Thursday, February 2, 2012

Come on guys, turn the water on!

We have been sending out customer surveys for the past 4-5 months to each of our customers as they play our courses.  The feedback has been tremendous (mostly positive with some welcomed constructive criticism mixed in to keep us humble).  We are using Survey Monkey and no I am not receiving compensation for the plug, but the best thing about this service is that you can provide feedback to the customer if they provide their email contact.  I try to stay current with the submissions and people have replied to my emails thanking me for taking the time to explain situations or agree with them as to why things are the way they are or seem.
Dairy Creek #1 Approach and Green

Dairy Creek #2 Tee Box
A comment we have received a few times this winter is the title of this post.  Most of the comments have come from customers in the Bay area or from Southern Cal.  Our turf species in our roughs and fairways are Common Bermuda, Hybrid Bermuda, or Kikuyu grass.  All of these species are termed warm season grass or C4 grasses.  This year has been unseasonably cold and we have had 17 frost delays at Dairy Creek so far and even one frost delay at Morro Bay, ON THE OCEAN FRONT!!  It's not supposed to be cold on the coast right?...WRONG, at least this year.  Our greens and green surrounds are nice and green, but if you are not wall to wall green some customers just are not satisfied regardless of playing quality.  I guess this is probably why the 2010 motto of "Brown being the new green" did not stick in the golf industry. 

DCGC #9 tee box and #8 green
Well the fact is that warm season turfgrasses go dormant during the winter months especially after a frost.  These cold temperatures significantly reduce the chlorophyll production of these plants and they begin to shut down to conserve energy and survive the next season.  This creates a landscape of gold, tan, and brown hues.  Unfortunately, this is not what golfers expect when showing up at a property and why golf naysayers chastise golf courses for being environmental polluters.

DCGC #9 tee box
As a turf professional I am always trying to educate golfers and non-golfers (hence this blog) about what we do and why we do it.  I understand when you look at a regional landscape like the one we live within here on the Central Coast of California, given our 13-17 inch annual rainfall average, seeing a vividly green golf course looks like a waste of resources as compared to the dry tan colors of the native landscape 9 months of the year.  However, we have done and continue to do what we can to minimize our impacts to the environment.  We irrigate with reclaimed water on all three of our courses and try to let mother nature control the reigns of our courses by using appropriate turf species, encouraging wildlife and their habitat, and working towards a goal of Zero Waste.  Many of these objectives lead to our golf courses looking more "off-color" this time of year as we are not over seeding areas to promote a green landscape, but rather allowing nature to happen to provide good golf conditions by utilizing  "green" practices.  These practices include reduced water usage, reduced fertilizer use, and minimal pesticide usage.  These reasons are why we created our Zero Waste Park at Dairy Creek so that we can accomplish all of these goals by using our waste streams to create organic fertility products that also eliminate our waste from reaching landfills where it has exponential impacts on the environment.

I would encourage all golfers to enjoy their favorite golf course with an eye towards a bigger picture and realize that the grass may not be as green as you might like, but most times there is a beneficial reason as to why.  Not to mention that your ball will probably roll an extra 20 to 30 yards farther and we can all use a little extra distance ... at least I can.

"I've got mae God and mae gowff to see me thro'."
                                          ~ Old Tom Morris  


  1. Thank you, that’s very interesting information. I need to share with my friends.

    1. Tom,

      Yes please do as golfers need to understand the requirements to maintain a healthy golf turf and unless you are a high end course on a resort overseeding is not an option unless you have an owner with deep pockets. Not only that, but overseeding is definitely not low on inputs and costs. You must scalp your Bermuda turf to near soil level, seed the areas, apply a started fertilizer, water to keep the seed bed moist, perhaps apply a fungicide 5-10 days after germination. All of this will require a course to close for 4-8 weeks for complete grow-in. Then you need to chemically remove your ryegrass overseeded turf as your bemuda begins to wake up to aid in transition. Plus you have all of the labor to perform these tasks.

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  3. Thanks Josh for the explaination. The course (Dairy) has been in excellent shape all winter and while I wondered about brown, I figured it was something like this. I recently went to the Dallas area, and all the courses look much the same and even browner if that is the right word. Thanks again to your staff and the pro-shop guys at Dairy Creek.

    1. MIke,

      Thanks for the kind words. The turf types in Texas are predominantly bermuda and fairways and tees might be zoysia. These grasses are warm season grasses and go completely dormant during the winter, much like some of the lawn in Paso and Atascadero. Zoysia is a tremendous turf even when dormant as it is like astroturf, plus the water and fertility that it needs is minimal. I was surprised not to see more of it here in CA when I moved from the midwest given the water concerns and environmental awareness. Now that I have seen some comments about our brown turf I understand as golfers expect green grass around these parts. That thought process needs to be atlered as fast and firm are the best playing conditions, not lush and green.

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