It’s extremely rewarding to be a part of an agronomic success story at a golf course from the start. I’ve had the good fortune to experience it first hand at two different courses as a superintendent, and have followed another one right down the road from me. Jerimiah Farmer, golf course superintendent at the venerable Hayden Lake Country Club in Hayden Lake, ID, which is the oldest 18-hole golf course in the state and just celebrated its Centennial anniversary in 2012.
With a long history of management and renovations, the club has finally embarked on a long-range plan, headed up by the Jackson Kahn Golf Course Design, LLC out of Arizona that includes phased renovation of the golf course and many facility improvements to better serve a changing membership. Jerimiah has been at the helm for the past 6 years and was hired for his construction experience and ability to manage lots of moving parts of a project. A graduate of the Boise State University with a degree in Business Administration, and turf certificates from both the Rutgers and Penn State golf turf programs, he’s got the education to back up his field experience.
Jerimiah and I recently sat down to discuss his discovery of Biological Soil Management (BSM) and how it has benefited his operation and made his life a little easier. Jerimiah has always been a deep thinker, crediting his management style to writer Peter M Senge, author of the book, “The Art & Practice of a Learning Organization.” From it, he developed what he calls “a real dislike for linear thinking,” and has adapted this thought process to successfully managing his property. He’s also a student of agricultural authors such as Neal Kinsey (Hands on Agronomy) and Jerry Brunetti (The Farm as Ecosystem), both preaching the importance of a balanced system and BSM as a key to agricultural success.
So how has all this book work translated into success on the links? While Jerimiah admits that success with this type of approach doesn’t happen overnight, he states, “focusing on balancing nutrients in the soil and a thriving biological system has not only dramatically reduced my inputs over the past 3 seasons, but I really feel as if the soil system is working for us instead of the other way around.” He added that the reduction in Nitrogen input on his 100 year old poa greens from 5.5-6 lbs per year to under 3 pounds was not a goal, but a result of BSM working in his favor. He believes that there are no “silver bullets” to managing turfgrass, and there’s rarely one thing to blame when problems do arise, but BSM has made his job much more manageable on the course. He also stresses the importance of never getting complacent in his career. “Never stop learning new things that can apply to your course,” Jerimiah states.
Looking forward, he is hopeful that the continued work by he and his staff toward a highly functioning soil/turf system will help with fewer winter disease incidences and quicker recovery when problems do arise. “Nothing worked well and spring recovery and green-up was frustrating before we got the soils balanced,” stated Jerimiah. His ‘go to’ EarthWorks products are Myco Replenish 3-3-3 and the 5-5-5 liquid program for his greens (because it’s anything but linear). He’s excited to incorporate our new BioVantage into the mix late summer into fall to help strengthen the turf going into the long North Idaho winters. With all of the planned renovation work over the coming years, Renovate Plus and Myco Replenish are a “must have” for successful sod and seeding projects, as well as seasonal aeration.
We at EarthWorks know that with the template Jerimiah Farmer has created for the management of the Hayden Lake Country Club, that his continued success, more efficient use of precious resources, and a simplification of the day to day agronomic program will yield continued success for him and his club members. He gives much of the credit to his staff (led by assistants Scott Cowan and Jessica Lenihan). Good things indeed will come your way!