Course Notes, 6/26/16

Elcona hosted a very successful Indiana State Amateur Championship, and we would like to congratulate Matt Christensen on his victory.  Well played!  I would also like to congratulate our staff for their efforts leading up to and during the championship.  I am very proud of them and the product they produced.  

#1 fairway bunker being pumped
17 Fairway bunker
Elcona staff moving sand back on 17

On Wednesday night, the course received 2.45″ of rain, in the span of 40 minutes.  While all the playing surfaces were free of standing water when we arrived Thursday morning, all of the water had run off into the bunkers, creating washouts that were the worst I have ever seen out here. 30 out of the 50 bunkers we have on course needed to be pumped out, and all of them had silt contamination.  While we were able to repair them to get them playable for the final round, there is still work to do.  Over the next week, our staff will be removing additional contamination, checking sand depths, and sieving the rocks that washed to the surface during this rain event.  Also, we will be installing new sand on a couple of the bunkers on #3, and placing the old sand in select fairway bunkers.  

Rocks left behind on 17

Large rock in 17 fairway bunker

Many of you ask where all the rocks come from in the bunkers.  Quick hitting, large rain events like last week’s is a major summertime reason.  The sand washes away, exposing the soil below.  The soil washes into the sand and mixes (contaminates) together, leaving rocks at the edges of the bunkers.  

17 fairway bunker after repairs
11 greenside bunker contamination
Chef Casey’s garden
Seed to Feed garden

Finally, the Seed to Feed garden is doing well and starting to show blooms on the squash that is planted there.  Onions and zucchini are also planted there and doing great.  Chef Casey’s garden was relocated to the west of the Seed to Feed garden and is thriving in its new location.  Here’s hoping to a successful harvest that he can share with you in the clubhouse this summer.  

If you have any questions, please contact me at  Thanks, and have a great week!


FAQ’s of Interest…

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? 

Improperly repaired ballmark on 14

The preferred ballmark repair technique, courtesy of GCSAA.

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?
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. 
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 930thcourse in the world to be designated an Audubon Certified Golf Course Sanctuary


Course Notes, 6/16/2016

The staff has done a fantastic job in the last month getting and keeping the golf course in great condition, and are now finalizing details for next week’s hosting of the Indiana State Amateur Championship.  Yesterday’s .42″ of precipitation brought our total rainfall received at Elcona to .96″ since May 17th.  While helpful, yesterday’s rain didn’t saturate the golf course and we could use more.

#5’s Burr Oak and leaves shedding

Something you may have noticed this year is how many trees are dropping leaves, like our Burr Oak “Gus” on #5.  This is a natural response to dry conditions.  When the tree senses that there is not enough water to satisfy its needs, it will drop some leaves in an attempt to conserve water for its overall long term health.

The new #10 Green Tee

The staff and I have also completed a couple small, but impactful projects in the last week.  The green tee on #10 was expanded and squared off to create additional hitting area for those players, and to create a more classic looking tee. The voids will fill in over the next few weeks to complete to project.

Also, the cart path ends at 9 tee and 10 tee were regraded and sodded to create a much smoother transition from asphalt to turf.  These ends will be roped off until the sod is rooted down, so please use caution and drive around those areas until they are ready for traffic.

10 Tee Cart Path end

If you have any questions, please email me at  Thanks, and have a great rest of you week!


Course Notes, 6/2/2016

May was a month of wide temperature extremes here at Elcona.  On May 15th, we experienced snow showers and a low of 32, a rare occurrence for that time of year.  Up until last week, May was on track to be the 2nd coldest on record, and still is in the top 10 coldest May’s even with the heat the last few days.  Rain wise, the beginning of the month was plentiful, but since the 17th we have received only .01″ of precipitation here at Elcona. In a matter of 6 days, we went from snow showers to dragging hoses on dry areas!  While the dry conditions have set up firm playability on the course, there are some areas that have struggled.  These areas saw a noticeable increase in traffic wear from our early warm weather and course opening in March, with little to no warm weather to aid in growth and recovery.  

Some of the green surrounds have noticeable rippling and/or uneven lies in and around the turf.  This is a two fold issue, coming from weather and machinery.  The machinery that we used is a rotary bladed unit, and in many areas there is only one direction of traffic that the operator can go to efficiently mow this turf, causing the machine to traverse in the same direction over and over, causing the rear rollers on the decks to hit in the same spots and an uneven turf growth habit in areas.  The colder weather of April and May stunted any growth of the grass in the lower areas to fill in and reduce the unevenness of lies experienced.  
11 green surround, with cores pulled
We are tackling this issue in a couple different ways.  First, fertility has been increased to promote growth to help fill in the lower areas, and will be higher throughout the year than we have done in the past to help sustain more consistent conditions through the year.  We will also be changing mowing patterns on 6 green surrounds each week to differentiate traffic and wear on these areas.  The mower will still traverse over tighter areas in the same direction, but larger areas should see improvement.  Finally, as the picture on the right depicts, we aerified #11 green surround last week, and while it did not provide immediate results at removing the unevenness, the process did relieve compaction and traffic wear, and will provide fresh oxygen and better channels for rooting and water percolation.  In late September, we will be aerifying all surrounds to promote the health of these areas.  
Close up of 17 fairway turf.  
17 Fairway

The fairways are another area that have struggled with May’s highs and lows.  The turf in these areas is composed of Penncross, an older variety of bentgrass that does not like wide temperature swings.  With the frosts and freezes that May brought, the growth habit of these areas has slowed more considerably than I would like, producing tighter lies and an off color.  This off color is from older leaves dying and the tips of live plants browning from the frosts and freezes.  The rest of the plant is healthy and growing, albeit slowly.  We have increased fertility on fairways to promote a light increase in growth, and will be experimenting with brushes to stand the plant up and remove more of these brown tips to remove the off color portions.  A verticut may be needed to remove more of these off color plants.  

If you have any questions, please contact me at  Have a great rest of your week!