The Micah no jikan book ...

is now available for pre-order, and I see from the website that it can be shipped to any country. 


The full title is 芝草科学とグリーンキーピング (マイカの時間 The BOOK). In English that is Turfgrass Science and Greenkeeping (Micah no jikan The Book).

This book is the culmination of a long project, started in 2008, writing monthly articles about turfgrass science and greenkeeping for ゴルフ場セミナー. From those articles, I've selected some of my favorites, read and reread and arranged into chapters, and now we have this book. I hope these can be available in English sometime. It is some interesting material on a wide range of topics -- greenkeeping in general, soil water, organic matter management, fertilizer, golf course playability, and more.

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

Visitors to the ATC blog in 2016 have come from 153 countries. Of course some countries have a big population, and lots of turfgrass, like the United States, so I would expect a lot of visits from there. Can I check which countries have relatively more or less visits than expected? Such a calculation is an indication of where this blog is unusually popular (or unpopular!).

To do that, I went to Google Analytics and downloaded the number of visits for the 30 countries that sent the most visitors to the site. This table shows them sorted by number of visits. I then made two calculations. One was to express the total visits in terms of each country's population. The second calculation was to express the total visits from each country in terms of the number of golf holes in that country.

The data are shown in this table, and you can click the column headers to sort by that column. The United States sent the most visits in total, Iceland had the most visits based on population, and Hong Kong had the most visits per golf hole.

After making these calculations, I plotted the ratios against each other. To spread the points out on the chart, I made the chart using the square root of each ratio. This shows how the 30 countries that sent the most visits are related to each other in terms of visits per population and visits per number of golf holes.


I was glad to see so many visits from all over the world this year, and to find which countries sent more visitors than expected based on population or number of golf courses. This could be good for marketing!

If you are reading this in Iceland, Ireland, Canada, Mauritius, or New Zealand, your country sent more visits to this site than expected based on population. And if you are reading this in Hong Kong, Singapore, Mauritius, the UAE, or the Philippines, your country sent more visits to this site than expected based on the number of golf holes in the country. Based on that, you might be interested in my book, A short grammar of greenkeeping.

Or, you might consider inviting me to your country for a turfgrass seminar. Since Mauritius is near the top on both of those lists, let's try to make that happen!

seashore paspalum at le touesserock

An extremely useful tool for the study of putting green speed variability

No, I'm not talking about the stimpmeter. And this tool will probably only be useful for a few people. In fact, the tool is probably not what you think it is. But this story may be of general interest.


I'm quite interested in putting green speed. I've written numerous articles about green speed and variability in the measurements for ゴルフ場セミナー. In English, you can read this report about some of the measurements I've made.

What I find more and more interesting is the variability in putting green speed. Not so much from course to course, or day to day, but more so from green to green on the same day, or from location to location on the same green.


When the average of 18 different greens is 11 feet, what is the range of measurements on individual greens? Is it from 9 feet to 13 feet? Or is it from 10 feet 8 inches to 11 feet 4 inches?

As usual when studying this topic, I found myself studying Thomas Nikolai's A superintendent's guide to putting green speed.


That led me to Radko et al. on A study of putting green variability.

So here is where the extremely useful tool comes in. I wanted to get the data from the article, to make some calculations of my own. So I turned to the WebPlotDigitizer. This has been an extremely useful tool for me in the past, and I was glad to use it again today to study variability of putting green speed.


With those data from the chart now in a file I can work with, I've been able to make a number of calculations.

And how about those green speeds in 1980?


Applying the grammar of greenkeeping

Over the past two weeks, I've had multiple conversations about the way I think of turfgrass management. It all starts with a definition of greenkeeping as managing the growth rate of the grass. I wrote about this in A Short Grammar of Greenkeeping. You can get your copy here.

Application of the grammar allows for easy communication among turfgrass managers about the work they are doing. I'll use the creeping bentgrass greens at Hazeltine National GC as an example. Volunteers from near and far were at Hazeltine during the Ryder Cup.

Let's say that I was from Madrid, or San Francisco, or Sydney, and I wanted to get green conditions that were more like those at Hazeltine. One of the ways I would try to do that would be to apply a similar quantity of nitrogen. But how to compare locations?

I would use the temperature-based growth potential (GP). For Minneapolis, the GP looks like this.


If I set the maximum monthly N at 3 g/m2, and multiply by the GP, I get a maximum annual N of 13.3 g/m2 for that location (Minneapolis). Now I'll make up a number, because I don't know exactly what it is, but let's say the actual quantity of N applied at Hazeltine was 9 g/m2.

I'll use the log percentage (L%) difference for consistency. The L% is the natural logarithm of the ratio of two numbers, multiplied by 100:

If 9 g N were applied at Hazeltine, and the value calculated using GP as described above is 13.3 g, that is a 39 L% reduction.

If I want to apply proportionally the same amount of N at another location, I can calculate the GP amount, which I'll call a standard value, and then take a 39 L% reduction.


The standard using these calculations comes to 16.7 g at Madrid, 20.1 at San Francisco, and 28.9 at Sydney. Knowing that there was a 39 L% reduction at Hazeltine, my starting point for Madrid, after applying the same reduction, would be 11.3 g N/m2. At San Francisco, the N would go from the standard calculation of 20.1 down to 13.6 g, and at Sydney the 39 L% reduction takes N from 28.9 to 19.6.

This grammar facilitates the rapid sharing of relative inputs used to produce turf surfaces all over the world. Let's say we know there are amazing bentgrass greens in Sydney with N inputs of 10 g/m2/year. A corresponding quantity of N in Minneapolis would be 4.6 g.

This same approach can be applied for the quantity of water supplied in comparison to evapotranspiration (ET), to frequency of mowing, to evaluation of the growth rate, to assessment of the photosynthetic light, and so on. I find this approach quite useful in rapid implementation of maintenance practices that work well at location A, applied to location B. One then has a site specific starting point that can be further adjusted at location B, based on turfgrass response at that location.

"My books are getting a little boring"

Jason Krogman wrote with this inquiry:

"I'm looking for any good articles on turf / soil nutrition. My books are getting a little boring."

I recommended these:

"Nothing mysteriously beneficial in their formulas"

Selection_051Yesterday's Turfgrass Talk Show at GIS had an interesting topic. Interesting, in that I presume by fertility what is really meant is turfgrass nutrition. And interesting, in how the word fertility is so misused.

Look up fertility in the dictionary -- it means the quality of being fertile; fruitfulness; productiveness. Fertility is. It is not something one adds or subtracts. That is fertilizer. One can't add a little more fertility, or reduce fertility -- that just doesn't make sense.

Charles Vancouver Piper, the first chairman of the USGA Green Section, wrote an article on this in 1919, entitled "The Words Productivity, or Productiveness, and Fertility as Applied to Agriculture." Here are a few passages from the article:

The word fertility ... was originally used by the Romans when applied to agriculture with the meaning of fruitfulness, that is, productiveness in large measure.

The word fertility in modern times has tended to become more and more restricted to the conception of soil fertility, thus excluding the other potent factors that make for productivity.

In view of the fact that the word fertility is often used in agriculture in the narrow sense of soil fertility, as well as in its broader original meaning, it is an unsatisfactory and often ambiguous term to use in technical publications.

As before stated, the word fertile means productive in a high degree. Therefore, it approaches the absurd to speak of low fertility, moderate fertility, etc.

Piper suggested not using the word. I mentioned this yesterday, and James Hempfling asked if Piper had discussed this topic in Turf for Golf Courses. [Note that this book is one of many with full text available from the Turfgrass Information Center.] 


Today I went to the Fertilizers chapter of the book, to see how Piper and Oakley had used the word fertility. Turf for Golf Courses was published two years before the fertility terminology article. They used the word just five times in the entire book, and only one time in the Fertilizers chapter. And in all cases, they used the word to refer to soil fertility, specifically to the nutrient supplying capacity of the soil.

But enough about that. What was really interesting was this advice about fertilizers:

It is a common practice of commercial fertilizer companies to mix fertilizing materials in different proportions with the view to selling them for special conditions. These ready-mixed fertilizers are extensively advertised under various trade names such as "Turf Grower," "Grass Grower," "Lawn Fertilizer," and the like, and the opinion seems to prevail in the minds of many that they are just what is required. While these mixed fertilizers are very generally used, they are not to be recommended. Commercial concerns possess no special information regarding the action of fertilizers on grass that an intelligent greenkeeper cannot soon acquire, and, therefore, there is nothing mysteriously beneficial in their formulas.

When mixed fertilizers are desired, it will be found cheaper and generally more satisfactory to buy the ingredients separately and combine them in suitable proportions. By doing so the purchaser does not have to pay a high price for a considerable quantity of inert filler that is commonly present in ready-mixed fertilizers.

For more about the exciting life of C.V. Piper, this profile tells how he climbed Mt. Rainier with John Muir, collected plants and grasses around the world, and what happens to one's golf game after becoming interested in golf course design, construction, and maintenance.


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.

Guidelines for Tropical Turfgrass Installation and Management

Book Order Form - NPB Singapore

The Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology (a division of National Parks Singapore) have published their Guidelines for Tropical Turfgrass Installation and Management. These Guidelines will be useful for anyone managing turfgrass in Southeast Asia, especially for those who take care of parks, sports fields, cemeteries, and lawns.

Dr. Kenneth Marcum, senior researcher in Turfgrass for CUGE, prepared these Guidelines to provide the first comprehensive guide of tropical turfgrasses for Singapore and Southeast Asia, with the Guidelines covering species selection, construction, planting and establishment, and maintenance. Download the order form to purchase these Guidelines (currently available for SGD 20). I can vouch for the usefulness of this book, as I reviewed it as a member of the CUGE Turfgrass Standards Technical Committee.

General (and Technical) Presentation Tips

Present We have all been to conferences or seminars and have seen excellent presentations; we have also seen presentations that were not interesting or somehow failed to convey much useful information to the audience. Because I regularly attend conferences about turfgrass, I take a special interest in the subject of presentation design and delivery, and wish to recommend a few books and a particular website to those who also have an interest in effective communication.

I am particularly fond of these three books by Dr. Edward Tufte, statistician, noted expert on the visual display of data, and professor emeritus at Yale University. These books are:

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

Envisioning Information

Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative

Dr. Tufte has also written an essay that anyone who gives presentations should read, study, and keep for occasional reference. This is, of course, The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint.

MakingPresentationsThatStick.pdf (page 1 of 4) Another book about ideas and how they are remembered is Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. This book explains the six principles of ideas that are remembered (sticky ideas) and at the Made to Stick website there are additional free downloads, including one on how to make your presentation stick.

When it comes to the design of the presentation itself, and the visual materials that may accompany it, I suggest reading slide:ology by Nancy Duarte. This book provides all the information necessary to create great slides.

Garr Reynolds is the author of Presentation Zen and the blog of the same name. This blog is a wealth of information about presentation technique, effective communication, good design, and examples of good and bad presentations. Reynolds has written about making effective presentations of technical material, which I think is especially important for scientists and for those in the turfgrass industry as well.

If you are interested in making the best presentation possible the next time you are on stage, I would read the Presentation Zen blog and would look into the aforementioned books. Do you have other resources that have been especially helpful to you? For even more about data presentation, statistician John Tukey's Exploratory Data Analysis (1977) is also an excellent resource, as is his chapter on Some Graphic and Semigraphic Displays from Statistical Papers in Honor of George W. Snedecor (1972).