Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mid Season Update

It's hard to imagine we are just a few days away from August 1st. Mother nature has taken us on a roller coaster ride throughout the past few months. The weather has been very conducive for the golf course. From tee to green, plant health is at an all time high. The past few months have almost and I repeat almost allowed us to forget about the brutal winter that we all suffered through, including the golf course.I'd like to touch bases on a few things that have been our primary focus throughout the past few months.

One of our biggest focal points leading into the season was eradicating the moss populations in the greens. The process is not an over night sensation. It's going to take a couple of growing seasons to completely eradicate the moss but I feel that we have made some incredible strides moving forward. There are 3 main focal points when attempting to kill the moss. The first is a bi-weekly chemical application that selectively weakens the moss populations. The next step is to verticutt the areas to thin the moss out, followed by multiple topdressing applications (sand). The last step involves keeping a balanced fertility program on the greens followed with a slightly higher height of cut. A healthier bentgrass green allows it to out compete the moss and slowly but surely begins to grow into these weakened areas of moss. The picture below illustrates this process.

The top left picture shows the moss after a verticutt. Top right, shows the moss after a heavy topdress application. The bottom two pictures show the green after the sand has been worked into the canopy. Green speeds will slow for a few days after this process but by the weekend the speeds should increase be back to normal.

The next project involved the re-establishment of our Bermuda practice tee. The harsh winter took its toll on the tee. The tee experienced "Winter Kill" to the extreme. In order to re-establish the tee we had to start over. The process began with a .50" solid tine aerification followed with a heavy topdress. The next step involved drop seeding bermudagrass in 2 directions followed by placing growing covers on the tee, as the picture below illustrates.

Fast forward 4 weeks and we pulled the covers off of the tee, followed by multiple fertilizer and topdress applications.
The top left image shows the juvenile bermudagrass seedlings. Bottom right picture shows the establishment and the picture to the right was the first mow on the tee. Fast forward another 4 weeks and we will be opening the tee tomorrow. Moving forward, we now know that we need to allow the bermudagrass plant ample time to recover before winter arrives in order to ensure the plant has enough nutrients in reserve to break dormancy in the spring. The picture below shows the finished product.

The last focal point for the agronomy team this year was bunker maintenance. As most of you have probably noticed this year, we have implemented a different raking technique this year. There were 3 main areas of focus throughout this process. The number one priority was to do our best to eliminate golf balls from plugging into the faces. The best way to achieve this was to minimize the amount of sand placed on the steep faces to allow the ball to bounce off of these slopes and roll down to the bottom of the bunkers. We have kept a maximum of 2 inches of sand on the faces and in turn have taken a lot of the excess sand from the faces and displaced the sand to the bottoms of the bunkers. The only raking that takes place on the faces is smoothing out the faces where sand has been displaced by using the back side of the rake. With eliminating raking the faces on a daily basis, the crew has been able to check sand depths more consistently along with pulling grasses and weeds in the bunkers on a daily basis. Here are a few images of the finished product.

In closing, I'd like to thank my entire staff for a successful Member Guest. We had absolutely perfect weather for the entire week. In turn, this allowed the course to play the way it was made to be played, fast and firm. The crew put in a lot of hours to ensure the course was "dialed in". Thanks again.

Best Regards,
Dan Grogan
Golf Course Superintendent


Friday, April 11, 2014

Golf Course Update

The golf course has been up and running now for 10 days. There has been anything but a consistent weather pattern from Mother Nature. Dating back to opening day on April 1st, the golf course weather station has recorded 5.16" of rain. To help put things in perspective, the average rainfall totals for the entire month of April is just under 3.5" of rain. The bulk of the rainfall occurred on April 4th when the course received 3" of rain in a very short window. We're hoping to turn the corner in the coming weeks to allow the course to firm up so we can resume our normal mowing schedule throughout the course. When there is standing water on the golf course and a quick drive down the fairways leaves a 'rooster-tail' of water following the cart, unfortunately it's time for the dreaded sign.

Enforcing the cart path only rule is in the best interest of the course. Cart traffic on saturated fairways can have a significant impact on turf quality. The soil compaction caused by golf carts reduces the shoot growth rate and the recuperative potential of  the turfgrass. We are simply doing our part this early in the season to ensure our fairways remain in pristine condition for the duration of the golfing season.

Now onto a few projects happening throughout the course.

If you have played the course recently then you have may have noticed a few isolated spots of discolored turf on #4 green. The discoloration of turf occurred from a chemical applied to selectively kill the silvery thread moss on the green.
A brief explanation of how moss encroaches into our putting greens. Moss is one of the most problematic weeds in Creeping Bentgrass greens. The moss populations have increased over the past few years due to reduced mowing heights that have caused a decrease in turf density. 
The first step in the removal process involves spot spraying the moss to weaken the plant structure. Next, we will verticutt and topdress the greens in the coming weeks followed by a granular fertilizer application. Once the correct measures are in place to reduce the moss populations, the greens will have a truer stand of Bentgrass and a more consistent ball roll.
The picture above is an example of the silvery thread moss. The top left picture is prior to the chemical application. The other two pictures show the moss beginning to weaken post application. We're hoping to slowly eradicate the moss populations this spring without interfering with the playability of the greens.

The next topic I'd like to discuss is our new bunker raking technique that we have implemented this year. The excessive rain events haven't helped our cause but we feel as though the bunkers will remain more consistent throughout the year. Essentially we have eliminated pushing sand up the faces and have dedicated the staff to the bottoms of the bunker. The crew has put in a lot of hours this year to ensure the depths remain consistent on all bunker floors as well as pulling grasses and weeds from the sand. From a playability standpoint, the goal is to ensure that as golf balls hit into the face they will end up on the bottoms of the bunker. The end result should be fewer "fried eggs" in the faces and the opportunity to have a playable shot out of the hazard. The bunkers will have a slightly different look than previous years but we're hoping everyone will enjoy the finished product.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Catch Basin Improvements

As we await mother nature's cooperation, the maintenance staff has put their focus on renovating some of the drainage catch basins. Over the years, the soil and turf surrounding the drain has deteriorated, as shown by the picture below. Once the dirt begins to settle, the turf follows suit and creates a hazard to not only the golfers but to our staff as well. The process of the repair is listed below.

The first step involves taking a sod cutter to the surrounding turf around the drain. After the turf is removed, a riser cap is added to the basin to raise the settled drain to its proper height. The dirt surrounding the drain was then removed and a new mix of stone and dirt is added, then properly compacted and graded.
Upon completion of the graded surface, we then take sod from our nursery and re-grass around the basin. The final product is pictured below. We have completed a total of 5 basins this spring. There are a few more basins around the course that we hope to have completed before the course is opened.

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