Environmental Science selects golf courses for demo

By and |  July 8, 2013

As part of its Healthy Turf, Healthy Tomorrow  initiative, Bayer CropScience‘s Environmental Science  has announced the Plant Health Demonstration Courses that will serve as “living labs” for researchers and superintendents to test plant health technologies in a real-world setting.

The company chose Whitemarsh Valley Country Club, Lafayette Hill, Pa., to represent the Cool Season region and the Tournament Players Club (TPC) at Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., to represent the Warm Season region.

“We’re proud to work with the innovative teams at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club and TPC at Sawgrass to help bring industry-leading plant health and plant science expertise directly to superintendents,” said Scott Welge, head of marketing for Bayer’s Professional Turf & Ornamental Business. “A golf course represents a significant amount of acres that people interact with every day and by utilizing these courses to study plant health, we’re helping provide a viable, long-term, sustainable solution for the industry.”

Findings from the Plant Health Demonstration Courses will help support local Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) chapters with case studies and best practices that focus on their specific climates and turf species. In addition, data from the research trials will feed into the Plant Health Academy curriculum. Tony Gustaitis, CGCS, of Whitemarsh Valley Country Club, and Clay Breazeale, Class A GCS, of TPC at Sawgrass, were selected from among the 12 Plant Health Academy scholars to host the inaugural Plant Health Demonstration Courses.

“In Northern Florida, temperatures can fluctuate a lot, and we’re doing upwards of 45,000 rounds in 10 months, so it’s a long seven or eight month stretch to make sure we get to the Player’s Championship with strong healthy turf for golfers,” said Breazeale. “Foot traffic is probably our number one pressure, and a stronger, denser, healthier plant can help us best withstand this pressure through the non-growing season. We’re excited to be involved in any program that supports the mission of the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG) and we look forward to working with Bayer and GCSAA, and to seeing the results of a proactive plant health program at our course.”

Research trials will assess parameters such as visual turf quality (rating), disease incidence, fertility and radiometric measurements; and from the data collected, correlations will be made between visual parameters and radiometric outputs including ratio vegetative index. Stressors introduced in the studies may include aerification, shading, water reduction and fertility reduction.

“To me, all superintendents are stewards for the environment,” Gustaitis said. “Golf course greens are so carefully maintained, golfers sometimes forget these are real plants — and it’s the health of these plants that means a better course for them to play on, and in turn, a better game. I’m honored, and it’s an honor for Whitemarsh, to even be considered as one of the two courses in the country to be associated with this program. The way Bayer is looking at plant health is really a positive for the industry.”

The Healthy Turf, Healthy Tomorrow program is aimed at advancing plant health research and education for superintendents to help ensure the health of their courses — and the industry — for the future. In addition to the Plant Health Demonstration Courses, Healthy Turf, Healthy Tomorrow also includes the Plant Health Academy, webinars and scholarships. Bayer will fund the program by investing a percentage of its StressGard Formulation Technology product sales each year for three years, which is expected to generate a minimum of $100,000 per year for the EIFG’s research, education, advocacy and scholarship initiatives executed by GCSAA.


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About the Author: Kelly Limpert

Kelly Limpert is the former digital media content producer for North Coast Media.

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