Course Notes, 10/25/2018

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Late October is always one of my favorite times of the year.  The color contrast on the golf course created from horticulturist Greg Stump’s hard work and beautiful design palette starts being replaced by Mother Nature’s vibrant display on the oaks, maples, and even tulips this year.  As the sun starts to set on the 2018 golf season, the grounds staff and I have been busy finishing up fall agronomic practices, starting fall leaf clean up, and beginning late fall activities.

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Thinning turf on hole #4

Many of you have asked me about areas that had thinned out in the intermediate and primary rough, like the area on 4 pictured to the left.  These areas have suffered in the last 8 weeks from a combination of a fungal disease (called Gray Leaf Spot) and traffic wear from machinery and cart traffic.  The early arrival of summer left many of these plants shallow rooted and over the course of the season, weakened to the point where wear and disease took their toll.  We have seeded many of these areas with better varieties of grass, and have seen good recovery in many areas.  With the end of the growing season here, any areas that are still thin will be seeded next spring.  These areas will also be roped off to allow the seed to properly germinate and fill in before the heart of the 2019 season arrives.

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Tom Thome overseeding the Practice Tee.

The practice tee has also been a topic of discussion.  With the major increase in use it has experienced in the last few years, a major challenge for us is to allow enough time for new grass to germinate and fill in before it is opened back up to use.  This year, Tom and I started dividing the tee into 3 segments, to better distribute the wear and maximize the time the other sections have to heal.  The divots taken on the tee are filled weekly by our staff.  After a section is taken out of service, we heavily overseed the area.  The tee also receives a monthly application of fertilizer.  We will continue to experiment with different methods and seed varieties to better fill in the used sections and further provide you a quality tee to hone your skills on year round.

 

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Marking the new areas of 17 tee.  Well, one of us is.
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The sod is cut for easier removal or transplanting.

 

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With sod stripped, the footprint of the new tee on 17 

 

 

 

 

The blue and black tee on #17 is also being renovated.  The rough in between the two tees have been heavily contaminated with Poa over the years, and its width has dramatically shrunk as well.  The two will be combined into one tee with a gentle slope separating the areas, and widened back to its original size.  The project is expected to completed by next week.

 

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A boat is needed to properly thin the cattails in 14 pond.

While the golf activity on the course has dwindled down, many jobs need to be accomplished before the real cold air shuffles its way here.  The native areas are mown down for the year, cat tails are thinned in the ponds, herbicides are applied to take care of any weeds on the course, and ballwashers and other water features are pulled in for the year.  Two major jobs ahead for us include winterizing the irrigation system, which will take place November 5-7.  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 5th 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.

1024180825We 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 .135″ 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.

0723180910_HDRTopdressing.  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 made it to the end of this longer than normal blog post, thank you for reading.  As you can gather, fall is the busiest time of year for our staff.  If you have any questions, please reach out to me at ryan@elconacc.com.  Have a great week, and I still hope to see you out on the golf course!

Ryan

 

 

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Course Notes, 10/5/2018

We successfully aerified the front 9 greens yesterday with what turned out to be a gorgeous day weather wise. Below are some pictures of the process we are using this year.

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The first step is applying a generous layer of sand.  As you can tell, we got a very early start since this step takes a while!  Here is a video link to the actual aerification.  We have 2 tractor mounted aerifiers that put 1/2″ holes in the soil profile, spaced 1″ x 2″.

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After the sand is dry, we take a tow brush and broom the sand to get most of it into the holes, as well as more evenly distribute it.  After that, we take a blower and blow the remaining sand into the holes.  We have incorporated a blower more into this process due to it being a less-abrasive alternative to dragging sand in.

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The final result on #7.

Unfortunately, inclement weather has postponed our efforts to get the back 9 aerified. The topdressing and brushing process needs complete dryness for a successful result, and the current radar is not giving us the 7 hour window necessary to complete the above process.

We will perform this necessary practice on Monday, October 8th, which is a closed day for the golf course. Fairway aerification will start the following day, with all 18 holes open during that process.

If the weather cooperates for us, during the weekend the front 9 greens will be rolled daily. The back 9 greens will be mowed and rolled as they would be normally. Any additional sand that is necessary will be applied when weather allows.

I appreciate your understanding and patience while we work with Mother Nature to complete this part of our agronomic calendar.  If you have any questions, please email me at ryan@elconacc.com.  Have a great weekend!

Ryan

Course Notes, 10/1/2018

0926181343~2.jpgWe 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 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.

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Mowing fairways on a foggy morning.

Our staff was quite busy in the last couple of weeks beginning our fall agronomic practices.  Greens and fairways were verticut, a process that removes some excess growth and organic matter.  A video of our fairway verticut mower in action on #6 can be viewed here.

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The end result of tee aerification.  Lots of thatch removed!

Tees were aerified on September 4th, and as you can see to the left, we removed a lot of thatch from them! With the warmer temperatures we had, the holes have already healed in for the most part.  Here is a link to a video of all staff performing their role in clean up.  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!

0725180935_HDR.jpgGreens will be aerified on October 4th (Front 9 and the Large practice green) and 5th (Back 9 and Small practice green) using a solid 1/2” tine.  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.

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Final product at the short game area with a happy staff member.  
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Final product

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fairways will be aerified the week of October 8th, 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.  Below are a couple pictures of us fine tuning the process on the short game greens last week. Bowser and I were pretty happy with the result given the drizzle that fell when we were trying to brush and blow the sand in.

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 few nice articles further explaining the benefits and importance of aerification, a couple of which you can view here and here.  Thank you for your patience and understanding during this busy and quite necessary time in our maintenance schedule!

If you have any questions about aerification, 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