IGU West Zone Greenkeeper Education Programme at Ahmedabad

Last week the Indian Golf Union held their West Zone greenkeeping seminar at Ahmedabad. Delegates from golf clubs in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, and Pune attended this weeklong course. Our excellent host for the week was Gulmohar Greens Golf and Country Club

SamyMohan Subramanian from Rain Bird led a half day session on soil moisture and irrigation management, and then Antony Samy from IPI taught for a half day on safe operation of equipment, daily maintenance of equipment, and optimizing aftercut appearance. These technical sessions were coordinated by the Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF).

We studied many things this week in the classroom and on course sessions. Among other things, we discussed water movement in soils, grass selection for putting greens, how to deal with algae on putting greens, how to improve the reliability of putting surfaces, the importance of controlling the growth rate of the grass, calculations of fertilizer application rates, additional turfgrass educational opportunities, seashore paspalum management, and calculation of the leaching requirement.


Delegates also visited the new Kalhaar Blues & Greens, a Nicklaus Design course in Ahmedabad with Miniverde tees and greens and Tifway 419 fairways and rough. The irrigation water in this area has total dissolved solids (TDS) of about 1000 to 2000 ppm. We discussed what happens when salt accumulates in the soil and how that salt can be managed.


The South Zone programme was held at Mysore on 18 to 22 November. The North Zone and East Zone programmes are forthcoming at host clubs in Delhi and Jamshedpur, respectively. This IGU programme is supported by The R&A. The aim of this programme is to provide information to greenkeepers and golf clubs that will lead to improved playing conditions on golf courses in India. 

3 Reasons Sheep are Better Than Cows for Mowing Fairways

The 1st at Ootacamund Gymkhana Club (founded 1896) is strikingly reminiscent of the 10th at Augusta National. This long dogleg left plays steeply downhill in a wide corridor between tall evergreen trees. Unlike Augusta National, no mechanical mowers have ever been used on this fairway.

In the never-ending debate of which is best for fairway mowing — conventional 5-reel mowers, lightweight 5-reel mowers, triplex mowers, ground-driven gang mowers, PTO-driven gang mowers, sheep, cows, other ungulates, rabbits, rotary mowers, scythes, etc. — I look in this article specifically at the intriguing differences between sheep and cows. As you will see, sheep beat cows in three categories of critical importance to the greenkeeper: soil compaction, efficiency, and quality of cut.

Soil compaction: The average cow will weigh about 725 kg. A sheep is just 10% of that, and lambs of course are even less. When fairways are mown with cows, more cultivation activities must be undertaken to relieve soil compaction. Even after a heavy rain, sheep can be sent out to mow, but care must be taken with cow mowing after rain events and in poorly-drained areas. Note that in sandy soils, which are resistant to compaction, this advantage of sheep is negated, and cow mowing can be used with little fear of soil compaction.

Efficient sheep mowing

Efficiency: Fairways cover a large area, usually more than 10 ha for an 18 hole course, and efficiency is of utmost importance to prepare a course for play. Sheep can be herded into any arrangement to go down the fairway in unison. I like to send them in groups of 12, as shown above, with 9 in front to mow a 4 meter swath; the 3 sheep following immediately behind clip any blades not cut. Other turf managers may prefer a different arrangement, 7-2 being popular when fewer sheep are available, and 12-4-2 (sometimes called 3-row mowing) at higher budget properties. Regardless of the arrangement, sheep mow a fairway rapidly and completely.

Inefficient cow mowing

Cows, on the other hand, face in all directions and mow a patch here and a patch there. Fairways mown with cows take approximately 40% longer to cut completely, by my estimation, which often results in the cows interfering with approaching golfers, as mowing simply cannot be completed ahead of play.

Quality of cut: No matter how light the footprint, or how incredibly efficient a mower is, the end result must be a high quality of cut in order to produce the desired playing surface. This is where sheep really excel. Their self-adjusting mowing height produces the ideal height of cut (HOC) on any surface, and they cut precisely by biting off the leaves in a fluid scything motion (see video above). Cows aren’t able to mow at extremely low HOC, but do mow at a HOC acceptable to most golfers. However, the tearing action as cows mow (see video below) results in more damage to the grass, possibly increasing the grass water use and creating entry points for fungal pathogens.

IGU South Zone Greenkeeper Education Programme at Mysore

South 2
The 3rd year of the Indian Golf Union's South Zone greenkeeper education programme was held last week at Mysore. 36 delegates attended, representing 19 Indian clubs and 3 clubs from Sri Lanka. This programme is put on by the IGU with support from The R&A. For most of the delegates, this was their third year to attend, and we quickly reviewed the 2011 and 2012 topics before studying new topics.

South 1

Jayachamaraja Wodeyar Golf Club (JWGC) in Mysore hosted the weeklong educational session, and the delegates went to the course each afternoon to gets hands on experience with the content previously taught in the classroom. Our overall focus was on solving problems and improving playability. Some of the things we looked at on the course included soil moisture, the Holing Out Test, putting green hardness, dealing with tree shade, and measuring surface area of putting greens. 

The Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF) provided training on irrigation and managing soil moisture, safe equipment operation, and ensuring mowers are set up to cut properly. Below, Mohan Subramanian from Rain Bird discusses irrigation and how to determine just how much water to apply.

South 3

On Wednesday night, all delegates enjoyed dinner with IGU President Raian Irani, hosted by JWGC and their committee members.

South 4

At the final session on Friday, we talked about nutrient application and made various calculations related to fertilizers. This was followed by a short video on the history of Indian golf. Delegates then enjoyed one final lunch before heading back to their clubs, carrying notebooks filled with turfgrass management information and hopefully with some practical advice as well that can help improve playing conditions at the facilities they manage.

South 5

This IGU education programme continues at Ahmedabad, Delhi, and Jamshedpur in the next three weeks.

2013 Indian Golf Union Greenkeeper Education Programme

2013_igu_greenkeeper_programme.pdf (1 page)The Indian Golf Union (IGU) have announced the schedule for their 2013 Greenkeeper Education Programme. The course will be conducted at:

  • Mysore, South Zone, 18 to 22 November
  • Ahmedabad, West Zone, 25 to 29 November
  • Delhi, North Zone, 2 to 6 December
  • Jamshedpur, East Zone, 9 to 13 December

The theme of this year's programme is Solving Turfgrass Problems and Optimizing Playing Conditions. In addition to the new material in this year's educational sessions, content from the 2011 and 2012 sessions will be briefly reviewed. For more details and registration information for the 2013 programme, download the fact sheet.

This report provides photos, videos, and a summary of last year's programme.

The greenkeeper education programme is a service of the IGU designed to improve the playing conditions of golf courses in India. This programme is supported by The R&A, and the educational sessions are led by Micah Woods from the Asian Turfgrass Center, with specialized training also provided by experts from member companies of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.

Report on the 2012 India Greenkeeper Education Programme

Igu-programme-qutubThe Indian Golf Union's greenkeeper education programme was conducted for four consecutive weeks in the four zones of India, beginning on 24 September in the South and ending on 19 October in the East. 

The South Zone saw 20 delegates gather for five days at host Kodaikanal Golf Club in Tamil Nadu. This is India's only organic golf course, and the summary video from the South Zone programme shows some of the wildlife that can be found on this natural course high in the Palni Hills.

We then moved to Pune in Maharashtra for the West Zone programme, where we were hosted by Poona Club (Golf) and also made visits to Oxford Golf and Country Club and the Army's RSI GC. In each zone, we conducted a five day course on the theme of Improving Course Conditions, with content tailored to the grasses, climate, water supply, and course types in each region.

In the North Zone we were hosted by the Army Environmental Park and Training Area (AEPTA, or simply Army GC) in New Delhi, and we also made a visit to the first public golf course in India, the Delhi Development Authority's Qutub Golf Course. We learned about management of water and soil organic matter to optimize course conditions, weed management, equipment maintenance and mowing quality, and turfgrass nutrient requirements. The presentation notes, slides, and links to additional reading are available for download at the programme website,

Our hosts in the East were Royal Calcutta Golf Club, where we enjoyed a week of fine weather, ate excellent food from West Bengal, visited the Tollygunge Club, and learned about effective turfgrass management techniques.

A selection of photos from each of the four zones have been assembled in this gallery. 

This greenkeeper education programme is organized and delivered by the Indian Golf Union. It is supported by The R&A, and the educational materials are prepared and taught by Dr. Micah Woods of the Asian Turfgrass Center with support from the Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF). Our objective with this programme is simple: to share practical and technical information related to greenkeeping that will lead to improved playing conditions on golf courses in India. 

I would like to thank each of the host clubs for this year's programme for providing such a great venue and excellent food, all of the delegates who participated in the programme, the AGIF for their support, and the IGU and The R&A for making this programme possible. Thanks are also due to Dr. Jim Brosnan from the University of Tennessee and Dr. Doug Soldat from the University of Wisconsin, for their assistance in developing the teaching materials used for the weed management and water management topics, respectively. For more information about the topics, more photos, and more downloads of educational materials, please visit the programme website.

IGU Greenkeeper Education in East Zone

We've moved to Royal Calcutta Golf Club in the eastern city of Kolkata for the 4th and final week of this year's IGU greenkeeper education programme

The programme website has been updated with photos from the West and North Zones, and video reports from the South and West Zones are also available for viewing on the programme website.

At the programme website, you can download the notes for this year's lectures (61 pages, PDF file) or view the presentation slides or find additional reading.

India Greenkeeper Education Programme South Zone Video

The Indian Golf Union's Greenkeeper Education Programme for the South Zone was held at Kodaikanal Golf Club in Tamil Nadu from 24 to 28 September. This video shows some of the highlights from the week, showing the scenery of Kodaikanal, the wildlife there, and feedback from the programme participants. You'll also see how to get a great workout on the golf course core aerifying a green – by hand!

More pictures from the program can be seen in this photo gallery.

A Turfgrass Mystery on Seashore Paspalum in Tamil Nadu


Last week I visited a golf course in Southern India and saw these symptoms on seashore paspalum turf. The general symptoms are shown above, and a close-up of a single patch is shown below. 

Can you identify the cause of these patches? 


This one was quickly solved by three people. Did you have the same answer?

Elephant_crossing_zone_tamil_naduThat, of course, is the correct answer, as this course, right up against the Western Ghats, is visited frequently by elephants. 

If we take an even closer look at one of the elephant footprints, we can see that the patch seems to include some dried mud that remains on the leaf, along with some bruising from the weight of the elephant.

These footprints should not be confused with the autumnal disease of Zoysia japonica in Japan, caused by Rhizoctonia cerealis, and known by the common name of elephant's footprint.


Hopefully this information will help you to identify elephant footprints on your turf the next time they occur, and you will easily be able to distinguish the real elephant's footprint from the one caused by R. cerealis.

Indian Golf Union Greenkeeper Education Programme Underway in South Zone

Twenty greenkeers from India's South Zone have gathered at the hill station of Kodaikanal this week for the second year of the IGU Greenkeeper Education Programme. At last year's programme, held at Eagleton Golf Resort in Bangalore, we studied topics related to Principles of Greenkeeping. This year, at host Kodaikanal Golf Club, we are focusing the weeklong course on Improving Course Conditions.

Landscape_kodaiKodaikanal is high in the Palni Hills at an elevation of more than 2,100 meters. From the Club, we can look down at the plains of Tamil Nadu far below. At this elevation, the main grasses on the course are kikuyugrass (Pennisetum clandestinum), creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera), narrowleaf carpetgrass (Axonopus affinis), and blue couch (Digitaria didactyla). 

A sign beside the first tee at Kodaikanal Golf Club says "welcome to India's only organic golf course," and in this climate, with these grasses, the organic management approach works well. In addition to the classroom seminars, and the practical sessions on the course, most of the delegates are staying at the Club and have the chance to inspect the course in the evenings after the day's training is finished.


Nets are placed around the greens at the Club, to keep off the wild boars but more especially to keep off the gaur. Every night, herds of Indian gaur come onto the course to graze. This is the largest species of wild cattle and I got a closeup look at this one as he was making his way to the Club.


This is a great venue in a great town, and the topics for this year are sure to be of value to golf courses here. We discuss irrigation, organic matter management, weed control, and turfgrass nutrient requirements and fertilizer. This programme, put on by the Indian Golf Union with support from The R&A, will continue in upcoming weeks at Pune, New Delhi, and Kolkata. 


A Report on Putting Green Performance Characteristics

From August 2011 to May 2012, I collected data on putting green performance from more than 200 greens on nearly 80 golf courses in seven countries. These data are now summarized in this 24 page report, which has also been expertly translated into Japanese by Mr. Yukio Ueno.

Data_report_en Data_report_jp-1