Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Syringing Greens

Well it feels like August already and the syringe team is out in full force.  Syringing is a term used to describe the application of water on Bentgrass greens during the hottest part of the day to reduce heat stress.  This watering is done very lightly and multiple times a day.  The agronomy staff has been trained to stay out of the way of golfers as much as possible, but there are times when we have no choice but to water in between groups. We ask that whenever you see someone watering a green in front of you, and they have pulled the flagstick, that you please give them a minute to finish before you hit your approach shot.  No one likes to get hit with a golf ball and we certainly do not enjoy holding up play.  We thank you for your patience and look forward to a great summer.

Monday, June 27, 2011

#1, #12, #13 Greens

I've been getting numerous questions regarding the appearance of #1, #12 and #13 greens.  We sent samples to a plant pathologist at Oklahoma State University and the samples came back positive for Pythium blight.  Pythium is a common disease found on stressed turf usually during intense heat and humidity.  These greens receive considerably less air movement and sunlight.  This means that these greens endure more intense heat, and humidity, and because of this, disease pressure is more severe on these three greens.
Once we confirmed the presence of the Pythium, the affected greens were treated with a fungicide specific to this disease and a light rate of fertilizer was applied to encourage recovery.  The agronomy team has been working very hard to improve the growth conditions over the last few weeks by removing shade trees, utilizing fans to circulate more air, closely monitoring soil moisture, leaf temperature and nutrient levels.  Progress may be slowed by the intense heat but we are already seeing some improvement.
If you have any further questions feel free to contact me.  Thanks

#2 Green

Several people have asked me about the spots on #2 green.  These spots are Annual Bluegrass under heat stress and is dying out.  Annual Bluegrass, or Poa, is a common weed in Bentgrass putting greens and has been slowly establishing itself for years.  Our new handwatering techniques and monitoring systems have allowed us to significantly reduce the amount of irrigation required to keep the Bentgrass healthy.  Besides improving the health of the Bentgrass, this reduction in water usage is also stressing out the Poa.  Poa needs more soil moisture than Bentgrass to survive the heat of the summer and since it isn't available, these plants are starting to die out.  Although #2 green looks funny now, in time the Bentgrass will fill in these spots and the amount of Poa will continue to decline.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tree removal

I spent the morning taking pictures and evaluating the amount of shade on some of our greens.  Sunlight is a critical component to the overall health of greens.  The turf must have a certain amount of sunlight each morning before the onset of stress.  I equate it to the these greens skipping breakfast each morning and then burning a lot of energy each afternoon trying to survive the heat.  They can make it through the day but it isn't a good long-term situation for healthy greens.
Now, I don't take removing trees lightly and only do so when necessary.  Trees that are too close to greens reduce needed air circulation and increase shade, both of which increase the humidity in the area around the green.  We feel that by removing a select few trees, we will be able to improve the growing environment for the few greens that struggle each year.  Crews are currently working around #1 green and once finished, will be moving to #12 green.

#1 green at 7AM

#1 at 9AM

#12 at 7AM

#12 at 9AM

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fairway Slicing

The maintenance staff began slicing fairways this morning.  Slicing fairways is a great way to alleviate the negative impacts of compaction from cart and mower traffic.  Over time, compaction tightens up the soil and reduces the ability of the turf to produce long healthy roots.  This practice will allow water, nutrients and oxygen to get into the root zone more effectively.
The machine we use is called a shatter-tine machine and uses curved "knives" that go into the turf and twist the ground as they come out.  This twisting motion fractures the soil which allows the roots room to grow.  Once the fairway has been sliced, the fairway mower follows to clean up all the tufts left behind.  The fairways are cleaning up nicely and there should be minimal disruption to play during this process.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Core aeration

The turf team has been in high gear over the last few days aerating greens.  We felt that an additional core aeration was needed to ensure that we have the drainage capacity and strong root systems to handle another hot and humid summer.  Smaller tines were used to minimize the time required to heal in.  The larger particles of sand that didn't work into the holes were blown off to keep the greens rolling as smooth as possible.  Overall, the greens came out of the process really well and we should be back in great shape in just a few days.  The last picture is two days after the cores were pulled.