You’re Able to Tell the Grass What to Do, the Grass Doesn’t Tell You What to Do
Sewailo Golf Club at Casino Del Sol Resort
"I have an environmental horticulture degree from Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, Georgia. I started working on a golf course as a kid and got sucked into doing maintenance by the owner. And boom it took off from there. I have worked for the best of the best.
My mentors were Palmer Maples Jr., he’s in the Georgian Golf Hall of Fame, and Mike Crawford at TPC Sugarloaf he’s now the head agronomist for the TPC Network. And then Colliar Miller, VP TPC Agronomy, PGA TOUR Golf Course Properties, didn’t hire me in Vegas but he was the Superintendent that brought Dale Hahn to TPC at Summerlin and while working with Dale he taught me about the soils in the southwest desert. Dale is in the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame. So I have worked for two hall-of-famers!
You never stop learning is probably the best thing they taught me there’s new stuff out there and if you think you have reached your pinnacle then that’s where you get problems. So, it’s always good to try new things and keep learning.
Dale said that your soil is only as good as your water quality and that’s where this product comes into play. When I came here, I was looking for something like this and this is a homerun. HCT is a homerun for any course from east coast to west coast. For us it takes care of a lot of problems with the scale. The buildup, the stuff you see in your showers, the white bicarbonate, it takes that stuff out.
It just makes your soil solution that much better and you see results a lot faster. The soils aren’t tied up with salts, and not just salts. It’s breaking down everything and putting it into solution for the plant to use. And that’s the most important thing.
We have gone through a tote and a half of WaterSOLV™ Curative so far. We were introduced to HCT by Mark Hensley of Wilbur-Ellis. I was asking him about an injection system and he said ‘I have what you need’. And I think a group of people know more than one person so I was asking all kinds of questions when I got here to all the sales guys and nobody really had anything interesting until Mark brought it to my attention that this is what we need.
I was looking into the injection system for n-pHuric acid. But coming from bermuda to bent, I didn't want to put any nitrogen on the greens, just something just to treat the water and lower pH.
Before the WaterSOLV™ we looked into the regular cultural practices like aerification, watering heavier and more infrequent and deeper, which isn't always great for golfers. We vertical mow and just used cultural practices, like gypsum. We put gypsum down and I was going to put a big truck out with 1–15 lbs of gypsum in the fairways but we really don’t need to do that now they’re draining just fine.
We have eliminated that application that I was going to have to do to lower pH; an aerification and a gypsum application, across the whole course. That was every couple of years and I don’t think we will have to do that as much now.
The transition with the product is just so much better. The place had been heavily overseeded for the last ten years at 900 lbs per acre of ryegrass so the bermuda has just taken up eating with heavy overseeds and the bermuda base was really weak when I got here. Coming into April, May and June we were roping off fairways and transition spots where we just had dead spots with no bermuda.
When we put the tote out (265 gallons of WaterSOLV™) over the winter I think that made all the difference in the transition we are seeing now. We didn’t even use a chemical to transition; the bermuda base was just healthy.
With treatment over the winter the bermuda just flourished. It came right through transition and we had a great overseed as well but it took over without any kind of chemical manuscript or anything like that which saves us a lot of money because that’s expensive.
Our GM saw that and he appreciates it. The benefits are ten, fifteen-fold if you really chalk it all up after using the WaterSOLV™ Curative.
When dealing with downpours that are common here in Tucson, the standing water on the greens would be the normal issue and now I can water as the group is on the tee box and the infiltration of the water is not just pudding in a bird bath area. By the time they are hitting their second shots and the water is down, it’s already into the soil, it has already penetrated.
So that's a nice thing where if the golfers are teeing off and we don’t shut the water off, (because we are watering in a fertilizer or doing an application that needs to be watered in). The golfers would approach the green with standing water, and now that doesn’t happen.
It makes us a little more efficient. We have had no comments from golfers about wet conditions since we started using the product. And wet turf was a big issue.
Golfers would complain about standing water in different areas and now we don't have those comments. I can water lightly instead of heavy, and that makes a difference as far as golfers enjoying the conditions. It’s just a drier surface overall, using that stuff now. From the back of the tee box to the back of the green everything has benefitted.
The trees have benefitted. The flowers on the sage bushes are in full bloom. The roses are in full bloom. The vegetation is taking up all the nutrients it needs.
The drainage and everything is in uniformity; we are getting definition along lake banks where carts usually drive.. We don't have to use as many ropes and stakes to get that definition. We pulled our ropes and stakes off and we are seeing step and intermediate cut in areas that we haven’t seen before.
We used to have to water greens during the day and now there is a lot less hand watering. There’s a lot less overtime of hand watering. I feel confident that the greens are uniformly wet and this has been one hot, dry summer. I'll go through with the meter and it's at 49% and I haven't used any wetting agents, which is huge.
My general manager was a superintendent as well and he’s not a big wetting agent fan because when you get your soil up to 80% moisture then the balls are plugging.
Now, without using any wetting agents on the greens, it's just been a home run as far as consistency. We had four pros come down from Phoenix last week and say we had the best golf course in AZ. So that was a big compliment. And I think mainly what they were talking about was the overall uniformity and consistency of the greens; moisture wise, everything. There’s less dry spots.
We can max out the water window in between waterings a couple more days with this stuff. We see a lot less algae; we still solid tine with the needle tines but could probably skip doing one of those per month because I just don’t see the black layer. In the normal bird bath spots, there’s no black ooze coming up, even with the monsoon storms.
We have noticed the tines going down much easier. It’s night and day. I swear some of the fairways were built on caliche. Even those fairways are getting deeper penetration with the tines.
The tractor runs smoother, you could almost set a cup of coffee on top of it and it won’t vibrate off now where it was just shaking the whole tractor.
One thing that stood out to me when I was asking the crew for some insight was Anita, a long-time crew member, mentioned that changing cups was so much easier now. She weighs maybe 100 lbs and she does have trouble.
These aren't push up greens but they are hard to get a cup down into and she mentioned how easy it is to change a cup and I thought that was a big howdy-do to what we have been doing.
I told her the reason why is because we have been injecting some stuff that opens up these pores and the crew has noticed, definitely.
We have put out about 6 gallons of the WaterSOLV™ BC. That’s it. We haven't had to water as much, because we just don't have to. You can cut your global time down with this stuff. It's a huge percentage, at least a third less water, and that’s in the summer. And that's with bent grass greens, 419 fairways; it’s not a small property.
We have had to flush some black sludge out of heads. It was plugging some of the sprinkler heads up. Because what had been in the well was about ten years of muck. So we had to open up some main line flushes for about half an hour. Now we do a good mainline flush about once a week and the irrigators said that made a huge difference; they’re not seeing that black sludge anymore. It was in the lines, it was everywhere. The Curative didn’t move it but the BC did. It just took a couple flushes and we are not having that issue at all anymore. It works!
We did have some chemigation issues and were down for a few months. But before that we were injecting so much that we weren’t lacking anything. We put out 20 gal within a week or two just trying to calibrate but we figured out the problem.
I kind of jumped the gun myself on the chemical injection coils, using the ones I had. I was so ready to get this stuff going so that I could prove that this was the cure to transition problems we had been having. And we can still go ahead and overseed heavy because we can get this bermuda base to transition fine with this product. I have confidence that the transition will be better and that the overseed will establish better.
Our GM is from Illinois; the Chicago area and he knows that rye will go ahead and germinate later on in the end of October around here with our soil temperatures. Even if we have a light frost, we can still get the rye to germinate so we are going to let the players have the course for September and October while everyone else is overseeding and we are going to make hand over fist money and my confidence is that using this stuff will enhance the germination later on in the fall and we will still have a good overseed. I'll put some urea with it that will heat the soil up through fertilizer. Just having no salt; just a clean thatch layer for the seed to take is going to benefit us. By being able to overseed later will benefit the general manager’s revenue side of it.
I think the HCT will make a huge difference in that area of germination. Before we were at the end of the line of the Central Arizona Project Canal (CAP) using some pretty hard water. Our TDS was up there. We had shell issues, they’re pretty big shells. I haven't seen a difference yet but I think it's going to help. I think we will start seeing a difference since we are using the chemistry at about 3 ppm so that should dissolve them.
You always want to charge what your golf course product is worth and right now we are the best. We have seen a little price sensitivity because we have moved the needle so far up but that’s fine. We’ve got to find where we need to be. And the rounds are still up.
The way our GM looks at it is awesome because we are the profit center in all actuality. We don’t make a profit, but the profit is there because of us. And with this, it's actually a wash because the benefits are significant. We didn't have to use chemistry for our transition. You still have to fertilize of course and you see those results quicker. It gets into the soil solution and it’s more available in the solution.
You’re able to tell the grass what to do, the grass doesn’t tell you what to do. And if you can do that you win and have a job for a long time. And right now, we are definitely telling the grass what to do."
Sewailo Golf Club
While water and vegetation issues are universal their causes are complex and specific. That's why we created our own soil and water testing matrix to create custom prescriptions for our customers that are aimed at solving the source of problems, and reducing the need not only for wetting agents, sulfuric acid, gypsum and manual aerification, but reducing the need for our chemistry as well. Most of our long term users are on maintenance programs using just 3-6 ppm of a custom percentage of each product injected directly into their irrigation system.
HCT's purpose and privilege is providing sustainable and cost effective solutions to the chronic problems that plague soil health in the world of water and agronomy. We consistently reduce water demand 15% and increase crop yields 18% and more. When you treat water ‘well’ with WaterSOLV™ you increase efficiency, decrease costs, increase yield, improve pore space and add oxygen chemically. We can show you how to restore soil infiltration and soil operability just by treating your water and for substantially less than you're spending now.