Turf & Rec

Features Agronomy
Turf academy brings classroom to the golf course


October 13, 2009
By Mike Jiggens


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CLOSE to 90 golf superintendents benefited from the findings of a
Michigan State University turfgrass professor, who visited four Ontario
golf courses in August in a series of “turf academies.”

Sponsored by Plant Science Inc., the turf academies were held during
the week of Aug. 10 at the Whirlpool Golf Club in Niagara Falls, Heron
Point Golf Club in Alberton, Beacon Hall Golf Club in Aurora, and
Cherry Downs Golf & Country Club in Pickering.

As he has done the past number of years, turfgrass science professor Dr. Joe Vargas visited each of the courses, making several observations pertaining to disease presence, drainage issues and weather effects.vargasweb

“He talked a lot about bacterial wilt, drainage, the importance of topdressing and the importance of cultural practices,” said Plant Science’s Rob Field.

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The turf academies were originally founded by Ryan Beauchamp, former superintendent at both the St. Thomas (Ont.) Golf & Country Club and Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, who led the course tours last year while serving as technical sales consultant with Plant Science. Currently employed by Syngenta Crop Protection Canada Inc., he was invited back this year as a special guest.

Field deemed August’s academies a success, and said Plant Science is committed to at least one more year as the program’s sponsor.

“It’s a unique educational format,” he said. “It’s like bringing the classroom to the golf course. I think the superintendents get a lot out of it. I think the host superintendent gets a lot out of it. It’s like a private consultation.
“Joe’s a big supporter of cultural practices and balanced fertility. He reinforces that, and he has a way of expressing the facts in an informative and entertaining fashion.”

The sessions at Heron Point and Beacon Hall attracted 30 and 31 superintendents, respectively. Fifteen attended the academy at Cherry Downs. Attendance was weakest at Whirlpool—with about a dozen superintendents present—due to a torrential rainfall which hit the Niagara Region the evening before. Several would-be attendees remained at their home courses to deal with the storm’s aftermath. Whirlpool itself succumbed to several areas of significant ponding prior to the course tour.