Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winter cart traffic

As winter presses on, and we remain busy, I've stared noticing more cart traffic patterns around the course.  So I thought I would take a moment to discuss the importance of following some general cart rules.  I know your eyes are rolling back, and you're thinking, I don't want to have rules while I golf, but if these few simple guidelines will improve course conditions.  dormant Bermuda cannot recover from wintr cart traffic and excessive amounts can lead to compacted soil and a thin spots come spring.  Extra work is required of the agronomy staff to remedy the compaction and improve the playability of the turf. 
Please keep carts on paths at all tee boxes, green complexes, and all par 3s.  The staff also has numerous signs, wood barriers, and roped areas throughout the course meant to guide the traffic and spread it around.  Please look out for the roped areas and observe all signage around the course. 
We appreciate your support with this and are looking forward to a great 2013 season. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

86th St. Widening Project

After several months of construction and road closures, I'm happy to announce that 86th St. North is now open from Main St. to Mingo.  Members and guests can access the clubhouse from the east on 86th  and do not need to use  the detour anymore.  Although the road is open to traffic, it is only two lanes and the outer lanes are still closed.  There still is a lot of sidewalk and shoulder work still to be completed so please be cautious of construction crews in the area.  Thank you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tree Work

With the onset of some colder weather, the agronomy staff has taken a break from daily course set up to work on some trees.  Although we do not have a lot of trees on the course, we typically spend a few weeks every winter cleaning willows out of creek banks, and thinning out miscellaneous thick spots along property lines.  Occasionally we have to remove a tree or two that are too close to greens and are creating poor growing conditions for the Bentgrass.  We will be spending some time this week clearing out underbrush in an overgrown area right of #3 tee box.    

Friday, November 9, 2012

#10 Bunker Renovation

The agronomy staff just completed the renovation of #10 bunker this afternoon.  This bunker was beginning to hold water during irrigation cycles and after rain events.  This is caused by silt and other contaminates incorporating into the bunker sand and working their way down on top of the drainage pipe.  Once this layer gets thick enough it can either clog the inside of the pipe, or create a layer between the bottom of the sand and the drainage. This layer can stop the water from entering the drainage.
We started the project mid day Tuesday and wrapped up just minutes ago.  The staff did a fantastic job keeping on schedule despite having to deal with incoming golf balls and stopping work while golfers were on the green.  The drainage improvements and fresh sand will allow this bunker to meet expectations for years to come.  Please keep in mind that this bunker will be a little softer than the others until it has a chance to firm up.  Enjoy!

Day 1: removing the contaminated sand and drainage material

Once all the sand and drainage is out, we assess current
drainage and change as necessary
Day 2: drainage improvements are made.  These trenches are dug by hand
and carefully measured to grade
Day 3: drainage pipe and pea gravel are added to the new trenches
Day 4: after 30 tons of fresh sand, the finished product, open and ready for play

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Frost Delays

Embedded image permalinkThis morning was our first official frost delay, so I thought I should take this opportunity to remind our members and guests why we must delay golf.
Frost occurs when clear, cold nights allow the turf plant to cool down more than the surrounding atmosphere.  This causes condensation that freezes on the leaf blade.  When the leaf is frozen, any foot traffic or mowing, will cause severe damage.  One foursome of golfers on a green that has frost, can leave behind hundreds of footprints of brown, dead turf.  Once the sun rises, and the temperature starts climbing, it doesn't take long for the frost to lift.  Even though we, the agronomy department, know that it is an inconvenience to hold up morning play, we also know how important it is to protect the greens from preventable damage.  Your cooperation during this off-season, will allow us to maintain the best possible putting surfaces.  As always, if you have any further questions, just let us know.  Thank you.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bermuda contamination

Embedded image permalinkOver the past week or so, you've probably noticed the brown areas on #1, #5, and #8 greens.  These areas contain Bermuda grass that was sprayed with herbicide prior to removal.  We use herbicide to be sure that the entire Bermuda plant is dead (esp. the rhizomes).  Rhizomes are underground stems that spread laterally and contain growth points where new roots and shoots can be created.  If we miss any of these rhizomes during removal, we will have more Bermuda contamination to remove next year.
So, why go through all the trouble to remove it from the greens?  Common Bermuda spreads quickly and has a very coarse texture.  Over time, these areas will continue to get larger, thereby compromising the quality of the putting surface.
The staff did a great job stripping off  the old sod and then excavating down below the Bermuda roots to be sure all plant material has been removed.  Once this was complete, the holes were back filled with new root zone mix containing 90% sand and 10% peat.  After the mix was blended with the original root zone, and tamped down firm, the sod was carefully laid down.  Once the sod was down, the pads were tamped smooth and all seams were topdressed.
The largest portion of work was completed this past Tuesday, while we were closed.  The last few remaining areas are very small and will be wrapped up next Tuesday.  Once this green is done, we still have a few other greens we need to finish.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Irrigation additions

Embedded image permalink
One of the few benefits of a historic drought has been the identification of the maintained areas that do not get good coverage from the irrigation system.  Some areas are along the perimeter of the course and we utilize mobile sprinkler heads to apply sufficient irrigation for these areas.  However, there are a few areas that have been on my list that are great candidates for adding new sprinkler heads.  We decided to address a few of them this morning.  The first area we looked at was north of the forward tees on #1.  This area always gets very dry during the summer.  Since it is on the very first hole, we wanted the area to be as visually pleasing as possible.  The second area we added a sprinkler head was on #6.  The area west of the 100 yard marker has always been thin, and dry during the summer.  We've noticed that a large percentage of golfers hit their approach shots from this area so keeping this area covered with healthy turf will really help the playability of the hole.  This happens to also be the area that has the most concentrated cart traffic from golfers and maintenance staff.  I believe that having sprinklers in these areas will definitely improve the playability of these holes as well as their aesthetics.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Greens Aeration Recovery

It's been a week since we started the fall greens aeration project and we are very pleased with the recovery so far.  It usually takes about 7-10 days for the holes to completely fill in and we seem to be right on track.  The weather over the past four days was cloudy, cool, with periodic rain.  This moist, cool weather provided the turf with a low stress environment to recover from all the stress from earlier in the week.  This week looks to be sunny but still cool.  I am excited for the greens to finish healing in and we should be in great shape for the week end.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Construction Update

The construction crew has started to remove the bridge on 86th St this morning.  They said they hope to have the new bridge constructed and have the northern two lanes ready for traffic within the next 30-45 days.  

Fall Greens Aeration

It's Wednesday morning and now that all 18 holes are back open, I thought I would revisit the aeration project that the agronomy staff just completed.  Core aeration is a common practice in the spring and fall for all golf courses with Bentgrass greens.  This process is the single most effective way to physically remove excess organic matter from the soil profile, while also improving: soil oxygen, reducing compaction, and improving drainage.  Although this process is fairly disruptive to the putting surface, the agronomy staff works very hard to ensure that putting quality is affected for as little time as possible.  Usually within 7 days, the greens are back to normal and the average person wouldn't even be able to tell we had done anything.  I've written about all the various steps in previous posts, so I won't go into great detail but I have included a few pictures to outline the steps involved with the project.

Greens are dethatched two different directions, then mowed

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Soil cores are removed with aerator

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Topdressing sand is applied after holes are punched and cores removed
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Brushing sand into holes
Lastly, greens are rolled smooth and excess sand is removed

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Course green up

#14 August

It's been a little over a week since the 2" of rain and the course has responded very nicely.  The tees, fairways and surrounds have all filled in very quickly.  Except for a few non-irrigated areas, the rough has come back better than expected.  We have taken the additional water in our ponds and have started to water the course so we can keep the green up going.  It looks like we might get some more rain on Friday but we'll wait and see.
#17 September

Road Project

Embedded image permalinkAlthough unrelated to agronomy, or course conditions, the road widening project that started this week does have an impact on the golf course operation.  Members, and guests, that wish to play must now go to 96th st. north and come down Mingo road to access the golf course.  This may be an inconvenience but the road improvements are long over due.  The agronomy department is excited for this project for several reasons: the road we take to work will be much nicer than before; the road will be twice as wide so we can except semi-truck deliveries easier; and the grading work, and sod, that will go down on either side of the road will fix the low areas that trap water and are difficult to mow.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012


I woke up this morning to a welcome sight.  The rain gauge at the shop showed that we had received a little over 2" overnight.  To say that a large rain event like this was needed is a huge understatement.  We hadn't had any rain over 1" since June 4th!  To make matters worse, during the month of July and first half of August, we were evaporating moisture out of the ground at a rate of .25" per day.  This means that even though last nights rain is very helpful, and much needed, we are still over 13" behind schedule on our annual rainfall.  We need several more big rain storms like this to make a meaningful impact on our subsoil moisture.  This recent rain will however, have a big impact on the golf course turf and home lawns throughout the region.
The most noticeable thing that the rain did for us was give us some more irrigation water.  Our irrigation supply is tied into two ponds on the course.  The small pond on #4 is our primary irrigation pond and the larger lake down on #17 is our reserve.  We can pull water from the lake up to the irrigation pond to meet demand.  As you might have noticed, over the past 6 weeks or so, the lake on #17 has been very low.  We have had to severely ration our water supply to ensure we could water the greens and not run out.
This rain hasn't completely filled the larger pond but significant water is still coming in from the creek to the north, and we may see it full by the end of the day.  In the picture above, you can see the lake level as of this morning.  The vegetation that started growing on the left half of the picture will be underwater when the pond reaches full capacity.
Over the next few days, you should be able to notice a big growth response from the turf now that a large amount of moisture is in the soil.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Venting Greens

With the air temperatures beginning to decrease, we are looking to start back up on our greens cultural programs.  Deep-tining greens, or venting, is a critical process that is completed every 2-3 weeks to keep the root zone healthy.  By improving root zone drainage, and oxygen content, we are allowing the turf to cope with the extreme temperatures of summer in Oklahoma.  Once this process is complete, we roll the surface smooth and apply a granular gypsum into the holes.  Gypsum is used for two reasons, for the plant to take up and use, and for ammending the soil profile.  The first reason is fairly straight forward, the plant needs certain amounts of available calcium for optimum health.  The second reason is a little more complex.  Applications of calcium are typically used to remove excess amounts of Sodium from the soil.  Sodium is used in small amounts by the plant and most of the unused Sodium hangs around in the soil and ties up essential nutrients.  The main cause for Sodium buildup is irrigation water.  Eventhough we have relatively small levels of Sodium in our water, the large volume that is applied this time of year can quickly lead to excess amounts.  Calcium is introduced and the Sodium is knocked off the soil particle along with the tied up nutrients essentially making them plant available.  Monthly applications of gypsum are very helpful in maintaining this soil balance and keeping as much of the nutrients in the soil available to the turf.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Staff appreciation

As the intense heat of the summer continues, I thought I should take a moment and highlight the staff here in the agronomy department.  They work tirelessly to provide the best conditions possible, with little recognition.  So the next time you are out golfing please take a few moments and let them know you appreciate all their hard work.


I wanted to take a minute this morning and talk about ballmarks.  Although play has slowed down some due to the extreme heat, I've been noticing an increase in unrepaired ballmarks.  This time of year, when the agronomy staff has to spend more time handwatering the greens, this leads to somewhat softer conditions that we are used to.  This causes the ballmarks to be much deeper, therefore it becomes very important to repair them so that the we can all enjoy the smoothest playing surface possible.  If you have any questions as to the proper technique for repairing ballmarks, please refer to the graphic below.  Thank you.

The right way to fix a ball mark

Ball mark: Step 1
Step 1:
Use a pronged ball mark
repair tool, knife,
key or tee.
Ball mark: Step 2
Step 2:
Insert the repair tool at the
edges of the mark; not the
middle of the depression.
Ball mark: Step 3
Step 3:
Bring the edges together
with a gentle twisting motion,
but don't lift the center. Try not to
tear the grass.
Ball mark: Step 4
Step 4:
Smooth the surface with
a club or your foot. Repeat
steps until the surface is one
you would want to putt over.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Drought update

Over the past few weeks, you've probably noticed the tees, fairways and rough slowly getting more and more dry.  For the second consecutive year, we are in a moderate drought, and haven't seen any significant rainfall in almost two months.  The agronomy staff is monitoring the tees, and fairways and watering as necessary for turf survival.  Although the Bermuda isn't lush and green, the turf isn't in any serious danger.  We are letting the tees and fairways go dormant for the time being to conserve the water we have left in the irrigation lake.  The greens have held up great so far, despite the harsh, dry conditions.  The syringe crews have done a phenomenal job keeping the turf healthy during this extreme weather.      

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Syringing Greens

Summer is officially here and the temperatures have climbed fast.  We have been in the triple digits since Saturday, and it seems that it will stay that way for at least a few weeks.  You will notice a lot more hand watering in the afternoon during this time.  Light, frequent applications of water, or “syringing”, is the most effective way to cool down the turf during most stressful time of day.  The agronomy staff asks that our members, and guests, please excuse us during this time.  We will do our best to stay out of the way.  Thank you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Divot Patterns at Range Tee

I've been noticing more players using the proper divot pattern at the driving range since my last post.  Not sure if it is coincidence or if the blog is having an impact.  Here is a picture of someone using the proper technique at the range.  Notice how little surface area is disrupted.  This will heal much faster than a larger scattered pattern of divots.  As practicing on the tee continues to increase, it becomes important that all players help keep as much of the tee box healthy.  This will keep the practice tee as nice as possible.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Deep tining greens

This week the agronomy staff will be deep tining greens.  The purpose of deep tining greens is to improve drainage and increase oxygen levels within the root zone.  A well drained, healthy root zone translates into a healthy, firm, and smooth putting surface.
As the summer gets hotter and we are forced to hand water more, we will be completing this process every 2-3 weeks to keep the greens profile draining and full of oxygen.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fairway slicing

Over the past two days, the agronomy staff has been slicing fairways.  This process accomplishes several objectives: loosens the soil, allows for more oxygen into the root zone, and better water infiltration.  The machine we use for this process is called a shatter tine machine.  This machine has curved knives that go into the soil and pivots in the ground as they come back out.  This motion "shatters" the soil, which improves the soil structure and allows for better rooting.
Although the fairways will have little brown areas around each hole, this is temporary and within a few days, they will disappear.  The inch of rain we received last night will have a much better chance on penetrating into the hard, dry soil now that we have channels poked into the soil.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Poa suppression on greens

Poa suppressed by growth regulator
On your next visit to the course you may notice the funny colors on the greens, most obvious will be the putting green.  The putting green has a large amount of Poa annua, or Annual Bluegrass.  This Poa in being suppressed with a growth regulator that is causing the yellow, orange and red Poa is a native species and a desirable putting surface in many parts of the world.  However, for golf courses trying to grow Bentgrass greens, it is considered a weed.  Poa grows much faster than Bentgrass so ball roll is negatively affected if left unchecked.  The agronomy staff has a comprehensive program involving both chemical and cultural methods to suppress the Poa and encourage the Bentgrass.  One of the most effective ways to discourage the existing Poa is to use growth regulators.  This product is just starting to take effect and the symptoms are beginning to show.  Poa under the control of this product has a stunted, yellow-orangish appearance.  This will allow the unaffected Bentgrass time to creep into these spots of Poa and fill in.  The effects of this product will last for 4-6 weeks at which time the natural stresses of summer in Oklahoma will continue to stress out the Poa.  We will resume this program in the fall once temperatures begin to decrease.  As always if you would like any further information, please do not hesitate to ask.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Venting greens

#5 green
Today the agronomy staff completed the last spring aeration on greens.  I like to refer to this modified version of the aeration process as a venting.  We are still pulling a core, but the holes are very, very small and will have little to no impact on play.  This process allows for the roots to get much needed oxygen.
Normally we would pull a larger core and fill the holes with topdressing sand, but we felt that the abrasive nature of the brushing would be too much stress this close to summer.  By not brushing the sand into the holes, we are able to get the benefit of the aeration (better rooting), without much of the stress on the turf.  For those of you that have never seen the aeration process first hand, below is a video showing how we pull the cores out of the green.  If you would like to know more about the process or have any other questions, please feel free to contact me.

#3 finished

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bunker maintenance

After the edge is cut, the sand is pushed back into place.

This morning a group of the guys are tackling our weekly bunker edging.  We start this on Tuesdays so we can get a big push while the course is closed.  I anticipate finishing all bunkers by the end of the day.
The finished product.

Dusting greens

We are taking the opportunity this morning while we are closed to topdress greens.  I like to refer to this type of an application as a "dusting" because we are adding a very thin layer of sand that can be worked into the canopy with a few minutes of irrigation.  We do this weekly to ensure to accomplish several things: smoother, firmer greens and to dilute the organic matter that is in the root zone.  Frequent, light applications of sand, such as this, improves ball roll and overall firmness of the greens.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Twitter updates

I've decided to expand my social media prowess and include occasional updates via twitter.  There is a gadget on the right side of my blog page that will display these updates so you do not have to go to another page to view them.  If you are already using Twitter, click on the follow me link to get these updates straight to your phone.
These updates will be very short and up to the minute regarding course conditions, project updates and anything else I feel that I want to share about the course.  The blog will still be used for updates that may need further information or pictures to help explain what is going on.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Greens aeration

Verticutting, or dethatching, the turf in two opposite directions is the first step.
Day two was a big success. We finished in great time and even had some time at the end to tackle some miscellaneous items around the course.  It's been a while since I've detailed the entire aeration process so I thought I would show a step by step method of how we get from start to finish.  If you have any further questions about how or why we do this, please let me know.  Thanks!

A lot of thatch is removed during the verticut process that needs to be cleaned off.

After the verticutting, the green is very shaggy and needs to be mowed.

This machine pulls the cores out at a specific depth, spacing and diameter

The cores are then pushed off to the side and removed.

Any additional debris is blown off before sand can be applied.

This machine applies the sand at a specific depth so that all holes can be filled

Once the sand is dry, it is brushed into the holes and watered in.

After the sand is dry, the excess is blown off and the cup is set.
The final step is to roll out any tire marks or footprints to ensure a smooth surface.