I recently talked with Tom Nelson, superintendent of Cullasaja Golf Club in Highlands, North Carolina. Cullasaja is located on the edge of U.S. Forest Service land. You can hear the headwaters for several streams flow eastward down the mountains into North and South Carolina. This is an area where environmental awareness is an important consideration in making management decisions on a golf course.

In a normal year we receive over 90 inches of rain but this year was far from normal,” said Tom. “The course received 180 inches of rain in the past year with 60 inches of that in June and July of 2005.” An inch of water a day during peak season is a challenge for any superintendent. Tom rose to the challenge because of a strategic management approach that included the use of Nature Safe in a custom blended fertilizer 10-20-20. Dick Crump, Harrell’s Turf Specialist, who worked with Tom to custom blend an analysis to meet Tom’s needs, developed this formulation. Dick incorporated Nature Safe 12-2-0 (now 13-0-0), ammonium sulfate, MAP and SOP.

My disease challenges are typically dollar spot and brown patch, said Tom.” “Early this spring I noticed some signs of early brown patch. I applied the 10-20-20 at .5 lb N/1,000 sq. ft. Within three days the disease pressure had subsided and within 7 to 10 days the turf had grown back in damaged areas.”

Tom applied the 10-20-20 Nature Safe blend at a rate of .5 lb./1,000 sq. ft. on all the Penncross bentgrass on his course. He fertilized in May, mid-summer and in September going 45 days between the mid summer and September applications. While living with some dollar spot on tees, Tom did not feel that there was an excess of dollar spot in spite of the wet weather.

On fairways, Tom used two applications of the 10-20-20 once in early May and another in mid-September. Application during June and July was impossible. “I’m impressed with the color that I’m receiving from this blend, said Tom.” The ammonium sulfate is providing a very quick green up with the Nature Safe sustaining the color.

Tom also applied the 10-20-20 at the same rate on his greens about 10 days after aeration on September 12th.

Using Nature Safe does not have to be complex. Tom was able to use the 10-20-20 on his Penncross greens, tees and fairways. By feeding the microbes in the soil, he was able to maintain a healthy course in spite of adverse conditions.