Monday, June 27, 2011

Tools of the Trade

#18 green

I am thrilled at how the greens and the golf course for that matter are looking right now and I hope everyone who plays the course is happy with it also.

Helping us in getting the golf course in this condition are three of my favorite "Tools of the Trade" that many of you may have seen us out on the golf course using.

My favorite tool, and one I think every golf course superintendent should own and use, is the Spectrum Technologies TDR 300 moisture meter.  I first saw this tool being used last year when I volunteered at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, GA for the 2010 PGA Tour Championship.  The moisture meter measures the Volumetric Water Content in the soil in a percentage form allowing for a definitive value to be measured.  There are many different ways to test the moisture level in the soil such as with a knife or a soil probe but both of these methods leaves the determination what is wet or dry to the discretion of the individual.  The TDR 300 gives a value that can not be questioned.  We have found that our greens perform best when the volumetric water content is between 30-35%.  It is surprising how the green surface can look fine but right under the surface drought and stress conditions are possible.  If you can purchase a TDR 300 you will not be sorry.

Another favorite tool is the Check Signature, Inc.  prism gauge.  It is important to know what the greens are actually being cut at compared to what they are set at by Steve Bloom, my mechanic.  Steve will set our greens mowers using an AccuGauge at 0.160" but with the aggressive nature and the use of grooved front rollers and groomers the prism gauge shows that we are actually cutting the greens at 0.100".  Without the prism gauge I can not tell exactly what height of cut the greens are being maintained at and too low is just as bad as too high.

My favorite environmental tool that we have at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay is ourWatchDog 2900ET Weather Station which provides us with on-site weather information which is relayed wirelessly to the computer in the golf course maintenance building.  It is better to have an on-site weather station so we can determine what is happening on our golf course and not relying on a weather station miles away.  The best feature of the weather station is the evapotranspiration rates which it records for the day.  The evapotranspiration rate is the amount of moisture lost by the plant during the day to evaporation, respiration, and transpiration.  Using this value I can conserve water by only applying enough water back to the golf course through the irrigation system to return the plant to a predetermined percentage.  That means that I may only need to apply 5 minutes of water instead of 8 or 10 thus saving water and electricity and reducing the opportunities for diseases to affect the turfgrass.

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