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Improving Accuracy of Disease Rating for Dollar Spot on Turf

September 24, 2010

Nick Christians
September 24, 2010

Here is the first of what I hope will be a series of posts from students who are working on research projects and internships. This one is from Steve Johnson, a student who worked for Mark Gleason this summer on a Dollar Spot study. This is part of the requirement for his Hort. 391, turf internship, class.



Greetings from Hong Kong!

July 1, 2010

My name is Damian Richardson, a recent graduate of Iowa State University. I am currently on a six-month internship with the Hong Kong Golf Club. The HKGC is a 121-year-old private club with a membership of roughly 2,400. The club hosts many Club and Hong Kong Golf Association tournaments, as well as the USB Hong Kong Open, which is a stop on the European Tour. The club is comprised of four different courses totaling 63 holes. The New, Old, and Eden courses each have 18 holes and are located 40 minutes north of Hong Kong Central and 10 minutes south of China in Fannling, Hong Kong with the remaining 9 holes at the Club in Deep Water Bay, Hong Kong.

The three 18-hole courses at Fannling (where I will be spending most of my time) have many different grass species. Below are the grass species and varieties that cover the three courses here:

Bermudagrass (Tifdwarf, Tifeagle, Fanling 27, Fanling 33, and common Bermudagrass, and Transvaalensis)

Bentgrass – A note on the Bentgrass green – On the 13th hole of the New Course, there is an option to use one of two targets available. On one target we have Bermudagrass and on the other is Bentgrass. The average temperature in June (according to has been 78 overnight and 86 during the day and averaging 67-89% humidity. This green was installed September 2009 and has been a struggle to keep alive so far this summer. It will be interesting to see how it performs over the coming months. The green is purely an experiment to see how well bentgrass can do in this area and how intensively it must be managed to be kept alive.

Fairways –
Seashore Paspalum (Salam)
Emerald Zoysia (Zoysia japonica)
Manillagrass (Zoysia matrella)
Bermudagrass (419, common Bermudagrass)

Seashore Paspalum (Salom)
Zoysiagrass (japonica and matrella)
Bermudagrass (common Bermudagrass)

Bermudagrass (419 and common Bermudagrass)
Seashore Paspalum (Salam)
Zoysia (japonica and matrella)

Due to the nature of these warm season grasses, we must have nursery stock available for repairs and renovations. Since we have so many species of grass on the course, it is necessary for us to have a large nursery area. Here we have multiple nurseries totaling approximately 10 acres in size.

To increase the understanding of warm season turfgrass in Hong Kong, there is research is being conducted here based on discovering which species grow best in our area, and what types of management practices are needed to achieve the best quality turf for golf. The unique climate of Hong Kong (hot, humid, rainy, and limited sunlight in summer, and extremely dry and cool in winter) makes it a very challenging place to grow grass. The club has developed a research center that has over 40 plots of numerous species and varieties of turfgrass. Dr. Micah Woods of the Asian Turfgrass Center is employed as a consultant for collecting and developing data from the research area.

I look forward to sharing more about my internship with the readers of iaTURF and will be discussing many new discoveries I have made at the Hong Kong Golf Club, as well as other clubs that I visit in Hong Kong.

Damian Richardson


We’re Not in Iowa Anymore! Part 1

July 28, 2010








Here is another guest post from Damian Richardson who is working at the Hong Kong Golf Club. Damian's note is below:

When I did my interview with the Hong Kong Golf Club for my internship, I asked what would be some of the biggest differences I will encounter as I make such a cultural transition. Their reply, “Things will look very different.” Not only do things look different, everything seems to work different. Light switches and door locks are backwards compared to the States, I always hit my head on low hanging items in stores, and they drive on the opposite side of the road here!

As I began work, and started networking and meeting other professionals in the turf business, I have realized there are big differences in the way golf operates and is viewed out here. Here are a few statistics to look at in regards to the sport of golf here in Hong Kong as compared to Iowa:

Iowa = 56,272 sq miles
Hong Kong = 426 sq miles

Iowa = 3,007,856
Hong Kong = 7,055,071

Population Density:
Iowa = 53.5/sq mile
Hong Kong = 15,737.9/sq mile

Golf Courses:
Iowa = 441
Hong Kong = 5

People : # of golf courses:
Iowa = 6820 : 1
Hong Kong = 1,411,014.2 : 1

# Courses : Land (sq miles) Ratio
Iowa = 1:127
Hong Kong = 1:85


Being a member of a golf club is very exclusive here with one club having a membership as low as ~300 people. The Hong Kong Golf Club has a membership of 2,400 people, with a 25-year waiting list for membership. There is only one public course in Hong Kong and all others are reserved only for members and guests.

That being said, it is very uncommon for local people to have any understanding of the game of golf, and that has been a challenge when training workers to set up a golf course. With many of the workers having no understanding of the game of golf, they didn’t know why tee markers should point down the fairways and not in to the woods, or why a flagstick should be straight up and down.

While I have been here, I have gotten to meet our various chemical, fertilizer, and equipment salesmen and have learned the differences of ordering and purchasing in HK as opposed to the US. When we order chemical, fertilizer, or equipment, the waiting period maybe be anywhere from one month to six months and sometimes even longer.

It gets very expensive to just ship two pallets of fertilizer on a plane from the States, so the salesmen must make sure they have enough product to fill a container, put the container on a ship, wait for it to arrive, wait for it to be inspected and pass through customs, and then finally delivered to the purchaser. Government politics may also slow things down as well.

We purchase all our sand from China, which is then put on a compartment in a barge, floated down to HK, unloaded, and shipped by trucks to our course. We are lucky enough to have many areas to store sand on the property so we are able to take an entire compartment of a barge (800 metric tons.) The other courses in Hong Kong usually have to share a compartment when purchasing sand, as you cannot buy less than 800 metric tons at one time.

To continue to keep articles brief here on iaTURF, I will be posting another article soon about some more cultural differences on the golf course at the Hong Kong Golf Club.


Turfgrass Mathematics Around the World

August 23, 2010

Some of the best parts of my internship experiences are actually learning how to use what I have learned in school. Being able to fully begin to realize the application of my years of schooling and hours of studying for tests makes me truly appreciate my education.

Learning turfgrass identification, and how to read soil tests all seemed like I was just studying while in school. Now that I have begun to work with various types of grasses, my ability to identify different species has become very handy. I have also worked with the superintendents here on interpreting soil tests and learning how they make fertility adjustments. But what I believe to be one of the greatest skills I learned in school is all the calculations used in managing turfgrass.

Calibrating a sprayer or fertilizer spreader was a skill I really got to practice a lot while on my internships and it was a great way for me to apply what I had learned in school, and finally get some hands on experience with performing the calibrations. Ever since I took Dr. Christians Hort 351 Fundamentals of Turfgrass Management I, and was introduced

It may be a great teaching tool to challenge interns to perform calibrations in both United States Customary Units and in International System of Units. If you are interested in more conversions, here are some great sites I have found: (this is by far my favorite math/conversion related site)

For those of you with Windows Vista or Windows 7, there are also many Gadgets available for download that make conversions on your desktop incredibly easy.

Damian Richardson


Iowa Based Internships

September 17, 2010

Thinking back to when I was an undergraduate, I remember what a great learning experience my internships were.  I could finally start to apply some of the information I had learned in the classroom and I was able to communicate and interact with field experts on a daily basis.  Similarly, from my time spent in industry, I understand how staffing reliable, enthusiastic workers can benefit the day to day operations of any facility.  The bottom line is that internships can be beneficial to both the student and the facility alike.

Some of you may have had an intern from ISU at your facility in the past and others may be curious about employing an intern in the future.  Our department has approximately 50 turfgrass students who will be looking for internship opportunities this coming summer in golf, sports, and lawn and landscape settings. 

These potential interns (along with their resumes) will be available for an informal meet and greet at our upcoming Horticulture Career Night.  The event will be held on Monday, October 18 at Reiman Garden’s just south of the ISU campus.  The event will begin at 5:30 pm and food and beverages will be provided at no charge.  Consider coming to this event to recruit potential interns.  Those planning on attending need to RSVP to Marcus Jones at  


Branching Out While in Hong Kong

October 25, 2010

Internships are all about learning new practices, ideas, and skills. One of my favorite skills I have learned while on internship with the Hong Kong Golf Club involves ‘hanging out.’ I’m not talking about sitting back with a few friends playing video games, but instead I’ve been spending some time hanging out in the trees with our arboriculture team.

Here at the HKGC we employ three tree climbers who are working on receiving their certification. They have undergone many hours of schooling, and are now gaining their experience hours before becoming certified. All their education and experience really has been paying off for them, and I have been able to learn a lot from working along side them.

The tree climbers will be certified through the International Society of Arboriculture. I have been reading through an English version of the test material (with side notes written in Chinese by the owner) and have found it to be very interesting. Many golf course workers across the world could find this information very valuable.

Trees can play either a very integral part in to the design of a golf course or may just randomly spot the landscape, but all the same, these large plants must still be cared for. The arborist certification guide includes information about tree biology and identification; soil, water, and nutrient management; selection and installation; pruning and plant health; and climbing and working in trees. Some of the topics such as soil, water and nutrient management may be very familiar to golf course managers while other topics such as pruning and climbing may be topics some managers may want to learn or brush up on a bit. A well-pruned tree is much healthier and can live much longer than one that has not been properly cared for.

One of the great benefits of tree climbing skills is the elimination of expensive heavy machinery that can tear up turf. Sometimes, this machinery can not even reach the tree that needs to be pruned because of many reasons such as uneven land or other objects too close to the tree that needs to be pruned. While learning to climb trees I have noticed it takes a lot of problem solving and creativity. Sometimes you have to really think about what branch to walk on, where to tie off to, where to reset your climbing line to so you can reach the branch you want to work on. On the first few lessons I also learned it is a great whole body work out that left me so sore for a few days I barely wanted to move.

Tree climbing can also be a great hobby that can have many carry over benefits that most of us could use in our daily operations while working in trees on a golf course. For more information about becoming certified visit the International Society of Arboriculture at

I have heard the best way to learn to climb is to find a local climber, or climbing group, and learn from them. Books are great, but there is no replacing the information you can learn while hanging in a tree, suspended only by a rope, swinging from branch to branch.


My Experience of 2010

December 31, 2010

Our final article of the year comes to us from Damian Richardson. Damian contributed a series of interesting articles this season about his "Overseas Adventure". Damian is now back in the States and working full time at The Club at Mediterra in Naples, Florida.

As many of the readers on iaTURF may know, I recently spent 6 months in Hong Kong working at the Hong Kong Golf Club. For my final article regarding my time in Hong Kong, I decided that I would share a few things I learned from my experience.

Before I set off for Hong Kong, I stopped in Marcus Jones’s office to learn how to set up a blog and discuss his philosophy on blogging. Marcus is a great blogger and I really learned a lot from him. Blogging was going to save me from having to write multiple e-mails to family and friends. I also wanted to write for the iaTURF blog because I figured that many Iowa (and other) superintendents may find some of my experiences interesting.

I found writing for the iaTURF blog challenging because it made me think about my job and identify topics that were interesting to others. Through this experience, I think that in the future I will be able to write articles that other turf managers, club members, or anybody interested in turf may find interesting and educational.

While in Hong Kong, and during my college career I tried to build a network of friends and business professionals in the turf industry. As the network has grown I have come to fully appreciate how important networking is and have begun to see how valuable it is to have a network.

In my personal blog called Damian Richardson’s Hong Kong Adventure, I wrote about many of the unique friends and colleagues I met while in South East Asia. I also discovered that I like meeting new people whether they are in my line of work or not. Meeting a new person with new and different interests can open one’s mind to a whole new world.

Applying Knowledge
I’ll have to admit that I am not the world’s greatest mathematician, more precisely and candidly: I stink at algebra. I remember suffering through high school algebra, banging my head on my desk, wondering why or how in the world I could ever use matrices. To this day, I still have no idea how I would use a matrix, but I found it very rewarding when I could finally begin to really use what I learned in school.

One of my favorite parts about my internships was being able to apply what I have learned in school and use it in ‘the real world.’ I even wrote about the excitement and satisfaction I got from being able to use math in my job.

Discovering myself
While in Hong Kong, I was really able to learn a lot about myself and who I was. Personal reflection is a very important tool that we all can use in various aspects in our life. As the year is coming to an end, we may want to reflect on the most recent golf season and think if there is any way that you could have made it better, or to identify maintenance changes that could be implemented in to next year’s program.

Personal reflection can also be a great tool for managers and leaders. Was there recently a situation at work that you wish you had handled better or didn’t turn out the way you thought it should? While searching for more information about personal reflections, I found this great article.

Goal setting and planning
I have never been a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions, but instead I like to set long term, short term and weekly goals. While in Hong Kong, I was able to really see how important it is to set goals. I believe that without goals and a form of measuring the success of reaching goals true success can never be reached.


We’re Not in Iowa Anymore! Part 2

August 4, 2010

As in my previous posts, I have discovered a wide array of differences between golf courses in Iowa and the U.S. as compared to golf courses in Hong Kong. Here are just a few of my other observations I think readers may enjoy.

Land ownership in Hong Kong is very different than compared to the States. Here, land is owned by the Government and leased by the HKGC from the Government. Even though the club rents the land, the villagers are still entitled to use it. The land is used by the villagers for two main reasons: Golf and Burial Grounds.

Every morning villagers are allowed to “play” the courses using one club and one ball from daybreak until 7:30 A.M. Most of the villagers use the time as a social recreation period where they walk around in groups of 3-5 friends, talking, and hitting golf balls. Most are pretty courteous about giving the maintenance staff the right of way when we are doing our morning preparations, although I have had a few close calls of getting hit by a villager golf ball.







A group of villagers playing the course together in the morning. Notice how each player only has one club.







A villager getting in an early round and some Tai Chi.

One of the most unique aspects of the Hong Kong Golf Club, to me, is the many tombs scattered around the course. Some of them are very old and decrepit and are tucked way off to the side in out of bounds rough, but some are very ornate and spectacular. It is difficult for me to learn much about the tombs as everything on them is written in Chinese, but after talking to my co-workers I have learned a bit about the history. Some of this history could be hearsay, as many people don’t know much about villager ways.







This is one of the oldest graves sprinkled throughout the golf course.

Until 1997, Hong Kong was under British rule, therefore, there is a strong British presence in the personality of the club. It is built in the traditional British Links style of course, with only the tee and the 18th green located next to the Clubhouse. There are also no beverage carts on the course, and buggies (golf carts) are very popular. British believe golf was supposed to be a sport of walking and enjoying every aspect of the course and game. However, to provide the golfers with food and drink during the game, to help keep them cool during the hot weather, there are halfway houses located at the turn of every course. The halfway houses are all constructed in a traditional Chinese architecture.







These food stands or halfway houses are constructed with traditional Chinese architecture.

Another influence of the British on the club is our security guards. The HKGC uses members of the British Army’s Brigade of Gurkas to provide security for the club during all hours of the day. It is not uncommon to find uniformed guards driving golf carts on the course, or to find them standing at attention at the entrance to the club.

I hope you have enjoyed this look in to the understanding of a different golf culture. I will be sharing more information about my travels and what I have learned about various turf related topics while on internship in Hong Kong with the readers of iaTURF soon. If you would like to follow my personal blog about many of my other experiences, please feel free to follow along at .



January 6, 2014

This is the first post of the new year.  It concerns an internship by one of our students, Joel Rieker, with the New York Red Bulls soccer team.  This was a great experience for him.  As part of the internship, he completed a report on his activities.  Joel will also be presenting an oral presentation on his summer at the Iowa Turf Conference in Des Moines, IA and at the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) in San Antonio.

 The following is the introduction to the report.

In the summer of 2013, I had the privilege of working as intern for the New York Red Bulls. The main reason I chose this internship was because of the Major League Soccer season. Soccer has a long season that starts in March and concludes in December.  This meant that I would be working in the heart of the season. This gave me several learning opportunities and the ability to work side by side with professional athletes.  As an intern I was able to participate in all the day-to-day aspects of the job. The grounds crew was in charge of three facilities.   Each facility had its own set of challenges with its own set of tools to accommodate these challenges. 

The entire report with all of the pictures is attached in pdf form.  To download the entire report, click on the following link internship post.




August 23, 2012

Each year, our students are involved in internships at a variety of interesting places.  This year, we had senior Kevin Hansen at the Green Bay Packers Lambeau Field under the direction of field manager Allen Johnson.  This was an outstanding experience.  

I had a chance to visit the facility on August 10 to see what Kevin had been involved in during the summer.  This is one of the fun things about my job.  Thanks to Allen and his crew for making this a great learning experience.

I will have Kevin put up a more detailed report on his experience later in the fall.

Here are some pictures from my visit on the 10th.


Figure 1.  This was taken on one of the practice fields.  From left to right are Mark Davison, Superintendent of Green Bay Country Club, Kevin Hansen the intern, and Allen Johnson Field Manager.  Mark helped arrange housing for Kevin during the summer and was a big help with arrangements for Kevin's experience.

Figure 2.  This picture shows the synthetic fibers that are used to stabilize the natural grass surface.

Figure 3.  The indoor practice facility.

 Figure 4.  The main field.  It was in great shape.

 Figure 5.  Allen sent this picture to me after my visit.  It is of the lighting system that is used later in the season to help keep the grass in shape for late-season games.  They do one half of the field at a time.