Turfgrass Relief from the Summer Stress

Growth Products' October "Best Success" Winner
Branden Houghtaling

This month's winning success story comes from Branden Houghtaling, Golf Course Superintendent at the Tam O'Shanter Club in Brookville, Long Island, New York. Houghtaling has a degree in Turf Grass Management from Michigan State University, and has worked in the golf industry since he was fifteen. A true turf pro with years of experience, Houghtaling shared some tips and words of wisdom when we spoke earlier this month.

Tell us about the Tam O'Shanter course, and the special challenges it presents to a golf superintendent.

It's a private, 18-hole course on 160 acres along the North Shore of Long Island. The course was beautifully renovated in 1999 by David Postlethwait, and follows the natural rolling terrain. It's a lovely course, but summer weather patterns along the North Shore are a challenge.

June, July, August and the first two weeks of September are what I call the "Hundred Day War." It is one long stretch of incredibly hot, humid, and muggy weather that puts our greens, which are 95 percent Poa Annua, under a lot of summer stress. In that kind of heat and humidity, the turf's root system is under intense pressure and fungal diseases such as Summer Patch (Magnaporthe poae), can quickly become problematic.

When I became the superintendent, I started a nutrition program using Growth Products fertilizers and micros, and there has been a dramatic and very noticeable difference in both the looks and the performance of the greens. Even during the "Hundred Day War" the greens are green, playable, and disease-free.

What is your program?

Every week throughout the growing season my team and I spray with Growth Products' Pro-Formance Ultra 18-3-6 and X-Xtra Iron. Every three weeks we spray with Companion® Liquid Biological Fungicide and Cal Mag Max 7-0-3. In the summer we also target Summer Patch with Essential® Plus 1-0-1, a wetting agent, and a conventional fungicide.

In the spring and fall we use Re-Store Plus® 3-0-2 on our fairways when we aerate. The Restore Plus® helps the turf recover quickly, speeds up seed germination, and promotes healthy turf growth.

And why Growth Products?

I've worked at golf courses that have used Growth Products, and at golf courses that have not. Hands-down, Growth Products gives the best, the most consistent, and the most reliable results. Having a dependable fertilizer program that I can trust makes all the difference in the world, and is the key to having good playing conditions throughout the season.

Superintendents are under is a lot of pressure and a lot of stress. People demand perfection, and a superintendent who takes pride in his work wants to meet that demand. When I use Growth Products, I know that the product itself will be consistent from batch to batch, and that the results will be consistent, too. It takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders when I use Growth Products, because I don't have to worry about what the results will be.

Do you have any other secrets to success?

Yes. Have a good team! If a superintendent has a good team of hardworking staff - a team that he can completely trust - life will be easier, and the course will benefit.

What words of wisdom would you give to a new superintendent?

Find a nutrition program that works for you, and stick with it. Don't change things around all the time or use unreliable products, or you'll never get the greens that you want or a good night's sleep.

Many thanks to Branden Houghtaling for his help with this article, and congratulations for providing our Best Success Story of the month.

About Growth Products’ Best Success Stories

Growth Products has been amazed and impressed with the knowledge and skills of its professional customers. Now is your opportunity to let your Success Story be heard! Visit www.growthproducts.com to enter to win $500 in free Growth Products’ merchandise and to have your story featured in our monthly newsletter. In addition, one Grand Prize winner will receive $2,500 in cash!

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A Special Thanks To:

Howie Gold
Growth Products, Ltd.

Technical Sales Representative
(917) 559-4425

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Tam O'Shanter Golf Club
74 Fruitledge Rd,
Brookville, NY 11545

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80 Lafayette Ave., White Plains, NY 10603
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