Carolinas Superintendents commit $83,000 to research

The money will fund a three-year study on mini-ring.

April 30, 2013
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The Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association has committed more than $83,000 to fund a three-year study into mini-ring disease afflicting ultradwarf bermudagrass greens across the region. The money was generated through Rounds4Research, the online auction of donated tee-times devised by the Carolinas GCSA that is now a national program run by the Environmental Institute for Golf.

The landmark joint project by Clemson University and North Carolina State University researchers brings to nearly $180,000 the amount of research grants provided by Rounds4Research in the Carolinas so far. The announcement comes as momentum builds for this year’s sale of donated Carolinas rounds in the Rounds4Research auction from June 6-16.

“For our association to be in a position to help make this research project possible is a tremendous achievement,” says Carolinas GCSA president, Steve Hamilton, CGCS from The Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, SC. “Every member of the association should be extremely proud that we have been able to make this, and the earlier projects, happen. Obviously it is also a credit to the support Rounds4Research has received from our allied associations and course owners and members who have donated rounds for auction.”

Mini-ring was first reported at the end of the ‘90s but its incidence has increased since then to a point where Clemson researcher, Dr. Bert McCarty, describes it as a “major problem.” McCarty is one of three researchers – along with Dr. Bruce Martin, also from Clemson, and Dr. Jim Kearns, from NC State – who will lead the research.

“It’s definitely a growing problem,” McCarty says. “With so many courses converting to the ultradwarf grasses there is a real need for information that most superintendents are going to need at some point in time.”

Mini-ring causes a circular discoloration appearing late summer that can be as small as a ball mark but grow up to 18 inches in diameter. In severe cases, damaged areas can overlap causing large areas of the green to turn brown.

McCarty says the research will go beyond investigating the biology of the disease and also explore agronomic practices that favor or “hopefully stop or slow its spread.” “Little prior research has been performed on this disease, leaving superintendents and scientists baffled on ecological and environmental parameters favoring its occurrence and spread,” the grant application read. That meant there was “a very sparse database on which to base recommendations for management.”

The grant application also explained that mini-ring’s occurrence has also coincided with “other changes in agronomic practices such as reduced nitrogen inputs with most this delivered in liquid forms, reduced aerification and verticutting events and changes in topdressing strategies.”

Carolinas GCSA executive director, Tim Kreger, who devised the Rounds4Research concept, said the mini-ring study was one of several projects with strong merit. “But given the proliferation of the ultradwarfs and the impact this disease can have, the board of directors felt the mini-ring study was the most deserving,” he says.

Announcing the decision to the joint research team, Kreger wrote: “On behalf of the members of the Carolinas GCSA, please know how much we appreciate all that your teams do for the golf industry, specifically for the golf industry and the superintendent profession in the Carolinas region.”

Earlier Rounds4Research grants in the Carolinas included -

• Foliar nitrogen use effieciency: $20,000
• Investigating doveweed biology: $44,000
• Distribution and management of plant pathogenic nematodes: $25,000
• BMP water conservation promotion: $5,225