Southern Fried Holiday Spray

When tough disease management problems collide with the challenges of warm-season turf, supers down south turn to a foundational program using the proven Intrinsic® brand fungicides from BASF. Here are insights from our agronomy team and some great superintendents from below the Mason-Dixon Line.

By Pat Jones   

Pat Jones

You may be surprised to learn that the BASF Intrinsic Holiday Spray concept had its beginnings not in a northern disease hotspot like Philly or St. Louis or D.C., but in central Alabama at the famed FarmLinks course. As the nation’s best supers visited the facility and interacted with the BASF team working there, it became clear that too many folks were just chasing symptoms instead of getting ahead of problems and preventing them.


That’s when the concept of a simple, easy-to-remember spray planning template emerged. The idea was to use the best weapons in your arsenal at exactly the right times to proactively prevent disease. When Lexicon® Intrinsic brand fungicide came along shortly thereafter, the Intrinsic Holiday Spray concept caught fire and has been a foundational approach for turf pros ever since.

Recently, we looked at how the Intrinsic Holiday Spray program worked around traditional disease areas in the north. Now, let’s take a look at how they use the concept closer to where it was born: Down South.


Before he came to BASF five years ago, Mike Jones, CGCS, trained under some legendary bosses and spent 28 years as a super and managed turf mostly in difficult cool-season turf environments like Detroit in St. Louis. He’s extremely familiar with the importance of a good, fundamental spray program. How does that help him apply the Intrinsic Holiday Spray concept for his customers around Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee?

“It’s a great tool to simplify a program. Supers get pulled in so many directions and there’s so many options and intricate programs,” he says. “BASF has best-in-class chemistries so to have a plan that simple and reliable is great. So, the Intrinsic Holiday Spray is a foundational program for a lot of great superintendents down here.”



“Fundamentally you should save your best defensive tools for the riskiest situations.”

The program is a little different because he serves both cool-season and warm season turf sites. For cool-season superintendents in all three states, he says July 4th is the single best place to start. If you have more bullets, add Memorial Day. “Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day are still the biggies for our cool-season customers.”  The go-to products for cool-season are Lexicon and Navicon – the latter of which he calls “awesome” on anthracnose.


“I became a big believer in plant health when I was growing Poa in Michigan. That’s why I’m such a fan of the Intrinsic brand fungicides: Honor, Lexicon, Navicon, Insignia.”

Jones believes warm-season courses have seen more disease pressure than normal in the winter during the last five years or so. So, his target application dates for bermudagrass are usually shoulder-season holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving and then Valentine’s Day in the spring.


On warm-season turf, he believes in a simple approach alternating Lexicon® Intrinsic brand fungicide and Navicon® Intrinsic brand fungicide apps. “The goal is to put the turf to bed clean and give it a healthy start again when it wakes up,” says Jones.


What resonates among his customers about the Intrinsic Holiday Spray concept? “Supers have heard about it and the proven reliability and effectiveness that comes with the program. More and more warm-season supers see the value of the approach and our distributors all realize the value of the products. They see the effectiveness of the products plus the plant health benefits, so it simplifies their job too.”

Charlie Aubrey, East Lake GC

Charlie Aubrey

The team at East Lake has to balance the needs of hosting the Tour Championship event with the ongoing demands of member play. “With the tournament we’re just trying to cover all of our bases for the week. If you’re turning and burning over Labor Day with ultradwarf the way we are, you’re just trying to cover your bases for that tournament. Remember that over 7 days we’re going to put 28 cuts on those greens and they’re going to get rolled 14-15 times. It’s just mind-blowing how much stress we put on them. It’s about making sure that you have all your bases covered.”


The tournament spray the week before the championship is designed to do just that. Leading up to the event, they spray every two weeks with soil-based fungicide and in-between they do a contact. “It’s no surprise we have pretty high disease pressure,” says Aubry. “We have to stay on top of take-all and mini ring. And you might have some cloud cover and leaf spot can pop up, so we treat for that too.”


Which products does Aubry’s team value the most? “I think everybody is onboard with Navicon right now. It’s so holistic and it has the ability to control a range of soil-borne fungi. The dual mechanism between the QOI and DMI is awesome. But Lexicon is a late fall standard for us. We also do a straight-up Maxtima app on the greens in spring to target take-all. That disease exploded in the past five years in the southeast.” One Maxtima® fungicide tip: make sure the pH of your water is right before you mix. “It makes an enormous difference.”

How have they adapted the standard Intrinsic Holiday Spray approach? “The ultradwarfs are really difficult as far as managing fungi. There are so many fungi with soil-borne in the summer with take-all and mini ring and then it moves into the fall where you’re worried about spring dead spot, then shoulder season comes along and you’re concerned about leaf spot because the plant is just not growing. It’s definitely a total year-round fungal management program.”


How much does he value the support he gets from BASF and it’s people? “I literally can’t say enough good things about Mike Jones. He’s always there when you need him. He’s been a great rep for BASF and a great friend to us at East Lake for the Tour Championship volunteer program. Mike always donates his time, particularly when we’ve been short-handed.” Aubry added one last BASF shout out: they use the company’s Black Onyx lake and pond colorant in the famed East Lake to reduce green algae and blue-green algae.

TEXAS IN FOCUS: Solving One Part of the Puzzle

When people say something is “as big as Texas,” it suggests size, but it doesn’t do justice to the complexities of the state’s climate and vast array of soils. Scott Dunham, BASF sales specialist in South Texas must support customers and reps to customize foundational programs for very different locations. And it’s not always based on holidays.


“A lot of guys are focused on long weekends and big outings and how they can create championship conditions for their players,” says Dunham. “The Intrinsic Holiday Spray concept helps them solve one part of the puzzle. If they can get it out ahead of highly visible events, it’s one more thing they don’t have to worry about. Summer holidays are usually the perfect times, but a little flexibility can make a big difference.”


To cope with weird Texas winters, he usually recommends Lexicon Intrinsic brand fungicide in October and Navicon Intrinsic brand fungicide in November. Then repeat that rotation again in February and March. “A lot of guys have committed to that rotation to put them to bed clean and wake them up happy during spring green-up.”

Dunham works with reps to help them make the most of foundational programs for their customers. “The science behind Intrinsic is so solid. Nearly everyone understands what Lexicon and Navicon can do. The disease control is indisputable, and the program often results in half the number of sprays required with competitive fungicides spray programs.”


And then there’s the plant health component: “When Lexicon came out people called it Leprechaun because of how the green color [in the turf] just popped. It has that ‘wow factor’ that transcends disease control,” says Dunham.


Ultimately, it’s about being able to be confident that you have your bases covered. “Intrinsic Holiday Spray is such a clear concept…it’s just a great way to plan a program. But at the end of the day, it’s the superintendent’s program to structure the way they want. But because the products last so long, they can have always be more confident that they don’t need to spray every two weeks.”


The bottom-line question he asks customers is simple: “Why are you focused on 24 sprays a year when we can do it with 12 and save time, labor and money? The economics and proven performance speak for themselves.”

Tim Huber, the Club at Carlton Woods, Houston

Tim Huber

“Coming down here from the north, I had to get used to the different diseases and times of year,” observes Tim Huber. “The big issues here are bermuda decline, large patch on zoysia, and brown patch on bermuda in the winter. It was a shift. But since Lexicon came along, life has been simpler. Now we do our annual max of Lexicon on both courses.”


Huber also relies on Lexicon Intrinsic band fungicide for aerification recovery, and he collaborates with his local sod farm to pre-treat sprigs with it, particularly for the ongoing renovation of the Nicklaus course at Carlton Woods. “Lexicon really aids recovery from aerification and speeds up the sprigging process a lot.”


His program timing in Houston is a little different than the standard southern holiday approach. “Going into fall, if I don’t do two Lexicon apps in the summer, I’ll do one more in fall. I don’t feel like the two apps in the spring are quite as important for us but we’re always ready to do a spring app if we need it.”

His approach is different, but it’s still a rock-solid plan. “The Holiday Spray Program is a great concept. I don’t look at the holiday dates as much, but I definitely earmark the months I want to use my best stuff. Navicon and Lexicon are staples here and Xemplar is a good rotational tool. That’s how I go about it.”


Like many southern turf managers, transition presents the biggest challenges for Huber. “It’s tricky when you have a busy golf season going and you’re headed into wintertime. I now have a lot less stress using Lexicon and even Navicon during that time. The safer DMI is really good because it covers patch disease.”


He typically does two Navicon Intrinsic brand fungicide apps, one in spring and one in fall and then targets his first Lexicon Intrinsic brand fungicide app for spring green up time between St Patrick’s Day and right before the club hosts an LPGA event in April.


“Foundational is a great term for a product like Lexicon,” says Huber. “All of my reps say the same thing about Lexicon: do the max because there’s nothing better.”

Eric Bauer, Bluejack National Club, Montgomery, Texas

Eric Bauer has been at the Tiger Woods and Beau Welling designed Bluejack National since it opened. The course is busy. “The pandemic pumped some new life into us and we couldn’t be any better right now. We had 23,000 rounds last year with 270 members.” 


How does his spray plan work to meet the demands? Bauer combines a plant health focus with foundational products just when he needs them. “We look at our seasons. There’s so much good data from NCSU and Tennessee and others that have done extensive research on diseases on different turfs. We’re predominantly TifEagle, ultradwarf bermuda and zoysia. I start with the grass type, then look at that data to see what we can expect during each season.”


Fungicides choices are important but almost secondary for Bauer: “First and foremost, plant health is the key. You can have the biggest budget in the world and throw the kitchen sink at problems, but without plant health you’ll never get over the hump.”


He defines plant health largely on root mass development. “For me it means having a deep-enough root system to withstand the rigorous demands on the turf. In my opinion, it starts with the roots,” says Bauer. “If you can’t grow roots, it’s pretty for a while and then mechanical and physical stresses will take their toll. Particularly when our play has been so strong.” 

Bauer’s focus is on nurturing the healthiest root mass he can produce. “Healthy roots mean the plant can take up the proper nutrients and water and everything else it needs. Building plant health is our first, best defense.” 


He relies on the “plant health first” approach but when he does turn to fungicides, Navicon Intrinsic brand fungicide is a staple. He does two Navicon Intrinsic brand fungicide apps per year, spring and fall. “And Lexicon is a great product for us. It’s very broad spectrum, like Navicon, but different classes of chemistry,” he says. “We also see good recovery post aerification with Lexicon.”


Bauer has used Lexicon Intrinsic brand fungicide for years and relies on it but he’s a recent convert to Navicon Intrinsic brand fungicide. “It is very safe, and it’s done a great job cleaning some of the challenges we’ve had with take-all root rot.”

SOUTH FLORIDA IN FOCUS: Turf at the Southernmost Tip of the U.S.

South Florida is a golf paradise as long as you have a club in your hands. It’s less fun if you’re a turf pro trying to deal with extreme temps, a mix of turf species, poor water quality and the demands of a winter play season. Andy Engelbrecht has seen it all as a superintendent, distributor sales rep and now the BASF sales specialist for south Florida. His version of Intrinsic Holiday Spray features sand, palm trees and a shoulder-season-focused approach.  


Timing-wise, Engelbrecht says the schedule can be a little flexible. “If someone is on a 12-month program and, by end of summer, they’ve done a couple of Navicon sprays, we’ll push that first Intrinsic Holiday Spray to Thanksgiving. Then we do Christmas/New Years as the second spray. The third is Valentine’s Day and the final one is St. Patty’s Day. Sometimes there’s an extra pyraclostrobin spray at Halloween.”


He says that often times, the Intrinsic Holiday Spray is a vacation spray for the superintendent who wants to make sure they can leave the course behind without worry: “I tell supers, it’s not their holiday, it’s yours.”


Paspalum is a fast-emerging choice for a lot of south Florida’s putting surfaces, so how does the Intrinsic Holiday Spray approach work on this aggressive species? “It works the exact same way as bermudagrass spray program,” he says. “Initially we thought it was very different and diseases might be different, but the timing is the same and the stress points are the same. 

So, no matter what the species it’s important to get good chemistry out there. “And with Lexicon and Navicon sprays you can cover 27 diseases including some emerging ones like microdochium.”


When new supers arrive in the area, it’s a teachable moment for them: “I probe to figure out where their concerns are at that facility,” says Engelbrecht. “We have to listen and get that feedback. The program gives you a solid guess about when you might have pressure. You don’t just say, ‘Here’s your program.’ You have to ask a lot of questions and then try to recommend the right calendar approach that fits their needs.”


And caution is advised for supers who are new to the area. “We have to rely on our experience. We may push for the October spray for a new super just to make sure. It’s an insurance policy. The next year you’ll have more info on whether to continue that early spray or not.”


Engelbrecht sums it up. “Staying ahead of disease pressure is the most important thing when you have precious little ability to recover before the cool front comes in. Late year and early season sprays are so important There’s nothing better for getting a plant ready for stresses than the Intrinsic chemistry.”


The big upswing in the golf business has been a boon for many, but the healthy job churn it brought with it has created a challenge for Chris Key and the reps he works with in the northern half of Florida.


“We did a great job of educating customers about Intrinsic Holiday Spray and its plant health benefits over the years,” says Key, “But now we have to engage a new generation of younger turf professionals as they move into superintendent positions. We constantly have to tell that new group the story of building a foundational program.”


It’s a story he values. “I’m a history buff and (BASF’s) Brian Thompson came up with the Intrinsic Holiday Spray concept at FarmLinks in 2010,” says Key. “There was a huge issue with lack of understanding about the timing of sprays and this simple idea has helped change that.”


How? “Guys didn’t previously have that framework to plan their program. That evolved into two applications going into fall to put the turf to bed healthy and prevent root rot, etc., and then two applications going into spring in February and March. Going into spring healthy helps protect against fairy ring. It’s simple but brilliant idea that’s served superintendents well for a decade now.” 

The challenge was that a lot of sprays used to be reactionary, instead of a proactive approach to get out ahead of things. “It’s a planning framework that can be easily put in place and then perfected based on specific needs, events, etc. Now they can plan better for budgets and use EOP most effectively.”


In his region, the Halloween spray is foundational for most customers. “I urge customers to look at this like a crystal ball. It allows you to think ahead and make a plan.” His go-to program in his region is: Navicon for October, Lexicon in November, Navicon in February and Lexicon again in March. “It’s a simple rotation that does a world of good.”


What does Key tell customers about why Intrinsic Holiday Spray is such a useful approach? “It’s the best tool for peace of mind for you. It enhances the rest of your sprays for the year. This is a great insurance program that puts your four best sprays of the year – your true foundational sprays – at exactly the right times to get you through the toughest conditions you’ll face all year.”

Wil Welbourne, Indian Bayou G&CC, Destin, Fla.

Wil Welbourne

At Indian Bayou, Wil Welbourne is primarily growing bermuda and most of his disease control is focused on putting surface issues. “The time of the year when we have the most stress is shoulder seasons,” he says. “As we go into the fall, the Holiday Spray program kicks in. I like being proactive because an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”


Like many down south, Welbourne has his own version of the program. “We’re generally drier and more arid in the fall and the spring. We still get plant stress just from the transition. I’ll begin with Navicon but we push it a little later here in Destin.”


His course sits on what amounts to an island with different water temps on either side. “We cool down and warm up much more slowly than everyone else,” he explains. “So, we don’t begin the Holiday Spray program until mid-November and then we’ll do another app in December. It’s about a month later than most people. Then we’ll follow up with the other two sprays in March and April. It seems to work a little bit better for us.”  

He alternates Navicon Intrinsic brand fungicide and Lexicon Intrinsic brand fungicide through the program. Most of what he’s focusing on are soil-borne diseases like fairy ring, pythium root rot, pythium root disfunction and other similar maladies.


“I like having the DMI (Navicon) in the mix. I use that for the earlier greens and tees spray because we will get dollar spot popping when things start to cool down.” He will water it in lightly. Some apps like the first Navicon app go at a higher rate (100 gallons/acre) will only be watered in at .3”-.4”, particularly if there’s a nematicide in the mix.


“The idea of focusing on a well-planned preventative program is so appealing,” says Welbourne. “Being able to have something that we can plan on and be effective against a range of diseases is perfect because we don’t have time to put out fires. It’s critical.” 

Scott Sewell, Emerald Bay Golf Club, Destin, Fla.

“We haven’t slowed since Covid started,” says Scott Sewell. “People moved here in big numbers and it’s been nuts down here since then. So, recovery time is challenge. We’re now busy during times when the turf doesn’t want to grow back.”


The Emerald Bay Club super knows the weather is unpredictable in Destin, given weird geography along the coast: “Summer can be wet, or just hot and humid or just hot and dry. We have days in the fall when the fog will roll in and then roll out for a bit then come right back. You’re not getting premium growth so you can’t take the chance of losing turf. Having Lexicon in your arsenal for those times of year makes life better. You don’t have to worry every day about damage you’d be unlikely to recover from.”


He aerifies in June/August and uses Lexicon pre-aerification. “That’s kind of our July 4 spray. Then there’s our Christmas spray when I know I’m going to be gone. I can Put Lexicon down and be able to leave for a vacation and not worry.”

He usually saves his second Lexicon Intrinsic brand fungicide app for “that weeklong stretch when we just have the foggy, trashy weather.” He does a Navicon app in the spring for fairy ring. “Since Navicon came along I haven’t had any fairy ring issues.”


Sewell’s motto is to have a plan but keep the ability to change as needed. “Flexibility is the key. You can have a foundational plan but be ready to change on the fly. We can only do that because we can rely on Lexicon.”


Final thoughts? “I love BASF and Chris Key. They’ve always helped out and they stay innovative with their new products. They keep trying to give us solutions and take some of the worries away. You have plenty of other things to worry about.” 

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Building Foundations Around Celebrations

Pat Jones caught up with BASF sales reps to find out how their customers use the Holiday Spray program today and why it continues to grow in both popularity and value.

Intrinsic® brand fungicides

For healthy, quality turf that's impressive from the inside out, superintendents rely on Intrinsic brand fungicides.

Navicon® Intrinsic® Brand Fungicide

A dual-action DMI that controls disease with powerful precision.

Lexicon® Intrinsic® 
Brand Fungicide

For strong foundation you can count on, under the toughest conditions.