Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Detail Work

 
Joe leveling valve boxes and sprinkler heads at #13 green
Cooler temperatures and longer nights have significantly slowed down the growth rate of the Bermuda.  This has allowed the seasonal staff to allocate more of their time to detail work.  Topdressing divots on tee boxes, edging drain basins, leveling valve boxes, string trimming, back filling pot holes along cart paths, blowing divots and leaves off fairways are just a few tasks we are finally able to address.  Individually, these details may not be that noticeable, but cumulatively, they can have a big impact on the overall appearance of the golf course.  The staff has done a phenomenal job over the past few weeks getting some of these tasks completed.  
Joe's finished product on #2 green


Crisp edge around sprinkler heads
Sharp edge around basins

Deep Tining Greens


This morning, the grounds staff has begun deep tining greens.  As you can see from the picture, there is minimal disruption to the surface, and all that is required is a light roll afterward to get them smooth again.  The holes that are left behind are only 1/4" wide, but go 8 inches down.  These channels will not only allow water to freely drain down through the profile, but also increase oxygen content at the bottom of the root zone.  This increase in drainage and oxygen content, combined with the cooler weather, should encourage deep rooting as we phase into late fall/early winter.

This process, although very important, does take quite a long time to complete.  The tractor can only travel about a half-mile per hour.  We hope to have all the greens done by Thursday afternoon.  During the next two days, we realize we will be out amongst golfers.  Our staff will do their best to remain courteous while staying productive.  We appreciate your patience as you make your way through the course over the next few days.

As always, if you have any questions about the process, or the benefits, please don't hesitate to ask.  Thank you.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Aeration Recovery

It's been just over 14 days since we began the fall aeration of greens and I have to say the recovery process went just as planned.  Ideal weather had a big part to play in the success of the process, however, I cannot diminish the efforts made by our team.  Timely applications of fertilizer, and diligent hand watering have kept each green in optimum health to minimize the time required for recovery.

Now that the holes are over 95% healed in, our focus this week has been to improve the playability of the greens.  The application of a growth regulator this past Monday has significantly reduced the amount of clippings collected each day, which will prolong the cut and improve ball roll.  Yesterday the staff ramped up efforts to improve smoothness by mowing the greens at .130", which is .005" lower, and then rolling the greens.  We noticed an immediate increase in both speed and smoothness after this process.  Today, we continued this process by double cutting greens at opposite directions to ensure all grass is cut and we continue to smooth the putting surface.  Tomorrow morning, the cutting height on greens will be lowered another .005" to .125".

Overall, we felt like the aeration process, and subsequent recovery, went very smoothly.  The weather has been ideal and we feel that the greens are set up perfectly for fantastic finish to the 2014 golf season!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Greens Aeration Recovery

These 5/8" holes are almost filled in
It's been just over one week and greens seem to be right on track regarding aeration recovery.  Aeration is an aggressive process that takes typically 7-14 days for full recovery depending on several factors such as: tine size, soil moisture, weather and the growth rate of the turf.

Leading up to the process, the soil moisture is carefully monitored and nutrients are applied to maximize the growth potential.  After the process is completed, the greens are rolled and brushed for a few days until we feel that the sand has been worked into the canopy as much as possible.  Mowing is withheld during the first few days after the process is complete to allow the turf to growth through the sand and to allow the roller a few days to smooth the surface.

The first few days of mowing are primarily used to pick up the larger granules and excess sand that won't work into the holes.  This is a messy process which quickly dulls the mower blades and requires the staff to clean up the debris left behind.  Each day the clippings that are collected are inspected to monitor the ratio of sand to grass.  Initially, the buckets will be mostly sand and very heavy.  After a few days, the sand amount will
Minimal sand in clippings
decrease and the ratio will become about 50/50.

With almost a week of mowing sand, the reels were very dull and in need of sharpening.  This morning, with a freshly ground reels, we were pleased to see almost no sand in the buckets.  The photo on the right shows a handful of clippings from this morning.  Now that we are phasing out of the sandy portion of the recovery process, we will begin using our newer greens mower which will give us a much better quality of cut.  Once all the holes are filled in, we will slowly lower the height of cut from .135" back down to .120" for the fall tournament season.

As always, if there are any questions regarding the aeration process or subsequent recovery, please feel free to ask.  Thank you for your patience during this time.  

Bunker Maintenance

Sand is added where needed
Today, the grounds staff has begun checking sand depths in bunkers.  The grounds department completes this process 1-2 times a year depending on weather, play and other factors.

The staff takes measurements throughout the bunker looking for sand depths to be approximately 4-5" in the bottom and 2-3" on slopes.  Sand is then added to areas that do not meet this requirement.  We've just about got the front nine done and will work to finish the back nine by next week.

Then spread around until depths are on target
The grass around bunker edges has gotten away from us lately and we will be putting a fresh edge on them next week as well.  The staff should have the bunkers shining by the end of next week.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fall Aeration Rescheduled

After looking ahead to next week's weather, the decision has been made to postpone greens aeration until Tuesday September 9th and 10th.  The forecast calls for highs in the mid to high 90's, which is too hot to complete the process.  Aeration is inherently a stressful process and we need the greens to be ready to handle the stress.  If they are under heat, or drought stress, they will be more prone to injury during the aeration process.  We believe that pushing back the process one week, should allow the temperatures to come down into a more favorable range.

We will continue to monitor the weather and post any further changes, if any, to the schedule.  Thank you

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fall Greens Aeration


It's hard to believe, with this current heat wave, but fall aeration on greens is just around the corner.  On Tuesday September 2nd, the grounds staff will begin aerating the front nine greens.  This will allow play to continue on the back nine.  On Wednesday September 3rd, the front nine will be back open and ready for play while the back nine greens are aerated.  The practice greens will aerated on Wednesday morning.

Aeration is a key practice performed each spring and fall that promotes improved soil drainage, oxygen content, and root density.  For more information about the process and how it is performed, stay tuned.  Once the process is complete, I will post pictures that help explain how it is done.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Getting Caught Up

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This week, the grounds staff has been hard at work getting caught up on all the mowing on the golf course.  Tees, fairways, approaches and surrounds have all been cut at least twice this week.  The height of the rough was the main topic of conversation over the past week and we have made a lot of progress.  By the end of the week, we will have all rough cut back down to two inches.  Please excuse all the clippings in the rough as a result of all the mowing.  The staff will work hard to ensure all short turf is cut and clean for the weekend.

One Last Meal


Each year, in August, the grounds staff focuses on giving the course one final dose of food to get carbohydrates stored up before winter.  Winter injury of Bermudagrass is a big concern in this part of the country, and while we can never truly prevent winter injury if the weather gets really cold, providing a timely amount of the right nutrients will give the plant a fighting chance.  Douglas Knapp, our chemical applicator, has been hard at work this week applying a 10-5-22 blend of fertilizer "wall-to-wall", meaning that all maintained turf on property, minus greens, was treated.  There is approximately 77 acres of maintained Bermudagrass on property that had to be treated and the staff was able to complete the application in about 10 hours.

For those who may not know, whenever you are looking at fertilizer bags, the three numbers on the front label are the percentages by weight, of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium, in that order.  For fall applications on Bermuda, we always look for just enough nitrogen to sustain growth into October and let the plant naturally slow down into dormancy.  You never want to apply high rates of nitrogen past mid-September, because it will cause the plant to become succulent and it will be susceptible to winter injury and disease in the spring.  The main reason we choose this analysis is for the last number, the Potassium.  Potassium has shown to be helpful in reducing the risk of winter injury in Bermudagrass in the transition zone.  This analysis allows us to give the plant a high dose of this key nutrient just before it starts storing energy for dormancy, while keeping the amount of applied nitrogen relatively low.  Also, there is a small amount of Phosphorous included in this mix to help encourage root density going into winter.

Once watered in, the fertilizer should begin to take effect just in time for Labor Day weekend.  The plant response should last through October and set the course up very well for the upcoming busy tournament season!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Tall Rough

With all the beautiful weather lately, it's hard to find many things to complain about, but one issue that has surfaced a lot lately is the height of our rough.  I couldn't agree more.  The recent rain storms have prevented us from sticking to our mowing schedules but have managed to keep up with our tees, greens, fairways and surrounds fairly well.  The main factor contributing to the tall grass has been the numerous mechanical issues we've encountered with our rough mower.  We've been borrowing and renting equipment, to do our best to keep up, but haven't been quite able to get 100% of the rough cut each week.  This leaves us with rough throughout the course with various stages of growth.  Some areas aren't too bad, while other areas, mostly wet areas, are getting very tall.  Mitchell, our equipment manager, has worked tirelessly to remedy the mower issue and we are looking forward to a dry week next week so we can get caught up.  I realize this is frustrating and appreciate your patience during this time.

As always, if you have any questions, or additional concerns, just let me know.  Thank you.