Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Trial Putting Green Update

As part of our bentgrass variety trial on the Putting Green, root mass samples are being taken on a monthly basis.  The depth of the root mass is important to us for a variety of reasons.  Some of the more obvious reasons for desiring a deep root mass relate to playing condition.  Less watering will equals firmer greens, less ball marks, and truer surfaces after being mowed or rolled.

From an agronomic standpoint, the benefits of a deep root mass are far reaching, especially with poor irrigation water quality.  Effluent water is the culprit of a plethora of issues associated with intensely maintained turf.  Excessive algae growth is common on greens, causing turf to thin and leaving voids for Poa annua to invade.  Black Layer, is also a very common cause of turf decline on sand based surfaces that are irrigated with effluent water.  It is caused by a colonization of sulphur reducing bacteria which release toxic gasses and create anaerobic (lack of oxygen) conditions in the soil.  Shade exacerbates each of these issues.

We have estimated that our water usage on the Putting Green has reduced by 85% since being re-grassed to bentgrass, and, due to this substantial reduction, black layer and algae blooms have been eliminated as issues to this point.  This has been made possible by the deep and dense root system of the bentgrass, and the growth of that root system was made possible by proper aeration and proper amounts of sunlight/air movement.

8" root mass
with sparse roots to 10"

9.5" root mass
seen when changing cups

There are a couple of varieties on the Putting Green which have separated themselves from the pack with respect to rooting, which will weigh heavily in our decision making process for the grass type(s) chosen for the greens renovation this fall.  Seeing these thing on the ground and not only on sell sheets provided by seed manufactures is both exciting and impressive.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Golf Course Update

The staff has made some nice progress the past couple of weeks in repairing damaged areas of the golf course.  The "cover shuffle" has been a major part of our days, and some warm weather when tarps are not required will be a nice break for the guys.  

The above pictures of #17 green were taken on April 15 and May 7 respectively. Notice the striking contrast just twenty-two days later.  There is still quite a bit of filling in to do, but the seed on the greens has germinated and is growing.  Some warmer temps will help tremendously.  It will also help when the sun decides to make an appearance.

Here, you can see a close-up of what the surface looks like.  This surface has a long way to go prior to being open with quality conditions, but we are very proud of the progress we have made as team to get this stand of turf up in two weeks with very cold temperatures!

Fairway overseeding was completed last week in the several shaded areas where Poa annua persists.  These areas are not being covered and will begin to recover with some warmer weather.  Contaminated areas in the step cut that suffered from winter damage continue to be sodded.  

Finally, we expect the putting green will be ready to open by the end of next week.  Rooting this spring has breached 8" in several plots, which is everything we could ask for from a new stand of turf.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Golf Course Winter Update

We are beginning to see the majority of turf on the golf course for the first time in four months.  One of the concerns we have as turf managers in our region is how well the golf course will handle the winter weather when it is a brutal as this one has been.  Because we treat playing surfaces with plant protectants for snow mold our risk of major damage is minimal, and the amount of persistant snow cover has mitigated much of any wind burn.  However, it is evident that ice has made an impact on Poa annua playing surfaces this winter. Because the turf on our tees and fairways is predominantly bentgrass, there will be only minimal damage to repair.  We are confident that any damage to Poa annua in fairways is repairable without creating much of an impact to play.

Because the greens are predominantly Poa annua, which is much more susceptible to ice damage, there appears to be a considerable amount of damage to about 50% of them.  We will know more as the weather warms up and the covers come off, but samples that were taken from questionable areas are not showing signs of life after two weeks in the window.

Large areas on the front of #7 green and up the middle of number six green that hold water appear to be dead.  The plugs in the picture above have been transplanted and watered in dishes in a window sill in the grounds maintenance facility.

On number two green samples were taken from the front, which was covered in ice, and the back, which was not.  It is evident that the turf under the ice is not in good shape despite the fact that the ice was removed.

The trial putting green, although immature, appears to have made it through the winter in excellent shape as would be expected with bentgrass.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Benefits of Snow Removal

With a significant warm-up forecasted for next week, staff has begun clearing greens of snow.  Great progress has been made in the past two days despite roughly 18" of snow to navigate through.  Removing as much snow (water) on the surface as possible will reduce the chance ice formation during future freeze thaw cycles, similar to what is predicted for next week.  Ideally, we would like to see each green (and all other turf for that matter) exposed to oxygen for a period of time.  The majority of the ice on greens has been present since about January 12th, when a rain storm was followed by a hard freeze.  One very cold month later, we look forward to an opportunity to assess the damage that may have occured from this ice formation.  Better yet, we look forward to seizing an opportunity to minimize it by removing all moisture from the surfaces of the greens.

From what we have seen thus far, ice is confined to low areas of greens that do not have natural surface drainage.  Next week, when temperatures rise high enough for us to break the ice away, we will have an idea what we are facing in terms of damage.  However, turf that is not currently covered in ice appears to be healthy. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ash Tree Removals

As part of the Club's 3 year plan to remove all green and white ash trees from the property due to Emerald Ash Borer, grounds staff has begun removing selected trees throughout the golf course. Winter is a great time to remove trees because the ground is frozen and little damage occurs due to traffic involved with their removal and the tree itself hitting the ground. Trees that are larger what staff can safely drop from the ground with a chainsaw will be contracted for removal in the spring. By the beginning of next winter, staff will have about 20 ash trees left to remove.

Planted ash removed from stand of native oak trees.

Next stop.....the wood chipper.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Winter Weather Extremes

Weather is and will continue to be one of the great variables that plays a role in golf course management.  The past two winters have reduced our familiarity with harsh winter weather.  However, the current weather pattern quickly reminds us that we too can have extremes in the winter months.  To date, we have received about two feet of snow since December 1, which is about two and a half times more than average.  The temperature has also been below average and can clearly be considered dangerous to those outdoors.

How do these extremes effect the golf course?

In general, plants in our region are well equipped to handle cold and snowy weather.  The winter air can be very dry and damaging to plant tissue, but with a bit of snow to insulate, we do not often see permanent wind damage to turf, especially when mowed at lawn height.  In fact, snow provides a very nice buffer to most winter weather extremes and is almost always very welcome.  It is porous and allows for the always important oxygen supply to make it to leaf blades of turf.

A view from 18 Green looking back at the approach.
Ice on the other hand is not such a welcome part of nature in the golf course business.  There are some basic assumptions we use to manage ice.  Bentgrass can typically survive 90 days or better, while Poa annua is closer to 45.  These things are not concrete and it helps to visually see whats going on at ground level.  White airy ice that breaks easily under the heal of a boot is not often a threat.  Clear, hard ice that encases the entire plant surface is reason for concern because it eliminates the ability for the ground to release gasses that can damage and kill plant life.  

Crusty ice that breaks easily is not a large concern.

Management with Poa annua
Because we do not normally have continued ice encasement long enough to kill bentgrass in our region, little needs to be done protect it in the winter.  However, we are very  likely to have scenarios in which Poa annua is encased in ice long enough for it to be a concern.  Management decisions are based upon short term weather forecasts and the ability to seize opportunities when they are presented.  For instance, if a snow blanket covers a green and the forecast shows one day in the 40's with a severe drop that very night, we may choose to snow blow the green to prevent our friend snow from becoming our enemy ice.    If ice does form, we may choose to snow blow greens and utilize a sunny day in the mid 30's to break the ice off of the green.  The bottom line, though, is that there are no guarantees.  Each winter is different, and we rely on quick, educated decisions to give ourselves and our members the best chance possible to avoid unfavorable conditions in the spring.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bridge Update

Concrete for the first walking bridge on hole #3 was poured into the custom frame that was built to span this section of the creek.  Once the concrete has cured there will be about two day's worth of masonry work necessary to complete the bridge.  This may need to occur under the cover of plastic with heaters depending on the weather.  

The wooden blocks used to hold the frame in place during this process will be removed tomorrow and the plywood that serves as the floor for the concrete may be removed next spring if any portions of it are visible once the stone work is completed.