Keeping in line with our international posts frequenting the weekends of the blog, I thought I that I would take this opportunity to talk about a recent trip with Dr. Tredway to South Africa. The trip last a brief 6 days, but we were able to visit numerous golf courses and also give seminars golf course superintendents in three different cities.
South Africa is an interesting place to grow grass. Depending on where the golf courses are located you will find a variety of species being managed. While there, we encountered fairways of kikuyu, cynodon, perennial ryegrass and probably a few other species I can’t think of (I can’t remember if anyone had a bentgrass fairway). In terms of the putting greens, they ranged from Cynodon to creeping bent to primarily Poa. On one course, we even saw all three species intermixed. So what does this mean in terms of diseases present? A lot!
A major problem on their warm season fairways is apparently spring dead spot (often referred to as Kikuyu patch). Although not visible while we were there, symptoms usually start to show up about this time of the year (maybe in May) and are more severe in Spring. In addition, there may be some intermixing of large patch as well which has apparently confused the issues for management. Unlike the United States where many diagnostic labs can be found, there are very few resources in the region for golf course superintendents to have their samples properly analyzed. As Dr. Tredway explained some of his recent findings on spring dead spot (fertilizer and fungicide control), I started to realize that were were only a few years ahead of them with regards to improved cultural and chemical management strategies for the disease. As this is probably an ideal time to treat, I hope that many of the greenkeepers utilize this opportunity to at least run some Rubigan trials on their fairways to be able to see the impact of these applications.
Because of the widespread use of warm season grasses on their fairways, most of the disease issues revolved around problems on the putting greens. Anthracnose, dollar spot and fairy ring were in my assessment the major issues on golf courses putting greens. While South Africa has many of the chemicals we have here in the U.S., they are still missing a few key products (e.g., thiophanate methyl, flutalonil, others). Part of the issue seemed to be around the ability or willingness to treat preventively. These types of programs can be fairly expensive, but are often thought of as the most effective…particularly for diseases like anthracnose and dollar spot.
In either case, we had a great trip and saw a lot of great golf courses. Although this was my second trip in just under a year without playing any golf, I was treated to some of the more refine libations (South African wine) and managed to avoid the rough stuff this time. A many thanks to the following who helped arrange this trip. It was once again fantastic and I hope to get back there again soon!
Marinus Van De Luytgaarden, Fleuron
Andre Gerber, St. Francis Links
John Peach, Paarl Golf Club
Graham Corbett, Fancourt
Malcolm Bromley, Royal Johannesburg & Kensington
Vernon Waters, Humewood Links