Follow 5 Superintendents This Summer As BASF Launches ‘Championship Rejuvenation’ Program

By |  June 6, 2017 0 Comments

cr_logo2We invite you to follow along this year as five golf courses with diverse back stories — and different turf treatment approaches — are putting BASF turf products to the test as part of the company’s second annual “Championship Rejuvenation” program. The five participating superintendents and their courses are:

• Josh Pope, Greenbrier Old White TPC Course, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
• Chris Ortmeier, Champions Golf Club, Houston, Texas
• Brandon Schindele, Edina Country Club, Edina, Minnesota
• Mike Golden, Sterling Farms Golf Course, Stamford, Connecticut
• Dan Marco, Ruth Lake Country Club, Hinsdale, Illinois

All five superintendents have heard about — but not yet used — new turf treatment chemistries from BASF, so the anticipation is high as each superintendent kicks off their 2017 season.

Here, we introduce you to the first three program participants, Brandon Schindele at Edina Country Club, Mike Golden at Sterling Farms, and Dan Marco at Ruth Lake Country Club.

Edina Country Club
In 2010-2011, the Edina Country Club underwent a large-scale construction/renovation effort designed to turn around the golf course, boost membership, and satisfy members who were becoming vocal about issues on the private course.

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Since that project, Superintendent Brandon Schindele has been on a mission to maintain and continuously improve the course. Like many parts of the country, Minnesota saw extreme weather fluctuations early in the year — something they’ve now experienced for several consecutive years.

“The days of setting a calendar and just following it are over,” Schindele says. “We monitor the course conditions much more carefully and adjust our approach on the fly.”

Beginning with his first spray in early May, Schindele is incorporating Lexicon® Intrinsic® brand fungicide, which he plans to use through October. Lexicon Intrinsic brand fungicide is a broad-spectrum turf fungicide that is also formulated to maximize plant health. Lexicon controls dollar spot, brown patch, fairy ring, pythium root dysfunction, snow mold, summer patch, and 22 other diseases.

“I have been hearing good things from my colleagues about the new BASF formulations. One colleague I really respect told me he was blown away by the improvement he saw,” Schindele says. He will also be using BASF’s OrkestraIntrinsic® brand fungicide and FreeHand® 1.75G herbicide in his ornamental beds.

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Schindele says a combination of his own visual inspections and member feedback will indicate how successful he is with his new approach. He adds that he tries to play the course as often as he can to see the member’s perspective his team’s work.

“Edina is a challenging course with things like unique roll-offs and false fronts, and our members love that they get to use all their clubs when they play here,” Schindele says. “They are very in tune with the condition of the course, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do to improve upon an already great course.”

Ruth Lake Country Club
Ruth Lake Country Club Superintendent Dan Marco is a fan of good planning, data points, and the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. At the same time, he acknowledges that there are always new things to learn and ways to continue to improve his approach.

“I keep an open mind about using new products, so I was definitely interested when the BASF team approached me about participating in this program,” Marco says.

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Marco’s impeccably kept private course features 26 acres of fairways, three acres of tees and four acres of greens. As a fan of spreadsheets and cost analysis, he is excited to be using BASF formulations on roughly half of his greens, tees and fairways, and keeping the other half managed with products he has used in previous years.

Marco began using both Lexicon and Xzemplar® fungicide in mid-May. Xzemplar provides curative and preventive control over dollar spot on fairways, tees, and greens. It is both a contact fungicide and a long-lasting preventative treatment.

“We used to wait at the start of the growing season until we saw the first signs of dollar spot and then begin our treatments. Now we stay out in front of it and get a preventative application out prior to the onset. This has really helped us keep on top of dollar spot rather than chase it all season,” Marco says. “When we didn’t get started ahead of the problem, we ended up using more product to treat dollar spot and had to treat more often. It’s much better not to see it in the first place.”

Now in his 16th year at Ruth Lake, Marco oversaw a complete re-work of the course in 2004, including re-grassed greens, building five new holes, and being one of the first courses in the region to put in newer varieties of bentgrass greens. Those improvements were a real boost to club, he says, and resulted in both retaining and attracting many new members.

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“It’s a very playable, fun course. It’s not necessarily a nationally recognized golf course, but lots of times the comments back from those who play it for the first time are very positive. It’s more than what they would have expected,” Marco says.

Sterling Farms Golf Course
Sterling Farms Golf Course was a public course in need of turnaround when Superintendent Mike Golden was hired in early 2017. The General Manager had played Golden’s former course and recruited him to help turn around Sterling Farms, which does more than 50,000 rounds every year.

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After ensuring he had strong support from the course’s Board of Directors, Golden jumped right in by planting 3,000 square feet of nursery sod throughout the 18 greens. Trees and drainage work on the hilly course also began right away.

“Our greens, tees and fairways were all struggling,” Golden says. “Being in turnaround mode, we are the perfect candidate to see what we can do by being part of this program.”

He is using Emerald® fungicide first, followed by Xzemplar, and finishing with a second application of Emerald on his tees and fairways. For the greens, Golden is using Lexicon fungicide throughout the growing season. His goal is to stay ahead of disease.

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“I need to get as much as possible out of my tee and fairway sprays,” Golden says. “With so many rounds being played, we have to limit the time our sprayers are out there. Plus, we need to maximize our dollars on each spray, so I have high hopes using BASF’s new chemistries.”

Golden’s primary goal is to reach optimum plant health and re-establish turf coverage on all greens. Once achieved, he hopes to reach daily green speeds of 10, with the ability to get to 11 for tournament play.

“Our turnaround efforts are off to a great start, but next year is when we’re really going to see Sterling Farms pop,” Golden says. “I’m hoping Xzemplar and Emerald play a big part in making all of our work pay off.”

Golfdom and BASF will be following all 5 participating courses throughout the summer and fall. Stay tuned to Golfdom for progress reports from all five Superintendents.

Next up: Introductions to Chris Ortmeier at Champions Golf Club, and Josh Pope at Greenbrier – who is about to host the annual Greenbrier Classic PGA Tour event in early July.

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Photos: BASF

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