We Believe in Better Turf
Turfgrass management education programs focus most of their efforts on teaching students about the technical aspects of golf course and turfgrass management, not surprising since it’s their primary purpose. However, experienced turfgrass managers know that “growing grass” ends up being a small part of their job. Managing people and budgets and the politics of their positions consume far more of their time than actual turfgrass management. With all the distractions, it’s easy to forget some of those simple practices that can have a big long-term impact on turfgrass performance.
Purchasing less expensive seed is a prime example. Using less expensive cultivars for inter-seeding greens or fairways or for filling divots on tees and fairways saves money in the short term but purchasing inferior seed that may include weeds is a false economy. Sometimes you can’t afford to “save” all that money, and it is a missed opportunity. Purchasing the best seed, products like Predator Brand Bentgrass or LS Perennial Ryegrass Mix, can improve turf performance over time and help avoid a problem or two along the way. Increasing the percentages of improved varieties in the most important-to-play areas (putting greens, tees, fairway landing zones, etc.) can improve turf performance and reduce disease activity in the long run. Focusing on quality first and quantity second can produce better turf performance over time.
When it comes to inter-seeding existing stands, it’s easy to fall into the trap of causing less surface disruption because of potential golfer complaints. Turf managers fully understand the importance of seed-to-soil contact, but the adage that always drove that message home to me was one I learned early on: “You’re wasting your money if you put a five-dollar plant in a $0.50 hole. You’re far better off planting a $0.50 plant in a five-dollar hole!” The pressure to avoid golfer disruption is very real, but so is the pressure to produce better playing conditions, and the value of using superior plant material like Centennial Creeping Bentgrass for new projects, as well as for improving existing stands of turf has never been greater. Using the best genetics possible and creating the best chances of success by performing enough surface cultivation to ensure good seed-to-soil contact is money in the bank.
Recently at the Mountain View Seeds 25th Anniversary Field Day, it was shocking to see how the old varieties (the very first improved varieties) of a given species compared to what is currently available. Comparing K-31 to the varieties like Titanium G-LS or Avenger III tall fescue; Linn perennial ryegrass to Stellar 4GL perennial ryegrass; or Common Kentucky Bluegrass next to the 365ss Kentucky Bluegrass mix tells an amazing story. The improvements are staggering; the work these researchers and plant breeders have done fits very nicely in turfgrass management education! Golf courses, athletic fields, and home lawns everywhere benefit from the remarkable advancements if turf managers continue to reach for the best technology available.
Mountain View Seeds VP of Turf Sales
David Oatis Consulting Principal