Frequently Asked Questions

Each day here at Elcona I get the opportunity to interact with many of you, whether it is when I am driving around the property or when I get the chance to show off my subpar (in a bad way) golf talent in Men’s Night Out. These interactions provide me with some great feedback on the course and the chance to answer questions that you may have. Below are a few of the most asked questions I get on a weekly basis. Apologies in advance for the longer than normal post, but I thought it would be beneficial for all to know my reasoning behind some of the practices we do.

How do you repair a ballmark properly?

An improperly repaired pitchmark on 14

 

 

 

 

 

The key here is to NOT LIFT the center of the mark.  This pulls the turf and roots out from the surface and greatly increases the recovery time of the pitchmark.  A properly repaired mark heals in 3-4 days,  while a poorly repaired one (see above) may take up to 21 days to heal.

When should I replace my divot in the fairway?  Sometimes they are too little to replace. 

Whenever possible, you should always replace your divot.  Most of the time, even the tiny divots will root back down and recover.  At a minimum, replacing all your divots keeps the fairway looking clean and helps minimize any shot from having to be played out of a divot.

Why aren’t any sand bottles on the carts? 

Sand bottles are not supplied for the same reason as above:  to help keep the course clean.  Many times it is easier to reach for the sand bottle than walk a few yards to retrieve a divot, leaving the fairway looking littered.  Also, many people overfill the divot with sand, leaving an unsightly pile and dulling mower blades during the next mowing.  The grounds staff periodically fills all fairway divots during the golf season.

How close to greens and tees can I drive my cart?

When there is a cart path, please use it.  Otherwise, please keep your cart a minimum of 30 feet from greens and tee complexes.

What is the preferred divot pattern on the practice tee?

One of my fellow superintendents posted this picture on Twitter, which illustrates my preference wonderfully.  Either one straight line of divots taken out or multiple, small divots spread out across our hitting station is preferred.  The healing time is much quicker and will provide additional hitting space for the next person.  Taking out huge craters like the picture above will take quite a long time to fill in and heal.

Why is someone hosing down a green and interrupting my round?

This individual is “syringing” or cooling down the Poa annua leaf tissue during a hot summer day.  This misting typically takes one or two minutes.  If you see a maintenance staff member working near you, please give him or her common courtesy and make sure they see you before you hit your next shot.  They and their families will appreciate it.

What is the proper way to rake a bunker?  Where should the rakes go when I am done?

At all times, please enter and exit the bunker at the back end, or away from the flow of play, to protect the edging around the bunker.  The bunker should be raked smooth of all shot divots and footprints after the shot has been played.  When done with the rake, place the rake outside the bunker, with the rake head pointing towards the direction of play.   All of these help our staff maintain the course, and more importantly is a courtesy for your fellow members that will play the hole after you have finished.

What are the general maintenance principles of Elcona CC?

  • Provide the finest quality playing surfaces with minimal inputs and a keen eye on environmental stewardship.
  • To prepare, preserve and maintain the golf course as the major club asset and to afford the opportunity to provide enjoyment to the club’s members and guests.
  • To protect, understand and fulfill the golf course architect’s and club membership’s vision with a goal of a fair golf challenge for all levels of player ability.
  • To plan and execute programs and procedures that maintains a superior golf experience as well as enhances and protects the environment, property, and aesthetics of the club within the standards and benchmarks set within being a Certified Audubon Golf Course Sanctuary.

Other interesting facts about Elcona CC:

  • Elcona’s total land area is 342 acres

o   132 acres of maintained turf

o   47 acres of natural grassland

o   116 acres of mixed forest habitat (prairie and wooded habitats)

o   41 acres of farmland that is cash rented out

o   4 ponds totaling 2.75 acres

  • The golf course was originally designed by legendary Midwest architect William Diddel in 1956, and has undergone multiple improvements with guidance from architect Arthur Hills.
  • In 2012, Elcona became the 8th course in Indiana and the 930th course in the world to be designated an Audubon Certified Golf Course Sanctuary.

Ryan

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Course Notes, 5/18/2018

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What a difference a month can make.  So far this month we have received 6.42″ of rain and unfortunately one storm packed a punch that had our chainsaws out the following morning.  The staff has done a wonderful job cleaning up the golf course and repairing bunkers after each storm.  Combined with normal to above normal temperatures (finally!!!), and all turfgrass on our property is growing like gang busters.  For our operation, this means having blowers out daily for clippings and applications of growth regulator around fairways and greens. 0515180743

A few of you have joked with me that with all the rainfall, why has Zimm’s Creek on #15 dried up?  We continue to have electrical problems with the pump that gets the water from the pond to the top of the creek.  We are working diligently with our pump contractors and will get the creek flowing as soon as possible.

0511180810aThis rainfall also has impacted the growth rate on greens turf, and coincidentally, green speed.  We are doing all we can to return green speeds to where you are more accustomed to seeing them, via growth regulator applications and getting back on our topdressing schedule.  But I also wanted to take this opportunity to discuss green speed and how we do our best each day in producing consistent and enjoyable greens on a daily basis.

It has been and always will be a top priority for me to keep the greens as consistent as possible while maintaining a healthy playing surface. It is not uncommon for speeds to vary from day to day based on our rolling program and other external factors.  During a typical week of the peak season we will roll on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  University research has shown that rolling more than 4 times/week in conjunction with a daily mowing schedule is the threshold before the turf can become overly stressed and show signs of decline .  This is especially true for Poa annua, the predominant turf on our greens, in the heat of the summer.

There are many other items that factor in to green speed, which include:

Moisture Levels: What can affect moisture levels? The two main culprits are rainfall/irrigation and humidity. It’s no secret that firmer/drier greens tend to be faster and soft/wet greens lead to slower speeds.  We combat this as much as possible by hand watering the greens in the summer and using products to help move water down through the soil profile leading to a drier, firmer surface.

Weather: What happens to your yard after it rains? It grows and typically grows much faster than it did before it rained. Rainfall provides the turf with clean, usable water that helps to flush elements from the soil that tie-up nutrients, therefore making the nutrients readily available to the turf. Nutrients lead to healthy turf which can lead to additional growth. Believe it or not, lightning also plays a large role.  The unbridled energy of a lightning bolt shatters nitrogen molecules in the air. Some of the free nitrogen atoms combine with oxygen to form compounds called nitrates that mix with the rain. These nitrates are a powerful natural fertilizer that any plant can readily take up and thus increase its growth rate.

Nutrition: The turf needs food to be healthy. Just as with humans, the healthier it is, the more active  it tends to be.  Healthy turf will grow more than unhealthy turf.

Growth: Turf is a living, breathing entity.  It doesn’t just grow at night when most of us are sleeping, it grows during the day as well.  This means that the greens will usually be slower in the afternoon than they are in the morning.  If they didn’t grow, we wouldn’t have to mow them every day.

Topdressing:  Typically in season, we apply and broom in topdressing sand, and the amount of sand varies based on the rate at which the plant is growing.  Topdressing sand helps smooth and firm up the surface of the greens.  A smoother surface provides less friction on the golf ball and a faster speed.

Growth Regulators: Growth regulators work and work very well, but despite what you may think, they do not completely stop growth, they merely slow it down.  Over the years we have found a schedule that will provide very consistent results from day to day, minimizing surges in growth, but like everything else, the performance of the product is dependent upon several of the factors listed above.

I would encourage you to spend a few moments before each round on one of the practice greens.  They are maintained the same as the greens on the golf course and will give you a good reference as to what the greens on the course will be like.

BennyFinally, our department lost a long time family member last week.  Many of you may remember Benny Kauffman, who faithfully worked Elcona’s fairways and rough for 27 years, before retiring in 2015.  Benny was a true American, serving our country during WWII, and working as a butcher for 30 years before coming to Elcona.  He still came out to visit us for coffee every once in a while after retiring from Elcona and was an accomplished wood worker.  He will be missed.

I appreciate your reading my longer than normal blog post.  If you have any questions about the golf course, please reach out to me at ryan@elconacc.com.  I am more than happy to discuss any topics with you!  Thank you for reading and I will see you out on the golf course!

Ryan