There’s a lot of conjecture and second-guessing out there and we even have Bruce Williams (a real class act and probably the most believable guy on this topic) saying that Primo wasn’t even applied to these greens. I would have a hard time with a decision to use Primo here. When do we use any PGR during a grow-in or recovery? What possible benefit can something that slows down a plant process lend to growing-in and area or stimulating recovery? I can’t think for a second that any GCS at that level would have done that. Also, if the problem was a spray, the signs would have been very obvious – straight lines and uniformity. Nature doesn’t happen in straight lines, so if the damage were caused by a spray, it would have been in straight lines and consistent across the areas to which it was applied.
I don’t even think that the blame can rest solely (or even mostly) on the weather. Sure, they had bermudagrass greens, which were hit hard by the winter and are going to perform their best with higher temps and plenty of sunshine. But, Quail Hollow in Charlotte NC had bermudagrass greens that performed well during a PGA stop the week before the Players – and it is 400 miles NORTH of TPC Sawgrass (!) and had a much harder winter and spring!
So, the beauty that has come from this disaster is very much what Dr. McCarty said – we need to remember what plants need in order to thrive and get back to the basics of growing grass. There’s no magical spray mix that would have helped this situation. The problem was the Powers That Be at Sawgrass disallowing the proper cultural practices to be performed and over-trafficking the course leading into the difficult weather.
The bottom line here is that there is no substitute for proper maintenance and cultural practices. Aeration is bread and butter – it is a very fundamental process to managing putting greens, especially ones on which you want to host the best players in the world. Perhaps pictures of the damage at Sawgrass should hang in every Pro Shop and General Manager’s office at every golf course around the country as an example of what can happen with even the largest golf maintenance budgets, best knowledge, and best labor pool when the fundamentals are pushed off in search of revenue. The importance of fundamentals cannot be understated.