Budget-Friendly Solutions: How ATS Helped One Golf Course Grow Back… Literally.
Summer 2010 in Central Indiana was brutal. It was the fourth hottest summer on record followed by a late summer through early fall drought. For Hickory Stick Golf Course, a public course just south of Indianapolis, the drought caused devastating damage to their turf.
Matt Brown, Hickory Stick’s course superintendent had some hard decisions to make that summer. There was a countywide water shortage; he couldn’t water the course. Desperate, he drained the course’s ponds.
“I had just enough water to water the greens. Fairways and tees had to go,” Brown said.
The drought continued. Brown approached to the course owners and suggested they close the course for fear of the damage the turf would sustain as play continued under the dry conditions. But the course remained open.
In golf course maintenance, fall is usually a time when the turf recovers from the heat of the summer. Without the rain, restoring the course’s health would have to wait until spring.
“[The drought] took a toll on the course. I lost of turf because I didn’t have the water.”
Brown had his work cut out for him. But he wasn’t alone. He called upon Stuart Cagle, his Advanced Turf Solutions sales representative for advice and support.
“My goal for this spring was to get the turf back to where it was. It was a lot of hard work. Stuart and I did some serious brainstorming.” Together Brown and Cagle devised a plan to get the course back in shape.
“We needed a slit seeder to put the seed in the ground by breaking the soil barrier,” Brown says. “He did his leg work to find the slit seeder. [Stuart] actually recommended using a yellow-jacket seed because it didn’t need to be kept as moist.”
Initially, Brown was hesitant to spend the extra money on the yellow-jacket seed, but was glad Cagle convinced him.
“That [seed] helped because we started off with a really wet spring and almost a drought for the summer. It saved me on the backend because had we gone with something else, I’d have had to go back over and reseed. [Stuart] was instrumental in coming up with the best strategy,” Brown says.
Brown was concerned about his ability to stay in his budget with the extent of the turf damage. He credits Stuart with helping him stay inside his budget without sacrificing the quality of the products he needed.
“I look at the budget like it’s my own money. [Stuart] calls and tells me when there’s something on sale. He makes an effort to help me get the best product.”
Brown’s relationship with ATS started in 2005 when new owners bought Hickory Stick. After researching competitive products to ensure that Advanced Turf’s products would produce the results he needed and had the active ingredients he required, he started buying from Cagle.
“Stuart really worked with me hard in comparing the different agents in their products with other products I’d used so I would understand the differences between the products.”
Brown has appreciated ATS’s above-and-beyond service for some time now, long before the drought of 2010.
“They’ll store my early orders in their warehouse for me since I don’t have space for it in our facilities,” Brown says. “I can call Stuart and say I need something for tomorrow, and it’ll be there. That means a lot for a company.”
The budget-friendly service is what Brown appreciates most. As he tells it, if he had chosen to do business with someone else, “I wouldn’t be able to buy some of the active ingredients to put into my programs because I wouldn’t have been able to afford them otherwise. The guys with the bigger budgets don’t have to worry about costs. But my owners, if I can save them save money, it helps me down the road because then I can buy tools, hire staff, and get machinery I need.”