Ag Leader Goes Golfing
My name is Jeff, I’m an avid golfer, an Ag Leader employee, and am excited to be an author on the blog today! I’m writing from the airport on my way home from Quail Hollow in North Carolina where the PGA Championship was just played, and I’m teeming with excitement about the technology I just witnessed being used on the course.
I’m sure a few of you are thinking “Ag Leader is in the business of providing solutions to farming operations, what does a golf course have to do with that?” Well, farming and turf management have several things in common:
- Both have budgets for chemicals and fertilizers they apply – the more accurate the application, the less they have to tap into those budgets
- Both want to be good stewards of the environment
- Turf management is farming just like corn growing… remember, corn is a grass
Quail Hollow Golf Course*
Marcus Thigpen of NuTec Soil, Inc., has become a leader in precision technology for golf course management. NuTech has been around for 30 years and started using GPS for farming, but for the last 12 years have been heavily involved with golf course maintenance. Marcus initially used Ag Leader’s GPS technology, progressing to Ag Leader’s steering and DirectCommand products to help courses accurately apply chemicals and fertilizer, while reducing over-application and overlap. He also uses assisted steering to make the crisp, straight lines seen on the fairways from the mowers, this too saves money by reducing the number of mower passes taken. The technology cut has their maintenance budget IN HALF over five years.
This year brings the golf world’s 99th PGA Championship to Quail Hollow – the course’s first major! To prepare for the tournament, Quail Hollow underwent several changes: trees were removed, putting surfaces were replaced and sand bunkers were filled, holes were revamped, and 1500 soil samples were taken across 152 acres of the 225-acre property. NuTec utilized Ag Leader’s SMS Software to analyze and make a recommendation for nutrients to get the course up to snuff for a major tournament. Then Quail Hollow put its InCommand 800, GPS 6500 and DirectCommand to work to make those recommendations a reality.
Marcus Thigpen of NuTec Soil, Inc. sitting in a dry fertilizer spreader used by Quail Hollow Golf Course
I arrived to the course at 8:30, and met up with Marcus and the rest of the grounds crew who had just finished the morning prep, though they had arrived at 3:30 am. We headed to the maintenance shed, where I met the superintendent and two of his assistants. The crew runs the spreader equipped with Ag Leader’s products, and after spending a few minutes with them, I could tell they understand the technology. The is hungry for data, so I hooked up their InCommand 800 to AgFiniti, and showed them how they could access the applied data at all times. They were impressed with the visibility!
Throughout the day, Marcus showed off the technology of the fertilizer applicator to a couple superintendents from other courses. These guys too understood the need, and I was able to help explain what Ag Leader could do for their courses. Every superintendent that Marcus and I spoke with said they could easily see the technology providing a 20+% savings on the chemical and fertilizer.
Although Ag Leader doesn’t plan to emerge into the turf grass management industry any time soon, it is rewarding to see the technology helping other industries… especially when it means spending a week on the golf course.
A big thank-you to the team at NuTec Soils, and Quail Hollow for a great week of seeing Ag Leader work for you!
*picture courtesy of quailhollowclub.com