|Jeffrey D. Brauer||
Last month, I noted that designers in the early post-WWII era designed more with maintenance in mind, compared with designers of the 1990s and 2000s who favored visual splendor over practicality. Historically, practicality and cost dominates design, so it’s worth remembering the design details that make a maintenance-friendly course. Luckily, I often ask superintendents which features cost them the most time and trouble – and keep notes on the answers!
On a “bell curve,” the top 10 percent of courses should greatly favor design over maintenance, the bottom 10 percent of courses should greatly favor ease of maintenance over design and the middle 80 percent should be a practical blend between maintenance savings and design.
Superintendents and courses vary, so no single item is mandatory design criteria. Many others have high maintenance value no design impact, and should be included. Disclaimers aside, here is my ongoing list of design maintenance-friendly design features for your consideration:
Since it became a widespread nuisance at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., the pathogen some call “bacterial wilt” has skyrocketed into the spotlight of turfgrass pathogens. It’s become one of the Ten Most Wanted for golf course superintendents and turf researchers alike.
But those researchers still haven’t even agreed on what it actually is. Though they sometimes disagree on findings, this pathogen has split some labs into camps.
Does it exist? “Bacterial wilt is a real disease,” says Dr. Lane Tredway, senior technical field representative for Syngenta. “It’s a documented disease on annual bluegrass caused by the bacteria Xanthomonas translucens. The same bacteria was implicated in the cause of the widespread decline of Toronto creeping bentgrass in the early 80s. What we’re seeing today may or may not be related to that.”
Tredway, who headed the North Carolina State Turf Pathology program before recently joining Syngenta, says researchers are moving too fast when categorizing the pathogen.
“I think the mistake we’re making is we’re trying to put the story to rest too quickly,” he says. “It’s way too early to make any definitive conclusions as to how important these bacteria are, how widely distributed they are and, most importantly, how to diagnose them and manage them.”
But even at these early stages, the name doesn’t quite fit, says Dr. Rick Latin, professor of plant pathology at Purdue University.
“I’m not even sure I can call it bacterial wilt,” he says. “Bacterial wilt was identified as Xanthomonas, but here’s the issue: On creeping bentgrass, it’s caused by Acidovorax. They’re widely different pathogens and different species, so why would we call it the same thing?”
Latin refers to the disease as “bacterial decline,” differing from the original “wilt” and from the “bacterial etiolation” that Michigan State University’s Dr. Joe Vargas uses.
|Superintendents with creeping bentgrass have seen symptoms of etiolation, thinning, yellowing and shallow rooting.|
With any name, there’s no question that bacteria are involved. Turfgrass pathologists disagree on which is to blame, or how many could be. Vargas says the cause is Acidovorax avenae pv avenae, which he found in infected samples. But more important than the pathogen’s name is what it does to turf itself, and that can be backed up by observations.
“Where we have to start is with the symptoms,” says Dr. Nathanial Mitkowski, associate professor of plant pathology at the University of Rhode Island. “The thing we know for a fact, that is undisputable, is that it seems to occur on creeping bentgrass greens. The symptoms include etiolation, thinning, typically shallow rooting and yellowing.”
Etiolation, or a general yellowing and elongation of the plant, plays a big part within that list of symptoms. The pathogen can strike anywhere there’s creeping bentgrass, but the symptoms tend to be more severe in areas with more heat.
“In cooler climates, these symptoms may pop up for a week or two weeks in August or July, and then it’ll recover and go away, and you won’t see it again until next year,” says Mitkowski. “In warmer climates, like the Southeast, the symptoms may pop up as early as April or May. They’re obviously worse when you get to June or July, but they can go for months, through the height of the growing season.”
Though researchers have had the pathogen on their radar for much longer, it’s really only exploded onto the scene within the past two to three years, says Mitkowski. That growth coincides with two of the toughest summers on record for many golf courses, a correlation that isn’t lost on researchers.
“It’s first important to keep in mind that the last two summers have been extremely difficult from an environmental standpoint for golf course superintendents with persistent heat and, in some areas, prolonged drought conditions,” says Tredway.
According to Vargas, the damage comes from bacteria preventing turf from getting the necessary water for growth, especially during these heat-stressed times.
“We have … found xylem vessels clogged with bacterium,” says Vargas. “Xylem vessels conduct water from the roots up to the shoots. Clogged xylem vessels which limit the uptake of water, especially during warm weather of the summer, put the creeping bentgrass plants under tremendous stress and can result in their death.”
But the list of symptoms is almost the only thing on which researchers working on the pathogen can mostly agree. Only a few labs in the country are prepared to identify samples of the bacteria involved, and currently, the results are contested.
Fighting the unknown
While research into the causes of the symptoms associated with “bacterial wilt” is ongoing, affected superintendents deal with the problem every day. Dr. Lane Tredway, senior technical field representative for Syngenta, reports some curative activity from Signature and Daconil Action, or copper-containing compounds – however, “none of these treatments are what we would call effective,” he says.
Another approach involves a focus on basic agronomic practices, says Dr. Rick Latin, professor of plant pathology at Purdue University.
“Do all of the agronomic practices to promote healthy root systems and vigorous turf, avoiding cultural stress during the summer wherever you possibly can,” says Latin. “That might mean backing off the aggressive grooming, raising the mowing height and working in some rolling.”
Keeping fans on turf to keep surfaces cool and dry and preventing nitrogen stress will also help plants navigate tough summer weather, he says.
Cultural practices aren’t definitive cures, but they do get results, says Dr. Nathanial Mitkowski, associate professor of plant pathology at the University of Rhode Island.
“To date, those are the approaches that have been most effective,” he says. “People who have gone at it culturally have made some real strides in mitigating the disease.”
But the top tip Latin has for handling those symptoms is communication with the course’s membership.
“I think memberships by and large are understanding these things happen,” he says. “Right now I think there’s all kinds of information out there and all kinds of opinions. If I were a superintendent, I would say, ‘The first thing we want to do because nobody really knows whether this disease is a bona fide pathogen or the consequence of predisposing factors, let’s go back to our basic agronomy and try to relieve as much stress as possible.’”
The battle for the bacteria. Originally, the symptoms, including etiolation, were believed to be caused by a connection to applications of Primo to creeping bentgrass. As more research was completed, more clues about the pathogen came into focus, shifting away from that explanation alone. When Vargas found Acidovorax under an electron microscope, he named it as the primary pathogen involved.
“We have isolated Acidovorax into pure culture and inoculated healthy creeping bentgrass plants, placed them in growth chambers and we were able to infect the plants with Acidovorax showing it is a pathogen capable of attacking creeping bentgrass,” says Vargas.
But finding it capable of attacking the turf isn’t the same as actually finding the cause of the symptoms until testing can duplicate those findings. Turfgrass researchers check those results against Koch’s postulates to determine whether something involved is a pathogen.
“You have to isolate it from where you found it, and then you have to put it back on a new plant and determine that you get the same symptoms,” says Mitkowski. “We’re talking about the proof of concept. Yes, this thing causes disease when we put it on uninfected grass. And Vargas did that, with some stipulations.
“This bacteria he found was a pathogen, but it didn’t produce the exact same symptoms that we saw in the field. In the greenhouse, sometimes it would just kill the grass. Sometimes it would just do a little bit of damage and knock out some of the leaf blades and the plants would recover. This is really where all the controversy is, though. It’s a known bacterial pathogen in other plants, but it is not producing the same symptoms we see in the field.”
Whether or not it definitively meets that standard, Vargas sees the bacteria producing results similarly in the greenhouse tests.
“Some of these infected plants were also examined under the electron microscope and again the xylem vessels were clogged with Acidovorax,” says Vargas.
The concept of the bacteria as the primary pathogen is also supported by some testing that shows results with application of an antibiotic to the turf (though these products aren’t currently legally allowed to be used for turf outside of experimental testing). When it’s been done experimentally, according to Mitkowski, the symptoms go away.
Even if bacteria is to blame for the symptoms, the disparity between what’s observed in the field and in the greenhouse means there’s another piece to the puzzle, says Tredway.
“There are a lot of possibilities,” he says. “There are bacteria that are known to induce these types of symptoms. There are fungi that cause etiolation in other crops. We’ve investigated the bacteria possibilities very heavily, and the problem is we cannot find any one particular bacteria that is consistently associated with these symptoms. We do find Acidovorax associated with the etiolated turf in a number of circumstances, but there are other occasions where we’ve not been able to find that particular bacteria and instead we find two or three others.”
Though there are other possibilities, Acidovorax is still a major player for Mitkowski.
“From my perspective, whenever I get samples of this etiolation, of this thing we call ‘bacterial wilt,’ I’d say 99.9 percent of the time I find this bacteria that Joe Vargas identified,” he says. “So that’s some empirical evidence, but it’s not experimental evidence.”
What's missing? “I definitely think it’s reasonable to assume there’s Acidovorax involved here,” says Latin. “But whether or not the Acidovorax is the aggressive primary pathogen that brown patch or pythium is? I would say no.”
Research into what role the bacteria (or another agent) plays in creating these symptoms is ongoing, but a few issues make study in the greenhouse difficult.
“It’s virtually impossible to mimic the stress and the conditions on a golf course putting green in a growth chamber environment,” says Tredway. “Even though we have control of the temperature, humidity and lights, we can’t do the close mowing and apply a lot of the stresses that a golf course superintendent does.”
That’s a problem for Mitkowski, as the most heavily affected turf he sees on courses is under multiple stresses.
“It may be the stress involved in a golf course,” he says. “They’ve got constant management; they’ve got lots of different fertilizers going on. When I go out to golf courses, almost always the bacterial wilt symptoms are occurring on the plants that are in the worst conditions: there’s too much shade, it’s too wet, there’s too much traffic.”
That stress is a possible missing piece, according to Latin – he argues there’s another factor that predisposes turf to infection by Acidovorax. As his research has continued, he’s observed high concentrations of the bacteria are required in turf to get some symptom expressions.
“Of course, you don’t need those types of populations when you’re wounding plants and likely introducing bacteria when we mow every day,” he says. “We’ve had two very stressful summers here in the Midwest, and that’s when the reports starting coming in.”
|Turfgrass researchers are testing for other conditions and effective responses.|
Stress could be a factor, but it’s not the only possibility, according to Mitkowski.
“The other explanation is there’s something else going on in the field that we’re missing in the greenhouse,” he says. “There’s a chemical that’s been applied, there’s been some suggestion that certain plant growth regulators or biostimulants that golf course superintendents use which aren’t being applied in the greenhouse are actually stimulating the bacteria to cause disease.
“It’s possible that there is another agent – that this isn’t one bacteria causing this disease and the bacteria is one piece of a multipiece complex.”
The question remains, but probably not for much longer. As more research is being done by the labs equipped to handle identifying the bacteria, researchers are actively testing in the field, where other possible conditions can be observed and applications tested.
“Hopefully, by the end of the summer, we’ll be able to say, ‘These are the applications we made that worked, these are the applications that had no effect and these are the applications that made it worse,’” says Mitkowski.
With the additional testing, more questions will be answered –whether it means Acidovorax will remain a top threat to creeping bluegrass or another factor is implicated.
“No one has observed these symptoms, isolated the bacteria in pure culture and put them back and recreated those symptoms in the field,” says Latin. “Once we’re able to do that, I think we’re going to learn a lot more about this particular pathogen and the extent to which this bacteria is a pathogen.
The academic discussion surrounding the “bacterial wilt” pathogen has created controversy between turf pathologists. It’s also left some superintendents feeling uneasy acting on advice when researchers can’t agree on a cause for the symptoms.
It’s additionally tough because the debate hasn’t created many alternatives to proposed responses so far, says Mitkowski.
“It does appear that there’s something we’re missing, but we don’t know what it is,” he says. “So far, no one has been able to say, ‘You think it’s this, but we say it’s that.’ There’s just been a lot of ‘You think it’s this, but we think you’re wrong.’ That’s frustrating because there’s no alternative hypothesis for what’s causing the problem.”
From outside the labs, it may sound like a more personal controversy, but the basis lies in exploring possible explanations and finding the correct diagnosis, even if the answer isn’t immediate.
“It’s just important to keep in mind that these things take time and they take money,” says Tredway.
It’s also not the first time in the history of treating turfgrass disease that a difference of opinion has led to arguments between researchers – and given reason to continue looking into other ideas.
“Doubt is not a bad thing,” says Mitkowski. “It’s just no one has been able to provide and substantiate any kind of alternate hypothesis. I’m not wedded to this bacteria. If someone can show me some experimental proof that it’s something else or there’s something else involved and it’s good data, that’s fine. I’m just trying to solve a problem, here.”
Kyle Brown is GCI’s associate editor.
Greg Shaffer feels pretty good about his annual anthracnose program. In his seventh season at Elcona Country Club in Bristol, Ind., the turning point for Shaffer was a shift in member expectations and an overhaul of his facility’s cultural practices that now allows him to better control anthracnose.
It started with more frequent bi-weekly topdressing. Shaffer says there’s a lot of research showing more frequent topdressing and other cultural practices perhaps do not injure the plant after all.
Another change to Shaffer’s maintenance regimen is semi-annual aeration in the spring and fall.
“We were having issues with the anthracnose based on trying to put member expectations on the forefront of our goal as opposed to turf health,” says Shaffer. “We were low on fertility, aggressively rolling, mowing at low heights. Just the simple fact of trying to keep the members happy. And it came back to bite us a few years ago.”
Of course, any superintendent who has experienced the wrath of upset members due to inferior greens doesn’t relish that feeling. So Shaffer and his club reevaluated what they were trying to accomplish.
“Some guys are smarter than I am and they learned that before they have issues,” Shaffer says. “We never really dealt with a loss of turf. But with the anthracnose that we had we weren’t able to meet expectations. So it was kind of an uncomfortable circle.”
That’s when the more aggressive practices began. Shaffer usually aerates his greens the first week of April, and once they heal in three to four weeks, the bi-weekly topdressing kicks in. That usually lasts through September, when Elcona prepares for its October aeration.
As soon as Shaffer increased his rate of topdressing, the Purdue University graduate also increased his club’s fertility inputs, nearly doubling his rate of nitrogen to 3.5 pounds per year – sometimes even approaching four pounds depending on the type of foliar program. During the golf season, Shaffer alternates between foliar and root nitrogen applications.
“Every other week we’re either spraying urea out with our fungicide (at about a tenth of a pound), and on the opposite week we’re spraying ammonium sulfate and watering it into the root,” says Shaffer. “That also gets mixed into the tank with our wetting agent, surfactant or any other type of micronutrients that we’re putting in for the soil.”
Elcona’s greens are about 80-90 percent annual bluegrass, according to Shaffer, so “we’re right in the wheelhouse for anthracnose.” Shaffer says his crew is “probably mowing at a higher height of cut than most guys are in the area.” The Elcona crew rolls its greens about three to four times per week, depending on the event.
“A lot of the guys are mowing at 100 or under 100,” Shaffer says, “and we’re 115-120 on the (acting gauge).”
|Anthracnose appears as irregular yellowed or brown patches in turf. DREAMSTIME; forestryimages.org|
Besides keeping the anthracnose at bay, perhaps the best part of his newly adopted maintenance practices is Elcona members haven’t really noticed any effects on the quality of their greens. Membership has downplayed its public need for speed.
“From a playability standpoint, I don’t think they’ve really had to make any sacrifices,” Shaffer says. “And not that what we do, we do for the sake of green speed, but the reality is it’s important. That’s kind of one of the things membership hangs its hat on. So one of the things we’ve gotten away from trying to focus on is green speed.”
For example, historically, Elcona staff would always post a green speed by the first tee as of certain morning intervals.
“It got to be a real pain in the rear end because guys’ days would be ruined before they even hit a ball,” Shaffer says. “They’d walk up and see ‘Oh, the speed’s only going to be 10 today.’ So we’ve changed that mindset a little bit that we’re going to more consistency. We still want to meet their expectations as far as speeds – they just don’t know what the speeds are.”
At Blue Hill Country Club in Canton, Mass., superintendent Jason Adams also finds his anthracnose “a little more manageable” these days. Typically, Blue Hill will see signs of anthracnose in late May and early June, especially after cool, wet winters, and a relatively less severe touch of it in the autumn months.
“I’m curious to see what this year brings with the warm weather we’ve had,” says Adams, who is going into his fifth season at Blue Hill. “With it being a drier season and coming out of the heat and spring, I’m hoping the severity isn’t as bad.”
One thing that has helped Adams keep anthracnose in check is continually overseeding his predominantly Poa annua greens with bentgrass as much as possible.
“We’re very aggressive,” Adams says. “Every time I aerify, we’ll sponge seed into the greens at least two to three times a year. During my first couple years I might have seeded greens eight to nine times during the growing season. That’s one of the biggest things and because of that, I’ve had some greens here that were probably 99 percent Poa when I first got here to the point we got the populations up quite a bit.
“I’ve got some that are as high as 60-70 percent (bent). And I only have three greens on the golf course now that probably have 20 percent bent versus nothing. It’s kind of a painful thing at some points. We’ve lost some Poa over the years – a little bit here and there in some of the cleaner cut. We kind of look at it as a silver lining. Yeah, you might lose some of the Poa, but it’s an opportunity to get some bentgrass in there.”
According to Adams, anthracnose was so bad at Blue Hill at times it would take the Poa right down into the crown. “We’ve come in a Sunday morning and seen the green just riddled with it,” Adams says.
Another significant change in Adams’ cultural practices is an aggressive deep tine “drill and fill” program that started when Adams took over the property in 2008. After evaluating the property, which dates to 1925 and once hosted the 1956 PGA Championship, Adams discovered significant thatch issues on some of the greens and some very heavy soils 4 inches below the surface. The combination of the two resulted in greens with severe dry spots, inconsistent playing surfaces and poor drainage after heavy precipitation.
“By doing more deep tine, drill and fill (approximately 40 tons of sand was drilled into 8,500 square feet of greens last fall), we’re not staying as wet and soft on top for that disease,” says Adams. “Plus we’re top-dressing more often than we have in the past.”
Increasing the rate as much as 12-14 times now per year, Adams matches what he did at his previous club, after doing it just six to seven times historically at Blue Hill.
|Greg Shaffer, superintendent at Elcona Country Club, turned to bi-weekly topdressing to help combat the disease.|
“For this particular club it was a lot busier and they didn’t like to see a lot of disruptions as far as green surfaces,” Adams says. “We’re going to go back probably to that 12-14 times. The only thing we’re going to do this year during the growing months (June-August) when this place is really packed wall-to-wall is do more of that bagged dry sand and spread it by hand.”
On the chemical front, Adams is “changing this up by using more of DMI” like Banner or tebuconazole, and even formulates his pesticide program more around anthracnose than anything right now. Another noticeable difference from a fertility perspective is Adams will likely use higher amounts of potassium this year.
“We played around with it last year and saw a pretty significant response,” Adams says. “I think we’re using 0-0-28 potassium fertilizer and we’re going to half pound rates per month. It seemed like going into fall we had to battle the disease far less than we’ve had to in the past.”
A backup tool he is starting to use with success is Civitas, a mineral oil loaded with some bionutrition. Adams mixes it with Banner at half rates and gets instant results.
“Last year when we had the hurricane blow through,” Adams says, “we were just loaded with anthracnose about two to three days after. We’ll spray (Civitas) and it almost cleans everything up in a matter of two to three days. It’s amazing.”
Adams cautions to not use the oil once it warms up to 82-83 degrees because he’s seen it discolor or burn the tips of the annual bluegrass on some of Blue Hill’s collars.
“In the spring and fall when things are cooler, the moisture levels are better and there’s less stress on the plant,” Adams says. “You’ve got better roots on your plants so you don’t seem to have any issues. I just don’t spray it in the heat of the summer.”
Constantly juggling risk-reward attributes of various anthracnose practices with the watchful eye of demanding members is what makes this insidious disease so tough.
“If we didn’t have to worry about it and we could do what we want when we want as far as topdressing and skipping mowing, it would probably be a lot easier to control this disease,” says Adams.
Scott Kauffman is a Clermont, Fla.-based freelance writer and a frequent GCI contributor.
Sometimes it takes the loss of a loved one or friend for any of us to understand the harsh reality that we won’t live forever. Unfortunately, most of us would like to believe we will live forever and there is no real need to get our house in order. Often we see families left in disarray due to a lack of planning.
There is no exact age for retirement these days, but suffice it to say 65 is no longer an exact number for most to retire. As we all approach the later years of our careers it is a good thing to evaluate the next steps of our lives.
I’d like to share the sage advice passed on to me by my parents, estate planners and financial planners. First, I need to clarify that I am neither a financial planner nor a lawyer, so my comments are from a former golf course superintendent who has learned a few valuable lessons along the way. I strongly advise everyone utilize the proper professionals who can help you plan ahead to prepare for retirement and to provide for your family after you pass on.
Planning ahead. This advice isn’t just for the geriatric crowd. In fact, planning should start as soon as any of us take on the responsibility of a family. A plan developed 30 years ago will need some adjustments over time, but the core plan should serve you well most of your life.
Experts say it will take about 60-80 percent of your current income to maintain your employed lifestyle after retirement. Unless you win the lottery, this requires a lot of saving and wise 401(k) investments or other retirement vehicle.
The recent recession reduced a lot of people’s net worth and this will likely create unforeseen financial issues. Adjustments may include downsizing your house, working longer and taking a long hard look at a reasonable budget you can live with on a fixed income.
Have you prepared financially? There are a variety of tools out there today than can help you plan for retirement. All one has to do is conduct an Internet search for a retirement calculator and a variety of websites will show up. These are great generalized tools to assist you in planning. Numbers will still need interpretation, as there are so many factors involved in retirement planning and family support.
Previous generations have depended upon Social Security as a significant component of retirement income. While there are debates as to whether Social Security will be there in the future we have to deal with the system as we know it today. Every few years we receive information about the likely amount we would receive each month from Social Security, when we retire. I recently read these mailings may be discontinued to cut costs, but the info is available from the Social Security Administration.
Social Security provides a lot of options. People used to be able to receive their full benefit at the age of 65, but the age for full benefits will be increasing in the next five years to 66 and even higher beyond that. Those who choose to receive the benefits early have options at reduced rates. My suggestion is to do the math and see what works best for you. The good news is if you work longer than the age of 65, you will receive a higher monthly benefit, which could be quite helpful.
For those who have contributed to Social Security at the highest level for their entire careers they can expect about $2,400 per month. This may seem like a lot but after taxes are taken out (yes, the IRS does tax you on that money) it may barely cover your real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance.
So what else do we need to consider as an income source after retirement or for those who survive us? Many of us once participated in a defined benefit program that would pay us a certain monthly rate if we worked for our employers until we were 65. Most of the defined benefit programs were converted to defined contribution programs by the mid-1990s. Those retirement plans contribute a specific amount of money each year to your 401(k) plan. It is up to each of us to see that those 401(k) plans are managed properly with the right allocation of bonds, stocks, cash, etc. There are a few rules with the 401(k)s when it comes to withdrawals. You must start withdrawing a certain percentage of the 401(k) funds when you reach a certain age. Check with your financial planner and accountant to make sure you follow the rules to the letter of the law. Also take advantage of any plan that has your employer match your contribution as it is like doubling your money that you will need in retirement.
Budgets. Every golf course superintendent has developed numerous budgets over the years. Just like a golf course budget, we need to develop a family or household budget for the working years and also for retirement. I would add another component to that and suggest adding a budget for your family or spouse in the event you pass on suddenly. We owe this to our families and this is the right thing to do!
Insurance. Life insurance is provided by some employers, and that is a good thing. But what happens when you retire? Now is the time to see if any and all life-insurance policies are transferrable to you as an individual. You may believe when you retire you won’t need life insurance because you have covered the kids’ college costs and even financed a few weddings. Your insurance agent should guide you in this endeavor. Trying to get life insurance at a normal retirement age is nearly impossible. As we age we tend to have a few medical problems, and each of those is taken into account when we are quoted a monthly premium for life insurance.
How many policies do you have? The majority of the life insurance policies are either from the employer or paid for by the individual. Do not overlook some supporting life-insurance policies that come from other organizations that you might belong to, such as the GCSAA. Those organizations may not be aware of a person’s death, so be sure to make your family aware of those policies and who to contact after your passing.
As current generations live longer than any before them we must consider additional insurance for disability and long-term health care. We must also take into account inflation as health care costs will likely see large increases over the years we’re likely live past our points of retirement.
Long-term health. I am not surprised to see elder care is considered to be one of the top professions of the future. This should only increase as the baby boomers reach retirement age. There are a variety of options for people today that could include a nice transition in our elder years.
When my parents were still quite healthy they opted to buy into an assisted-care facility. They were only in their 70s, but realized their health was probably going to decline in the next 20 years. At first they lived in independent living and had a nice-sized apartment that worked well for their lifestyle. Eventually, my father moved into assisted care after my mother had passed away and received all the proper attention he needed after he was in his 90s. Now all of that did not come without a cost, and monthly fees can vary from $3,000 to $7,500 at some facilities. If we think back to a 401(k) plan that could be depleted and Social Security that may only offer $2,400 a month then it becomes obvious that you may outlive your money. My suggestion is to look into long-term health care insurance and disability insurance if you do not already have it. Few have the wherewithal to pay for such services for up to 30 years.
These are uncertain times for the future of healthcare, but suffice it to say it will be different than it was just a few years ago. My older friends tell me you have to sign up for Medicare in the year prior to turning 65. If you do not meet their timeline, there will be penalties. Best to check it out before you turn 64. Medicare does not cover all your costs for healthcare, so be sure you do your homework about not just regular Medicare Plan A but also Plans B, C and D. While your base medical costs will be covered under Plan A you will likely need to add the monthly premium costs for the other plans to your budget.
Your wishes. It is often assumed “my family knows what I want.” Are you really sure about that? Before I hit the ripe old age of 50 I engaged a local estate planner to assist me with formalizing my wishes for my family. This included the establishment of a will and a trust that would protect many of the assets I had accumulated during my career.
The simplest way I can state this is to tell you if you don’t have a legal document that defines your wishes then the state you live in will decide some of those things for you. I prefer to set my own direction for obvious reasons. I strongly suggest using the advice of people who specialize in this area. They can offer you a variety of options to choose from. Avoid probate at all costs as your family will end up with less than the amount you have worked so hard to build up over 40-plus years of work.
At the time of developing your will you will have to consider who would be the executor, who would care for your children (legal guardian) and how your estate would be divided. I had to convert most of my assets to a living trust to avoid additional taxation.
Part of a will should include items such as potential power of attorney and clauses regarding decision-making for family members on “Do not resuscitate.”
Papers please. All the planning you do will pay big dividends for your retirement and your passing. Be sure to develop a file or portfolio that contains all your plans and let your family know where that file can be found. Life is much easier for your family if they know where all your accounts and safe deposit boxes are located. You should have multiple copies of your will and trust. List all your potential life or health insurance policies. All of these things should be available in one central location.
It’s never too late to start planning for your retirement. We should also plan for the time when we depart the earth.
Consult with professionals that can assist you and steer you in the right direction. That would include a financial planner, estate planner, lawyer, etc. The cost for their services will be saved several times over by developing sound investment and retirement strategies and avoiding probate after your passing. No time better than the present to get your house in order.
Bruce Williams, CGCS, is principal for both Bruce Williams Golf Consulting and Executive Golf Search. He is a frequent GCI contributor.
|Patches of bermudagrass in tall fescue and zoysiagrass are easily identified by differences in color and leaf texture (above, dormant bermudagrass in a tall fescue lawn).|
Bermudagrass (Cynodon spp) is commonly selected for use on Tennessee athletic fields and golf courses for its aggressive growth (providing fast recovery from wear and tear) and tolerances to heat, drought and traffic stress. These same characteristics, however, also render Bermudagrass an extremely difficult-to-control weed in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) and zoysiagrass (Zoysia spp.) stands.
Infestations of Bermudagrass in tall fescue and zoysiagrass commonly take the shape of distinct patches, easily identified by differences in color (during periods of active growth and dormancy) and leaf texture. In zoysiagrass turf, differences in morning dew patterns also help identify areas of Bermudagrass contamination. Bermudagrass will invade any area of a tall fescue or zoysiagrass stand that has been weakened by diseases, insects, other types of weed competition or any type of stress.
Bermudagrass growth and identification. Bermudagrass is a mat-forming perennial grassy weed that aggressively spreads by both rhizomes and stolons. This extensive network of below- (rhizomes) and above-ground (stolons) vegetative propagules makes bermudagrass extremely difficult to control. In many instances, bermudagrass can be desiccated on the soil surface with certain herbicide applications, only to regenerate over time from below-ground rhizomes. Additionally, aggressive above-ground growth from stolons allows bermudagrass to advance into additional areas of desirable turf.
Bermudagrass can be misidentified as other grassy weeds. For example, similarities in leaf texture often cause many to wrongly identify Bermudagrass populations as nimblewill (Muhlenbergia shreberi). However, Bermudagrass has a hairy ligule, while the ligule of nimblewill is membranous. Bermudagrass also has a deeper root system than nimblewill and persists in drier, sunnier environments.
Bermudagrass can also be confused with zoysiagrass; however, zoysiagrass leaves are rolled in the bud and often have hairs along the leaf blade, while bermudagrass has a folded vernation and has no hairs on the leaf blade. Bermudagrass seedheads have three to seven spikelets, which can be 1 inch to 2 inches long.
Cultural practices to prevent Bermudagrass infestations. The best method of preventing Bermudagrass infestations is to maintain a healthy, dense turf. Implementing the proper cultural practices required to maintain tall fescue and zoysiagrass turf will reduce the likelihood of Bermudagrass encroachment. For information on the proper cultural practices used to maintain tall fescue and zoysiagrass turf in Tennessee, see UT Extension publication PB1038, Lawn Fertilization and Management. Additional information can also be found at http://tennesseeturf.utk.edu.
Additional tactics, including the following, can be taken to discourage Bermudagrass encroachment and spread in tall fescue and zoysiagrass.
Inspect all new materials. Inspect all soil, compost, plant material and seed brought onto a property to be sure that they are free of Bermudagrass. Pay special attention to ensure that no vegetative structures (rhizomes or stolons) are present in these materials.
|Bermudagrass has a hairy ligule.|
Increase mowing heights when possible. Increasing the canopy height will improve the rooting and photosynthesis of the desirable turf, resulting in a healthier stand that is less susceptible to Bermudagrass encroachment. Additionally, the taller canopy will shade any Bermudagrass present in the stand, which will reduce its ability to spread.
Maintain proper fertility. For tall fescue, fertilize two times annually, once in the spring and once in the fall. Always avoid fertilizing tall fescue during the summer. For zoysiagrass, fertilize during the summer to deliver less than 3 lbs. nitrogen/M/year. Zoysiagrasses have lower nitrogen requirements than Bermudagrass. Thus, fertilizing at the proper rate will maintain adequate density while reducing the likelihood of Bermudagrass encroachment and discouraging the spread of any Bermudagrass present in the stand.
Water deeply and infrequently. Irrigate to a depth of about 6 inches, approximately twice a week. Shallow, frequent irrigation favors Bermudagrass.
Pay attention to flower beds and other landscaped areas. Keep these areas free of Bermudagrass contamination. Use heavy mulch or deep edging to keep Bermudagrass from establishing. Edging material should be at least 6 inches into the soil.
Herbicide options for Bermudagrass control. There are limited herbicide options for controlling Bermudagrass in tall fescue and zoysiagrass. Be aware that if the applications are successful, numerous voids (bare areas) will be left in the turf canopy after Bermudagrass has been removed. These voids will be susceptible to future weed infestations and should be re-seeded with a high-quality turfgrass cultivar. Check the herbicide label for information regarding the time required between seeding and applying a herbicide.
In many instances, a single application of the herbicides listed below will cause severe Bermudagrass injury, causing a void to develop in the canopy; however, Bermudagrass can usually grow out of this injury over time. Thus, multiple herbicide applications and proper cultural implementations will be required to achieve complete control.
Option No. 1 — Fusilade II Fluazifop Program. Make sequential applications of Fusilade II at 3–6 oz./acre + Turflon Ester at 32 oz./acre, on 4-week intervals, for Bermudagrass control in tall fescue and zoysiagrass turf. Sequential applications of fluazifop are labeled for Bermudagrass control in tall fescue and zoysiagrass. Research has shown that tank-mixing fluazifop with triclopyr will improve weed control efficacy and reduce undesirable turf injury. Do not apply Fusilade II applications when the desired turfgrass is under any type of stress, due to the increased potential for herbicide injury.
Recent research at The University of Tennessee has found that Bermudagrass is most susceptible to these treatments when transitioning into winter dormancy in fall and in spring once green tissue is present. Often the process of transitioning into winter dormancy can begin before visual signs of the transition (i.e., changes in turf color) are apparent. We’ve observed that applications of fluazifop + triclopyr are most effective once the average daily air temperature falls below 72F. These applications treatments will need to be applied throughout multiple growing seasons to obtain complete control.
|Bermudagrass seedheads have three to seven spikelets.|
Option No. 2 — Acclaim ExtraFenoxaprop Program. Sequential applications of Acclaim Extra at 20–28 oz./acrefenoxaprop + Turflon Estertriclopyrat 32 oz./acre, on 4-week intervals, are labeled for Bermudagrass suppression in tall fescue and zoysiagrass turf. Research at The University of Tennessee has observed that programs incorporating Acclaim Extrafenoxaprop tend to be less effective than those delivering Fusilade IIfluazifop. Do not apply Acclaim Extrafenoxaprop if the desired turfgrass is under any type of stress, due to the increased potential for herbicide injury to occur. These applications will need to be applied throughout multiple growing seasons to obtain complete control.
Option No. 3 — Glyphosate spot treatment programs. Spot treatments of glyphosate (Roundup Pro or similar) can be utilized to control Bermudagrass in an array of different warm- and cool-season species. Precise applications are required, since glyphosate (a non-selective herbicide) will kill any desirable turf that it contacts, in addition to weedy areas of Bermudagrass contamination. Bare areas present after application will need to be reseeded to prevent future weed infestations and improve the overall aesthetic quality of the turf stand.
Final Thoughts. Controlling Bermudagrass in warm- and cool-season turf is difficult. All herbicide programs involve making sequential applications over multiple growing seasons for complete control. In situations where Bermudagrass covers a large percentage of a given turfgrass area, complete renovation should be considered over selective removal. For more information on renovating tall fescue turfs, see UT publication W238, Weed Control During the Seeded Establishment of Cool-Season Grasses.
Always refer to the product label for specific information on proper product use, tank-mix compatibility and turfgrass tolerance. For more information on turfgrass weed control, visit the University of Tennessee’s turfgrass weed science website, http://tennesseeturfgrassweeds.org.
Greg Breeden is extension assistant, Turfgrass Weed Science; James T. Brosnan, Ph.D., assistant professor, turfgrass weed science; Thomas J. Samples, Ph.D., professor, turfgrass science and management, Dept. of Plant Sciences, The University of Tennessee.