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

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thoughts on US Open

9Before&After

Over the past few weeks, leading up to the U.S. Open, I've been increasingly asked about the new look of Pinehurst #2.  In general, reactions to the changes that have taken place are mixed at best.  It seems that you either love it or hate it.  I for one love it.  For a long time, I've lamented the perfect, verdent conditions our member,s and guests, see on TV each weekend.  While I'm sure none of them expect the same conditions at our facility, given our resources, it's impact on our industry is not lost on me.  For decades, golf course conditions on TV have influenced general opinion in this country about what a good golf course should look like.  This is typically referred to as the Augusta Syndrome.  The USGA, to their credit, has had sustainability and water conservation at the forefront of their efforts for several years now and it seems coordinating back to back mens and womens U.S Opens this year at Pinehurst, and next years Men's U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, is no accident.  It seems they indend to put firm, fast, and brown courses in front of the masses in hopes of curbbing public opinion.  Will it work?  I hope so.  My biggest hope is that by watching these tournaments, the average golfer will realize that courses don't have to be lush and green to be considered good.  Using a little less water and fertilizer is not only cheaper, it's better for the environment, and playability is often improved.  Drives roll farther, and greens roll faster. 

Now, I realize that not all facilities are going to be able to do what Pinehurst has done, but I believe they must take steps, however small, to reduce their footprint and cut costs.  I think that the ability of any golf course to reduce its inputs depends on it's geography, design, and whether or not they have grasses that are adapted to the area.  Courses in the transition zone with cool-season tees, fairways, and rough, are going to have a very tough time reducing water usage, and other inputs, without losing grass.  Courses like Pinehurst and Chambers Bay, contain grasses that are acclimated for their locations and can withstand a fair amount of environmental stress without dying.  

#14 fairway
Here at Bailey Ranch, we've always been strigent with our inputs.  We rely exclusively on stormwater runoff which forces us to use water sparingly, and limited coverage with our irrigation system causes the turf in the fairways and rough to turn dormant.  The membership has been very accepting of this due to the increase in ball roll in fairways and thinner lies in the rough.  Also, the drier conditions fit nicely into the links design aesthetic of the course.  Over the past few years, our department has converted 10 acres of maintained rough without irrigation coverage to native areas to help further reduce inputs and increase native habitat. 

Many colleagues at courses similar to us will be able to say they're doing, or not doing, the same things that we are, mostly due to budget constraints, but my point is that its nice to finally see a course on TV that isn't perfectly manicured from edge to edge.  Even if their budget is still 2-3 times ours.  It's important for the future of the game that water conservation, and sustainability, not just be talked about, but put on display for the public to see and get comfortable with.


#8 native addition