“The greens are great!”
In the very south of Baden-Württemberg where the borders of Germany, France and Switzerland meet, you’ll find the very scenic course Markgräflerland in Kandern. The first 9 holes were built in 1986 by Karl F. Grohs and have been expanded to a full 18 holes in 1995 by the American architect Brad Benz. The beautiful location also called “the Nice of Germany” comes with unique challenges influencing the quality on greens.
In this area Dollar Spot pressure is extreme, especially beginning of July when the weather turns warm and humid. If wind from the west comes with thunderstorms, there are ideal conditions for fungi growth and pathogens attack. At the same time, because of high temperatures and lack of perspiration, there is a summer depression in grass growth and regeneration of damage can take a long time.
Head Greenkeeper Hanspeter Schauer has been here since the beginning 36 years ago. His family owned the farm at the same location, and they leased out the land to the golf club. The first four years he shared the responsibility for the maintenance with a colleague from the UK. Later he was trained and became a certified greenkeeper. Hanspeter loves to travel in the winter months and has already been to Argentina, New Zealand, South-Africa, Asia and he has also had a cabin in Canada for many years.
He was always able to maintain the greens at a high level, but greens quality in summer has been a challenge every year. Hanspeter tries to avoid any stress for the greens. He has not verticutted for the last 25 years, but only used the groomer and he regularly topdresses the greens. For the last five years he has used 0.3 – 1.2 mm sand to fill vertidrain holes in autumn to give the greens more stability. Because of regular topdressing, there is a good quality 10 cm greenkeeper horizon if you check the soil profile. There is no problem with excess thatch because of regular slitting for root growth and aerification. If there is acute disease pressure, Hanspeter reduces topdressing to minimize stress for the plant.
Some years ago, the club president gave him the assignment to improve the greens quality. So, four years before his retirement, Hanspeter started with an entirely new nutrition program for the greens. He said to himself, my job is at stake every summer anyway because of Dollar Spot, so I can put everything on one card and change the fertiliser concept completely as well. Last year all the 18 greens were maintained with a TourTurf® program. As a reference, the practice greens continued with the old fertiliser program. Once accidentally a nozzle was blocked, he could clearly see the difference, strong plants on the treated green, Dollar Spot where no product reached. Another time a green received double the application rate and was completely free of disease. From this time on, Hanspeter doubles the application rate of some products to see healthier plants. You can often see the difference in the sod garden at the spray edge. (See picture) The results were so convincing that from this year all the greens only receive the TourTurf® fertiliser program.
Hanspeter Schauer is not afraid of many product applications. He has already made more than 40 different liquid fertiliser applications on the greens this year. Especially early in the season, many different products like TourTurf® High PK, TourTurf® IDC Infill Defence Concept and TourTurf® ProActive make the plants strong. Many of the products are mixable but, he has the impression that they work best if you apply each product separately. Occasionally, he applies a liquid fertiliser on Monday, a seaweed product on Wednesday and the TourTurf® Respond Extreme FTE Fine Turf Enhancer wetting agent on a Friday.
In addition to the liquid products, he also uses the organic TourTurf® granular fertilisers to improve soil life and help with a steady, slow release of nutrients. He has made good experiences applying them on the greens with a professional Rauch large area spreader, common in agriculture, providing a more even distribution, no overlapping, no over application and no nutrient deficiencies. The granular spreads evenly and can hardly be noticed after application.
In his experience, if there is a maintenance work you planned or a product application on your schedule: “Just go ahead and do it – it will help you 95%, just doing nothing will not give any results!”.
Since disease pressure is very high, at times he must use a fungicide. There have been good experiences with Revystar (Mefentrifluconazole) with a registration for Dollar Spot on greens on golf courses.
In the past Hanspeter almost didn’t use any wetting agent but started to see good results with different products three years ago. Now he is using TourTurf® Respond Extreme FTE Fine Turf Enhancer to avoid Dry patch. Because of the extreme drought this year he is only irrigating greens, and only by hand. You can clearly see Dry patch at the spray edge. On the greens, you can hardly see any.
What are the results of all this hard work and taking the risk of entirely changing the fertiliser plan for the greens?
Hanspeter Schauer says: “The greens are just fit! They are not yellow, they are not dark green, they are looking a healthy vital green. More importantly, if there is any damage, the greens are regenerated after three days.” He names specifically TourTurf® ProActive Turf Concept that helps with density and regeneration. The outstanding results have given him renewed excitement for his passion: “I’m really satisfied, I’m really enjoying my work again!”
In the Club Journal, Erwin Hueter, Board Member for course maintenance, writes: “… The Dollar spot was successfully fought with new ecological means and a new seed mixture, which means that our course was always in optimal condition… So, once again, a compliment and a big thank you to our greenkeeper team for the top condition of our golf course during the current season.”
When a greenkeeper colleague visited recently, he gave this compliment: “The greens are great!”