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.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Course Update



The recent cool down in the temperature has allowed me to take minute and reflect on the weather and other topics related to the course in this latest course update.  The weather, good or bad, always seems to be the main topic when discussing the golf course.  Although we recently had some hot weather, overall, the weather has been very mild.  Daily highs have been very close to seasonal averages, which seems very cool compared to the past few summers.  Due to this cooler weather, the turf across the entire course is loving this weather.  The cultural practices, fertility program and water schedule has all complimented perfectly with the weather to produce some of the healthiest greens we've ever had this time of year.  The picture to the right shows roots coming out of the bottom of the 5.5" soil probe.  Usually, during July, we are trying to hang on to 3" roots until fall.  Longer roots have allowed us to keep firmer conditions while maximizing plant health.

As for the rest of the course, the staff has had their hands full keeping up with the mowing schedule for all short turf (tees, fairways, approaches, collars, and surrounds).  The intense growth rate has caused us to stay very busy keeping up.  The rough has been the only real concern this year.  Due to some mechanical issues with our rough mower, we've had to utilize rental mowers and loaners to keep the rough cut.  During this time, portions of the rough have gotten away from us and have become unacceptably tall.  We apologize for this and are working diligently to get the course cut back down to improve playability.
Rough at edge of fairway on #11


Over the past few weeks, staff has been working hard to get all the native areas and pond banks cut down.  Mowing these areas 2-3 times a year helps to clean out all woody plants and gives the native grasses the advantage.  Over time, the grasses in these areas will continue to thicken up and the end result will be a nice, clean stand of turf.

 Over the past month, golfer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with many people commenting that they haven't see the golf course this nice in many years.  We, in the grounds department, appreciate all the compliments and will continue to work hard to make Bailey Ranch the best value in the Tulsa metro area.

Looking ahead to the fall, the golf course should continue to shine and as the weather cools down.  We are looking forward to finishing 2014 golf season on a high note!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tee Aeration

Kyle pulling cores on #10 tee 
Those of you who've been out on the course the last few days have noticed the grounds staff pulling cores on tee boxes this week.  You may be wondering why we are messing up the tee boxes when they look so nice.  Core aerating any turf when it's at the highest growth potential will minimize recovery time, and mid-summer is the ideal time for aerating Bermudagrass.  As you can see from the picture to the right, the first step is pulling a core with our tractor mounted aerator.  Once the cores have all bee pulled, the tee is drug with a steel mat to break up the plugs.  The soil from the plugs is re-incorporated back into the holes, while the thatch is left at the surface to be blown off into the rough.  Once the tee is cleaned off, the tee is mown again to finish off the process.

Pulled cores on #4 tee
Over the years, I've spoke of the benefits to aerating turf many times, but it's importance can never be understated.  Aeration is critical to the overall health and sustainability of any turf by providing key benefits such as: promoting deeper roots, increasing soil oxygen content, removing thatch, reducing soil compaction, and improving soil drainage.


Staff cleaning up cores on #6 tee
It should go without saying that there is a lot of hard work involved with this process, and although we would love to accomplish this project without impacting play, we realize that is not feasible.  We appreciate your understanding and patience during this process.  As always, if you have any questions, or concerns, regarding this project, please let me know.  

Finished product on #6 tee