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Calcium Product 98G

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Creating a TV-Worthy Golf Course at Woodbine Bend

Andy Young

Andy Young has been working on a golf course since he was 14-years old. He played golf in college and continues to play weekly in the mens league at Woodbine Bend Golf Course near Stockton, Illinois, where he has been the Golf Course Superintendent since 2012. 

Woodbine Bend opened in 2002 and was formerly a rolling northern Illinois cornfield. Andy’s goal is to give golfers at Woodbine Bend a fun and unique experience – one they want to come back to. 

“I want golfers to have the best conditions for the money, and I feel we exceed that here at Woodbine Bend,” says Andy. 

One of the ways Andy creates a TV-worthy golf course is by applying SO4 pelletized gypsum in the spring and fall. Andy’s distributor representative, Mike Werth from Advanced Turf Solutions, introduced him to SO4. 

“We have heavy clay soils, so we use SO4 to make the soil structure better for the plant to grow,” says Andy. “Especially if we don’t get rain, the SO4 helps flush salt build-up from the fertilizer we apply.”

In past fall seasons, Andy has typically applied SO4 right before the first snow fall. This year he applied it right after aerification so it can enter the soil profile through the aerification holes. 

“Every fall and spring after I apply SO4, I see better playability on the turf. It’s one of the best gypsums out there,” said Andy.

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How to repair sodic soils

Sodium problems are becoming more widespread

Sodic soils are one of the most difficult challenges facing turf managers in areas where they exist. With the rise of effluent water use for golf course and athletic field irrigation, sodium problems are becoming more widespread than they were in the past. High levels of sodium create a toxic environment for plant health and destroy the physical structure of soils.

Sodium becomes a problem when it reaches levels that overwhelm the natural equilibrium of the soil. It causes soil clay particles to swell and disperse, causing soil pores to become blocked, limiting water infiltration and drainage of the soil. Plants trying to grow in sodic soils exhibit symptoms of drought due to excessive uptake of sodium and lack of water infiltration into the soil where roots normally grow.

Check out our document on using SO4 and 98G to manage sodium affected soils.

Del Norte High School in San Diego, California

Below are before and after photos of Del Norte High School's baseball field in San Diego, California. After extensive soil testing, it was identified that sodium levels were at toxic levels for quality turfgrass growth and that the Calcium/Magnesium ratios were dramatically off. 98G, our pelletized limestone, was applied at 10 lbs/1000 ft2 every three to four weeks from June to November for a total of about eight applications.

Below: Del Norte High School third base line in June 2016.

Del Norte 3rd Baseline Before

Below: Del Norte High School third base line in November 2016.

Del Notre 3rd Base Line After

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Soil Testing Helps Inform Application Decisions

Soil Testing

Why soil test?

Soil testing is an important part of our philosophy at Calcium Products – without knowing the nutrient status of your soil, how are you to make informed decisions about what to apply to it?

Turf managers are normally good about soil testing, but if you haven’t been consistent about it or have been thinking about starting a soil testing program, now is the time to do so. With environmental regulations being administered in certain areas of the U.S., soil testing will help you maximize your fertilizer investment and make educated decisions on the best type of fertilizers to supply exactly what you need.

What a soil test measures

There are a wide variety of soil tests available that can help you gain insight into your nutrient status, soil type/texture, infiltration rates, water holding capacity, etc.

A basic soil test is likely to provide you with the following measurements:

  • - Soil pH
  • - Cation exchange capacity (CEC)
  • - Phosphorous
  • - Potassium
  • - Calcium
  • - Magnesium
  • - Lime requirement

Additional analyses that may be of interest depending on your location and situation might include:

  • - Soil texture
  • - Total soluble salts
  • - Sodium adsorption ratio (SAR)
  • - Sulfur
  • - Micronutrients

Nitrogen testing is typically not included in all sampling regimens due to its instability, making interpretation of the value difficult.

How to get started

Checking in with your state extension specialist to see what they recommend with regard to appropriate testing methods and preferred laboratories in your area is the best way to ensure you are testing all the right things for your situation.

Finding a lab you are comfortable with and that is regionally appropriate for you is important to maintain consistency and to build a historical database on which to inform decisions. The lab you choose will also offer recommendations on what nutrient levels to supply to bring them back into sufficiency range. You may double check with your state extension specialist to see if the laboratory recommendations are aligned with what they normally recommend.

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Localized Dry Spot

Localized Dry Spot

What is localized dry spot?

With an unusually hot start to the late spring/summer season, localized dry spot (LDS) is showing up earlier and more vigorously than normal. LDS shows up as somewhat randomized, dry looking areas of turf. It is generally seen on sand-based greens, but can occur on other turfs that have been heavily topdressed with sand over the years. Sand-based soil has greater propensity for hydrophobic conditions, which is the main sign of LDS.

What causes localized dry spot?
The deeper cause, beyond sand-based soils, are believed to be organic acids and residue that coat the soil or sand particles. These organic compounds are not completely understood, but are the result of typical decomposition of leaf tissue, roots, fungal biomass and organic soil amendments included in the original root zone mix. These compounds tend to have a hydrophobic nature and once they have coated soil particles, lead to LDS. Combine this hydrophobicity with root growth stoppage in heat and soils that already have low moisture holding capacity, and the problem can become bad in a hurry.

How to manage localized dry spot
While there is plentiful research into the causes and potential areas that could be managed differently to delay or correct LDS, the primary management technique has been and continues to be the use of wetting agents or surfactants to allow water to re-infiltrate areas that develop hydrophobicity.

There are several different chemical groups in the wetting agent and surfactant world, but the goal of all of these products is to lower the surface tension of water so it can infiltrate the hydrophobic soil. It pays to do your homework on the types of products available in the market to determine which one will provide you with the best result. Some of the older chemistries can cause phytotoxic effects on plants, so make sure you fully understand what you’ve got before spraying it on your greens.

Be prepared
Unfortunately, there doesn’t exist today a ‘silver bullet’ to cure LDS. The best strategy is to incorporate existing knowledge into new construction and for existing problems, to know when it’s coming and be prepared with a wetting agent or surfactant strategy to minimize the damage and interruption in play. Be sure to know what your local extension has to say about LDS management in your specific area.

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Aerification and SO4

Golf Ball on Aerified Turf

Aerification contributes to healthy turf

The most scrutinized word in the professional turf industry might be aerification. If golfers arrive to the course and see a “plinko” board on the putting surfaces, they immediately assume that their experience for the day is going to be ruined. This doesn’t have to be the case. Sure, it may not look good but that doesn’t mean they won’t play good.

Consider a story I heard about Tom Watson, eight-time major champion. Tom arrived at his home course and shot a course record 58, just days after the greens had been aerified.

What golfers don’t realize but superintendents do is that aerification is a necessary practice to provide the healthiest turf possible. This is a short-term disruption that has long-term benefits. The GCSAA explains the aerification process achieves three important objectives:
1. It relieves soil compaction.
2. It provides a method to improve the soil mixture around the highest part of a green’s roots.
3. It reduces accumulation of excess thatch.

Healthy roots demand oxygen. In good soil, the roots get oxygen from tiny pockets of air trapped between soil and sand particles. During the aerification process, cores of compacted soil and excess thatch are removed, allowing for the infusion of oxygen, and water to bring a resurgence of growth. The holes are then filled with sand via topdressing. Adding the sand helps the soil retain air space and makes it easier for the roots to grow through the profile. Topdressing can also prevent an excess of thatch from becoming established.

Introduce SO4 pelletized gypsum during aerification

Aerification is the perfect opportunity to introduce SO4 pelletized gypsum in the process. Once the topdressing is complete, the next step is to broadcast SO4, then drag or broom in the sand and SO4.

Having a high quality, highly soluble form of dihydrate gypsum – such as SO4 – allows the calcium and sulfur to be plant available quickly, providing a much-needed boost to the soil and plant heath after a very stressful procedure. By adding calcium, it can help dislodge any accumulated sodium in the soil profile, which can then be leached away with irrigation or rain. Calcium is also important for soil structure, ensuring adequate pore space for oxygen, water, and root growth. Sulfur helps provide deep green color to the turf, improves density, and can increase drought tolerance and winter hardiness.

The bottom line is that aerification is necessary for healthy turf and incorporating SO4 can enhance the benefits and aid in a speedier recovery.

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Paul Cushing, Territory Sales Manager | Turf and Agriculture, Western U.S.

Paul came on board at Calcium Products in 2016 after an extensive 27-year career in turf management. In addition to his responsibilities for Calcium Products sales in the professional turf industry, Paul is an independent agronomic consultant for golf courses and sports turf. Most recently, Paul worked for more than five years as the Assistant Deputy Director of Golf Course Operations for the City of San Diego managing a 98-person staff and five golf courses, including Torrey Pines, the annual home of the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open. Paul spent two years away from the golf course as the Regional Operations Manager for ValleyCrest Companies, overseeing the maintenance of more than 100 commercial landscape accounts, including Disneyland Park and Resort, Angel Stadium and the Richard Nixon Library. Paul spent the first half of his career as a Director of Golf Course Construction and Maintenance Operations at several California and Nevada golf courses, four of which are ranked in the top-100 courses in America. He has a bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo and is proficient in Spanish as a second language. Paul lives in San Diego, California.

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Reclaiming your golf course . . . .

Calcium Sulfate Dihydrate is the most popular and most commonly used material to reclaim sodic soils and treat soils irrigated with reclaimed, sodic water. Please note that this article started with calcium sulfate dihydrate as the source, not calcium sulfate. I want to be clear, there is a huge difference; knowing what you’re applying is key to reclaiming your golf course.

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The Unsung Heroes

When I first started with Calcium Products 5 years ago I heard an extreme environmentalist talk about the “AUGUSTA EFFECT” and he was referring to how televising the Masters in color started the overuse of fertilizers in order to make golf courses and home lawns look as “perfect” as Augusta National. Take it from me, nothing is “perfect” but Augusta is close and it is not because of the overuse and irresponsible application of chemicals or pesticides. Like thousands of other GCSAA superintendents, Augusta National follows a very well thought out, well executed fertility plan. See this article written during this year’s Masters Tournament regarding some of the best practices in maintaining the course, Augusta National Golf Club: Nothing Cosmetic.

The use of the phrase the “Augusta Effect” is one, unfair because Augusta National is an easy target due to the extreme privacy of the clubs operations, and two the environmentalists that take unfair shots at Augusta National are actually taking an unfair shot at all superintendents worldwide.  Golf Course superintendents are not a bunch of un-educated, un-informed ogres that are looking to destroy the environment with the overuse of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides at the expense of the watershed. The real truth is that Golf Course superintendents are some of the world’s leading agronomists that are highly skilled, highly trained and most importantly highly educated.

I have been involved in the golf industry for nearly 15 years, gaining my PGA membership in 1999. I have been fortunate to work at one of the world’s leading golf resorts and I have had inside access to how the superintendents manage high value turf at a very high value facility and let me be the first to tell everyone, it is not their mission to turn the facility into Augusta National Golf Club and it is not their mission to destroy the environment. All they are trying to accomplish is providing an experience that is memorable for every golfer that plays at the facility. I think this is ultimately the mission of every golf course superintendent. They are truly the unsung heroes of the industry. Without great golf course superintendents, there would be no golf. No offense to the restaurant, or to the PGA Professional staff, but without a quality golf course with quality playing conditions the golf course would never survive. Don’t get me wrong, all facilities need exceptional value added services like a restaurant, or a well-stocked pro shop or professional providing lessons on the practice tees but if the turf is poor the facility is sunk.

The next time you are out playing golf and you see someone on the maintenance staff, be sure to stop them and thank them for getting the course ready and you appreciate their service!! 

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SuperCal SO4 on Golf Courses

On Thursday I spent the day with one of our turf distributors. Scott Goes, owner of Nebraska Landscape Solutions, in Lincoln Nebraska. Scott services golf courses, sports turf fields, and lawn care professionals in southeastern Nebraska.

Scott took me to see a couple of golf courses. The first was Beatrice Country Club. We meet with the golf course superintendent Andy Hamilton. Andy has many challenges to deal with, watering with effluent water, low lying greens that don’t dry properly, and recent new hole construction. BCC has utilized SuperCal SO4 for a number of years to fix the problems of watering with effluent water.

I had not been to this course but Andy is doing a great job. If you’re in the Beatrice area stop in for a round, you wont be disappointed

The second course we visited was Hidden Acres Golf Course just outside of Beatrice. Jim Workman who is the superintendent there also has many challenges; Small budget, little help, and not enough equipment. Jim has been using SuperCal SO4 on his greens and fairways for two years. This year he had a 3” water main break. The watering system was not set up to have zones and the whole system had to be shut down for repairs. This lasted 4 days. None of the greens or fairways had water and one day the temps where is the 90’s. Jim was nervous, but he said he couldn’t believe how well the turf held up.

I had golfed this course in 2001 or 2002 and there has been a dramatic improvement in the quality of the turf over the past few years. Great job Jim!

Thanks again Scott, Andy, and Jim, I really enjoyed seeing your courses… next time I’ll bring the sticks!

 

 

The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!

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