Monday, August 31, 2015

Course Update

#7 greens surround taken August 14th
#4 fairway taken August 30th
Over the past month or so, the golf course has seen a lot of seasonal changes.  During the last week of July, the typical hot, dry summer weather pattern started to settle in and the golf course began to dry out.  This dry pattern continued until rains came in mid-August.
Although our irrigation system is more efficient than I've ever seen it, it cannot give the grass all the water it needs to replace what is being evaporated in the absence of periodic rains.  As a result, the Bermuda on the course began to turn brown and semi-dormant in certain places.  Although this is normal for this time of year, I still had a lot golfers in disbelief that we could be so dry after having so much rain this spring.  The picture on the right was taken on August 14th and it's clear to see we missed some key rains in July.  I recently wrote in greater detail on the dry weather pattern and it can be found here.  Relief from the hot, dry weather came in the form of several big storms that, not only dumped almost 7 inches of rain, but dropped the temperatures down into the 80's.  As you can see from the picture on the right, the golf course greened back up quickly.

Removing thatch on #17
Aside from the weather, the staff has done a fantastic job of not only keeping up with our daily tasks, but completing timely improvement projects leading up to Labor day weekend.  Slicing of fairways and greens mid month alleviated compaction stress, and provided a much needed dose of oxygen into the rootzone during this most stressful time of year.  Our chemical applicator, Doug, applied fertilizer to the entire golf course a week before the rains started which allowed us to recover from the dry weather very quickly.  Last week, the staff performed a quick core aeration on collars.  Once this was drug in and watered, there was very little, if any, disruption to the surface.  This will heal before the holiday weekend and provide long lasting benefits well into fall.


Removed a lot of organic during this process
In the two weeks leading up to Labor Day weekend, the staff has verticut greens several times, to smooth and firm the surface.  All fine turf areas (tees, fairways, etc.) have been sprayed with fertilizer to improve color and density.  Bunkers have become a main focus.  The staff edged them last week and this week, a full depth audit will be performed, with fresh sand added where needed to improve consistency.

Applying nitrogen and growth regulator for color and density
Overall, I couldn't be more proud of the staff and the hard work they've put in over the past month to ensure the best possible conditions leading into this important holiday weekend.  I hope to see many of you out there enjoying the golf course!



A fresh edge always improves the look of the bunkers

Friday, August 14, 2015

How Come the Course is So Dry?



It seems hard to believe that the golf course could be this dry considering the torrential rains we had back in May and June.  However, our typical dry, warm summer weather pattern has settled in and much of the soil moisture that was in the ground is now gone.  To put in perspective, just how much it has changed, we've only received .75" of rain since July 9th.  During this same time, our daily ET rates have averaged over .16".  ET is an acronym for evapotranspiration, which is a measurement of water lost from the soil by a combination of water evaporating into the atmosphere and water that is used, or transpired, by the turf.  That means that almost 5" of moisture has been lost out of the ground since July 9th, while only receiving .75" of rain.  Now, of course we have irrigation to help compensate for the lack of rain, but with almost 11 million gallons of water that has been lost out of the ground over the past 5 weeks, our water supply is running low.  As you can see from the picture below, our irrigation pond has dropped almost two feet.  Almost two weeks ago, we began our summer water conservation program to keep as much water in our ponds as possible.  As you play the course over the next few weeks, you'll continue to see the Bermuda go dormant.  Please know that although the turf will turn brown, we are watering just enough to keep it alive and once the rain returns, the course will bounce back and look as green as it did earlier this summer.

As always, if you have any questions, or concerns, please feel free to contact anyone in the grounds department.  Thank you.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Greens Venting



This morning, the grounds staff began venting the putting surfaces.  This process occurs every 2-3 weeks throughout the summer to improve drainage, relieve compaction, and increase oxygen content in the soil profile.  Venting allows us to maintain longer roots through the most stressful time of year.  As you can see from the picture above, there is very little disruption to the surface and the greens are playable immediately after the process.  As you play today and tomorrow, you may come across the machine.  Please excuse us while we wrap up the project.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

#12 Bermuda Sod Work

This morning, the staff began cutting out some weak areas around the outside of #12 green.  These spots were the last remaining damage from the Leaf Spot outbreak we saw earlier this spring.  As you can see from the picture to the right, there was a sizable spot in the approach, which we were glad to remove.  There are also spots in the collar and along the backside of the green on both sides of the fan.   Despite the intense heat, the staff did a great job finishing up the whole surround by the end of the day.

Please keep out of these areas as much as possible while playing through #12.  Reducing the foot traffic in these areas will ensure a quick grow in.  Once the sod roots in, we will begin to lower the height of cut down to the necessary level.



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fairway Slicing


This week, the grounds staff solid tine aerated fairways using our Aerway shatter tine machine.  This machine has curved tines that twist under the surface as they come in and go back out of the soil. This slight twisting motion cracks the surrounding soil, loosening the clay to help improve air and water movement.  Our goal is to use this machine 3-4 times throughout the season to ensure more consistent moisture in the soil, improved density and a healthier plant.

The process is quite simple.  First, all irrigation heads and yardage markers are located to prevent damage.  Then, the Aerway slicer is used to solid tine the fairways.  Once this is complete, the fairway is then mowed to smooth the surface.  Lastly, the fairways are blown off to provide a clean, smooth finished product.  As you can see from the picture at the bottom of the post, the process creates very little disruption to the surface, while providing several key benefits to the soil below.  



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Tee Aeration




This week, the grounds staff performed our annual core aeration on tee boxes.  Each summer, when the tees are aggressively growing, they are core aerated to keep them as healthy as possible for the rest of the season.

As has been stated before, core aeration improves oxygen content, drainage capabilities, and rooting.  As you can see from the picture below, pulling the cores out of the ground makes a mess.  Once the cores are pulled out of the ground, they are left to dry and then drug with a steel mat.  This mat breaks apart the plugs and reincorporates the soil into the holes.  The thatch and grass is left at the surface which is then blown off.  The finished product is clean and ready for a mower.

finished product

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Summer Greens Maintenance Program


Since the first of June, a much drier,
warmer, weather pattern has emerged.  This drastic change in the weather has caused the grounds department to begin our summer greens management program.  A key piece to our program is solid tine aerating greens every three weeks.  The process creates tiny slits in the surface and, as you can see from the picture on the right, almost no disruption to the surface.  The channels created loosen the soil, improve drainage, and increase oxygen content in the soil.  All of which, will promote better rooting and a healthier plant throughout the summer.

Another major component to our greens management program is light, frequent topdressing.  The type of bentgrass we have on our greens produce a lot of thatch during the warm summer months and frequent applications of sand keep the greens from getting too soft and puffy.  The greens will also get a little soft from frequent hand watering, and topdressing is a great way to retain surface firmness during the summer months.

 Speaking of hand watering, the staff went out last week for the first time this season to check greens.  From now, until mid-September, there will be staff out every day making sure the greens have consistent moisture and are cooled off.  Keeping the soil moisture slightly dry, and as consistent as possible, promotes firm putting surfaces.

While the three techniques described above aren't the only things we do during the summer to maintain healthy bentgrass, they are some of the most important.  The grounds staff appreciates your patience and understanding this summer as we work to provide the best playing conditions possible.  Thank you.