Fertile Ground for Growth

Both Adam Mis, golf course superintendent at Brookfield Country Club in Clarence, N.Y. and Joe Lucas, vice president of greens and grounds at Saratoga National Golf Club in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., are advocates of NuTec’s automated sprayer solution.

Lucas says he heard some conversation about GPS-enabled spraying, about five years ago, but wasn’t convinced until he visited longtime friend and colleague Clark Weld.

He recalls, “Chemicals are a big ticket item for every superintendent. We try to be careful in the application and manage our turf in environmentally friendly conditions. I thought a GPS-enabled sprayer might help improve our processes.”

NuTec 3Clark touted the chemical cost savings that he was realizing with a GPS-enabled sprayer and invited Lucas down to see his auto steer sprayer with individual tip control. “I got a first-hand look at the auto steer feature—and I was sold,” says Lucas. “I’d evaluated other GPSenabled sprayers with individual tip control before but felt there was something missing. I quickly realized that auto steer is the key.”

Lucas convinced his owner to invest in the system, which, at the time, included a base station. He adds, “We didn’t have to have the base station, but I didn’t want to rely on outside signals and I wanted consistent, reliable sub-inch accuracies.”

In June 2015, Lucas’s auto steer sprayer setup was enabled. He mapped the course from greens, tee boxes and fairways and defined where and how much chemical was to be applied. His chemical budget is now $115,000 USD In the first two years, he saved about $70,000 USD.

“I’ve decreased the amount of product used across every aspect of the course—fairways, tee boxes and greens,” he confirms. “With it, we save money and time, reduce the amount of chemicals used, there’s no overlap and we use less fuel in our machines. It’s so much easier to spray challenging areas such as around ponds, bunkers or tee tops. It’s also much easier to spray with the auto steer machine, than to train someone to spray manually. I really don’t understand how every golf course owner and superintendent doesn’t consider the investment. The system pays for itself inside of two years.”

Lucas is now considering putting auto steer on all his mowers.

Thigpen has worked with Keith Wood, superintendent of Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte, N.C., home to the 2017 U.S. PGA Championship, for soil management and GPSenabled systems, among others.