Cedarbrook Country Club in Blue Bell, PA

Golf course

Tim Kelly knew a good thing when he saw it. So, when he took over as the superintendent at Cedarbrook Country Club in Blue Bell, Pa. at the start of the 2019 season, he brought his familiarity with Aquaritin Defend with him.

Kelly began using Aquaritin Defend the year before when he was an assistant at Merion and in charge of its West Course, which is often lost in the long shadow cast by its companion, the celebrated East Course, but is a quality layout on its own merits.

Kelly has worked in the turf industry since 2008. He was part of the crew at Merion for a year and a half before enrolling in the two-year program at Penn State with the help of his boss Matt Shaffer. He also interned for a summer at Muirfield Village.

Golf course
Golf course

After earning his degree, Kelly returned to Merion in 2011 where he served in various capacities. He played a key role in a renovation of the West Course that was launched following the 2013 U.S. Open. The project included tree removal, work on the bunkers and greens, and upgrades to the course’s drainage system.

He began using Aquaritin Defend in 2018 at the suggestion of a colleague who was working at Metedeconk National Golf Club in northern New Jersey at the time. Kelly was impressed immediately.

Kelly began using Aquaritin Defend the year before when he was an assistant at Merion and in charge of its West Course, which is often lost in the long shadow cast by its companion, the celebrated East Course, but is a quality layout on its own merits.

“We started with the greens,” he said. “What it triggered in me was in terms of parts per million in the plan; the nutrition levels were all adequate. Nothing was really too high, nothing was really too low with it. It was all just kind of where it needed to be.

“I’ve tried a couple different silicon products over the years and pretty much the Aquaritin line is the only thing I’ve ever seen that could make the plant increase.”

Cedarbrook is a private club situated just north and west of Philadelphia in the heart of the Middle Atlantic region’s transition zone. It’s been at its present location since 1962. The golf course, designed by William Mitchell with help from William Gordon, features bentgrass tees and fairway while the greens are a blend of bentgrass and poa.

Kelly, who oversees a crew of 22, including himself, employs the full Aquaritin line in his agronomic program at Cedarbrook which includes Aquaritin Lakes in and around the property’s waterways. He alternates between Aquaritin 19 and Aquaritin Defend on his greens on a weekly basis at a rate of 6 oz. per acre and utilizes Aquaritin 19 on his fairways every two weeks at a rate of between 5 and 5.5 oz. per acre. Those numbers may vary depending on clipping yield and the condition of the poa on the greens.

“A tank covers 6.8 acres,” Kelly points out, “so we just throw a bottle in the tank.”

Golf course

Kelly is quick to point out that Aquaritin Defend and Aquaritin 19 have enhanced not only the health of his greens but also their consistency and playability.

“I think overall what I’ve seen from it is the (improved) rigidity of the plant,” he said. “I know they’ve done studies with silica and quality of cuts and green speeds, but I definitely feel like a couple days after I make an application the quality of cut does improve. 

“As far as speeds, I feel like they increase; (Aquaritin 19) definitely been one of the tools what we’re doing in terms of how we’ve been able to turn the greens around, particularly from a playability standpoint. 

“In the heat of the summer, we don’t raise heights too much and we’re still rolling pretty good through the summer.”

Kelly is impressed by how the turf he has treated with Aquaritin products stands up to both foot and cart traffic, particularly the entry and exit areas around the greens. The club hosted approximately 23,000 rounds last season.

“That’s a lot of foot traffic on the greens,” he said. “The walk-on and walk-off areas do not really thin out. They might require a little extra water, but they don’t thin out.”

“In terms of fairways, 75 percent I think are cart routed, so we get a lot of cart traffic on the fairways and they hold up really well to the cart traffic.”

One of Kelly’s biggest challenges is seeing to it that his greens receive sufficient sunlight and air flow.

“Our second, sixth, and 12th greens don’t get as much sunlight and air flow as the rest of the greens,” he said.  “The 11th also.

We’ve done a lot of tree work over the last four years to open up some more sunlight and airflow but those greens still don’t really get the sunlight I would want for them.”

On the plus side, Kelly notes the greens in question are less susceptible to heat stress in warm weather.

 “The biggest thing is really water management,” he said. They don’t dry out as quickly as the rest of the greens so you just have to be a lot more careful with how much more water you’re putting on them.”

Golf course

Even during one of the hottest summers on record, Tim Kelly is thinking about the winter ahead.

As the superintendent at Cedarbrook Country Club in Blue Bell, Pa. just outside Philadelphia, Kelly must prepare for the realities of winter weather in the transition zone, while also keeping in mind that his members might want to play golf right through that winter weather; the course is open year round.

“We start winter prep in October,” Kelly said, “with trying to top-dress greens more and upping potassium inputs. We use iron and manganese to hold color and to keep photosynthesizing as long as possible.”

Kelly has a protocol in place to strengthen the turf against winter ice damage.

“We make sure there is a good layer of sand around the crowns of the greens,” he said. “We deep tine, ½’ solid tine, and roughly 6-8” deep.”

As the winter approaches, Kelly will spread additional sand on his greens, within reasonable limits.

“We make heavier applications than what we would in the summer,” he said, “but we do not bury the greens in one shot.  I keep it light enough to keep adding more until first snow comes, then will do a heavier application.”

Kelly has regularly uses Aquaritin Defend as part of his winter protocol. “Aquaritin Defend continues to be in every greens application at 6oz/a into fall and winter,” he said. “It stays in through our snow mold/seedhead suppression application. Aquaritin Defend is also used in snow mold applications for tees and fairways but will likely use Aquaritin 19 this year.”

Kelly maintains the same interval for Aquaritin Defend in the winter as he does the rest of the year but will increase his application rate to 11oz/ac to provide more silica to the plant.

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