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January 2017

Playing golf in ice and snow

Steve Chappell shared these photos of snow and ice at Gleneagles, and I joked that it would be nice to play golf in such weather:

For example, see Jim Prusa's video of snow removal at SKY72 in Korea:

Then the questions came up, why remove the snow, was it worth it, and was any lasting damage done by that process? I asked Jim Prusa for the answers, and he was kind enough to explain why. Here's Jim:

Growing up in the golf course business in Northern Ohio I was exposed to all the mythological lore about how bad it was to allow any traffic on a golf course in winter. My father, a superintendent, ripped me when he caught me playing golf in the snow using orange golf balls in the early 1960s — he was worried that members would want to do the same. So, I was convinced at an early age that any traffic on a golf course in cold winter regions was going to damage a golf course. If you search old articles you’ll find many ‘horror stories” with scary photos of winter damage from winter traffic on golf courses. Then I experienced winters in Japan and Korea.

In both Japan and Korea I’ve managed scores of golf courses where clearing off the snow and playing golf was the norm — especially in Korea! What I have found is 100% contrary to the North America scary mythology about damaging the golf course. Frankly, I have never seen 1 spec of damage to golf course in Japan or Korea caused by winter play. None.

I’ve begun to think that the scare mongering of many superintendents about damaging a golf course simply from traffic in winter is an effort to not have to do much in winter!

No damage. None. Use common sense and avoid big, wide heavy snowblowers — it is why we are developing our own lightweight, ‘gang’ snow blower systems. On greens use covers. Clear the snow from covers and then you can pull the covers off during the day (like they do on baseball sports fields) and recover at night.

We run a business and that means we want customers and gain revenues that far offset the costs. PLAY GOLF!

He sent along these photos of cover removal.


And then happy golfers enjoying the course.


That's been my experience in Japan as well. I thought winter play would damage the turf. But any damage that happened was temporary, disappearing by early spring, and being more than offset by the revenue. One can lose a lot of money with frost delays when there are customers wanting to pay to play golf. For more about this, see:

Of course, this is not for everyone and everywhere. But neither are frost delays.

This is one more post the financial controllers might not want to see

When I received an e-mail from Tom Sedlmeier a couple months ago, I was reminded of this update on the Sports Turf Solutions Facebook page in 2012:

I just read a blog that puts every Turf Managers [sic] budget under scrutiny. Lets [sic] hope the financial controllers at each club dont [sic] read it.

This post is along the same lines, so financial controllers should probably stop reading right here. Although surprisingly in the note from Tom, he did mention that the savings he has made were "greatly appreciated by the management."

Here's Tom, with emphasis mine:

Hi Micah, We haven't had any contact yet, so I'd like to introduce myself a bit first. I’m the Superintendent here at Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort in Morocco, working for Troon ... I was starting a lot of research in the internet last April when I first read about MLSN. I was very fascinated about the approach and modified immediately my plans for this year. And what should I say… I had a great summer this year with less growth, less clippings, less mowing, less fertilizer, less diseases and a beautiful looking golf course in great condition ... So all in all I had savings of about $150k this year, what was greatly appreciated by the management ;-). So I’m convinced by MLSN and GP…

I love to hear about those kind of excellent results, and I'm glad Tom was able to achieve them and then share them. As I mentioned in the recent Campus del Césped webinar, the MLSN approach is designed first to ensure the grass is supplied with 100% of what the grass can use. And as an accidental result, one can end up applying less fertilizers if one actually works through the calculations to find out how much the grass really needs.

You can find out more about MLSN and GP (temperature-based growth potential) during seminars at the upcoming Golf Industry Show and at The Canadian Golf Course Management Conference. Or check out the MLSN Turf page, or this blog's fertilizer topic.

Heck, you might even share this with your financial controller.


Preventing nutrient deficiencies


The recording of my webinar on preventing nutrient deficiencies is now available in the videoteca section of the Campus del Césped website.

Or watch the English version right here.

This was fun. I hope you'll read the handout too. It is only 4 pages, with lots of white space, and gives a brief overview of this important topic. If you are still interested, then watch the video of the webinar at your leisure, and watch or download the slides too.

Links in English

Links in Spanish

This is a lot to fit into an hour

But I am going to try. I've got four things I want to explain in this upcoming webinar, and I have made some interesting calculations. Can calculations be provocative? Maybe these ones are provocative and interesting.

The Campus del Césped webinar is on 12 January at 17:00 Central European Time. You can register here.

Here is the 4 page pdf handout, in English.


These are the slides in English.

These are the slides in Spanish.

If you are are joining this webinar, you will find it useful to review the slides and handout prior to the event.

Why I don't worry about micronutrients

This is nothing new. We've been discussing this for a long time. But these charts are new. I am leading a webinar on January 12 and in my preparations for that I made these charts.

I wanted to explain why I don't worry about micronutrients.

I'm going to explain this in words first, and show the charts at the very end. There are two main reasons why I don't worry about micronutrients.

First, the quantity of micronutrients used by the grass, when compared to the amounts of N, K, P, Ca, Mg, and S, is indistinguishable from zero. The grass uses micronutrients in such tiny amounts that it seems the grass can surely get such tiny amounts from the soil.

Second, and this is connected to the first reason, the quantity of micronutrients used by the grass is almost nothing. So there is no excuse for having a deficiency of any micronutrient, because even to apply two or three times as much micronutrients as the grass can use will cost essentially nothing.

Take those two reasons together, and you can't lose. You will probably never have a micronutrient deficiency, And you can spend almost nothing and be sure to prevent one.  Sounds easy to me. Which is why I don't worry about it.

Here are three charts to demonstrate what I mean.

First, this is the concentration of elements in turfgrass leaves. You'll notice that the concentration of micronutrients in leaves is indistinguishable from 0.


That's reassuring. The soil can probably supply almost all that the grass can use. But what if the soil can't supply that much?

No problem! The amount the grass uses is so small, it costs almost nothing to supply it.

If you have a 50,000 dollar fertilizer budget, and if all the elements cost the same, you would spend less than 60 dollars for each of the micronutrients. So if the amount used by the grass is so low, it seems easy to apply that much, and to afford that much, as fertilizer.


Of course not everyone has a 50,000 dollar fertilizer budget. What if your fertilizer budget is 700 dollars? Well, the grass won't distinguish between budgets, but it will still use nutrients in the same proportions. In this case, for a 700 dollar fertilizer budget, each of the micronutrients comes in at less than $1.

I hope this makes it clear why I don't worry much about micronutrients. You will probably not be deficient. But if you are worried about it, apply them. It will cost almost nothing.


Of course, if you are spending a lot of money on micronutrients, or are supplying a lot more than the grass can use, it would be prudent to ask yourself "What am I trying to do?"


This was a new one to me. I saw the course laid out at the Ayutthaya Historical Park and thought it looked similar to Park Golf. But where Park Golf involves hitting the ball into a hole, a woodball hole is completed when the ball passes through a gate.

Woodball course laid out on *Polytrias indica* in Ayuddhaya

A photo posted by Micah Woods (@asianturfgrass) on

This video explains the woodball rules.

Looks like fun.

Monthly Turfgrass Roundup: December 2016

Some great articles and summaries come out at the end of every year. Here are some excellent items from the past month:

Bill Kreuser learned these five things about PGRs this year.

Luke Partridge with photos from Emirates GC:

And Craig Haldane with more at the end of the week:

This is how to lose a lot of money with frost delays.

Brad Revill started a new blog with this widely-read post about something new.

I wish everyone understood this about the quantity of fertilizer recommended by the MLSN guidelines.

Soil tests double MLSN and still getting recommendations to apply more.

Do those who soil test also apply more fertilizer?

Ken Mangum on how green speeds have changed since 1978:

Intriguing article about expectations for greens at the Masters in 1981.

Radko et al. from the GSR in 1981: A study of putting green variability.

An unlikely tool for the study of putting green speed variability.

This eclectic list of references for my 芝草科学とグリーンキーピング book.

Hong Kong GC was looking (and playing) great during the HK Open:

What do Hong Kong, Singapore, Iceland, and Mauritius have in common?

The number of golf holes in 30 countries.

I came across an amazing video of Victoria GC in 1967:

J. Paul Robertson and Sean Parker with this photo of Victoria GC under snow:

David Duke wrote about winter damage to golf turf.

Idris Evans showed some well-trained kikuyugrass:

I made a map to show all the flights I took this year, with some grass photos too.

You won't see this every day:

Elephant footprints on a golf course in Thailand.

These 10 posts from 2016 had the most views on the Viridescent blog this year.

And this is the opposite! These 10 posts had the fewest views this year.

For more about turfgrass management, browse articles available for download on the ATC Turfgrass Information page, subscribe to this blog by e-mail or with an RSS reader - I use Feedly, or follow asianturfgrass on Twitter. Link and article roundups from previous months are here.

Sand, leading to more growth, needing more sand, leading to more growth, needing more sand

Frank Rossi and Dan Dinelli had an interesting conversation on Turfnet Radio. I learned a few things, and I even agree with some of what they discussed. But not all of it.

The first thing that came to mind when I heard them talking about sand and growth was lawns beside the ocean. More about that later.

If you jump to the 30:40 mark of the podcast, Dinelli says, "I'm convinced that the more sand we put down, the more biomass, the more organic matter we develop. And I know that is counterintuitive."

It sure is. Because I'm thinking of a lawn next to a beach, where windblown sand just keeps coming and coming. Or I'm thinking of the 7th hole at Sandpines in Florence, OR.

In the situation I'm thinking of, the sand is not a cause for organic matter development. Back to the podcast.

When asked about this, Rossi took his turn as the guest and answered that he would say there are two components to it. First, there may be nutrient or PGR programs that need to be addressed.

Then he said this about the bigger question on it:

"When you aggressively verticut you thin that stand and then you incorporate sand into it and I believe that leads to even more biomass production and that's the chasing the tail part ... you have to thin it out .. to make room for the sand, but by doing that, aren't you stimulating more growth?"

I don't think that's how it works. If it is, sand isn't the cause of it. And I don't think verticutting is either. Growth is affected by temperature, and light, and nitrogen, and water. Those are the primary things that influence it. Put simply, more of them and there will be more growth. Less of them, and there will be less growth.

So let's go back to the beach. Or to a lawn beside a sand dune. Let's hold N constant. We'll provide whatever you consider a miniscule N rate to our beachside or duneside lawn. We'll need to make sure the grass has enough water. Let's make sure the soil is kept just above the wilting point. The grass won't wilt, but that's all the water that is supplied. And let's set the temperature to be optimum for growth, and we'll make the light optimum too.

Now let's divide the lawn into three parts. One part has sand restricted from blowing across it. With that N rate and irrigation rate, do you expect a lot of biomass production? I don't.

But I'm pretty sure that part of the lawn protected from topdressing is going to have more biomass production than the second part of the lawn, where I allow sand from the beach (disregard any salt effects here, and just consider sand) or adjacent dune to blow across at topdressing rates throughout the season, depositing let's say 1.2 cm of sand over the course of the season. Remember, we are growing this grass with a miniscule N rate and irrigation just to keep the soil above the wilting point.

I think the section of my lawn where I restrict the sand completely is going to develop more organic matter. And then there is the third section of my lawn, where I don't restrict the sand at all. In that case I have a dune at the end of the season and the grass is dead, producing no organic matter at all.

If verticutting and sand topdressing are producing too much organic matter, please consider what would happen if you continued to verticut and sand topdress while stopping all fertilizer and all irrigation. The organic matter production would stop, because the grass would die.

Here's the kind of situation I'm thinking of. These are all manilagrass (Zoysia matrella). Some people think of this species as having heavy thatch.

image from

image from

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Plant it beside a beach, give it a very slow growth rate, and then add sand, and you get no thatch at all. You do get something that would probably be a better turf if less sand were added to it.

Isn't the growth rate largely a fertilizer (especially N) and a water issue? I don't see how sand and verticutting cause the grass to grow more.