Golf Course Superintendent shares tips on growing turf in Sandy Soils to manage water the ALL NATURAL WAY
Certified Golf Course Superintendent Billy Huskins of Highland Woods Golf and Country Club in Bonita Springs, Fla. shares tips on overcoming the challenges of growing in sandy soil.
Geoponics: Can you tell me about Highland Woods and the soil there?
CGCS Billy Huskins: Yes. The course was built in 1995. There is a very sandy pocket of soil in this region. It was originally just a forest—oak trees, palmettos, palms, etc. When they built the golf course, building the lakes to mound the earth up for the golf holes, it was straight sand. So our biggest challenge overall without a doubt is our soil type—straight sand.
Geoponics: What type of turf are you growing?
CGCS Billy Huskins: We have 419 Bermuda grass on the fairways and rough; we have Champion Bermuda grass greens and we’ve started to use Celebration Bermuda grass on some of our tees.
Geoponics: What are the challenges caused by sandy soil?
CGCS Billy Huskins: The biggest challenge is moisture holding capacity. You irrigate, but that water is not going to hold. We have to have a wetting agent product. We have nematode problems because of the sandy soil.
Geoponics: How did you first discover Geoponics products and did they help to address some of those challenges?
CGCS Billy Huskins: A representative of Geoponics came into the office a few years ago and started telling me about the products. He did a jar test in front of me and sent me to my chemical room to get the best wetting agent product that I had at that time. He compared his product, which was Penterra, to that product. At that point, I said ‘that’s intriguing and I want to test more of that product.’ At the time, we were in the worst drought on record. So, I had been testing and trying every product known, all types of combinations. I tried this and it was a happy medium for me with the price and the effects I get from the product. That was about 2008. I’ve been on the product ever since.
Geoponics: You mentioned that the wetting test is why you decided to try the Penterra?
CGCS Billy Huskins: Yes. That jar test and the representative’s ability to explain the product in depth to me. It wasn’t just “oh, I’ve got another wetting agent and try it.” He spent probably 30 minutes with me explaining how that product (Penterra) worked.
Geoponics: Have you tried other Geoponics products since then?
CGCS Billy Huskins: Yes. I’ve been using HydraHawk and HydroGro.
Geoponics: What made you try those?
CGCS Billy Huskins: We’re still in a draught situation here. We’re not currently under water restrictions, but nothing has changed with the soil type. Penterra has its mode of action and these products have their mode of action and I feel the HydraHawk in combination with the HydroGro is going to hold moisture longer like on a mound or a rough where as the Penterra is just pushing water through. I want something that’s going to hold water more still give some good penetration.
With regard to HydroGro —I’ve always been a believer of humic acid in these humate products because they’re natural products and I’ve always thought that the addition of that to a wetting agent is going to be beneficial to the plant.
I’m very happy with it. I’ve actually changed from using the other products to using this combination (of HydraHawk and HydroGro).
Geoponics: Why do you stay with Geoponics?
CGCS Billy Huskins: They (Geoponics products) seem to be at the forefront of what’s going on. I mean I’m buying their products. It’s endless how many other wetting agents are out there. Every salesman has 10 of them, but I’m using Geoponics and the reason why is I feel like they have the answers. The representative is easy to talk to. The products mix well and the price is where it needs to be.
We’ve been on the Penterra program for over three years now. Our stress areas are less than they’ve ever been.
We have 40,000 rounds of golf within a few months. All these members like to drive in the same patterns. They go on the fairway in the same spots and off the fairways in the same spots. This helps us to retain moisture in those areas and it helps with the stress.
Geoponics: Anything else you want to add that may be beneficial for other superintendents?
CGCS Billy Huskins: Geoponics is one of the best or I wouldn’t be using them. The price, the knowledgeable sales staff. I mean you can’t know everything, as superintendents, we’re always learning. He (the sales representative) comes in and tells you about the product, what you can expect. I like to push things. I like to test and try things. He helps explain what things can be mixed.
It’s that knowledge, the price, the products are natural. Again, there are so many products out there. This is the best or I wouldn’t have picked it.