Monday, July 25, 2016

Collar Sod Project

Recently, the staff resodded a few bare spots in the collar on #12 and #13 green.  These areas have struggled for a few years due to foot traffic and shade issues.  The bare spots were stripped out with a sod cutter, replaced with new sod and then topdressed with sand to knit in the seams.  Over the past few weeks, the height of cut of the sod has been lowered from 2" to .450".  During the next few weeks, the sod will continue to be topdressed to smooth any low areas and the height will be lowered to our collar height of .250"

Dog Days of Summer

As we enter the hottest part of the summer, you’ll notice the grounds staff periodically syringing the greens throughout the afternoon.  This practice is critical to the survival of the Bentgrass greens during these extreme temperatures.  When the golf course is packed with golfers, it can be very difficult for the staff to visit each green quickly enough.  

A few things to consider while you are out on the course:

  • the staff has been trained to do their work while staying out of the way as much as possible
  • it is inevitable that you will encounter a staff member watering a green during your round
  • if a staff member is watering a green and the flagstick has been pulled out, please let them finish watering that green, it will only take a few minutes

It takes a team effort to get the greens through this most stressful time of year.  Your cooperation with the grounds staff while they are watering will ensure that we have healthy, vibrant turf throughout the rest of the season.  Thank you for your cooperation. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Edging bunkers

The staff has been hard at work over the past few days putting a fresh edge on bunkers.  The perfect growing weather we've had lately has caused the Bermuda along the edges of our bunkers to grow very rapidly.  This time of year, the bunker edges must be cut every other week to keep them from looking shaggy.  The finished product looks great and very proud of the staff for all their hard work!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Fairway Slicing

This week, the grounds staff finished the fairway slicing project using our Aerway solid tine machine.  This machine has blade shaped tines that fracture the soil as they enter and exit the ground.  Sometimes referred as "shattertining", this process helps to reduce compaction, incorporate oxygen into the rootzone, and improve drainage.  As you can see from the picture on the right, the slicing tines cause very little surface disruption.  Once the fairway is sliced, the turf is then mowed and any remaining debris is blown off the fairway. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

May Course Update

I'm a little late in writing the May course update but better late than never.  May started off nicely with good weather and just enough rain.  New seasonal employees continued to come on-board, and my assistant and I spent most of our time getting the new staff trained on various mowing and course set up jobs.

May is the first good month for growing turf in Oklahoma.  Air and soil temperatures rise and become favorable for steady growth.  The temperatures and moisture are especially ideal for the Bentgrass on our putting greens.  As the turf grows more aggressively, we begin to implement cultural practices such as: verticutting, topdressing and grooming.  These practices remove troublesome thatch and improve putting quality.  The warmer temperatures also mean that the Bermuda has fully woken up and needs it's first big meal of the season.  The grounds staff went out in mid-May with a course wide granular fertilizer application.  This fertilizer allowed the Bermuda to fully thicken up and quickly improved the overall quality of the playing surfaces.  Each month, throughout the growing season, the Bermuda will be fed with various amounts of fertilizer to sustain quality turf. 
Close up of Vcut on greens
The temperatures and consistent rainfall, during May, are ideal for the Tall Fescue, in our native areas, and this year was no exception.  As you can see from the picture of #8 below, it has been a great year thus far for our native areas.  These areas will be cut during June to discourage summer annual, and woody weeds, such as sumac, thistle, ragweed, and various trees.
Close up of topdressing
The latter half of May was very wet.  Multiple rainstorms kept the soil saturated and the grounds staff was unable to keep up with our mowing schedule.  For almost two weeks, the fairways were unable to be cut.  However, the staff stayed busy, during the stormy weather by repairing bunkers, edging sprinkler heads, edging drainage basins, and string trimming throughout the golf course.  The last few days of May were dry and the staff, through their hard work and diligence, was able to catch up on mowing just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

Heavy topdressing smooths and firms the surface

Walkway on #8 tee
Detention area L of #9 fwy (note the high water mark in middle of fwy)
The rain came down too quickly for parts of our drainage system
Catching up on mowing before Memorial Day weekend

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Mowing Native Areas

Bailey Ranch Golf Club has over 50 acres of low maintenance, pasture areas that are designed to create a links aesthetic, penalize errant shots, and reduce operational costs.  These native areas cost far less to maintain than the in-play rough, which requires frequent mowing, irrigation, herbicide treatments and fertilizer.  The native areas are mowed twice a year typically around June 1st and October 1st.  This timing favors the Tall Fescue, which over the past five or six years has become the dominant grass.  Allowing the Fescue to dominate creates a more consistent stand of grass and presents a nice links aesthetic.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tee/Collar Core Aeration

This week, the staff is core aerating all tees and collars.  This process is vital to the long-term success and sustainability of the turf.  Aeration loosens the soil which encourages more vigorous rooting and a healthier plant.  We do not close the course during this process, so inevitably there will be debris on some of the tees during your round.  Rest assured that the staff is working hard to clean up the debris as quickly as possible.  We plan on having the entire project finished by Tuesday afternoon.  We appreciate your patience. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fertilizer Application

On Tuesday May 10th, the grounds staff applied fertilizer to the entire property (except greens).  The process took two full days and was a coordinated effort from our entire staff.  Douglas Knapp, our chemical applicator, was on the tractor spreader, while someone else followed behind him placing wire flags along the edge of his pass.  This technique assures that fertilizer skips and overlaps are eliminated.  Another person followed Doug in a utility vehicle loaded with product so he could be reloaded quickly and downtime was minimized.  A three person push spreading crew followed the tractor to tie in any small areas or places it couldn't get.  These guys had the hardest job, pushing the spreader over hills, along street crossings, bunker noses, through swales and around greens.  They also had to be sure that any fertilizer that bounced onto the greens was removed with a backpack blower so that the fertilizer wouldn't burn the Bentgrass underneath the granule.

The crew did an amazing job working together to be sure the entire property was treated as evenly as possible.  Over the next few weeks, the color and density of the Bermuda will improve considerably.  Just in time for Memorial Day weekend!

April Course Update

April is always a difficult month for me as I drive around and assess the turf on the golf course.  I call it the ugly duckling phase for the Bermuda on the golf course.  The Bermuda is green but hasn't completely filled in yet.  The mid-season color and density is still a month or so away.  This slow green up is frustrating because once we see green turf, I get excited to start mowing, fertilizing and grooming the surfaces for the season, but the soil temperatures are still not ready to promote steady growth.  Pressure from weeds is typically high during this time while the Bermuda is still not growing and we had our hands full dealing with winter annuals in the rough.  Doug Knapp, our chemical applicator, was very busy spraying selective herbicides throughout the golf course to clean up all remaining weeds.

Was great to finally topdress the entire range tee.  Much needed!
Although the weather wasn't conducive for growth for Bermuda, it was ideal for the cool-season Bentgrass on our greens.  Bentgrass loves temperatures in the 60s and 70s with occasional rain showers.  A few weeks of good weather had our greens completely healed in from aeration and looking strong.  This gave us a chance to start mowing and rolling more often to get them ready for the busy spring tournament season.

First edging of the season
A few new staff members were brought in and Michael Liebe, our assistant superintendent, has been busy training them on course setup.   In mid April, Joe Miller, our irrigation technician, spent a few weeks cleaning debris out of our greens drainage.  Keeping the drainage system working is critical for the sustainability of our greens.  They cannot survive our Oklahoma summers if they cannot drain.

Besides mowing the tees, fairways, rough, collars and surrounds as necessary, the staff began some of the other regular maintenance tasks such as: edging bunkers, string trim mowing, topdressing divots on tees and mulching the clubhouse landscape beds.  We had planned on using our Aerway slicer on tees and fairways in late April to alleviate compaction from winter cart traffic, but wet conditions kept us from getting that done.  More information on the Aerway process can be found here.

Spruced up clubhouse w/ help from Owasso Rams boys golf team
Although May is usually our wettest month, we tend to have enough nice days to get projects done.  The plan for May is to fertilize all Bermuda course wide, increase mowing frequency, and slice tees and fairways.  This should set the golf course up nicely for Memorial Day weekend and the summer golf season.

Bermuda was green but not growing much during April