Course Notes, 4/27/2022

If you think this streak of continued frosts and freezes is abnormal, I was reminded this morning that we had a trace of snow fall accumulate on Mother’s Day last year, and the last freeze was on May 1. Looking at the long range forecast, there is light at the end of the tunnel for warmer weather at least.

Given the below normal temps, the color of the turf on greens, tees, and fairways is quite slow to come. I am hopeful in 2 weeks time to see a much improved difference in turf color out there. A couple of quick updates on projects we have been working on:

The renovated practice green will open for use on Saturday, April 30. The goals of this renovation were to provide a better representation of the green topography (i.e. flatter) on the golf course, provide additional cupping areas, and alleviate drainage issues that the old green had. These goals in my opinion have been achieved. A couple of friendly reminders as you start using this green:

First, we still have smoothing work to do on the south and east end of the green where the soil continues to settle, pictured in the above slideshow. We will be working on these transitional areas in the next week and they will be marked so that traffic stays off of them. Secondly, with the weather putting us behind everywhere, this green will need a full season of maintenance to fully mature into a smooth, consistent putting surface like the others on the course. The process of using the existing sod is one that allows a more immediate impact visually and provides better consistency with the other greens on the course, but takes a lot of extra rolling, topdressing, fertility, and maintenance to fully heal all seams and smooth the surface out. The maturity timeline will be similar to the renovation of 18 green, in which it did not fully perform like a mature green until later in the fall. We will do everything in our abilities to quicken this process, and I appreciate your understanding in this matter. Please reach out to me if you have questions regarding this.

Our staff is finishing up installation of the drainage sump pit on 17 fairway this week. This pit has a pump that operates off a float switch that when triggered, will pump any excess water towards our turf nursery to the east and away from areas of play. The pit will be operational very soon and our goal is that this improvement will make this area much more playable for you.

Finally, I have received word that Audubon International has again recertified Elcona as one of 6 Certified Golf Course Sanctuaries in Indiana. For those new to Elcona, designation as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary is awarded to any golf course upon meeting environmental management standards in 6 areas: Environmental Planning, Wildlife & Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management. Achieving certification demonstrates an organization’s leadership, commitment, and high standards of environmental management. To be designated, golf course personnel develop and implement an environmental management plan, document the results, and host a site visit with Audubon International staff. Recertification is required every three years to maintain the Certified Sanctuary designation. Elcona has been a Certified Sanctuary since 2011 and is an achievement every member should be proud of.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me at ryan@elconacc.com. Thank you have have a great week!

Ryan

Course Notes, 4/18/2022

Monday snow, Wednesday rains, weekend sun and wind, rinse, repeat. While the weather continues to figure out what it wants to do, many of you have taken advantage of the few good days we have had to enjoy your golf course. We have also used these days to get a couple projects started, and to begin training our new staff members about Elcona, and the jobs that our staff perform on a weekly basis. This year we have many new staff joining us, so training them on the correct (and safe) way to do the job will be critical to our success this season. Mowing and other in season maintenance is still on an as needed basis, and by the looks of the 10 day forecast, will become more regular by this weekend and into next week. While we wait on that, enjoy the below updates on a few other course happenings:

You may have noticed white dots on the greens and approaches this past weekend. I am utilizing these for 2 reasons: To help our new staff learn the boundaries between green and collar, and to re-establish a consistent collar width. Human nature is to stay away from the collar while mowing the clean up pass on the greens, which means in turn the collar can widen over time. This pipe tool measures the exact width of our collar mower (22″) and helps our staff keep those widths true.

I wanted to remind all members new and long time that we have a wonderful Practice Facility, including a second to none Short Game area. I spent some time here last Friday and it has many areas that provide creative lies for you to hone your game on. This is a club amenity that few, if any, have in our area and is a tremendous asset to your membership here at Elcona, and saves the golf course from excessive wear from practicing on it. The new bunker north of the small short game green will be completed in May when Golf Creations can come and spray the Better Billy Bunker liner.

The new Practice Green continues to round into form. The mowing height is down to .150″ and will continue to be lowered weekly until it is the same as the other greens on the course (.115″) to lessen scalping injury. This week the green will be aerified using our deep time aerifier to further aid in drainage, and a 1 ton roller will be rented to help further smooth out some of the settling that occurred over the winter. Scalped areas will be plugged out this week as well. I am still optimistic that the green can be opened by late April/early May, however the weather has put us behind a bit. I also wanted to remind everyone that this green will need a full season of maintenance to fully mature into a smooth, consistent putting surface like the others on the course. Given the process of using the existing sod, extra rolling, topdressing, fertility, and maintenance will be required to make this happen as quickly as possible, but it will be similar to the renovation of 18 green, in which it did not fully perform like a mature green until later in the fall. We will do everything in our abilities to quicken this process, and I appreciate your understanding in this matter. Please reach out to me if you have questions regarding this.

Stump holes should be sodded this week as well. Our sod farm is not immune to the poor weather we have had this year, and they are just now beginning to cut sod. Any areas that need to be seeded will be done this week as well, now that I see consistent soil temperatures above 55 degrees on the horizon.

Speaking of sod jobs, the right side fairway expansion on 17 as well as areas on the left side have been completed using sod from our nursery as well as a bit from the beginning of the fairway, where it could be eliminated. Our staff did a great job getting this done in some less than ideal weather. This week, we will be digging the pit for a sump pit that will pump water on demand from the left side of 17 off site and hopefully keep that area much drier during rain events. The thin rough right of the fairway expansion will be slit seeded and stump holes sodded where the 2 maple trees used to be. The overall goal of this project is to dry out the landing areas on this hole, as well as provide much more playable turf for all shots here.

These areas should and will be treated as Ground Under Repair. The GUR boundry will be defined as the roped off areas on either side. If you hit into these areas, you have two options under the USGA Rules of Golf, Rule 16.1: 1) play the ball as it lies, except on newly sodded areas or 2) take free relief by finding the nearest point of complete relief from the ground under repair and drop your original ball or another ball away from the ground under repair and within one club-length of that point not nearer the hole. Please do not hit off of newly sodded fairway or rough areas, as these will need some time to root down and become playable. Take free relief if you ball lies on new sod. If the weather cooperates, I anticipate these areas being in play by early to mid May. Again, thank you for your cooperation.

If you have any questions, please reach out at ryan@elconacc.com. I look forward to seeing you out on the course soon!

Ryan

Course Notes, 4/2/2022

Slow progress is still progress. At least that is what I am trying to convince myself right now.  This has been an unbelievably slow start to the season, especially when making comparisons to last year.  After looking back at the log books from the last few years, we continue to be every bit of 3-4 weeks behind agronomically.  It’s still frustrating knowing that the weather is not cooperating at a time when everyone is ready to get out and enjoy the golf course.

The weather is equally as frustrating for me as well. This is the time of year when we want to accomplish so many important agronomic tasks and we just can’t get to them right now. Spring fertilizer applications where they are needed, pre and post-emergent weed control and regular mowing schedules are all items we would like to get done, but we must show patience and wait for Mother Nature to tell us when the right time is.  If you maintain your own lawn, this applies to you as well. See me if you have any questions.

Not everything about the weather is bad for our operation however. We have gotten ahead of adding a fresh layer of mulch to our landscape beds, which is something that we usually are doing well into May. The new practice green has also been mowed, aerified, and rolled in the last week, and is beginning to smooth out and take shape for member use. We will be renting a larger roller, like the one pictured in the slideshow above, to better smooth out the edges and transitions from collar to green. Within the next three weeks the green will be aerified and topdressed further to help smooth out the surface.  We will continue to gradually lower the mowing height (.015″ weekly) until the turf is comfortably mowed at the same height of cut as the other greens, which is .115″.

With Spring Break arriving, that also means next week is our scheduled Aerification Week for greens and fairways. We will be doing aerification on greens Monday (Front 9) and Tuesday (Back 9). The solid tines I am using this year are 1/2″ in diameter, which are slightly larger than in previous springs, by a 1/4″. The reasoning is to better incorporate a higher amount of sand into the soil profile and reduce organic matter. This will better firm up the surfaces over time and maintain a healthy soil profile for proper root growth and surface drainage. While we are closed entirely Monday, the Front 9 will be open and available for play on Tuesday. If the weather cooperates, all 18 holes will be open on Wednesday. The video above is from 2019 and is similar to the process this week.

Fairways will be aerified using solid 5/8″ tines the rest of the week while the course is open. If you encounter our staff while you are playing on the course, PLEASE give them a couple minutes to acknowledge you are playing the hole and move out of your way. Sometimes they will have their back to you and will not see you while they are concentrating on performing the job assigned to them. My staff and their families thank you for looking out for their safety. We will be core aerifying tees Monday, April 11th. All of these dates are weather permitting, and any changes to this schedule will be communicated to you via our blog.

I would also like to remind everyone of some simple, but often overlooked courtesies when it comes to driving golf carts. Courtesies that should be followed all year and especially during the stressful times include: parking 30 feet away from greens and tees, not driving carts where they don’t belong (next to greens/tees and in the tall grass areas), and carefully applying the brakes so that the tires do not lock up and leave skid marks on the paths and turf. All of these help make the rough in these areas much more playable (and should be common sense) but you would be amazed at how many times I witness all of these on a daily basis. Please help our staff take care of your golf course by following these simple courtesies.

Finally, we will be turning on our irrigation system this Tuesday, April 5, and they may be a few sprinklers running here and there as we bleed all the air our of the piping. We will do our very best to work around any play on the course but you may encounter a sprinkler running here and there. Please be aware of any hissing or water bubbling if you are out on the course that day.

With that being said, it’s spring so get out here and enjoy your club. Even if it’s a little cold and rainy outside, there are plenty of activities going on around the club for you to take advantage of. It is always an exciting time of year for me seeing all the great events Tom, Zach, Chef, and Brandi are organizing for you to enjoy. As always, if you have any questions related to the golf course, please reach out to me at ryan@elconacc.com. Have a great week and I hope to see you out on the golf course!

Ryan

Course Notes, 3/17/2022

The 66th season of golf here at Elcona began today, and our staff is very happy to see about 20 of you take advantage of temperatures in the 60’s with sunshine. It is definitely nice to work in these conditions! Our staff has done a wonderful job cleaning up all the winter sticks and debris that came down, and we have turned our attention to preparing turf and landscape areas for the 2022 golf season.

One question I get a lot is how often are you mowing greens and other playing surfaces? The simple answer is “as needed”. Nighttime temperatures are dipping into the upper 20’s still, and combined with soil temperatures in the upper 30’s/low 40’s, growth is quite slow this time of year. Playing surfaces will be mowed or rolled as the weather and growth dictates, with increased frequencies as April progresses. More than likely, we will be rolling more often than mowing to smooth the green surfaces for play while the grass acclimates to spring time weather. Other practices, such as raking bunkers, will be done on an as needed basis. Ropes and stakes are out, please heed them to protect the turf in those areas for the entire golfing season!

I am also excited to welcome back our seasonal employees beginning the first week of April as well! Their return is based on historical dates that have been determined by weather as well as budgetary guidelines set for the year. As it has been the case over the years, we anticipate being fully staffed by Memorial Day. Some of our 2021 staff will be returning, but we will have a few new faces being added as well.

The timing came today for our first seedhead suppression application as well. As great as Poa annua is as a putting surface, one drawback is its annual seedhead production. Poa annua is a winter annual, meaning it germinates in the fall, overwinters, and produces seeds in the spring for its next generation. Think of Poa as backwards from an annual flower you would plant in your landscape.

Using a temperature based schedule, three total applications of growth regulator will be applied to suppress, not eliminate, these seedheads from impacting ball roll. As the picture above shows, I left 4 areas on the course untreated, as a check plot, to assess the success of this year’s applications. These plots are located on 1, 10, 13, and 16 and are marked with white dots. I utilize these areas to gauge the effectiveness of this year’s treatments and encourage you to keep an eye on them as well as you are out and about on the golf course.

The staff and I have filled and leveled all stump holes with topsoil, and when the weather is more consistently warm, will be seeding or sodding them, depending on their location relative to play. Until then, these areas are to be considered ground under repair. One area of emphasis has been the maple removal on 17. Now that the trees have been removed on the right side, in the next few weeks our staff will be utilizing sod from our fairway nursery and widening the fairway about 3-4 yards, taking the width to 21 yards. The rest of the area will be overseeded with a Kentucky bluegrass/ Perennial ryegrass mix and will become a much nicer stand of rough should your tee shot find it. We also will be installing a sump pit and sodding areas of the left fairway that still have not filled in from the renovation in 2020.

The renovated practice green wintered very well. Root growth was dramatic and the sod matured well heading into the winter. Since we removed and re-used the existing sod to keep the green surface consistent with the others on the course, we will soon begin the process of getting it ready for daily play, which involves multiple topdressings and aerifications to further smooth the surface out. We will also begin mowing the green at a higher height of cut (.185″) and gradually lower it to the same height of cut that all other putting surfaces are mown at (.115″). There will inevitably be some scalped areas that we will have to plug out with our nursery, and there will be lots of rolling as well, including rental of a one ton roller for the edges. My goal for its opening is late April, similar to the schedule we used when 18 green was renovated. Stay tuned to the blog for further updates!

If you have any questions, please reach out at ryan@elconacc.com. I look forward to seeing all of you out on the course very soon! You may even see a new member of our team, Luna, riding with me. Luna is a white boxer that we have owned for a year or so, and she is ready to start filling the big shoes that Bowser had on our team. I will be slowly introducing her to life on the course when the golf schedule allows. Have a great month!

Ryan

Course Update, 2/17/2022

Good afternoon to everyone, from a quite messy Elcona. Over the past 48 hours, almost all of our 14 inches of snow on the ground has melted, and 1.25″ of rain has been added on top of it, making for quite a mess. Below are some pictures of many new water features the course currently has:

I have seen many of these before, except 15 pond overflowing its banks all the way under the US 20 fence. Needless to say, with the ground being frozen, there is simply no where for the water to go, so it finds the lowest points on the course.

Currently we still have 7 greens with varying levels of ice on them. While this ice has not been here as long as the ice was in 2014 (for a reminder click here) nor is it as thick, we have to keep a close eye on it as the year progresses into March so that the turf remains healthy and ready for the upcoming season. Stay tuned!

Also during February, the staff and I continued to work on our tree management program that has taken a different direction the past couple of years. While there will always be a few trees to remove for various reasons, gone are the years of removing 70-80 trees off of the property in any given winter, with our focus shifting to more of a maintenance approach to the trees that define the playability and aesthetics of the course. To accomplish this, a telescopic lift is rented for a week or 2 to safely raise us high enough to remove lower hanging branches, any dead branches that are stuck up in the tree, and create a more uniform look to any stand of trees lining the golf course. This year’s trimming focus was on holes 1, 9, 10, and 15. The oak pictured in the slideshow, past 7 tee in the small native area, had extensive structural rot and I am glad it did not fall during an open day.

We also used the lift to help install a nesting platform on an old, dead ash tree north of 13. The tree was trimmed so that only the trunk and a couple support arms were left, then we placed a pallet on the tripod left. The thought on this was to provide a nesting site for the many red-tailed hawks we have seen flying over the course. These platforms are also popular for eagles to use, and although I have not seen one in this area, you never know. Being an Audubon Certified Golf Course Sanctuary, I enjoy each year creating small projects that enhance wildlife habitat and corridors that allow us to continue being good stewards of the community environment.

Finally, I do have some sad news to share for those who do not follow me on social media. Last month Bowser lost his battle with both lymphoma and epilepsy. While he was only 6, he lived a full life and loved seeing all of you out on the golf course. I loved having him each afternoon as a companion on the golf cart, defending us all from the squirrels that roam the property. Bowser was a great listener on the days where I thought things were great, and on days where I thought the course was in bad shape. He was simply the best dog a man could ask for in a companion and our family misses him dearly.

As always, if you have any questions, please reach out at ryan@elconacc.com. Stay safe and wish for a quick thaw!

Ryan

Course Notes, 1/15/2022

Its been quite the quiet winter around Elcona’s property. Not much in the way of snow or ice, with exception to the first couple of days in 2022. We had some big excitement with a visit from a ring-necked pheasant around the pro shop. It has been many years since that type of pheasant has been seen here and he was doing a great job welcoming members and our new golf professional Zach Dryer to Elcona. What a beautiful bird.

The quiet weather pattern here has allowed the staff and I to spend less time plowing snow and get to other chores on our to do list. We have lately been busy with our annual tree work and maintenance. We are about halfway through as I write this article. Most tree work this winter is a continued effort of executing Elcona’s Tree Management Plan, reviewed each year by the Golf and Greens Committee. As I always believe, trees are an integral part of the playability and design of the golf course, provided that the right tree is planted in the right place. Most trees are recycled into mulch and spread out throughout the many mulch beds on the property.

This year many of the removals involve Colorado Blue Spruce near 12 tee that have become unsightly due to a fungus called Phomopsis, which causes the tree to lose much of its needle volume in the older growth branches. Given the maturity of these trees, the needles were not going to re-grow.

Black oak on 1 dropping leaves/dying

The Black Oak on the left side of #1 that dropped all of its leaves in August of 2021 was removed as well. This tree showed many signs of Sudden Oak Death last year and was recommended for removal by the Golf/Greens Committee. Once it was dropped, secondary signs of rot and insect damage was noticed.

We also removed 2 maple trees on the right side of 17 close to the fairway. If you recall, these trees had started to decline and have many split branches after windstorms. These trees also were one piece of the puzzle why that area of the fairway was so wet constantly. In 2021, We planted 3 maple trees from our nursery as intended replacement trees for these. Once the ground thaws for good, we will be expanding the fairway in that area about 3 yards to the west and improving the drainage in that area. We will be sodding this expansion from both our nursery and other fairways on the course as well.

Improvements to the new fairway area in front of the fairway bunker will also be added, with a sump pump being installed in the drainage pit to more consistently remove water from that area to a location near our turf nursery. Sod will fill in areas that never filled in from seed over the past year due to the consistantly wet conditions. Our goal is to eliminate the ground under repair designation and have a much more playable surface in late spring 2022.

Our early work hours involve maintenance of our course amenities and equipment. The staff does a great job refinishing each on-course amenity and signs, and our Equipment Manager Steve Ott works his magic on every reel and machine, grinding a fresh blade surface on each cutting unit. Repairs to any machine we use in the winter time happen too, including our wood chipper pictured above. We are quite fortunate to have his services over the years, and will miss him greatly when he retires after 44 years of service to Elcona in May.

As always, if you have any questions, please contact me at ryan@elconacc.com. Have a great January and stay warm!

Ryan

Course Notes, 10/31/2021

The above picture is of hole 9 on this day 3 years ago. Many of you have asked me why leaves are so behind this year changing color. The main reason why is that our October is going to be the warmest on record. To get the trees to display their vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges we need cold nights after warm sunny days. With much colder nights finally arriving, the leaves have begun their change. Driving around yesterday I would say peak color will be this week, then they will begin to come down in a hurry, much to my staff’s chagrin. Once they do fall, we will be out blowing, sweeping, and mulching them up to get a great start on the 2022 growing season. This week and next will have some great afternoons for you to enjoy the vibrant views on your golf course!

While we wait on the leaves to fall, the staff and I have been busy with 2 fall projects. The practice green renovation next to 1 tee is in its final stages. As the pictures above show, we removed and saved as much sod as possible from the old green top keep it consistant with the others on the golf course. We then moved all the top soil to the side and saved it for the final product. Using sandy sub soil from our back 40, we raised and leveled the area to the specific heights and measurements, then added sub surface drainage. The topsoil was added back as a uniform layer throughout the new profile, compacted, and finally sod was placed back on the new green. This week, we will add 3 small recovery areas for you to practice on (similar to the ones added last year), and new bluegrass sod to surround the green. This green will be ready for use in late April 2022.

We also have begun installing a new bunker at the short game area, north of the small green. Tom Zimmerman dug out and roughed out the shape of it, and this week will install the drainage, gravel, and sod for it. Golf Creations will stop by sometime in the next week to spray the Better Billy Bunker polymer, and once it cures, we will install the sand. It will be ready for you to practice at the start of 2022.

I need to pause and thank everyone involved with these projects. Tom Zimmerman has been quite instrumental with his time and help, and I learn so much from him. Also my staff deserves all the credit of moving sod. They are all great teammates and rock stars who have a great pride in Elcona and the work they do here. Tom Thome was a great help in measuring slopes and ensuring our design will exceed your expectations.

While the golf activity on the course has began to dwindle down, many jobs need to be accomplished before the real cold air shuffles its way here. Leaf clean up consumes most of our time in the next 4 weeks. The native areas are currently being mown down for the year, herbicides are applied to take care of any weeds on the course, and ballwashers and other course features are pulled inside for the year. Two major jobs ahead for us include winterizing the irrigation system, which will take place October 31-November 2. If you are out on the course these days, please heed caution as sprinklers are automatically turned on and off during this process.

The greens will have their annual deep tine aerification performed on November 4th as well. These 1/2″ holes, penetrating the soil profile about 8″, create three advantages: additional channels for spring root growth, aid in relieving any deeper compaction within the rootzone soil profile, and extra drainage capabilities for ice/snow melt to prevent ice formation on the plant surfaces. The greens are rolled immediately after being aerified, and these holes do remain open throughout the winter for the above mentioned reasons.

We also have begun other activities that will maximize turf health and protection from the severe winters that can visit our area. For the greens, that entails the following:

Raising mower heights. The height of cut on greens from the normal height of .120″ to .145″ slowly. Raising height of cut allows more leaf surface for the turf to maximize their photosynthetic capabilities and carbohydrate storage. Raising height will also lessen stress to the plant and create a deeper root system going into winter. While raising heights may not create the speeds that summer brings, it is best for the long term health of the greens going into winter.

Fertility and Plant Protectants. While we limit nutrients on finely maintained turf during the season to provide great playing conditions, the fall is the best time to feed the turf to maximize carbohydrate storage going into winter. The more carbs the plant stores, the quicker it will break dormancy when temperatures warm up in the spring. Winter can also bring the threat of snow mold to all varieties of turf on the golf course, and our sprayers will be out applying plant protectants to help prevent infection from those fungal diseases.

Topdressing. When growth has ceased for the year, we will apply a thick coating of sand topdressing to bury the crowns and as much leaf tissue as possible. This sand helps protect and insulate the crown of the plant from any extreme cold temperatures. This practice is very effective in protecting the turf from any potential ice damage and helps maintain a smooth surface when the course opens next year.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me at ryan@elconacc.com.  Thanks and have a great week!

Ryan

Course Notes, 10/16/2021

I wanted to give you all an update on our aerification efforts over the past week. As I wrote last week, we solid tined both greens and fairways using a 5/8″ tine as in years past. Rain hampered much of our greens aerification on Tuesday, which made working in sand a huge challenge, and ultimately we had to wait a day until the clouds, drizzle, and fog broke to get better drying conditions.

Below are some pictures and video of the aerification process and how we work the sand into the holes using our turbine blower. Using air is much less abrasive to the turf leaves than dragging it in using a plastic or chain mat.

As you all know, aerification is a necessary, but not perfect process. While we were able to clean up the back 9 greens, we still have more sand to add to all greens profiles to better smooth the putting surfaces and fill in more holes. This extra sand application will be added on Monday. Greens will be mowed each day this weekend and rolled Sunday for play, and my goal is to have the holes mainly healed in within the next 10 days, depending on the weather forecast.

Fairway aerification was able to be completed on 17 holes even with the rainy weather on Thursday and Friday. #4 will be completed on Monday as well.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at ryan@elconacc.com. Have a great weekend, and I hope to see you out on the golf course!

Ryan

Course Notes, 10/6/2021

With the forecast the next 2 days calling for multiple bands of rain, we have decided to postpone greens aerification until Monday October 11th (Front 9) and Tuesday the 12th (Back 9). Fairway aerification will be performed starting Tuesday afternoon. Monday is a closed day for the golf course, and Tuesday only the Front 9 will be available for play. As I wrote last week, we need about a 8-10 window to dry sand and complete this necessary process, and I do not see that window possible the next 2 days. The good news is that the weekend is looking awesome for golf, so come out and take full advantage!

With this delay in aerification, we will also be delaying the start of the Practice Green renovation until October 18th, to allow our staff to fully concentrate on completing aerification in a timely manner, and then fully concentrate on this project afterwards.

Another question I have been receiving lately is why is the golf course so wet in landing areas and other places the last few weeks. While the current answer is that we have received almost 2″ of rain in the last 7 days, September was pretty dry and irrigation needed to be used to provide the desired aesthetics and turf health. There also were many areas in the fairways and rough that needed to be reseeded from summer damage, which requires those areas to be moist throughout the day to maximize germination of the new seed.

The increase in rounds played (16,006 this year alone as of October 1) over the last 2 years is awesome to see, but also created increased compaction from cart and foot traffic compared to years past. Increased rolling of greens over the last decade has also contributed to greens draining any quick rainfall slower as the season progresses.

Combine the abovementioned with lower sun angles, continued above average temperatures and humidity levels, and losing about 70 minutes of daylight over the month, and much of Mother Nature’s drying capacity is taken away. The natural compaction resulting from increased traffic, activity, and maintenance practices further slow the drying capacity, which is why a rainfall in May will dry out much quicker than a rainfall in September/October.

Irrigation cycles, when necessary, were decreased as compensation, and as the new seed germinates, so does the need for constant moisture in those areas. As we begin aerification next week, these new channels will help return the drainage capacities to much better rates. As staff and schedules allow during fall and spring, drainage pits and piping will be installed in the areas where water does not drain off quickly.

We will continue to dial in these our maintenance practices and work hard to continue providing you the best playing conditions possible. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at ryan@elconacc.com. Thanks and have a great rest of your week!

Ryan

Course Notes, 10/2/21

We have had some incredible weather in the last month for the beginning of fall golf season, and hopefully everyone has had a chance to take advantage. Leaves are beginning to change color, and even begin to fall in areas. It is truly hard to believe that both Ladies Closing Day and the Men’s Hole in One Stag are this coming week, signifying the end of the main golf calendar. Even with that approaching, there will still be ample opportunities for some great fall weather to come out and enjoy your golf course.

The staff and I used September to re-seed and alleviate cart traffic issues across the entire property. Many of the areas in the rough that died from fungal disease and armyworm issues were seeded over. Some of you have noticed a larger amount of moths on the fairway areas, and those are the adult form of the armyworm. The good thing is that all tighter cut turf and immediate rough surrounding the fairways were treated preventatively this spring, and we have had no damage from them as a result. These moths lay hundreds of eggs at one time, which have been observed on tee markers and flags as brown, muddy looking deposits. The first frost will take care of these pests, and that is coming soon I hope!

The new fairway expansion on 17 was re-seeded twice last month to get that area filled in and playable again. With spring’s cold wet conditions, followed by multiple flood events in this area, it has been a constant struggle to get quality playing conditions to this area. We will be adding a sump pump to the drain pit late this fall to pump away excess water during heavy rain events and further improve the drainage capacity. This area will be again roped off from cart traffic to better establish turf as well.

Tees were aerified on September 7th, and as you can see above, we removed a lot of thatch from them! With the warmer temperatures we had, the holes have already healed in for the most part. The process involves many persons on blowers, as well as drag mats and manual removal of the excess grass in the end. They all did a wonderful job!

Greens will be aerified on October 7th (Front 9) and 8th (Back 9) using a solid 5/8” tine. As you can see from this video I made in 2019, both before and after poking these holes, a generous amount of sand will be applied to incorporate into the surface. We will then use brooms and blowers to get that sand into the holes, and finish off with a roll. Fairways will be aerified the week of October 11th, using a solid 5/8″ tine. Both processes will involve no plugs being brought up, which is how we aerify them in the spring.  All of this is of course, weather permitting.  With the multiple chances of rain in the 10 day forecast, it is best to call ahead to the pro shop for the latest information on the golf course.  I will also send out updates via this blog.

While a short term inconvenience to ball roll and playability, aerification is the foundation of proper soil and turf health and a critical component of any agronomic program. It provides new channels for root growth, oxygen to the rootzone, additional avenues for drainage, and relieves compaction. The USGA has a great video that I embeded above further explaining the benefits and importance of aerification. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this busy and quite necessary time in our maintenance schedule!

Finally, the large practice green will be closed starting on October 11th for a complete renovation. As you can see from the schematic that we have sketched, the green will be enlarged and flattened so that this green will be much more indicative of the ones on the golf course. While the green will be flatter, there will still be areas with a 2-3% slope on it for you to practice those putts.

This reshaping will alleviate the drainage issues that have caused the turf to suffer along the eastern edges and in the middle, caused by increased heavy rain events and the increased usage of the green (which is a great thing!) This schematic is a general guide for what we want to accomplish, and while minor changes in our thoughts can occur once we start moving earth, the end goal is a practice green that accomplishes the items mentioned above and one that the membership can be proud of. I will blog more about the process of this during the project, which is expected to take about 2 weeks. The green will be closed for the remainder of the season, and re-opened in Late Spring 2022.

If you have any questions about aerification, our practice green renovation, or the golf course, please email me at ryan@elconacc.com. Please enjoy the great weather that October usually brings to our area. I hope to see you out on the golf course!

Ryan