On our latest Turf Topics podcast we sat down with Glen Dube, Superintendent at Centennial Golf Club, a 27 hole daily fee facility in Carmel, New York.
Glen was kind enough to take some time amidst his busy opening season schedule to chat about some of the unique challenges he faces maintaining a 27-hole course along with his use of Aquaritin products in his greens and fairway program. Read on or take a listen to the full conversation below.
What are some of the unique challenges that come up from having to maintain 27 holes and just for general conditions?
Centennial Golf Club is located in Putnam County, just north of Westchester, an hour north of New York City. This tract of land, for the most part, is very hilly and there’s not really a
flat lie out here at all. So we have areas of runoff, we have areas of high dry spots. I’ve got turf that’s under droughty condition, I have turf that’s under wet condition, and usually right next to each other in spots. So if we’re really wet, getting any mode is challenging.
We have 27 holes, and we are a public golf course open from March through November and we have to get everything cut, cleaned and done while we’re open. We do have one day a week, where we have a closed nine, so we get a lot of our spraying done on those days. But it’s full-on open every day. We’re working in concert with golfers playing out there, and we all have to do it safely and try to keep the customer in mind and make sure they have a good time.
Before you started using Aquaritin 19, what was your fairway program like?
Our fairway fertilization program was a granular fertilizer twice a year – in the spring and early fall – and I’d supplement it with some foliar iron and some growth regulator. The iron would be there to offset any yellowing that we would experience with that application.
When you decided to switch to Aquaritin a couple of years ago, what went into the thought process as far as making the change?
I had been introduced to Aquaritin by my sales person) and I used it on my greens, and was seeing a very, very positive result. I met with my assistant and we had gone through a bunch of changes with equipment and other products and we boiled it down to a couple things. One of the main changes was the addition of the Aquaritin lineup to our greens. We went ahead at the suggestion of my sales person), and he introduced us to Aquaritin 19 and we started seeing benefits almost immediately. We went ahead and continued to use it and now it’s an integral part of our program.
What kind of interval and range of application are you using?
We’re following the label as required for Aquaritin 19 and it’s every two to three weeks – just whenever we get around to spraying our fairways. When we start off the season the interval is every three to four weeks, whatever the weather early on allows for – we’ll call the shoulder seasons – basically every time the sprayer goes out, Aquaritin goes into the tank.
As we get into the thick of it and the growing months – mid June to mid August – we’re going out every two weeks. We try to stick as tight to that as we can because the pressure is pretty high but every time the sprayer goes out, we’re putting Aquaritin in the tank, no more, no less, just putting it out, just keeping it steady.
What kind of results are you seeing as far as nitrogen usage and in terms of what your fairways look like?
The use of Aquaritin really started when the pandemic hit in 2020. It was the beginning of the season and like everything else around the world things just kind of stopped. My instructions from upper management were to not make any more purchases, because nobody really knew what was going to happen. Once the smoke kind of cleared we were still trying to keep costs to a minimum.
With COVID, and not spending any money, we decided to not put our fall application of granular fertilizer out. We noticed that the color was maintaining, and part of the reason may be that there was enough residual nitrogen leftover from the previous method of fertilizing. And the plant was using that up.
Fast forward to coming out of the pandemic with things starting to come back around and we face two things, the labor crunch and the spike in prices due to the global demand of fertilizer. We went ahead and decided to forgo our Spring application of granular product and let everything time out, all while using Aquaritin 19 as our sole nitrogen source, and the result was aesthetically appealing turf.
Aquaritin 19 provided relief on many fronts. We struggle with dollar spot management here, and dollar spot is a low nitrogen disease. We ran into a low nitrogen situation, when we weren’t putting it out in the granular form. With Aquaritin 19 as our only nitrogen source, our disease incidence was greatly reduced. We were getting longevity on our sprays and I would step back and look at the turf and it looked great!
In addition to the fertilizer price hikes, we experienced the labor crunch. In our industry, Finding labor has been very difficult in the past couple of years. I didn’t have any workers. If I continued fertilizing with the granular fertilizers, even when I’m using growth regulators, the grass would grow and I would have to mow it and I didn’t really have the manpower to mow it as frequently as necessary. With the switch to Aquaritin 19,I was still getting good color, improved disease control, and very little in the way of clippings.
Of course my growth regulator use-rate increased. Finding the right balance given that we had less to work with, and we still needed to get everything done. I would continue to monitor everything and I’d say, “Wow, what is going on here?” We’re getting this result and the only thing different I was doing was putting Aquaritin 19 into the mix, that was it.
I’m finding great results with it, it’s so easy to mix. We’re a public golf course and when we spray it’s “get up and go” time. We go like hell when we go and I’m always looking for something to not cut a corner but just save some time. I don’t need to spend a lot of time with this stuff. It’s in a convenient package size for us and we just found a home run here.
We reached out to Glen to estimate the savings he was enjoying as a result of replacing his granular apps with Aquaritin 19. He estimated an annual savings of approximately $20k ($30k for 2 granular apps over 40 acres vs. $10k for 10 sprays of Aquaritin 19) on the fertilizer and another $15k-$20k on mowing labor. Glen believes that Aquaritin 19 also enhances the effectiveness of his fungicide and PGR applications.