Pinehurst, NC State University and Bayer CropScience Create a New Model for Sustainable Golf Course Management
“America’s golf course superintendents are increasingly being asked to manage their courses in a way that reduces playing time to accommodate busy members, conserves and protects natural resources and lowers operating costs—all without sacrificing playability,” said Bob Farren, certified golf course superintendent (CGCS) and director of golf course and grounds management at Pinehurst. “The restoration of course No. 2 is about preserving more than just the historic character of the course – it’s about developing new and more sustainable tools and techniques as an industry.”
The restoration of course No. 2 to its intended design called for a return to indigenous native grasses, fewer acres of turfgrass under intensive management and sustainable pest management techniques. To understand the ecological and agronomic implications of this undertaking, Pinehurst solicited support from NCSU. Tom Rufty, Ph.D., distinguished professor, NCSU, chose to support the research project as an educational opportunity for students and a way to help Pinehurst prepare for the U.S. Open. Working in partnership with Bayer, NCSU helped Pinehurst develop a seasonal plan that included recommended agronomic (plant science) practices and products to ensure the appropriate management of native plant species while maintaining the degree of difficulty in play desired.
"When Pinehurst No.2 removed large areas of turfgrass as part of the redesign, we needed to identify the more than 75 plant species appearing in these ‘natural areas’ and provide guidance and visual keys that allow the staff to decide which vegetation they wanted to keep and which to exclude,” said Danesha Seth Carley, Ph.D., assistant professor, NCSU, who led the two-year field study. “It was an amazing project that we hope will help inform other golf managers and clubs about successfully managing natural areas and will encourage them as they seek to increase the sustainability of their operation through innovations in course management."
Bob Farren and Kevin Robinson, CGCS, superintendent of Pinehurst No.2, managed the $2.5 million restoration project launched by Pinehurst in 2011. Farren and Robinson brought in course architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to help restore the natural and historic character of course No. 2, which Donald Ross designed and built in 1907 with the philosophy to provide golfers with strategic choices. The restoration project included work on every hole. To support the necessary agronomic research, Bayer funded a graduate student at NCSU to conduct the agronomic research under Dr. Seth Carley’s direction.
“Pinehurst is a high-profile example of how golf courses are changing – which presents new issues and challenges,” said Richard Rees, Ph.D., senior principal scientist at Bayer CropScience. “At Bayer, we see this as an opportunity to support golf course superintendents with new technology and innovative solutions that support their evolving role and needs.”Pinehurst eliminated from course No. 2 all rough and 35 acres of irrigated turfgrass, which reintroduced natural areas of sand, wire grass, pine straw and a variety of native grasses. More than 200,000 wire grass plants were added. Restoring the original irrigation design back to a single centerline layout eliminated 650 irrigation heads. This has helped reduce the annual course water consumption from 55 million gallons to 12 million gallons – a savings of more than 78 percent. Other course updates included increased course length, bunker modifications, alterations to cart paths and the elimination of overseeding turf during winter months. Fairways were widened by as much as 50 percent, offering more strategic options in playing holes from tee to green.
“More than 72,000 total acres of land in the U.S. – the equivalent of 1,000 new courses – were converted to natural areas over the past few years,” said David Wells, Bayer’s golf business manager. “Bayer is developing holistic solutions to help superintendents navigate natural area weed control with products like Specticle®.”
Golf enthusiasts and course managers can visit www.BackedbyBayer.com/pinehurst to view a new video about the restoration, and learn more about how an ecological approach to golf course management can help superintendents better manage inputs and increase the sustainability of their course, and the golf industry. For more information about Bayer programs and solutions for professional turfgrass managers, visit www.BackedbyBayer.com or download the BackedbyBayer app for iPad or iPhone, available at the iTunes store.
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Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, agriculture and high-tech materials. Bayer CropScience, the subgroup of Bayer AG responsible for the agricultural business, has annual sales of EUR 8,819 million (2013) and is one of the world’s leading innovative crop science companies in the areas of seeds, crop protection and non-agricultural pest control. The company offers an outstanding range of products including high value seeds, innovative crop protection solutions based on chemical and biological modes of action as well as an extensive service backup for modern, sustainable agriculture. In the area of non-agricultural applications, Bayer CropScience has a broad portfolio of products and services to control pests from home and garden to forestry applications. The company has a global workforce of 22,400 and is represented in more than 120 countries. This and further news is available at: www.press.bayercropscience.com.
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