Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Less is More

Greens roller improves playability while reducing turf stress
A recent blog post by fellow superintendent Chris Tritabaugh at Hazeltine National Golf Club, had me thinking about our own strategies for Bentgrass survival.  I've included a link to his blog here.  I believe his main point in that post was that in order to provide the best conditions year round, sometimes less is more.  Meaning give the turf a break so that we don't compound the stresses that the turf is already dealing with.

No matter what part of the country you live in, summer brings many challenges when trying to maintain Bentgrass putting greens.  Heat, drought, excess rainfall, disease, foot traffic, and insects all conspire against the turf and has it fighting for it's life.  We, the agronomy department,  must do our part and carefully help the plant by giving it just what it needs, at just the right times.  Solid tine aeration, timely fertilizer and pesticide applications, hand watering, and routine light applications of topdressing all help keep the turf healthy and ready to deal with the stresses of summer.  Some other practices we utilize during the intense summer heat include: raising the height of cut, using smooth rollers, instead of grooved, on the cutting units, rolling greens instead of mowing, and using greens fans to improve air flow.
Light apps of sand dilute thatch, smooth and firm surface

All of these practices are meant to lessen the amount of stress the plant is forced to endure.  Once more seasonal weather sets in, the agronomy staff will make further adjustments and the practices employed will favor improving playability and not just survival.  

Greens fans improve air flow

Syringing allows staff to carefully manage soil moisture

Friday, August 23, 2013

Course Update

Looking back toward #3 tee box
#12 fairway looking toward green
Summer is slowly winding down and most of our seasonal staff have gone back to school.  Those that remain are working hard to keep the course in the best condition possible.  The cooler, rainy weather has passed and the weather pattern is getting somewhat back to normal.  With highs in the mid 90s, ample soil moisture, and plenty of sunshine, the turf is very happy.  These excellent growing conditions are reflected by the improved playing surfaces.  Turf density, and color have improved considerably over the past month.

Pre-emergent going down on #1 fairway
One big project the agronomy staff completed this week was applying our fall pre-emergent herbicide to tees, fairways, approaches and rough.  Mid-August to mid-September is the ideal time to apply fall weed control products.  The rest of our week consisted of morning course setup, mowing and watering greens.  The staff has done a great job keeping quality playing conditions and I am very pleased with where we are at this point in the season.

Once Labor Day weekend passes, the agronomy staff will begin Fall greens aeration.  We always schedule this Fall aeration the Tuesday and Wednesday following Labor Day so that playing conditions are not affected during the busy holiday weekend.  As that project gets started, I will be providing more information walking through each step and benefits we will see from the process.  For those who are curious, I've covered greens aeration at great detail in an earlier post that I've linked here.

Hand watering #18 green
Looking ahead at the Fall weather forecast, I feel that the golf course is primed for a fantastic finish to a successful golf season.
As always, if you have any questions, or comments, feel free to contact me.  Hope to see you out there!  

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Sunrise from #1 tee box

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

USGA Article On Greens Speed & Its Effect on Turf Quality

An article recently published by the USGA Agronomy Department details the history of using the Stimpmeter to measure putting greens and how it was originally developed for superintendent to provide consistency from green to green and not intended to measure speed.  The article further explains the trend in increased greens speeds and it's negative impact on turf health, usable hole locations, and pace of play.  Although the article is four pages, it's well worth the read.  Enjoy!


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Driving Range Divots

Since the driving range tee gets constant use, allowing portions of the tee box to fully recover before it is needed again is of the utmost importance.  The best way for golfers to ensure the quickest recovery possible, is to use proper technique when practicing.  By using the turf on the back edge of the previous divot, players are able to impact a much smaller area that if they scatter there divots.  The picture on the right is someone using the worst possible divot pattern.  This area is almost 2 sq. ft. and will take weeks to fully recover.  

I've posted about this topic previously and the link can be found here detailing the preferred divot pattern.  With your help, this tee box will recover faster and be a better quality hitting surface for all to enjoy.  As always if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.       

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Golf Course Update

#4 White Tee
I've mentioned several times on Twitter the stark differences in the weather this year compared to the last few years.  The average monthly high temperatures have been about 12-15 degrees cooler.  We haven't seen a mild summer like this since 2009.  

From mid-June to mid-July, the golf course only received .7" of rain and began to get very dry.  Over the past three weeks, we've received over 6.5" of rain and the course has responded nicely.  The tees, fairways, rough and surrounds have greened up and are looking great.  Lately it's been a challenge to keep up with the growth and keep it cut.  The greens have held up especially well.  The lack of extreme temperatures has kept the roots longer than usual and turf density has been very good.

The golf course just recently hosted it's Club Championship this past weekend and numerous members came up to staff and gave us a lot of positive feedback regarding course conditions.  Membership satisfaction is the goal and the staff greatly appreciated hearing all the compliments.

The outlook for the remainder of the season looks very good.  August is predicted to be cooler and wetter than average.  If the weather pattern continues to hold, we expect to have excellent course conditions for the upcoming fall tournament season.

Enjoy the rest of the 2013 golf season!  

#12 Fairway

Thursday, August 1, 2013

#14 Cart Path Creek Crossing

Today the staff put the finishing touches on the new cart path drainage structure on #14.  This new creek crossing has already been tested with some heavy rain events over the past few weeks and has performed as expected.  Now that the new sod has been laid, the slopes will become more stable and the new structure should last for many years to come.

This project has been a little slow to complete, but I have to thank the Public Works Department for their willingness to assist us with the design and construction of this new cart path.  We, the agronomy department, had the easy part, and just had to finish grade and lay the sod.

As with any new sod project, we ask that members and guests please use caution when traveling through this area not to drive on the new sod until it has been established.  Thank you.