Farm Links

Last week I attended FarmLinks, a research and demonstration golf facility in Alabama. I went on behalf of Western Equipment, our Toro distributor. Toro is a cornerstone partner in the Farm Links experience thus much of the first day was learning of new Toro irrigation products including new sprinklers, soil moisture sensors, and a new operating software called Lynx.

What impressed me the most is how fast Toro is able to keep up with the growing technology in today's market and apply it to the products that they are making. The sensors that they have developed can be placed into the putting green or anywhere else you may need to monitor and can track the data in real time. The sensors can record moisture, temperature, and salinity.  The new Lynx software can track all of the sensor data as well as the weather station data all from the front page instead of going to separate windows. The overall navigation of the system has been made so much easier and programming will be a snap.

We also hear from the other cornerstone partners of the FarmLinks experience including Agrium Advanced Technologies, and BASF. Agrium produces various types of fertilizers including nutralene and other coated slow release products. The BASF presentation was very informative, giving all kinds of information on strategies for disease prevention and control.

The next day we had a short session in the morning and heard from some of the other partners including Club Car. We learned about their new tracking system that can be implemented into the cart fleet. They actually showed how they could pull up one carts path throughout the day or round of golf on the golf course and see everywhere it went. If it went off the path or went in an area it wasn't supposed to go, it would slow down to a creep until it was back on the path. (Good think we saw this before we played the course) When they showed all of the carts on a given day I was amazed how much of the course gets covered by traffic.

The FarmLinks golf course was still in the dormant condition but played extremely well. The greens were the only cool season grass which was Penn A-1 and Penn A-4, the same grass we are using at Stone Creek. These green were in fantastic shape and were quicker than lightning. I made some nice puts but that is about all I am going to give up about my game on this day.

Managing cool season grass in the summer in Alabama can be a challenge. That is why they have fans located near each green as well as an underground ventilation system similar to Sub Air. They also had to install a barrier between the bentgrass and the warm season bermuda grass. If not the bermuda would encroach into the green and take it over. The course is almost 10 years old and they are pretty much Poa free. Wouldn't that be nice!

It was interesting to see the different types of grasses they planted on the fairways. My favorite was the Zoyzia Grass fairway. It was greening up much quicker than the others and had a nice fine texture. Visually it was fine but if you rubbed you hand over it it was very prickly. The best part was the lie of the ball. I could hit off this stuff all day.

Three out of the four par threes were elevated which made for some great views not to mention some challenging shots. Here are a couple that I would like to have another shot at.

Over all I had a great trip and would like to thank John Hassler and Western Equipment for making it all possible. Unfortunately by the time I got home I developed some kind of a bug which laid me up for the rest of the week but that didn't stop the staff from doing a great job.

Monday was going to be our tee aerification day but as you can imagine it was a wash due to the weather. Mike pulled the trigger on the next available day which was Wednesday and Thursday and managed to get everything done with the exception of the back of the driving range tee which we will be able to get to sometime this week. We rescheduled the greens aerification which was going to happen today due to the forecast and will attempt to do it the following Monday if all goes well. We may not have our borrowed aerator available on that day but can split it into two days if we have to.

The course is extremely wet right now due to the five plus inches of rain last week. The good new is once the sun comes out for a period of time things will dry up quickly. In the mean time pray for some dry weather so we can get the greens done and on there way to another great season!

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