance in Japan.

Still, it is fascinating, and I look forward to seeing The Greenkeeper when it is published each fall, and it is books such as this that make me wish I knew more Japanese.

ATC in 2010, by the Numbers

China Last year I prepared a three-page report with a list of some of the work we had done in 2009 and what work was forthcoming in 2010. Rather than prepare such a report now, which would need to be downloaded, I'll just write out some of the more interesting numbers associated with the work of ATC in the past year.

  • Visitors from 110 countries accessed this website,, for which I wrote 44 new posts in 2010. There were more than 7,800 unique visitors to the Asian Turf Seminar, Asian Turfgrass Center, and Viridescent websites.
  • We did more than 250 soil and water analyses for select clients in five countries.
  • Work1 I made 22 presentations at universities, educational conferences, and golf course superintendent meetings at Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Bangladesh, and Thailand.
  • My work took me to seventeen countries in 2010. 
  • I flew 93 times, an average of one flight every 3.9 days.
  • I wrote fourteen articles that were published in 2010 and wrote six more articles that are in press for publication in early 2011.
  • I made eleven posts at the Turf Diseases website for which I am an occasional contributor on international topics.


  • I worked at the Masters Tournament, US Open, Open Championship, and Asian Amateur Championship.
  • Visitors to the Asian Turfgrass Center website were from 75 countries, and the top ten countries sending visits were, in this order: Japan, United States, Thailand, China, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Australia, Philippines, and the United Kingdom.
  • This year begins, as did 2010, with plans for a number of upcoming seminars, advisory work for great clients, a long list of exciting writing projects, and travel to salubrious places.