Turf Topics – Bruce Rickert, Medford Village CC

Medford Village 2_1

Located roughly 25 miles east of Philadelphia, Medford Village Country Club is Bruce Rickert’s professional home. The golf course opened for play exactly 60 years ago, in May of 1964. No one knows it better than Rickert; who has spent three decades as the club’s golf-course superintendent.

For the past three decades, he has been committed to nurturing the turf and upgrading the conditions for his members.

Listen to the full interview with Bruce:

Designed by the late William Gordon, a former two-time President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, Medford Village was constructed with old-style pushup greens and no internal drainage.

Rickert has spent a lot of time and effort in the years since addressing the latter issue.

“Over the course of 30 years I’ve been doing all the things necessary to try to increase drainage on the greens” he said, “get areas more playable, try to move from poa to bent, installed a lot of drainage. 

“Now, we’re working on some tee-leveling projects. It’s just been a constant [situation]of ‘Improve, improve, improve,’ some years better than others.”

The greens at Medford Village are, as is not uncommon in the Middle Atlantic region, a mix of poa annua and bentgrass.

“In the last six-eight years I’ve seen a huge increase in bentgrass being able to be more dominant in the sand on greens,” Rickert said. “I’m trying to have one species out compete the other; I want to get to more bent.”

Rickert first applied Aquaritin 19 on his greens last spring. He’s been applying it ever since, generally every two weeks but sometimes more often at 5.63 oz/A.

Professional curiosity fueled Rickert’s interest in the Aquaritin product line.

“I’d been kind of noticing more and more about nano technology and kind of looking at it over a year or so,” he said.

“I like to try products. The nano technology part seemed to interest me and part of it was through what I saw out there. Not so much sales, but advertising and doing some side research on nano technology, how it’s kind of moving its way into agriculture; that got me interested.

Like most superintendents, Rickert is particularly cognizant of what’s going on with his greens. 

When the club first opened as Sunny Jim Golf Club (an ownership change led a name change in 1971) it was intended to rival nearby Pine Valley in terms of difficulty. The layout has been softened with the passage of time but the greens remain. Rickert’s task is to create green speeds that are fast enough to suit the better players on the membership but won’t frustrate the recreational golfer.

“I don’t have to go out and stimp at 14s and 15s,” he said. “When these greens get to 11-12 they’re difficult.”

Rickert says Aquaritin 19 has brought more consistency to his putting surfaces and improved their appearance.

“It’s basically a consistent roll,” he said. “We try to give them a product where it’s at that point where it’s fast enough for your better players and good enough for the regular membership.

“I see a greener color and the grass seems to be more upright. It’s got better looking rigidity.” 

Rickert calls Aquaritin 19 “Phenomenal” in the area of drought resistance.

“In terms of volumetric water content I would normally see wilting at 10 or 12. With Aquaritin on the greens, I’m looking at sixes with no real wilt and the foot printing is minor.”

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As far as disease resistance is concerned, Rickert is impressed with Aquaritin 19’s effectiveness against Summer Patch.

After utilizing Aquaritin 19 for an entire season, Rickert is anxious to see how the turf will respond heading into the spring following a winter of play (The golf course is open all year, weather permitting).

“I’ve always had problems trying to get growth, and recovery coming out of winter,” Rickert said. “I don’t want to over fertilize, I don’t want to over stimulate.”

I’m curious at this point coming out of this winter as to what kind of response am I going to see from this product as far as growth, green up, health of plant.

“I’m continuing to use it through the winter as part of my snow mold program. “I don’t see any reason not to have it in the tank because I’ve seen some positive effects from the product. I’m trying to see what it’s going to do coming out of the winter.”

“I felt Aquaritin gave us an advantage for keeping ahead of wilt and keeping moisture in the greens"

Rickert called 2023 a good year for turfgrass in terms of rainfall and low humidity. He notes his members were pleased with the condition of the greens.

“I felt Aquaritin gave us an advantage for keeping ahead of wilt and keeping moisture in the greens,” he said.

In addition to keeping a close eye on his golf course, Rickert, who oversees a crew that peaks at 14 during the height of the golf season, carefully monitors his bottom line. Since incorporating Aquaritin into his program, he’s not having to water as often. With that in mind, he’s anticipating being able to utilize his team more effectively.

“When I get a better feel of the product, and how long I can really wait on watering, we would be waiting and doing other things while [Aquaritin 19] is doing its thing,” he said. “I can go out and manage the 18 greens and know what greens to go to and take care of them, and that frees up my assistant to do other things.”

For now, Rickert is confining the use of Aquaritin 19 to his greens. But that could change.

“I definitely want to expand it to fairways,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s going to be this spring. We’ll probably be looking at that hopefully this summer only because I’m still investigating.

“It’s very cost effective. It’s just a matter of seeing what the overall effect is.”

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