JGAA Desert Mashie recap

Over 145 juniors participated in the JGAA Desert Mashie Spring Championship, taking place at the Encanto Golf Course and Encanto 9, March 24-25. This tournament has developed and grown over the years by one of the leading minority golf organizations in the United States, the Desert Mashies. Started by a group of African-Americans in 1948, the Desert Mashies have a vision of pioneering the great game of golf to young golfers who otherwise may never have had the opportunity to pick up a golf club. The Desert Mashie quest for acceptance and further knowledge of the sport took shape in May of 1946 when after a round at Encanto Golf Course, the initial nine members of the group spoke fervently of their desire to attract more members, thus strengthening the group. At the time, Encanto was the only golf course in the greater Phoenix area that allowed African Americans to play. It would later become the host course for almost all of the tournaments hosted by the Desert Mashies. For the 2012 JGAA Desert Mashie Championship, the 13-14, 15-18 and Championship Divisions all played 36 holes on the par 70, Encanto Golf Course. In the Boys Championship Division, Anthony Quezada had rounds of 68-70 for a two-day total of 138 to win. Megan Knadler took home the title in the Girls Championship Division, with rounds 72-71 for a two-day total of 143. In the Boys 15-18 Division, Daniel Bonnell won with rounds of 69-68=137. Margaret Loncki won the Girls 15-18 Division, with scores of 80-82 for a two-day total of 162. In the 13-14 Boys Division Sam McKay took the title with rounds of 72-71 for a two-day total of 143. Kelly Su won the Girls 13-14 Division, with rounds 82-81 for a two-day total of 163. The Boys and Girls 11-12 Divisions played 18 holes each day, on the par 30 Encanto 9. Aaron Ramos took the victory in the Boys 11-12, with scores of 57-55 for a two-day total 112. In the Girls 11-12 Division, Aleksia Mikalacki shot 82-83 for a two-day total 165 to win. The Boys and Girls 10 and Under played 9 holes each day on the Encanto 9. In the Boys Division, Daniel Thompson won with rounds of 31-32 for a two-day total of 63. In the Girls 10 and Under, Grace Chung won with scores of 35-35 for a two-day total of 70. For full results and more information on the Junior Golf Association of Arizona, please visit the JGAA website:


Non-overseeded ultradwarf bermudagrass greens

By Brian Whitlark, USGA Green Section

In the desert Southwest, eliminating overseeding on ultradwarf bermudagrass greens is rapidly becoming the new trend, partially due to poor bermudagrass recovery after overseeding, but mostly because golfers have discovered that non-overseeded greens offer better surfaces for more golfing days.

In the fall, when many overseeded greens are slow, wet, and prone to pitch marks, ultradwarf greens are at their best. When the overseeded turf is weakening the following summer and ball roll becomes inconsistent, non-overseeded greens often perform far better. However, there are more than a few misconceptions with respect to non-overseeded greens, both from an agronomic and playability perspective, that need be addressed before we move on and discuss specific management strategies.

As a few leading turf managers have already discovered, managing non-overseeded greens in the winter can be tricky, and there are a number of pitfalls that must be avoided. Several misconceptions and pitfalls are summarized in the following points.

Misconception: Greens Firmness. In informal surveys, most golfers, golf professionals, and even most turf managers perceive that non-overseeded greens are firmer and therefore less receptive to golf shots than overseeded surfaces. This is simply not true. In fact, in every case where this author has quantified the firmness using the USGA TruFirm on both overseeded and non-overseeded surfaces on the same green, the non-overseeded portion is always less firm. Most likely, the non-overseeded surface is softer, a result of more thatch mat, which leads us to the next bullet point.

Misconception: The practice of overseeding greens creates more thatch and organic matter than when not overseeded — true or false? Based on personal observations, it appears this statement is false. Although there is no research data to confirm this, experience with measuring thatch and organic matter levels on both non-overseeded and overseeded greens shows that the non-overseeded surfaces always produce more thatch, at least in the desert Southwest. The bermudagrass grows for more days without competition from the cool season turf and therefore produces a greater thatch mat.

Misconception: Traffic Damage. Course officials often express that their primary fear with non-overseeding is the damage from traffic, the potential for weak turf, and even bare ground. This is not the case. One golf property that regularly sees more than 60,000 rounds per year (80 percent between November and May) had no issues with traffic damage on non-overseeded ultradwarf surfaces.

Misconception: Ball Marks. Given that non-overseeded greens are likely softer than their overseeded counterparts, one would assume that ball marks will be more prevalent. However, this has not been the case. In fact, all the turf managers that contributed to this article were in agreement that complaints about ball marks were nonexistent or decreased substantially once overseeding was eliminated from the greens program.

Pitfall: Winter color. Right or wrong, the desert Southwest market demands green. This should not be a deterrent to eliminating overseeding from the program; it is merely an additional challenge the turf manager must address. Turf colorant technology has come a long way in recent years, and superintendents are now offering cosmetically attractive, non-overseeded greens in the dead of winter. Several turf managers offer their colorant strategies later in this article.

Pitfall: Green speed. One very real concern in the desert Southwest is excessively fast green speeds during extended periods of cold weather and negligible growth. However, with a sound fall setup program, green speed can be maintained at an acceptable pace throughout the winter. Fall is the time to increase mowing heights and reduce mowing frequency. When growth stops in December or January, it is likely too late to increase heights.

Pitfall: Scarred hole plugs. Another concern when not overseeding greens is that old hole plugs recover slowly. If plugs are high and scalped, recovery will be slow, although colorants often hide such scars fairly well. Furthermore, if thatch is not aggressively controlled throughout the year, the turf around the outside edge of the hole plug often deteriorates in a half-moon pattern, forming a scar. This issue is seen throughout the year where horizontal stolons are allowed to grow unabated, but this is most problematic in the winter. Unfortunately, if hole scars are an issue at your course, substantial improvement will likely require several years of more aggressive surface grooming practices.

After reading the above-mentioned summary, the primary fears about not overseeding greens should have been addressed. Turf managers should take note of the pitfalls mentioned, including winter color, green speed, and scarred hole plugs. With this in mind, the remainder of this article will focus on strategies that three turf managers have employed in the Southwest Region to overcome such pitfalls and endear golfers to non-overseeded ultradwarf greens.

Fall, which for the sake of this article includes October, November, and a few weeks into December, is an important setup period for preparing for the onset of winter dormancy. The fall months are essential to encourage late-­season growth, increase heights, employ what are likely the last surface grooming practices for the year, and begin using colorants.

How do you encourage late-season bermudagrass growth and color?

Charlie Costello, superintendent, Phoenix Country Club: We spray urea and/or calcium nitrate to supply about 0.10 lbs. of N/1000 ft 2 every 7-10 days. Green spray dye is applied year-round, which warms the surface in the fall and encourages growth. Primo applications continue on a biweekly schedule, although rates drop from 14 oz./acre/month during the growing season to as low as 3 oz./acre/month in the winter.

Rob Collins, superintendent, Paradise Valley Country Club: Nitrogen inputs are increased from weekly applications at 0.10 lbs. of N/1000 ft 2 to 0.25 lbs./1000 ft 2 beginning in October and continuing through the end of November. Rates drop to 0.10 to 0.15 lbs. N/1000 ft 2 during the winter. Green pigment applications begin sometime in mid-November when growth has slowed, but the turf remains green.

Bill Rupert, superintendent, Alta Mesa Country Club: Nitrogen is applied every two weeks at 0.10 lbs. of N/1000 ft 2 during the summer. Once the humidity decreases and growth slows, nitrogen inputs are increased to 0.20 lbs./1000 ft 2 on a biweekly schedule. Green spray dye applications begin in early to mid-November.


MountainView-Preserve Mens Golf Association supports First Tee of Tucson

The MountainView-Preserve Mens Golf Association held a First Tee golf event Nov. 6 that included 36 youth – both girls and boys – from The First Tee of Tucson, paired with 36 men and women from MV leagues. Following the event, participants enjoyed a pizza party and a fun putting contest. In further support of The First Tee of Tucson, the M-PMGA made a $1,000 donation to the organization.

Additionally, on March 10, an ad-hoc committee of the M-PMGA conducted a 3-hour equipment collection having publicized it at length at the club’s three courses. Through their efforts the club donated the following to support the youth-centered non-profit:

108 adult golf bags

6 kid’s golf bags

1 hard travel cover

87 full sets of irons

302 drivers, fairway metals, etc.

175 misc. irons (not in sets)

98 putters

131 dozen golf balls
43 pairs of golf shoes

9 pull carts

Miscellaneous soft goods including large numbers of head covers, towels, hats, tees, umbrellas, novelty clubs (Medicus)

The club plans to continue their support of The First Tee of Tucson going forward.


Davidson tops Wog for AZ Publinks title

Glendale teen-ager Kale Davidson edged Scottsdale’s Michael Wog by a single shot to win the Arizona Publinks Championship on Sunday, the first major of the season for the Arizona Golf Association.

Davidson capped his fast and furious finish that saw him go 5-under par on the last seven holes by saving par from five feet on the final hole at Ken McDonald Golf Course in Tempe. Wog, who had won this tournament in 2009, could not recover from a bad drive on the 18th that led to a bogey.

“It was pretty magical, to say the least,’’ said Davidson, an 18-year-old senior at Cactus High School who closed with a 1-under-par 70 for a winning aggregate of 5-under 208.

“When I made bogey at No. 10, which put me back to even par for the tournament (4-over for he day), I just tried to regroup. I knew with the weather being bad, it was a tough day to play for everybody. So I said to myself, ‘Just try to make a few birdies and get back in it.’ “

Davidson did better than that, as he holed a birdie putt from 30 feet at No. 12, made an eagle 2 from 110 yards out at No. 14, another birdie from one foot at No. 15, and yet another birdie at No. 17 from a mere 2 inches.

“When I holed the gap wedge at the 14th hole for the eagle, I said, ‘Oh, I’m back in it,’ “ Davidson said with a big smile. “Then I almost holed another wedge at the 17th from 130 yards out that (tied it up).

“But it was that last putt to get my par, that’s what won it. I guess it was a hectic but exciting way to end the day.’’

As Davidson mentioned, the weather played a key role in the final round, with winds, scattered showers and temperatures in the low 50s making for some interesting club selections and very cold hands. Those conditions were quite a turnaround from Friday’s opening round, which featured sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s, or even Saturday’s cooler conditions with wind and overcast skies.

But it wasn’t the inclement weather that bugged Wog, who closed with a 69. He was under the impression that he trailed Davidson by a stroke when they teed off at No. 18, when in fact they were tied.

“I was keeping his score and had him for a 37 on the front, when he actually shot 38,’’ noted Wog, who opened with a 72 but got back into the mix with a 68 on Saturday.

“But in the end, I just hit a bad drive at 18 – blocked it way right – and couldn’t recover. And Kale made a nice putt, a clutch putt, to win it.’’

Three shots off the pace in third place was another youngster, 16-year-old Christopher Petefish. The sophomore from Scottsdale Christian carded a 70 to end up 2-under. Another two shots back at even-par 213 was Tucson’s Derek Laporte.

Camron Howell, who was the leader after the opening round with a tournament-best 66, and who held a share of the lead with Davidson at 4-under going in the final 18 holes, ended up 1-over and in fifth place. The big hitter from Queen Creek, who was the AGA’s Player of the Year in 2011, had been attempting to win his first major.

“Same old story continues,’’ said Howell, who could do no better than 76 on the final day. “I missed every fairway (Sunday), and it didn’t matter if I hit driver, 3-wood or iron off the tee.’’

But Howell and the other leaders, as well as the AGA’s tournament manager, Alex Tsakiris, had nothing but praise for the condition of the Ken McDonald golf course.

“A lot of the guys were surprised the course played as tough as it did, and it just wasn’t because of the weather,’’ said Tsakiris, noting that only three players in the field broke par on one of the Valley’s older yet more interesting municipals.
“To make it a little more challenging, we added a tee, stretched the golf course to 6,900 yards, and the greens were great condition. Plus, the staff bent over backwards for us, so we could not have been happier about hosting our first major of the season here.’’

Of course, no one was happier than the champion, who was playing in only his second AGA event.

“This is my biggest win ever,’’ beamed Davidson, who was the runner-up at the Division II boys’ state high school championship last year and will play golf for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott this fall.
“In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I will be playing in the Arizona Stroke Play (April 12-15, TPC Scottsdale Champions Course), and plan to play in as many AGA tournaments as I can this year.’’

In the AZ Publink’s senior division, which was completed Saturday at Ken McDonald, Scottsdale’s Murphy Mitchell prevailed by three shots over Mesa’s Tom Preston. Mitchell posted rounds of 68-69 for a winning total of 7-under-par 137.


Brett Wilson wins JGAA Thunderbird Invitational

PHOENIX, Arizona (March 5, 2012) – Brett Wilson, of Mesa, took the victory at the 18th Annual Thunderbird Invitational with scores of 73-70=143. In the Girls 15-18 Division, Madison Kerley, of Chandler, took top honors with scores of 76-70=146. In the Boys 13-14 Division, Noel Sims won with scores of 78-77=155. Alisa Snyder won the Girls 13-14 Division with scores of 77-86=163. The 36-hole tournament was played March 3-4 at Papago Golf Course and was sponsored by the Thunderbirds. Brett Wilson, who will be playing golf at Colorado State University t fall, had 6 birdies in his final round en route to the victory. Playing in the final group of the day, Wilson got up-and-down from the greenside bunker on the 18th hole, making a clutch fifteen-foot par saving putt to win by one stroke over defending champion Peter Koo (72-72=144). Zach Wright and Blake Cannon finished tied for 3rd, with 2-day totals of 145. Madison Kerley fired a final round 2-under par 70 to break away from the pack and take the victory in the Girls Division. Kerley shot a back nine 33 on Sunday, including birdies on three of the final four holes. Finishing in 2nd was Morgan Messick, of Tucson, with scores of 75-73=148. Several players in the field have signed a letter of intent to play college golf next fall. In the Boys 15-18 Division, Zach Wright has signed with Louisiana State University, Kale Davidson with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Wilson with Colorado State University. Working in tandem with the Thunderbirds and the Junior Golf Association of Arizona, the 18th annual Thunderbird Invitational featured 60 of the state’s finest junior golfers, ages 13-18. “The Thunderbirds work within the world of golf is unrivaled and while so much attention is focused on their sponsorship of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the most well-attended golf tournament in the world, it is their continual efforts with Arizona’s junior golfer that deserves accolades as well,” said Tom Cunningham, Executive Director of the Junior Golf Association of Arizona. “The Thunderbirds are very much connected with this tournament not only financially, but they volunteer their time to assist with registration, starting, spotting on the course and scoring. This event hones the competitive skills of some of our finest junior golfers, who often times, use this event as a springboard for the rest of their JGAA schedule.” For complete results of the 18th annual Thunderbird Invitational, visit the Junior Golf Association of Arizona web site at or call their office at (602) 944-6168.