On Tom Vlach

Discussion in 'Superintendent Forums' started by LarryAylward, May 2, 2014.

  1. LarryAylward

    LarryAylward LawnSite Member
    Messages: 69

    We're hoping superintendent Tom Vlach doesn't end up taking a bunch of hits because the greens are in poor shape at TPC Sawgrass. A bad winter and a lot of cloud cover caused TPC's greens a lot of damage this winter and spring. There was talk that a product was misapplied to the greens, but I'm hearing this wasn't a factor.

    The PGA Tour has announced that TPC Sawgrass will get a new variety of bermudagrass greens.

    Every wise superintendent knows that Mother Nature is always in control, and sometimes -- even if you are one of the greatest agronomists -- you can't do anything about the weather.

    Your views?
  2. jlrvt

    jlrvt LawnSite Member
    Messages: 61

  3. Skipster

    Skipster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,086

    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.
  4. LarryAylward

    LarryAylward LawnSite Member
    Messages: 69

    Great post Skipster.

    If everything Dr. McCarty says is true -- and I don't doubt a word of it -- then it seems Tom Vlach has been put in a precarious position. It's not his fault.

    If the pizza shop gets real busy and -- all of the sudden -- the pizza going out the door isn't as good as it once was because it's being made too quickly and has lost its quality, then the pizza shop needs to slow down. Dumb analogy, I know, but it makes sense!
  5. jlrvt

    jlrvt LawnSite Member
    Messages: 61

    "we need to remember what plants need in order to thrive and get back to the basics of growing grass"

    Excellent summary!
  6. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,649

    I was at Shoal Creek over the weekdend for the Senior PGA. The course is in rather poor shape, Im surprised the members tolerate it. Im sure a lot of it is due the the horrible winter we had, and Burmuda hasn't recovered this spring worth a crap. I would have thought they would overseed with rye in the winter, but I guess not. The greens and fringes are full of poa.
  7. alf51175

    alf51175 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    Sorry this is several months after the posting, but...larryinalabama I was at that event at Shoal Creek also, as a voluteer on the maintenance staff. I am a golf course superintendent myself. The problems with the course that you stated were simply due to a wet cold winter. No matter how much fertilizer and biostimulants you put on bermudagrass it simply won't grow until temperatures get right in the soil and until it gets darn ready to grow. As far as overseeding goes, it is a terrible decision. That course stays so wet during the winter and spring that mowing in the fairways is not possible. The rye would get to be extremely long and look horrible. Therefore members really wouldn't put up with that, and then you have the issues with transitioning the rye out of the bermuda, i.e. thin bermuda in June and July. And to address the poa in the greens and fringes, the fringes as well as the greens are bentgrass. There is not any herbicides in existence that will take out the poa and not the bent. Now with that being said, I think the course was in great shape for that time of year and for what was being asked for it to do, a senior pga event.

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