Friday, 9 March 2018

Low Cost Surface Firmness Tester

If you're a broke datahead like me you probably have always wanted to measure your putting green surface firmness but haven't been able to justify the $1000+ expense to buy one of the fancy testers available on the market. The problem I have had is that I just wasn't sure if it would be a metric that would make a difference in the way I managed my golf course.

It was easy for me to justify the expense of a moisture meter almost 10 years ago because I could see how it would improve my operation. I'm still on the fence about the firmness tester so I asked twitter how I could make one for myself and as usual, was pleasantly surprised.

This rather simple firmness tester was brought to my attention but it was still out of my price range at around $500.

Dr. D made a great little video outlining these various devices and how they work.

I decided to make an even cheaper version than what the PGA currently uses, again, because I am not sure if this is something that is valuable to me.

I bought 2 steel balls that are close in size to a golf ball which is 1.68" in diameter. My steel balls are 1.5" but you could also use 1.75" balls. You can get these on Amazon.

My version uses your HOC gauge to measure the depth of the impression on your green. Don't tell your mechanic.

Instead of a washer I used an old bedknife that is the same thickness as the little knob below the HOC gauge.

center the hole with paint over the indent

Find a bedknife that is a similar thickness to the tab on the bottom of your gauge.
In order to get consistent data you need to drop the balls from a constant height. I use a flag stick (assuming all of your flags are the same height). I drop the balls from the bottom of the flag because no one else on my crew can reach the top!

This version requires you push down on the gauge to test the depth. This obviously introduces some error so be as careful as possible to not push too hard.

I take a few measurements then log them in my firmness tester spreadsheet found here.

I've been asked a lot about how much the balls should weigh. I don't think it matters much as long as all your balls are the same mass and size. The only reason to have a standardized ball would be to compare to other courses which isn't what this is for.

In time I expect to build an understanding of what this data means. What is firm and what is soft and if it's something that I care about enough to measure or invest further in one of the fancy units.

For now I've pulled this data into my maintenance HUD to see how important this data really is.

If you like my blog and want to support what I do you can support me on Patreon or paypal. Thanks!

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Turfgrass Maintenance HUD

I've talked about how to efficiently collect and analyze data on a golf course using google forms and google sheets on this blog. These free cloud based tools make is super easy to collect data in the field and have in instantly sorted and analyzed for use with decision making.

The trouble with having multiple sheets for data collection is that you have to go to all these sheets to get the relevant data. My turfgrass maintenance HUD (heads up display) solves that problem by aggregating all my data into one place. Now I can see all the metrics that are important to my agronomic decision making process.

I threw everything I have at this preliminary HUD design. The idea is that I will cut out the stuff that I don't use but only time will tell what is useful in my day to day grass growing decision making process.

The foundation of this HUD is the =importrange() function in google sheets. This function allows you to pull data from another spreadsheet into the current spreadsheet. This is how I get all the information into one spot.

All of the weather data is pulled from my weather spreadsheet which automatically updates each day and calculates the growth potential, evapotranspiration rate, dollar spot potential and precipitation data.

The growth potential data will help me understand the growing conditions. Whether it's too cool for growth or too hot I will be able to make more informed decisions about how much I push the grass based off of this data.

I also pull this data into my fertilizer spreadsheet to help me determine my weekly fertilizer rates etc.
My stimp data is pulled from my stimp meter reader sheet.

The growth rate data will give me a great idea of how fast the grass is growing and what kinds of issues I can expect whether it's disease, green speed issues, mowing frequency or clipping management.

Some might think that all this data takes away the art of greenkeeping. I think it allows me to produce better art as my understanding of how my grass is growing is now compiled in one central location where I can use it to make the best decision based off of the facts.

If you like my blog and want to support what I do you can support me on Patreon or paypal. Thanks!

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Why I don't charge for what I do

I get asked this question almost daily.

"Why don't I charge for what I do?"

"You should really charge money for this"

The simple answer is that the reason I don't charge for what I do is that I feel a responsibility to give back whatever I can to the community that has given so graciously and generously to me in the past.

It gets a bit more complicated when I start to think about who the information I share will really help. For me, being from a very low budget golf course, I feel that it is important to have information accessible to all. If I was to charge for what I do, it would eliminate access to information for many low budget golf courses and I think that this is wrong.

I have always been frustrated with the educational offerings at conferences. They are costly and typically not relevant to my situation. It makes sense though, because the people who can afford to attend these events typically have more money, so why would they want to hear about how to spend next to nothing. It also brings sponsorship into account. I am not sponsored by any company (except my golf course employer obviously) and I intend to keep it this way. This blog is about saving money, not spending money. It's about ideas, not products. Being supported by the people I help would be the only way for me to make money.

"I should be a consultant"

Maybe one day I will, but currently I feel that I have too many things I need to try for myself in order to be truly helpful to others. Radical ideas are hard to convince others to do unless you have first done them yourself and found success. That is what I like to do and am currently doing.

That is the entire point of this blog, to share ideas, try new things, and hopefully help someone out in the process.

As time goes on and this blog becomes more popular I have found myself overwhelmed with all of the requests for help. By no means do I want to suggest people don't reach out to me with their ideas and suggestions and questions. Please, continue to do this! Email me, phone me, tweet me, I love all the interaction!

For those of you who feel that I have helped you out over the years I have created a patreon page. Essentially what this does is allow those who can afford to pay for my content and services to do so and allows me to keep it free and accessible for everyone else.

Even if no one subscribes on patreon I will continue to keep doing what I'm doing so either way it really doesn't matter to me.

If you like my blog and want to support what I do you can support me on Patreon or paypal. Thanks!

Friday, 2 March 2018

MLSN MATH Step by Step

I've done a lot of talks recently all over the world about the MLSN guidelines and a common issue I come across is people getting hung up on the math. One of the biggest advantages of MLSN is giving the power to determine how much fertilizer to apply back to the superintendent, but if you can't figure out the math you are no better off than when you started.

If it wasn't already obvious, I love math. I see the world as numbers and use them to help me better understand what I see. This is one of the reasons the MLSN instantly made sense to me back in 2012. The numbers just didn't add up for me with fertilizer recommendations coming from things like BCSR or SLAN. It was almost like these recommendations were being pulled out of thin air.... The fact that the math behind the MLSN is freely available and quite simple to do should say a lot about the benefits of this system.

Before I start I would suggest checking out PACE Turf's Climate Appraisal form and Micah's MLSN Cheat Sheet. These tools can do the work for you and explain how to do this math for yourself. For you stubborn SOB out there I will now go through the math step by step with an example from one of my soil tests.

Now you can do this without testing your soil and simply just apply any fertilizer in the ratio found in the plant. This will ensure that you supply all the nutrients that the plant can use but will invariably lead to some waste because with this method you are ignoring the nutrients in the soil. If we account for the nutrients in the soil we can use them and save from having to apply that nutrient as fertilizer until we use up the soil reserves.

Apply fertilizer in this ratio and forget about it
But this isn't why you are here, you want to fine tune your fertilizer applications and have recently tested you soils. You want to use up your soil reserves and save some money!
MLSN Guidelines

Here's a soil test that I did a few years back.

Let's use the G1 sample for this example.

As you can see I have 37ppm of K in my soil and the MLSN guideline is also 37 ppm. Great I have enough, right?


I have enough for today but as the plant grows it will use some of that K and my soil test will dip below the MLSN guidelines. In the short term this is ok because there is a built in safety factor in the guidelines but after a while I will be in trouble.

So how much K will I use?

This is super easy to determine because as we know, K use is directly related to N use. It's a ratio. We can expect to use half as much K as N for any given time. How you determine how much N you apply is up to you. I like to use PACE Turf's climate appraisal because it takes my specific climate into account and allows me to fine tune rates over the course of a season.

For this example let's say I use 10g of nitrogen per square meter per year. That means that the plant will use 5g of potassium because half of 10 is 5 as determined by the above ratios.

Easy peasy.

But the MLSN guidelines are in ppm and we have g/m^2. To convert our 5g K/m^2 into ppm we need to multiply it by 6.7 to determine ppm in the top 10cm of soil. This will give us 33.5 ppm. This is the amount of potassium in ppm that we will expect our plant to use over the course of the season or whatever the time frame was that I used to determine my nitrogen rates for.

I'll use Micah's a+b-c formula to determine how much fertilizer is required.

We just determined what a is. That is how much K the plant will use and that is 33.5ppm

b is the MLSN guidelines which is 37ppm.

c is our soil test which was 37ppm as well.

So 33.5 + 37 - 37 = 33.5ppm

This makes sense because my soil test was exactly what the MLSN guidelines is so I essentially have to supply all of the K that the plant will use to stay above the MLSN guideline.

Ok so now I have the amount of K to add in ppm but we don't apply fertilizer in ppm. We need to convert back to g/m^2. To do this we divide ppm by 6.7 to get g/m^2 in the top 10cm. For our example this gives us 5 g/m^2. Ok so we just apply that much over the course of the year and we are good.


That is the amount of K to apply but we apply fertilizer K in the form of K2O. To convert from K to K2O multiply it by 1.2. This gives us 6g K/m^2 per year to apply.

For phosphorus this conversion factor is 2.29.

For the other nutrients there is no conversion factor!

So I need to apply 6g K/m^2. Personally I like to use 0-0-50 for my potassium source because it's cheap. Remember, the plant doesn't know the cost. So I divide 6g by 50% (that's what the numbers on the bag signify) and get 12g of 0-0-50/m^2 fertilizer per year. I have 4000m^2 of greens so that will require 48,000g of 0-0-50 fertilizer or 48kg or 2 bags or about $60 worth of fertilizer.

If you are using pre-blended fertilizer you need to multiply the quantity in liters by the density or mass per liter.
The fertilizer costs on my greens is an insignificant part of my budget. We literally spend more on toilet paper.

For phosphorus I can expect to use 1.3g/m^2 per year. Multiply that by 6.7 to get ppm and we get;

8.71ppm used per year for a

The MLSN is 21 ppm for b

I have 64ppm in my soils for c

So we do the math.

8.71 + 21 - 64 = - 34.29

What does a negative number mean?

It means you have more than enough nutrient already contained in your soil for the time frame you used to determine nutrient use compared to nitrogen. In this case it is a year.

I essentially have 34ppm extra in the soil above and beyond what I will likely use. If we divide this excess by the annual use rate of 8.71 we can get the number of years worth of phosphorus we have in the soil. In this example we get 3.93 years worth of P.

On my greens this isn't a huge deal because we don't use much P and the greens are small. If this was K and on my fairways I could expect to find huge savings.

If this number wasn't a negative, I would divide it by 6.7 then multiply it by 2.29 to determine how much P to apply as fertilizer.

For Calcium

I expect to use 0.08 x 10 = 0.8g Ca

0.8*6.7 = 5.36 ppm Ca for a

The MLSN for Ca is 331ppm for b

My soil has 367ppm for c

So 5.36 + 331 - 367 =  -30.64 ppm

Another negative number! 30.67 divided by the annual Ca use rate of 5.36 gives me 5.7 years worth of Ca in my soils. I don't need to apply it as a fertilizer. There is no conversion factor for Ca but don't forget to divide it by 6.7 to get it in g/m^2.


10 (nitrogen use) x 0.05 (magnesium ratio to nitrogen) = 0.5 grams of magnesium multiplied by 6.7 is 3.35ppm for a

The MLSN for Mg is 47 ppm for b

And we have 59 ppm in the soil for c

The Math;

3.35 + 47 - 59 = -8.65

ANOTHER NEGATIVE! I have more then enough Mg in my soil to sustain by grass for at least 2.6 years (8.65/3.35 = 2.6). There is no conversion factor for Mg but don't forget to divide it by 6.7 to get it in g/m^2.


10 x 0.06 = 0.6 grams of sulfur x 6.7 = 4.02 ppm of sulfur for a

MLSN is 6 ppm for b

I have 19ppm in my soil for c

4.2 + 6 - 19 = -8.8

There is no conversion factor for S but don't forget to divide it by 6.7 to get it in g/m^2.

It looks like the only things my greens need are nitrogen and potassium. Great!

To make applying the custom amount of potassium determined with the MLSN guidelines I divide the amount needed by the amount of nitrogen I expect to apply for the year.

6 (amount of K to apply)/10 (amount of N I expect to apply.

This gives me a ratio of 66% potassium to nitrogen. I can use this number when making custom blends of soluble fertilizer to apply in my sprayer for next to no money, or I can use this to select pre-blended fertilizers that I will spend a lot of money on to apply to my greens. Easy.

The soil test used in this example was done in 2015 which was 3 years after I had adopted the MLSN guidelines on my course. Nutrients like K that are used in larger quantities will quickly end up close to the MLSN guidelines using this strategy. If you think about it that's the entire point of calculating fertilizer requirements in this manner. It is to use what the soil can provide and apply what the soil can't provide as fertilizer. After a while, you will end up with soil test figures that are close to the MLSN guidelines. How long it will take to get to this point will be determined by how much your grass grows, if you remove clippings or not, how much you have in your soil, and what ratio that nutrient is used each year.

Potassium went to the MLSN guidelines on my low CEC soils in 1 year. As you can see I still had a few years to go for the other nutrients to get them to the MLSN levels.

From there I can continue to test my soils to ensure that my math is good, make adjustments because this is just math, not reality, and apply all the nutrients as required by the plant use.

So how does this method compare to the one I first described where we apply the nutrients found in the ratios in the plant?

Well with that method I would slightly underapply potassium but the safety factor in the MLSN would keep me safe. Eventually I would need to supplement the K in my soil.

I would also over-apply all the other nutrients but even then, they are so cheap this would only cost me maybe $20 per year over what I currently do on my greens ($130 annual fertilizer cost for 0.4ha in 2017).

If you are struggling through the math I hope this helps you figure it out. Once you figure this out, you will see that the MLSN, and fertilizing grass is actually quite boring. But this will help you focus your efforts to make meaningful improvements elsewhere.

If you like my blog and want to support what I do you can support me on Patreon or paypal. Thanks!

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Simplifying Soil Biology with Clipping Yield

I had a blast speaking in Atlantic Canada last week about fertilizer. Photo: Micah Woods
Soil biology has always been one of those things that confuses the hell out of me. It's a complicated thing and there are plenty of people that will tell you how you can make your soil biology better (whatever that means) but the consistency of results and expense just don't make sense to me. If soil biology was that easy, everyone would do it.

If you ask any turfgrass scientist about soil biology they will probably admit that it plays an important role in plant health but there are very few things that we can specifically do to make positive changes in soil biology as far as science in concerned. Results from products that promise to improve soil biology are mixed and this fact is part of the reason I think that a lot of people don't use these products. I also think that a lot of people use these products because we do appreciate the importance of soil biology and as usual, want to take action to improve it even if we have no clue what the current soil health status currently is. In today's economic climate, we can't afford to guess.

As we continue to learn about the biology in the soil we are finding how big of an impact it can have on plant health which in theory will make our jobs easier. Soil biology is a complicated thing but I have come across a few clues over the years that could help us as superintendents gain some better understanding about this fascinating topic and possibly even give us better tools to control the biology in the soil to help us accomplish our goals. Maybe soil biology is easy after all.

Here's the thing, I'm not a scientist. I'm a practitioner with a keen sense of observation and am always trying to better my understanding of what I do on a daily basis. Here is what I think about soil biology and how we might actually have more control over it than you think.

Dollar spot has taught me a lot about soil biology. It seems that it is worse when soil biology is too low. Here are the clues that brought me to this conclusion.

Rolling reduces dollar spot and also increases soil bacteria populations. A lot of people equate the reduction in disease to the reduction in dew but this wasn't found to be the case. Check out the following video.

What else (besides fungicide) reduces dollar spot?

Nitrogen reduces dollar spot

That's right, nitrogen can make a significant impact on dollar spot populations. Is it the nitrogen, or the soil biology, or both that are resulting in the dollar spot decrease?

There have been studies that show how nitrogen can impact soil biology, check this one out. "An N optimum between 16 and 32 g N m−2 year−1 in microbial biomass and functional diversity exists in the temperate steppe in northern China. Similar N loading thresholds may also occur in other ecosystems, which help to interpret the contrasting observations of microbial responses to N addition."

So we have two practices that make dollar spot less bad, and also affect the biology in the soil.

What about things that make dollar spot worse?

Killing soil microbes makes dollar spot worse

It's obvious that not rolling and applying not enough nitrogen will make dollar spot worse. A few years I came across this article that says "There is evidence that hydrogen dioxide can aggravate a dollar spot outbreak by reducing natural competitors to the Sclerotinia homoeocarpa mycelium."

So an non-selective "organic" pesticide can reduce soil biology and make dollar spot worse. This was also the finding from those who use hydrogen dioxide to reduce organic matter in their soils. More dollar spot following the application. It seems to me that finding the optimum soil biology is very important in controlling dollar spot and it's also obvious to me that we have the tools to do that effectively. Nitrogen fertilizer.

Fast growing grass has less dollar spot

Here's one final observation about dollar spot, soil biology and nitrogen fertilizer. Last summer when I started measuring the clipping yield on individual greens I instantly noticed that the greens with low growth rates had more dollar spot. Low growth rate, low soil nitrogen, low soil biology.

The following picture also shows the impact that nitrogen fertilizer can have on dollar spot as my sprayer doesn't quite reach the full width of my green collars and I was being lazy and not going back to give them adequate fertilizer. This disease then spread to my greens and was the only reason I needed a fungicide to control dollar spot last year.

You don't make observations like this with preventative pest control strategies
I also found this article especially interesting where it says that the guys at the Vineyard Club grow the grass quickly in the summer to fill in the disease spots. I think it might have more to do with increasing the soil biology than filling in the voids but who really knows.

Fast growing grass has more fusarium

I observe the complete opposite thing for a disease like Microdochium nivale. It appears to me that too much nitrogen will make the disease worse.

Again, I first noticed this when we had wildly varying growth rates this spring due to recovering from winter damage and I noticed that those greens that were growing too quickly had more disease. I'm starting to really notice a trend here, most of these observations were instantly made when I started measuring growth rates on my greens.....

Guess when fusarium first showed up last fall based on the following table of growth rates?

In early September we had a huge surge in observed growth rates and this was also the same time that fusarium showed up. It wasn't because of nitrogen we had added as fertilizer, but because of a mineralization event that was releasing nutrients from the soil. How do I know this? Well I can't say for sure but as I hadn't applied any nitrogen fertilizer for the month leading up to this event, I'm pretty sure the sudden increase in plant available nitrogen came from a source other than fertilizer.

So to me the clues would suggest that soil biology plays an important role in disease severity.

This is the reason that so many people use compost teas and other bio stimulants. To hopefully improve the soil and reduce disease and other plant health issues. Well here's the thing. Nitrogen fertilizer is also a fantastic bio-stimulant. Think about it. It stimulates the plant to grow. It's also incredibly inexpensive especially when urea is the source.

If adding urea fertilizer was the solution we would all be doing it so I think there is something more and the hint for what that is comes from the observation I made about fusarium.

I don't give a damn about how much nitrogen is applied. That is only one factor that will influence plant growth or the biology in the soil. There are other things that influence growth that are completely out of our control . The key thing is to be aware of them and to do that we can easily measure clipping yield.

Clipping yield allows you to quantify the sum of all things that go into making a plant grow in a way that is easy to measure and understand. This then allows us to use the tools we have available to keep the growth rates within tolerable limits to accomplish the goals we have for our property whether it is optimum playability or optimum soil health.

We can get a good idea of what the ideal growth rates are by comparing them to the growth potential model from Pace Turf. Just because we can grow grass quickly in the spring and fall doesn't mean that we should under normal circumstances.

In my discussions with Micah Woods last week we both feel that the simple act of measuring clipping yield will completely revolutionize the turfgrass management industry. It's too easy. It's so simple. It tells you so much. As Micah says in his book "A Short Grammar of Greenkeeping", "greenkeeping is managing the growth rate of the grass to create the desired playing surface for golf." As I continue to learn more about turfgrass growth rates I couldn't agree more.

Managing the growth rate is key. Photo: Joe Gulotti

I have made a tool that will make it easy for you to measure clipping yield for yourself. Click here to get it for free.

In conclusion I think that the act of spraying a potpourri of soil microbes into our soil is one of the most arrogant things we do as superintendents. How on earth do we know what we are adding and if it will positively impact our soil? Why don't we let the soil do the work for us, understand what impacts the soil biology positively (nitrogen fertilizer) and what impacts it negatively and use this and the understanding the clipping yield can offer us to make better decisions to manage our soil biology better. By the way, this is exactly what they are finding with the human microbiome project. Don't add the microbes, feed the microbes with good food. In our case, nitrogen seems to be a pretty good and affordable food. Too much or too little and we run into problems. We need to know what the appropriate amount is and from there we can make better management decisions.

It's hard to get a good answer from scientists about soil biology and how we can effectively use it. I think that's because it's so complex but I think that clipping yield might be our tool to best understand what is happening in the soil. All we need to do is grow the grass at the appropriate rate with the tools we have available and let the soil do the rest.

There's still a lot to learn on this subject so please, if you have any observations let me know in the comments or send me an email.

If you like my blog and want to support what I do you can support me on Patreon or paypal. Thanks!

Friday, 2 February 2018

Automatically Updating Hargraves ETo, Pace Turf Growth Potential, and Smith Kerns Dollar Spot Model Google Spreadsheet

Last week I decided to learn to code so that I could pull weather data off the internet and into my spreadsheets. This would allow my weather related models to update by themselves without me having to intervene. I have enough stuff to do than worry about updating weather data manually when computer can do it for me.

After some trial and error I was able to pull past weather data and a 7 day forecast for any location on earth into my spreadsheet and analyze it to calculate evapotranspiration, growth potential and the dollar spot potential.

Follow the directions carefully and please, do not request to edit this file. Simply go to File -> Make a copy and you will have your very own version to edit. Further instructions are on the spreadsheet.

Having this data at your fingertips makes decision making easier. You can see how much water your grass might use, what the disease pressure is, and how optimal the conditions are for growth.

I have also been working on a Heads Up Display (HUD) to display all the information that I gather so that it is front and center to help me make decisions.

That's one of the biggest advantages of google sheets. You can share the workload with adding data into the sheets with forms or automatically with scripts and instantly analyze that data in useful ways that can help you make better decisions based on the facts.

If you are interested in making a HUD for yourself I highly recommend learning how the =importrange() function in google sheets works so that you can pull data from any of your spreadsheets into one place easily and in real time.

If you like my blog and want to support what I do you can support me on Patreon or paypal. Thanks!

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Using Growth Potential as a communication tool

Growth potential was a game changer for me when I first learned about it in 2013. It was the first time that I was able to easily get a general idea of how grass grew in my specific climate and allowed me to fine tune my operation and leave behind the guiding principles of turfgrass management that heavily relied on broad generalizations. Instantly I could customize my plans and make adjustments that would take the weather into account.

It wasn't until last winter when we had catastrophic winter damage that I also learned how it could be a valuable tool to communicate with my membership about recovery progress and other maintenance decisions that I make.

During the recovery process I was trying everything I could to try and speed recovery but as research on the subject would suggest, "it becomes increasingly apparent that timing of spring seeding and air temperatures following seeding are fundamental factors affecting the success of re-establishing putting greens."

So while I knew the issues, it was hard to communicate this with the membership in a way that was easy to understand. That was until I looked at how the current growth potential compared to previous year's growth potential and what was considered to be good temperatures for growing grass. I penned this membership blog post and immediately everyone was able to see why we were having issues and exactly what we were doing to remedy the situation.

The growth potential allows you to visualize and compare growing conditions
I combined this information with clipping yield data to show that we were in fact getting much higher yields on our recovering greens that on the greens that weren't damaged. Our efforts resulted in growth rates that were 2-8x that of the undamaged greens.

Comparing the clipping yield allowed me to show the membership that our efforts were working

Tarps allowed us to increase the growth potential on the worst his spots but only when the sun was shining.

While the growth potential was a valuable communication tool in the difficult spring, it again proved valuable last summer during the intense summer heat.

All cool season turf managers know that when the temperatures get too hot we need to back off on stressful maintenance to ensure the grass health doesn't decline. This is because the demand for carbohydrates exceeds the plant's ability to produce those carbohydrates. 

While it's one thing to know this fact, it's another thing entirely to know exactly when this is happening and communicating to your membership what you are doing about it. Growth potential awareness will allow you to see when you need to take action against summer decline and allows you to take the emotion out of it as you communicate this fact to your membership. 

It's important to know when to back off when growing quality turfgrass. Early Aug 2017

Looking at the following table it isn't very easy to see when the difficult growing periods exist because they exist both on the low temperature range as well as the high temperature range.

Converting your average temperature to growth potential will show a clear picture of when conditions are optimal for growth and when they aren't. As can be seen on the follow chart, conditions were optimal (above 60% growth potential) for most of the 2017 summer but there were times when the growth potential took big dips. It was during these periods where the growth potential dipped that I was able to back off on stressful maintenance practices and reduce the potential for issues down the road.

We all know that when things go bad, they can go bad quickly. That's why I think it's imperative that we identify when these periods are even if they are relatively short and take action to avoid complications.

It's one thing to know when to back off but it's another thing to communicate this with the golfing membership or public. Typically, golfers only have access to the temperature data at best and as I have shown, it doesn't paint a very clear picture of the actual growing conditions that you are dealing with.

With growth potential data you can easily know when to back off and show your golfers why you are backing off with good data. It takes the emotion out of the decision and allows you to make better, more consistent decisions about managing turfgrass stress on your course while you are mostly likely experiencing the most amount of stress yourself!

Here's how to easily calculate the growth potential for cool season turf in a spreadsheet.
Last summer we saw consistently difficult growing conditions in my area of the world. From winter kill, a slow spring, to an excessively hot and dry summer, we had it all thrown at us. With this data and observation and communication I was able to handle the difficult times with little stress or surprises. My stress levels appreciated it and so did my golfers. As you can see from the scenic pictures, for the most part we were able to keep turfgrass quality high despite the challenging weather, limited staffing, and chemical and cultural inputs.

While it's easy to look back at the data to identify difficult growing conditions you could also use the weekly forecast to determine how difficult the coming week will be and plan accordingly. 

Maybe instead or in conjunction to posting green speed data, we should also post growth potential data to let golfers know how optimum the weather is for producing the desired conditions we all want.

A welcome wind during the heatwave in early August of 2017
If you like my blog and want to support what I do you can support me on Patreon or paypal. Thanks!