A long time ago one of my elementary teachers told me "There's no such thing as a stupid question!" I think I'm about to prove him wrong, but bear with me because I am trying to help members understand part of my job just a little bit better.
So, my question, would you go to your doctor and insist on getting medication for you to take to control Diabetes if you didn't have Diabetes?
What about any other illness that you don't have, would you ask for medication to treat something that you are not suffering from?
Safe to say, no logical straight thinking human would do such a thing.
So let's talk for a second how this has ANYTHING to do with my job.
There are an enormous amount of possible problems that we might encounter on any part of the golf course which would result in lost turf or a decline in turf conditions. But treating for something before it is a problem, or before it has been properly diagnosed would be irresponsible, and expensive!
Some potential problems we are proactive on, such as maintaining a healthy amount of thatch by aerification, verti-cutting and top dressing. We know that significant accumulation of thatch will at some point cause the death of turf areas, so we have programs to treat and control the thatch before these problems arise.
But other potential problems might only be a threat under specific conditions and only need treatment years apart.
So with that thought, lets look at a picture of the collar at the back of 5 green I took just this morning.
If you were responsible for managing the course and you saw the collar slowly starting to thin out and look like this after 3 or 4 days, what would you be thinking we need to do?
Most people who see this are confident this is caused by drought and would easily be eliminated by getting some water into the soil. Others would say it's a disease, and wonder why we haven't already sprayed.
But a closer look..................and I mean a really close look.........reveals that something completely different is going on. In order to effectively diagnose the real culprit I had to get down on my hands and knees and dig through the turf to find what I was looking for.
These white specs are the larva of a bug called Hyperodes. The black ones you see are the adults. These destructive little pests feed only on close mowed Poa. As they feed, the grass blades slowly die back almost exactly as they would if the plant was under drought stress.
Trying to treat for this insect before it shows up and does some form of damage would be irresponsible, and expensive. A little like your doctor trying to diagnose and treat an illness before you are sick. Its nearly impossible to stop it before we have damage at some level. But when we do see a decline in any turf area it is imperative to make an accurate diagnosis of the real problem in order to properly stop the damage from continuing. Because of the isolated insect problems, we don't even keep product in stock to treat this insect. The treatment will take place early Wednesday morning and will have immediate effect on the pests. The recovery of the areas will take a little longer as the turf can only heal by growing back in.