Search results

Conference Season is Here!

December 13, 2010

This article comes to us from Ty McClellan, USGA Green Section Record Mid-Continent Region Agronomist.

Frost has arrived, evoking a collective sigh of relief from turf managers and cool-season turfgrasses alike. For most, cool weather (and even snowfall) has been but a dream since early July when Mother Nature began punishing cool-season turfgrasses throughout the Mid-Continent Region, and much of the country for that matter.

As a grueling year comes to a close, conference season moves into full swing and all indications are that meetings will be well attended. Recently, the Central Illinois GCSA enjoyed an audience larger than in recent years at their Annual Education Seminar. The demands brought forth by Mother Nature this summer didn’t allow superintendents much, if any, time away from the golf course. Poor attendance at golf course superintendent chapter meetings resulted, but this should change now with the opportunity to gather for education and camaraderie at a time of year when golf courses are on the mend.

Appropriately, many of the conferences this winter will feature education targeted towards summer survival strategies for cool-season turfgrasses. Given the recent environmental challenges, combined with persisting economic limitations, it would be well worth inviting a course official to attend a conference with you.

To learn more about conferences in your area, contact your local superintendent association or USGA Green Section office. Upcoming conferences for the upper Mid-Continent Region are as follows:

2011 Conferences

January 10-12
Nebraska Green Expo
Mid-America Center, Council Bluffs, IA

January 18-20
Iowa Turfgrass Conference & Trade Show
Polk County Convention Complex & Marriott Hotel, Des Moines, IA

February 7-11
GCSAA Education Conference & Golf Industry Show
USGA Green Section Education Program: “Lessons Learned Come in All Forms”—Feb. 11, 10:00 am - Noon
Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL
Visit and

February 22-23
Gateway Green Industry Conference & Trade Show
Gateway Convention Center, Collinsville, Illinois

If you would like more information about a Turf Advisory Service visit, contact either of the Mid-Continent regional offices: Ty McClellan at or (630) 340-5853 or Bud White at or (972) 662-1138.


Drama at the PGA Championship

August 16, 2010

The fourth and final major of the year concluded yesterday with 25-year old Martin Kaymer taking the 92nd PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in a 3-hole playoff. The final round wasn’t without controversy though.

Dustin Johnson who finished in a 3 way tie with Kaymer and Bubba Watson was excluded from the playoff after a ruling on the 72nd hole. Johnson grounded his club in what was deemed to be a bunker before his second shot, leading to a two-stroke penalty.

As the drama unfolded, I was curious as to how the USGA defines a bunker. Their definition is as follows.

A "bunker" is a hazard consisting of a prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand or the like.
Grass-covered ground bordering or within a bunker, including a stacked turf face (whether grass-covered or earthen), is not part of the bunker. A wall or lip of the bunker not covered with grass is part of the bunker. The margin of a bunker extends vertically downwards, but not upwards. A ball is in a bunker when it lies in or any part of it touches the bunker.

Yet, we heard all week about the “Waste Bunkers” at Whistling Straights. Are the rules governing these areas different? Another quick search on the USGA homepage and I was able to find this explanation:

Many modern golf courses have areas often referred to as "waste areas" or "waste bunkers." These are typically areas that don't meet the definition of either a water hazard or a bunker . Generally, they are unmaintained natural areas installed by modern-day course architects to add another test for golfers to negotiate (or to reduce maintenance costs), and are simply "through the green." That means the Rules allow you to ground your club and/or take practice swings in these areas. And that can be a good thing.

This is not the first time the “bunkers” at Whistling Straights levied a penalty on a golfer. At the 2004 PGA Championship at Whistling, Stuart Appleby was penalized 4-strokes for a mishap on the 16th hole. Appleby hit a shot outside the gallery ropes into a bunker, which he assumed was out of play, since spectators had been walking through it. Appleby moved a few twigs from the bunker, he drew a two-stroke penalty. Another two-stroke penalty followed when he ground his club in the bunker.

Before this year’s tournament all of the players were made aware of a “Supplementary Rules of Play” sheet that was posted in the locker room. Obviously, Johnson should have read and been aware of the rules and any exceptions to them.

But how fair is that rule? Should the bunkers have been declared waste areas? (They originally were in the '04 PGA but then officials changed their minds before the tourney, leading to a penalty for Stuart Appleby.) The “bunker” which Johnson landed in was unraked and unkept. Plus, spectators were standing in and around the “bunker” as Johnson played his shot. Should it have been considered a bunker or waste area?

What are your thoughts?




January 11, 2013

Here is a post by Dan Strey, research technician at the Turfgrass Research area.  It is about a new tee complex that he constructed in the fall 2012.  it will be used in future years for research and demonstration purposes at the station. (Nick)

(From Dan)
I think we can all say that 2012 was certainly an interesting and difficult year. Most of us are probably glad to see the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013.

During the heat of last summer, the crew at the research farm constructed a new tee complex that will be used for research and demonstrations. The process took approximately two months from start to finish. Some of you may have seen it mid-way through construction during field day.

Golf Tee Complex at Turf Research

Golf Tee Complex at Turf Research

The existing site was built to USGA specifications which included; 12” of sand, 4-6” of pea gravel, and drain tile laid into the subgrade. Both the sand and gravel were stripped off in layers using a Bobcat T-190. The materials were kept separate and stockpiled to reuse for the construction of the tee complex.



After the sand and gravel was removed, the subgrade was reshaped to match the new contours. This process required a cut and fill approach, since all of the material had to stay on site and be reused. Once the subgrade was formed, a 4-6” pea gravel layer was then installed and followed by a 12” layer of sand. The surrounding areas were constructed using native soil from the site. The project was completed without requiring the need of transporting materials; all materials were used from the existing site.




The irrigation system that was previously installed was removed prior to the excavation and used for parts to reduce the cost of the renovation. A new system was required to be able to control both the green and tee individually.  Golf course greens and tees require different amounts of moisture throughout the year. New lateral lines (2-1/2” Sch. 40 PVC) were installed and attached to the two existing valves. The eight existing heads (Toro TR70) were cleaned and reinstalled. 

The seedbed was prepared using a Toro Sand Pro 5040. This smoothed the area while still providing a firm surface. Both the tee and green were seeded with 007 creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) on October 1, 2012. The cultivar was chosen for its ability to resist dollar spot disease and heat tolerance. The areas were seeded at a rate of 1.75 lbs/1,000 ft² using a Scotts SS-2 drop spreader. After seeding, the same Toro Sand Pro was driven over the surface repeatedly to provide seed to soil contact. A starter fertilizer was applied at a rate of 1 lb. of phosphorus/1,000 ft²

The area was covered using permeable grow covers to maintain soil temperatures during the fall months. Germination was observed 10 days after seeding. The grow covers were removed four weeks after germination to allow the seedlings to harden off before winter.


To Stripe or Not: Fairway Mowing Patterns

March 26, 2010

There have been a couple of recently published articles concerning mowing procedures for golf courses. A USGA Green Section Record article highlighted the costs associated with mowing patterns and there was a nice article in the January issue of Golf Course Industry Magazine about alternative mowing patterns.

The true function of mowing is to prepare the golf course for play although mowing patterns are often used to highlight the different features of a golf course. The mowing pattern can have a big impact on the appearance of the golf course and the health of the turf while affecting your labor and fuel consumption line items. The most common fairway mowing methods are striping, contour mowing, the classic cut, and pushing and pulling.

Striping – This is the method practiced by most golf courses. Stripes are often mowed in at least two directions to create a checkerboard pattern. This method creates a striking aesthetic appearance. However, the frequent turning of the mower in the intermediate and primary rough can lead to excessive wear on the turf.

Contour mowing – This method also creates stripes but differs slightly from contemporary striping. Rather than creating a checkerboard, contour mowing creates curved stripes that follow the contour of the fairway.

Classic cut – This style was very prevalent before lightweight fairway mowers. Larger gang-unit fairway mowers of the past which were harder to maneuver mowed in the circular pattern creating light and dark halves of the fairway. The classic cut reduces mower traffic in the rough and often takes less time compared to striping helping to reduce labor and fuel costs.

Pushing and Pulling – This method creates a fairway that is void of stripes. Pushing the fairway is when the turf is mowed from tee to green and pulling is mowing the turf from green to tee. A large number of mowers are necessary in order for this method to be efficient. Fairways are often mowed this way for championship events.

The most appropriate method for your course will depend on the desired appearance, your turf species and budget and labor considerations. If you prefer striping your fairways and have the resources to do so, by all means continue. However, some golf courses are using the classic cut because it is more efficient and a better use of their fuel and labor resources. Also, the overall health of the intermediate and primary rough will benefit from the reduced mower traffic. Courses with the slow growing Kentucky bluegrass planted in their intermediates might especially benefit from the classic cut and the reduced wear.

If you have experimented with any of the alternative mowing styles let us know how they are working and what you think of them. Until next time, Happy Mowing!

Marcus Jones
Graduate Research Assistant