The grass that doesn't die ...


is the one that gives the turfgrass manager the most options in the surface that will be produced, and is the one that is most sustainable. In this new podcast on the GCI Superintendent Radio Network, I talked about "The Survivors" with Kyle Brown.

Listen to the podcast, read the article I mentioned about grass selection, or listen to my previous discussion with Kyle: "Control the K."

In which I wrote a long answer to a short question about golf course grass in Rio de Janeiro

I've written this answer to a question I received last month about grasses for the Olympic Course in Rio de Janeiro.

The GEO Sustainable Golf Development Guidelines give a simple criterion for grass selection:

Sustainable grassing plans are based on the use of the most drought-tolerant and disease-resistant turfgrasses for the locality.

Read the question and my answer to learn more about expected performance of manilagrass and seashore paspalum.

An update: manilagrass tees and divot problems, or not

Hole 12 at Keya GC, par 3

Last year in March I wrote this post about perceived divot problems on manilagrass (Zoysia matrella) tees. To summarize, I've heard many objections (in theory) to the use of manilagrass on tees in Southeast Asia, the thought being that manilagrass grows slowly and divot recovery may be too slow for this grass to be suitable on tees.

On this topic, it is relevant to consider the approximately 1,800 golf courses in Japan with manilagrass tees. Those tees are played for almost half the year when the grass is dormant. The grass cannot recover from divots at all during that dormant period, yet it still produces an excellent tee surface. If this grass can be used to produce excellent tees when it grows for only half the year, one expects that manilagrass will do just fine on tees in Southeast Asia where it never goes dormant.

Tee at Keya GC Hole 12 in mid-March 2014 after more than 19,000 rounds on dormant manilagrass, photo courtesy of Andrew McDaniel

Manilagrass tees, even on a heavily used par 3, as shown above, still have a lot of grass after an autumn, winter, and spring of play on the dormant turf. Soon after the grass starts growing in April, the tee will be almost 100% grass, with nary a divot to be found.

Muang Kaew GC in Bangkok has about 72,000 rounds every year. During the peak season, 220 golfers play every day. The manilagrass tees never go dormant, nor do they suffer from severe divoting problems.

Manilagrass tee on Par 3 #17 at Muang Kaew GC in Bangkok

There are still divots, of course, but for a course with more than 70,000 rounds a year, to have this type of condition on the most heavily-divotted section of a par 3 tee, tells me that manilagrass grows plenty fast enough to recover from divot damage. Plus, manilagrass is more resistant to divot injury than bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.), and divot recovery times can be just as fast as bermudagrass.

The most-heavily divotted area of the par 3 17th at Muang Kaew GC in Bangkok

 With any grass on tees, especially on busy golf courses, it is important to control the traffic. On seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) tees at Siam CC near Pattaya, the divots are concentrated on one section of the tee to allow other areas to recover. By starting at the left front of the tee and moving the tee markers back about 50 cm every day, the golfers can always tee off from divot-free grass, and an entire tee of this size can be apportioned into about 42 sections, giving 6 weeks recovery time before returning to a previously-used location. 

Divots on a par 3 tee of seashore paspalum at Siam CC near Pattaya; careful movement of the tee markers gives about 6 weeks recovery time before the same area of the tee will be used again

More about turfgrass at Mauritius

Seashore dropseed growing on the beach near Bel Ombre, Mauritius

I visited Mauritius this month for a seminar (report and presentation slides here) and a bit of a botanizing holiday. Mauritius is a fascinating place to study grass. It is one of the Mascarene Islands. If that name sounds familiar, it should -- one of the common names for Zoysia tenuifolia is mascarenegrass. 

One finds a wide range of grasses growing in the wild and as managed turf at Mauritius. I've written about some of the grasses I saw when I visited for the first time a few years ago.

Mascarenegrass produces a dense turf in a highly trafficked park at Gris Gris, Mauritius

The golf courses at Mauritius (there are 8) use bermudagrass (Cynodon), primarily, although 2 of the courses have seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) everywhere, and 1 more course has seashore paspalum on the greens.

Bermudagrass grows well beside the sea on the 17th hole at Anahita, Mauritius

 One can find seashore paspalum growing in low-lying wet areas at Mauritius. Seashore paspalum is not tolerant of drought, so one does not find it in the wild in areas that do not have a regular supply of water.


Paspalum (1)
Seashore paspalum growing at the edge of and into a pond at Belle Mare, Mauritius

The golf courses at Belle Mare are bermudagrass, with some Stenotaphrum secundatum growing in rough, in the shade, and in unmown areas.

The 17th hole on the Legends course at Belle Mare, Mauritius; Stenotaphrum is growing in the unmown foreground, with bermudagrass on the green and surrounds

The Paradis course is near sea level and has seashore paspalum greens and bermudagrass on tees, fairways, and rough.

Talking about different grasses and their management at Paradis Golf Club at Le Morne, Mauritius

There are interesting turf evaluation plots at Paradis. And even more interesting is to observe what grasses are growing, and how they perform, on the course. One can find different types of seashore paspalum on the greens, seashore dropseed growing right beside the lagoon, bermudagrass covering most of the course, Stenotaphrum secundatum in much of the rough, and even some patches of mascarenegrass.

The seashore paspalum performs well on the greens at Paradis, and on the fairways, it makes an excellent turf in the low areas that seem to be at or below sea level, where the bermudagrass does not persist. But on the drier areas of the course, which consists of most of the fairways and rough, on generally sandy soil, the bermudagrass and Stenotaphrum dominate the sward.

Report & Presentation Slides from Mauritius Seminar


Today's seminars at the Le Heritage Telfair Golf and Spa Resort in Bel Ombre drew 39 delegates, with representation from nearly all the golf clubs in Mauritius. The seminar was hosted by the resort and was put on by Bernhard & Co. with support from local companies S.C.E.T.I.A Ltée & COROI Maurice.

WoodsI spoke in the morning about Putting Green Nutrient Requirements. The presentation slides are available for download as a PDF file. I also shared this handout which contains links to many of the research papers and examples and template forms that I introduced in the presentation. 

My second presentation was on Measuring Turfgrass Performance (download slides here) in which I discussed the (sometimes) relationship between soil organic matter, soil moisture, and surface hardness. This led to a discussion of organic matter management and tine spacing. I then shared the results to date of stimpmeter measurements and Clegg Hammer measurements from hundreds of putting greens. Of particular interest to golf course superintendents in Mauritius would be the green speed of ultradwarf bermudagrass and seashore paspalum; in 75 measurements on ultradwarf greens, the median speed has been 9 feet 4 inches. In 123 stimpmeter measurements on paspalum greens, the median speed has been 8 feet 4 inches. 


Steve Wilson from Bernhard then gave a classroom seminar about quality of cut and reel and bedknife sharpening, following that up with a demonstration of reel grinding and bedknife grinding at the Heritage Golf Club workshop. 


Counting Down, Top 5 Posts of 2011

Various interesting posts hide in the back pages of blogs, and I've enjoyed seeing which of the posts from the early years of this blog were most popular, as measured by the number of pageviews.

Continuing with the lists of top posts by year since the inception of this blog in 2009, here are the 5 posts with the highest pageviews from 2011:

  1. An Interesting Technique to Modify Fairway Conditions in Thailand
  2. Sandcapping or topdressing: which is better?
  3. A Report From the 2011 Golf Course Maintenance Management Conference
  4. Research on Weed Populations in Malaysia
  5. How Much Potassium Does Turfgrass Need?

I previously listed the 5 top posts from 2009 and the top 5 from 2010.

Presentation slides and handout from Malaysia International Golf Symposium 2013

Woods_malaysiaAt this year's Malaysia International Golf Symposium, I spoke about grasses, how they perform, and their nutrient requirements. 

This presentation handout contains additional information and links that supplement the material presented at the symposium.

Click here to download the presentation slides on Nutrient Requirements for Golf Courses in Asia.

Click here to download the presentation slides on Selection of Grass.

Presentation Video: Five Easy Ways to Improve Turfgrass Performance

Manilagrass_demoAt the Philippines Turfgrass Forum on 1 August, I spoke about Five Easy Ways to Improve Turfgrass Performance. The presentation slides are available for download as a 9.3 MB PDF file, and UPLB Research, Development, and Extension have recorded a video of the presentation and made it available to the public.

In the presentation, I talked about the management, selection, and optimization of mower adjustment, grass variety, soil moisture, soil organic matter, and nitrogen application rate as being the five things, all interrelated, that when moved closer to optimum management will be sure to produce improved turfgrass. Watch the video here (20 minutes).

The Global Soil Survey for Sustainable Turf, a new citizen science project

In 2012, the Asian Turfgrass Center and PACE Turf developed and introduced the Minimum Levels for Sustainable Nutrition (MLSN) guidelines. Now, in an expansion of this project, we have initiated the Global Soil Survey for Sustainable Turf.

The Global Soil Survey is a citizen science project in which turfgrass managers from around the world can submit samples from their location. These samples will be added to those of other survey participants to generate new and improved nutritional guidelines for turf.

The mission and goals of this project are:

  1. production of new, sustainable soil nutritional guidelines that target the lowest nutrient levels needed to support the desired levels of turf quality and playability
  2. generating the new guidelines through analysis of soil samples collected by survey participants from around the globe
  3. providing participants with individualized reports on soil nutritional conditions at their location, as well as quantification of their sustainability index
  4. promoting adoption of the new sustainability guidelines through social media, websites, articles, scientific presentations and educational seminars
  5. insuring reliable data by utilizing a single, highly reputable laboratory for all analyses

Sign up now, online or with this mail in form. The cost for a survey kit is $250 and includes:

  • Sampling and shipping instructions for collection of 3 soil samples
  • Sample bags, sample submission form, box for sample shipment to Brookside Laboratories (All shipping costs will be pre–paid for U.S. participants)
  • An individualized report, emailed to each participant, that assesses the soil nutritional status at their location, quantifies the sustainability index, and provides guidance on nutritional practices that will help to reduce inputs without sacrificing turf quality or playability. Twenty–one different parameters will be analyzed including pH, S, Ca, Mg, K, Na, P (Mehlich 3, Bray and Olsen), PSI, nitrate–N, ammonium–N, total N, EC, B, Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, Al and Cl. 
  • Each participant's data will be pooled with that of other survey participants to generate new and improved soil nutritional guidelines for turf. These guidelines will be made available to the public on websites and in articles, presentations and educational seminars.

For more information, see the Global Soil Survey page or the Global Soil Survey page on Facebook.

Understanding Data Use for Turf Management: presentation slides (with video) from Thailand

This week I spoke to a full room of turfgrass managers at Bangkok's Thana City Golf and Sport Club about an important topic: understanding data for use in turfgrass management. I've recorded this video of the presentation slides in which I discuss the two classes of data that can be collected – data about playing surface performance, or data about plant growth – and then I go into some detail about soil moisture and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), with a brief mention of salinity and soil pH at the end.

There were many questions and an active discussion in this seminar and in fact lunch time arrived before I could speak about salinity and soil pH, so this video provides the narration of what I would have talked about had there been more time.

Micah-woods-with-david-lau-spectrum-technologiesDavid Lau from Spectrum Technologies, pictured with me at right, gave an interesting presentation in which he talked about a broad range of meters and software that can be used to collect and analyze information for improving turfgrass performance. This is part of what PACE Turf call Precision Turfgrass Management (PTM), which is a systematic effort to provide optimum turf performance using minimum resources. As David mentioned, we cannot manage something if we do not measure it.

For more information about the data I discussed, you may be interested to read this report about putting green performance, including extensive sections and data on soil moisture and temperature, and this report about photosynthetic irradiance.