Keeping the bluegrass at bay this season: Annual Bluegrass or Poa annua and Silvery Thread Moss


Fighting the good fight!

These two plants are as frustrating as spring weather in Central Oregon.  The good thing is that we have the ability to semi-control annual bluegrass and moss.  Tetherow turfgrass has been growing for 5 years and it is maturing rather well.  The first hole (#3) was seeded in May 2007 and it has seen a lot of changes both in architecture as well as the maturity of the turfgrass.  With age comes a few blemishes and they are beginning to appear this season.  What can we do about these two plants?  Below is a brief explanation of what we can do to control them.

Annual bluegrass or Poa annua is a species of grass that is usually considered a weed in many cases.  Annual bluegrass grows in almost everywhere in the world.  The topic of annual bluegrass control can be very intense in the golf world.  There are many considerations to annual bluegrass control that can become exhausting when discussed.  As for Silvery Thread Moss, it is basically a nuisance and becomes unsightly.  Combine the two and the putting surface is adversely affected.    Tetherow is seeing some Poa annua establishment and we are slowing down the establishment process utilizing our knowledge and a few products on the market.

Disclaimer:  Annual bluegrass is inevitable.  Any turfgrass system ultimately becomes dominated by annual bluegrass.  Home lawns, sports fields, golf courses, parks all become dominated by annual bluegrass at some point in their life span.

The following is a list of ideas and products that we are using this season to provide the best results against Mother Nature and Poa annua:

  • Maintain fertility to a level where the fine fescue and bentgrass are competitive.
  • Promote deep rooting of fine fescue and bentgrass through deep and infrequent irrigation and the use of wetting agents.  Annual Bluegrass typically has a shallow root system so the developing plant would struggle to obtain adequate moisture.
  • Cut out young Annual Bluegrass plants from areas such as putting surfaces.
  • Use growth-regulating products such as Cutless and Embark.  Cutless selectively suppresses the growth of annual bluegrass to a greater degree than desirable turfgrasses, in our case, the fine fescue and bentgrass mix.  Embark is generally used for the seedhead suppression of annual bluegrass.  Annual bluegrass can flower and generate new seed at a mowing height of 1/8 of an inch.
  • Use a new herbicide, Xonerate, for the control of annual bluegrass.  This product is very new to the market and was registered for use in the State of Oregon in April.  Trials need to be done to ensure the safety of this product on our fine fescue/bentgrass mix.
  • Quicksilver is a herbicide used for the control of Silvery Thread Moss.  Last season we used the required amount of Quicksilver spread out over four applications, two in the spring and two in the fall.  We observed very good results from the product and will continue this season.
  • Iron can be utilized to help control Silvery Thread Moss.  Rates as high as 1 pound of Iron product per thousand square feet weaken the moss.  Appropriate timing of an iron application just prior to a Quicksilver application will be very effective.
  • Most importantly, we will improve the density of our putting surfaces. This helps control both annual bluegrass and silvery thread moss.  This season we are overseeding the greens three times with our usual fine fescue and bentgrass mix.

This season will provide the information that is necessary in order to produce a practical plan for annual bluegrass control.  Remember that annual bluegrass is considered both a weed and a desired plant.  Annual bluegrass is a weed when it begins to encroach on an existing turfgrass stand, such as ours.  Annual bluegrass is a desired plant when the natural conversion has occurred and it is now being maintained as a turfgrass stand.  The difficulty lies ahead for Tetherow.  An example of the conversion from planted turfgrass to one hundred percent annual bluegrass would be:

Tetherow (0% – 1%), Broken Top (50% – 75%) and Bend Country Club (100%)

I hope that everyone has enjoyed the golf course thus far and is looking forward to a great season.  I am hoping for great weather in May so that the golf course can really shine for our members and guests.  As always, feel free to drop me an email with any questions, concerns or comments at [email protected]

Thank you, Chris Condon, Golf Course Superintendent

Ask Tetherow’s Superintendant—Q&A with Chris Condon


Tetherow Golf Club’s Chris Condon is the vital “behind the scenes” guy to all things golf course and landscaping-related. He is the hard work behind ensuring the greens are properly maintained, invasive pests remain at bay, and golfers are happy with the speed and overall quality of the golf course. Essentially, without his hard work, Tetherow Golf Club in Central Oregon just may not have been nationally recognized and earned ranks in Golf Digest’s Top 100 Golf Courses.

Fresh from a pesticide conference which he attends annually, I asked Chris some questions about working at the best course in Bend, Oregon.

Q)     How long have you worked at Tetherow Golf Club?

A)      I have been the Superintendent at Tetherow since December 1, 2005.  I was involved in Tetherow from the very beginning, day one so to speak.  It was and has been a great experience to be involved in the project since the planning phases to today.  Not very many golf course superintendents get to be involved from day one.

 Q)     What were you doing before Tetherow Golf Club?

A)     Before coming to Tetherow, I was busy working for OB Sports.  Working for OB Sports has given me the opportunity to have worked in Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona and Wyoming.  Just before Tetherow, I had completed the opening season at the Three Crowns Golf Course in Casper, WY.  I was there during construction, grow-in and opening.

 Q)     How did you catch the Superintendant bug?

A)     I have worked in the golf course industry since I was 16 years old primarily to become an Evans Scholar (the movie Caddyshack is about the Evans Scholarship).  After earning the scholarship, I continued working at Broadmoor Golf Course in Portland, OR.  It was during college that I began working on the golf course maintenance staff and that was all it took.  One summer on the crew and I knew exactly what the future held for me.  I have been working on the golf course maintenance staff since.  Caddyshack is somewhat of a biography of my life only by coincidence.

Q)     When did you start golfing?

A)     I guess I was about 10 years old when I started golfing.  I did not actually become a decent golfer until late in high school.  I am still trying to become a better golfer.  If I did not work so much and play more I might actually surprise myself on how good I could be.

Q)     Who is your favorite golfer?

A)      My most favorite golfer was and still is Payne Stewart.  If I had to pick a current golfer, I would say Luke Donald.  His style of play closely resembles mine except that he is #1 in the world and I am #1 in my own mind. 

Q) What makes your tick at work?

A)  I was asked this during the interview process by David McLay Kidd.  My answer was and still is, I like to watch the grass grow and I love to watch a sprinkler run.  Those two things make me want to come to work on a daily basis. 

Q)     What makes you tick at home?

A)     Relaxing at home.  I enjoy a good meal, good drink, a funny movie or tv show and listening to music. 

 Q)     What is the most interesting part of your job?

A)     The interesting part of my job—and the most challenging–is figuring out how to get more done with fewer people and getting things done without anyone seeing us doing our job.

 Q)     What make working at Tetherow Golf Club unique?

A)     Working at Tetherow is definitely a unique experience. Because Tetherow is in Bend, Oregon, we are managing fine fescue in an arid environment which is the most unique.  I know of only one other course in a similar circumstance out of all the golf courses in the United States.  Definitely the look and style of Tetherow is very unique because I am/was in charge of how the golf course ultimately looks.  But I would say the most unique thing about Tetherow is those who are involved from Chris and William to the entire staff.  I have not been around a more passionate group of people who just want Tetherow to succeed.

 Check out Chris Condon’s article about his pesticide conference in January’s newsletter as well!

–Kelsi Shelton

Chris Condon on Maintaining a Beautiful Golf Course


Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season and that you are looking forward to a new year full of exciting new adventures.  Enjoy the rest of the winter season because the golfing season is just a few months away.

The Tetherow golf course has been overwintering rather well thus far.  Our topdressing program has been progressing smoothly and we have taken some extra precautions on a few of the greens in order to prevent any turf loss during the winter.  You may have noticed that portions of the greens have been covered.  The covers came from my good friend and Superintendent, Scott Moffenbeier at Broken Top.  Thank you very much!

This time of the year is just as important as the golfing season.  It gives us an opportunity to reflect on the previous golf season and to prepare for the upcoming season.  It is a time for us to service the equipment and reorganize the maintenance facility.  Winter allows us at Tetherow the time to make adjustments to our golf course maintenance plan according to our approved budget.  And most importantly, it allows us to attend continuing educational opportunities provided by the local and national golf course superintendents associations.

Education generally starts in December with The Pest Management Seminar hosted by The Oregon Golf Course Superintendents Association in Portland, Oregon.  In past years, this seminar was intended to provide all certified pesticide applicators with continuing educational credits required to maintain certification.  This year was different.  The seminar was split into two parts and the individual could chose between two days of recertification credit approved seminars or one day of credits and one day that involved specific golf course topics minus the credits.

The pesticide accreditation option had many interesting topics such as; “Broadleaf weed control in Turf”, “Best way to control weeds and algae in ponds”, “Fungicides: How to choose a proper fungicide for least resistance/best control” and “Pesticides: Differences between perception and reality”.  Day two of the seminar included golf course specific topics presented by a few leaders in the academic world including Joe Vargas, Ph.D. from Michigan State University and Rob Golembiewski, Ph.D. from Oregon State University.  Both were very engaging speakers full of information and insight into the golf course management world.  Topics for the golf section included; “Physiology and culture of Annual Bluegrass” and “Thinking your way through problem solving in Turfgrass Management and more” along with updated research information.

Along with the subject matter introduced to us during the seminar, events such as this allow us the opportunity to learn about new products and regulations, network with other golf course superintendents, exchange ideas about integrated pest management with other professionals as well as enjoy the company of friends. A lot of what a golf course superintendent knows comes from the interactions we have with other golf course superintendents.  As with anything, we generally learn from our successes and failures.

Future educational opportunities will include the Wilbur Ellis University in January and the Golf Course Superintendents of America Conference and Trade Show in February.  As always, feel free to call or drop us an email if you have any concerns, comments or questions.

Thank you,

Chris Condon

Golf Course Superintendent

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