Q&A with Erik Gowdy - Palm Aire Country Club
I have a few favorite products, but the newest favorite I have is the wetting agent combination I’m using on my greens. I am using Aquicare at 1 gallon per acre per month in combination with Hydretain ES plus at 1 gallon per acre per month. I’m really happy with how fast acting it is and it is providing better results than any other of the products I’ve used in the past. There is one other product I’ve used in the past that comes close, but this combination is less expensive per acre. We started using this combination right at the end of the summer. Before we started this program we had two guys hand watering dry spots on greens just about every day if it wasn’t raining. Once we started this program, we reduced hand-watering needs by 80 percent or more along with reducing how much irrigation was required. I’ve tried a lot of different wetting agents over the years and it’s hard to make me happy with wetting agent performance, but with this combination, I’m happy.
How has technology changed/shaped your business?
Technology has advanced so much and so fast it can be hard to keep up. Moisture meters have been a big technology change for me. They have completely changed how I schedule my irrigation. Once I started using the moisture meters consistently a few years ago, I was able to figure out what my baselines are and fine tune my irrigation needs accordingly. Rather than running overhead irrigation, sometimes we will skip overheads and just go around with the moisture meter and hand water specific areas of certain greens. Our wetting agent combination has allowed us to do more of this finely tuned watering that what we could do in the past. Some of the equipment coming into the golf business now, like GPS enabled sprayers, looks like it’s going to be changing the way that we operate.
What is the biggest challenge you face in the business?
My biggest challenge is time management. Time management for myself and time management for our maintenance team. There is not enough time in the day to accomplish all of the tasks that you need to accomplish. Along with all of the normal daily operations, we do everything we can from tree trimming to aerifying in house. So, managing the time of my employees is as challenging as managing my own time. We are considering some of the newer time management systems that have become available over the last few years. I’m looking at some of the electronic job board systems now. You can use them for daily assignments and to communicate with your team but the key is that they will allow us to track the hours we spend on each assignment. That makes communicating our needs with my manager and members easier. It also will help us budget our resources better.
How do you approach building a spray program?
On the old Tifdwarf Bermuda, we had diseases once in a while but they seemed less frequent and easier to manage than what we experience with the ultradwarf varieties these days. The major manufacturers in our industry have done a good job putting together recommendations of what a golf course superintendent should spray based on location, time of year and what diseases you are most likely to see during that time of year. For me, that was a great starting point and I’ve built my program based off of those guidelines. I stay on a preventative fungicide program. We will still have diseases on our greens now and then, but since I’ve started using fungicides preventatively, the diseases haven’t been as damaging and seem like they have been easier to control when we do get them.
*Title photo credit: Golf Coast Magazine
Erik Gowdy, Director of Golf Maintenance at Palm Aire Country Club, shares his thoughts on products, technology and industry challenges.
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