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September 2012

August 2012

Announcing the 2012 India Greenkeeper Education Programme

Igu_greenkeeper_programme_2012.pdf (1 page)I'm pleased to announce that the Indian Golf Union's Greenkeeper Education Programme will be held in September and October at four of the finest clubs in India. Following up on the successful first year of the programme which had a focus on Introduction to Greenkeeping, the 2012 programme expands with a focus on Improving Course Conditions

The intensive weeklong educational programme will be delivered at these host clubs:

  • Kodaikanal GC, Tamil Nadu (South Zone), 24 to 28 September
  • Poona Club, Pune (West Zone), 1 to 5 October
  • Army Golf, Delhi (North Zone), 8 to 12 October
  • Royal Calcutta GC (East Zone), 15 to 19 October

 Full information on the program is available at including lecture notes and presentations slides from the 2011 programme, the first two issues of the Greenkeeping Information Service, and photos of the educational events in 2011.

Once again supported by The R&A, this IGU educational course is designed to provide information that will lead to improved playing conditions on golf courses in India. The educational programme is being led by Dr. Micah Woods of the Asian Turfgrass Center with additional support from the Asian Golf Industry Federation.

Turfgrass in the Ryukyu Islands: report on the special lecture at Ocean Expo Park

Micah-ocean-park-lectureJust before typhoon #15, I traveled to Okinawa to deliver a lecture about Turfgrass in the Ryukyu Islands at Ocean Expo Park. And despite the approaching typhoon – now passing Okinawa with winds over 130 miles per hour and with waves 50 feet high – there were 101 people in attendance in a packed room to hear about the turfgrasses of these islands, what makes this such a challenging place to produce good turfgrass (low photosynthetic irradiance), and the four steps that one can implement to optimize turfgrass performance under these conditions. 

And people came not just from Okinawa, but also from Osaka, and from Nagano, from golf courses, city councils, landscape designers, engineers, agricultural scientists, to learn about turfgrass management in this part of Japan.


One of the things that was discussed was the climate, and I showed the climatological normals data for Naha and Ishigaki, comparing those cities to other cities where warm-season grasses are grown and demonstrating that there is less sunshine here, therefore making bermudagrass, with its high light requirement, a difficult grass to maintain in these conditions, with manilagrass, or St. Augustine grass, or broadleaf carptegrass, producing a better turf under the reduced irradiance of these islands. The presentation slides are available for download as a PDF here (14 MB).


I also prepared a handout for the lecture, and it is available for download here, also as a PDF file (600 KB).

Of course, with any lecture of this type, I am indebted to the translators, and Ocean Expo Park has excellent staff who translated the handout into Japanese, translated my lecture, and served as amazing hosts for my stay at Okinawa. We had a great time, and I'm looking forward to my next visit to Okinawa.


A Botanical Walk at Ishigaki Island

This short video will be of interest to golf course architects, superintendents, and anyone involved in the management or development of golf courses in tropical and sub-tropical Asia. Cut to just eight minutes in duration, it is a narrated walk along 5 km of Ishigaki island coastline, describing the grasses encountered and showing the ecological setting in which these grasses grow naturally.

Ishigaki has a climate very similar to that of Hainan Island in southern China. Seashore paspalum is overused there (and elsewhere in Asia), despite its high cost of maintenance and well-known propensity to be completely overtaken by bermudagrass and manilagrass. In this video, you can see for yourself why that is, and learn what grass is sure to perform much better in Southeast Asia. 

How Much Do Clouds Reduce Photosynthetic Irradiance?

Over the past year, I've been doing a lot of research about climate and turfgrass performance, especially as it relates to how much light is available for photosynthesis. You may have seen the climate charts that show the large differences in sunshine hours between cities in Asia and cities in North America and in southern Europe, even when the average temperature is quite similar. 

5More recently, I've used a quantum meter to measure the instantaneous photosynthetic irradiance in Thailand, Hong Kong, and Japan, from sunrise to sunset, and I've written a short report that summarizes the results to date. The report shows the data from hundreds of measurements and explains that photosynthetic irradiance is reduced, generally, from 50% to 75% when it is cloudy. This has some bearing on the management and selection of grasses in tropical and subtropical areas with significant cloud cover that restricts the photosynthetic irradiance. Download the five page report here (1 MB).


Sentosa GC Agronomy Blog, Twitter Updates, and Volunteer Opportunity: Barclays Singapore Open

It is great to see information sharing about turfgrass management, and I'm pleased to see that the Agronomy Team at Singapore's Sentosa Golf Club are expanding on their tournament volunteer and seminar program this year by also adding a blog and a twitter account to provide updates about the preparations for the Barclays Singapore Open.

Singapore, of course, has quite a challenging climate, particularly in November when there are only 125 hours of sunshine, on average. Follow @SentosaAgronomy on twitter to keep updated about just how they go about preparing Tifeagle greens and manilagrass fairways and roughs for one of Asia's premier golf events:



And check out the blog for information about volunteering at the Barclays Singapore Open and additional information and videos about course maintenance activities.


Turfgrass Mystery: what happened with this bermudagrass in the transition zone?

This is a two part mystery, the first part of which I'll speculate as to the answer, and the second part for which I'll ask for expert advice (or guesses!) to find the solution. Above we see a green of ultradwarf bermudagrass in the transition zone of Asia. By transition zone, I mean the area characterized by short but hot summers, and short but cold winters, with temperature average and extremes such that both cool-season (C3) and warm-season (C4) grasses can grow, but neither will thrive in all seasons. 

Referring to the image above, taken in mid-summer, we see what appears to be healthy grass on the right side of the green, and dead turf (or no turf) on the left side of the green. During the previous autumn season, both sides of the green were healthy and identical in appearance.

After the winter, when the temperatures warmed late in spring and the bermudagrass started to grow, only one side of the green grew. That mystery I'll solve; the right side of the green has a large amount of organic matter and thus a relatively high nutrient and water holding capacity, while the left side of the green is grown on pure sand, with very little water and essentially no nutrient hoding capacity. It seems that during the winter, it was not cold temperatures that killed the bermuda on the left side of the green, but rather a lack of water, and some type of desiccation.

But here, finally, is the mystery ... there are a few isolated areas on the "dead" side of the green that by mid-summer have recovered and are putting out stolons, rhizomes, and exhibiting extensive spreading. How did that happen?


And here is what happened:

On this putting green, changing the hole location the previous year caused some of the some from the high organic matter right side of the green to be changed in hole cores to the pure sand left side of the green. And that is where the grass survived the winter. 

Ocean Expo Research Center Special Lecture, 24 August

Whale_sharkI've been invited to give a lecture about turfgrass selection and management in Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands. This Ocean Expo Research Center Special Lecture will be held on 24 August from 13:30 to 15:00 at the Ocean Expo Park. I'm excited and honored to be going back to deliver a lecture about some of my latest research. The last time I was there, I was studying the whale sharks. This time, the focus will be on something different.

The Ryukyu Islands have a subtropical climate that is noted for its high rainfall. In fact, I'm here now measuring photosynthetic irradiance, and there is a typhoon passing by that rather complicates my data collection. I found a break in the rain to collect some data earlier today.

In this type of climate, there are multiple species of grass that can grow. Just on the island of Okinawa, we can find Cynodon, Paspalum, Zoysia, Agrostis, Stenotaphrum, Axonopus, and Eremochloa, along with various weedy species, and many sports turf areas are overseeded with Lolium or Poa in the winter. Hawaii is a wonderland of grasses because of its diverse climate and elevation changes. So are the Ryukyu Islands. The challenge comes in choosing which grass will perform the best, and how best to manage that grass, because the climate is difficult for grasses with a high light requirement (such as bermudagrass) to grow well.

In this special lecture, I'll be talking about how we can understand grass characteristics and requirements in the context of the distinctive climate of Okinawa. It is open to the public, and the audience, in addition to researchers from Ocean Expo, will include landscape architects, golf course greenkeepers, city and prefectural officials, and anyone who is interested in this topic. When I spoke on this topic earlier this year at Hong Kong, Dr. John Kaminski called it "one of the best talks" he has seen with "great insights" into why certain grasses perform well and the implications of that.

Since then, I've been botanizing and collecting data at Thailand, Hong Kong, and in the Ryukyu Islands, and this lecture is going to be even better. I hope you can join me at Okinawa later this month.