Course Notes, 6/23/2019

0607190702a_HDR.jpgThe year is already half over and the relentless rainy weather pattern is showing signs of letting up finally, with a return of summer like temperatures.  Since March 15, Elcona has received over 20” of rainfall, which the National Weather Service is saying makes 2019 one of the top 5 wettest starts to a year on record.  Our staff has done a tremendous job keeping up with the surges in growth and excess water removal on the course and I could not be more proud to work with such a great group of people.  The Walter O. Wells Invitational is right around the corner and we are excited to prepare the course for the premier event for the club.

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Staff hard at work repairing the golf course from another June downpour.

 

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Bug spray injury on 16 tee

With these heavy amounts of rainfall, it serves a great reminder that mosquitoes and ticks are out in full force now.  If you hit an errant shot into the natural areas, or are helping a buddy find theirs, please double check yourself for ticks.  If you need to apply bug repellent during your round, please apply it on the cart paths or parking lots.  Bug sprays can discolor or even kill any turfgrass and plants, especially on greens, tees, and fairways.   The picture shown above depicts what damage can occur.  You can make out the footprints and the brown turf around them.  Thank you for your cooperation on this.

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Lightning strike at the 2019 US Women’s Open.  The tree had to be removed the next day. 

Also, we are smack in the middle of thunderstorm season.  When inclement weather approaches the course, or if lightning is detected within 10 miles of the golf course, the Pro Shop staff will blow the siren indicting that it is mandatory you seek shelter immediately.  This link here is a video from the Weather Channel explaining the different ways lightning can severely harm or kill you out on the course.  I have also included a pretty dramatic picture of an oak tree getting struck just minutes after the siren was sounded at this year’s US Women’s Open. Here is a link to the video from Fox Sports.   The take home message here is that when the siren sounds, please come seek shelter immediately.  Please shelter in place until you hear a second siren, which sounds only when the threat has passed and it is safe to resume play and the golf course is in a condition to do so.  Your life is worth much more than finishing the hole you are playing.

0508191212A few of you have asked about some fluctuations in green speed recently.  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 mow greens daily, and roll them on Tuesday, Wednesday afternoon, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  All of our maintenance practices are dependent on weather allowing us to do so without harming turf health or playability.

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.

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Sand topdressing applied to 15 green

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 on that given day.

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

Ryan

Course Etiquette and other FAQ’s

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 sub par (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. Please bear with me as this is another longer than normal blog post, but one that should be informational to you.

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Unrepaired or under repaired ball marks, 3 green

A few of you have commented to me about some poor etiquette in helping our staff maintain the golf course.  I have noticed some too in my late afternoon travels, from carts parked on the collar/close green surrounds, bunkers not raked, and ball marks not repaired.  The picture here shows how many unrepaired or under-repaired ball marks were on 3 green on Thursday, May 23rd, after our staff repaired all existing marks the morning before.  Each flag represents a pitch mark that would cause a hop in a putt traveling along the green.   There are 54 flags in all in the picture.

The Golf/Greens Committee, Tom, and I would simply ask that everyone remember to RESPECT their fellow members by following this course initiative:

Repair your ball mark and one other.

Every divot should be replaced when possible.

Sand should be thoroughly raked each time you are in a bunker.

Please park your cart 30 feet from greens and tees to help keep the surround turf more playable.

Enter and exit bunkers from the flat back side.

Care and think about the members playing behind you.

Together this will make a HUGE difference!

Thank you so much for your cooperation regarding this matter.  Here are some answers to other frequently asked questions I receive over the course of the year:

How do you repair a ballmark properly?

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Poorly repaired ball mark

 

 

 

 

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.  If you experience an exploding divot, replace what grass you can and please step down onto the divot to minimize its size of impact.

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 cleaner. 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 of soil, which leads to dull mower blades during the next mowing. The grounds staff periodically fills all fairway divots during the golf season.

What is the greens rolling schedule on a weekly basis? 

Starting this year, during a normal week greens are rolled on Tuesday, Wednesday afternoon, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  All of these scheduled days are dictated by weather and turf conditions.

What is the preferred divot pattern on the practice tee?

The above picture illustrates 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. We do our best not to interrupt your enjoyment of the golf course, but if you see a maintenance staff member working around 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?

Unraked bunker 2

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The above pictures are not preferable methods to care for the bunker sand after you play! 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?

  • To 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 339 acres
    • 132 acres of maintained turf
    • 47 acres of natural grassland
    • 116 acres of mixed forest habitat (prairie and wooded habitats)
    • 41 acres of farmland that is cash rented out
    • 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 and his staff.
  • 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

Course Notes, 6/5/2019

0509181936_HDR.jpgMay has certainly left its mark all over our region. After a whopping 5.88” of rain in April, May left us 6.18”, and it is raining again as I write this update. This obviously has made keeping up with growth a challenge, but one our staff is up to. We also had a couple nasty storms blow through the course, causing a couple of trees to split, like the maple on #5 pictured here. Here’s hoping for a drier June to allow the course to firm up and rough to slow down!0523190915_HDR

Here are some other quick hitters and happenings around the course:

0515191347_HDRThe staff has done a wonderful job keeping up with the multiple bunker repairs that we have endured with May’s showers. They continue to work on removing rocks and moving sand back to where it needs to be instead of where Mother Nature wants to wash it to.  The turf surrounding the greens has finally taken off with the warmer soil temperatures and ample rains we have experienced.  A second application of fertilizer was applied late last month to sustain the turf’s growth and vigor through July.

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Check plot on 13 green showing many seedheads where no treatment was given
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Poa annua seedheads on 13 green

 

 

 

 

 

Our changes in efforts suppressing seed heads on greens has provided fairly good results this year, however with the recent rains and warmer temperatures a late flush was noticed. The check plots on the large practice green, and holes 1,10,13,and 16 show the chemistries used this year do work to provide a smoother putting surface during the Poa “seeding” season. Regular rolling and topdressing sand, when the weather permits, will minimize any effects on ball roll.

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Poorly draining area at the bottom of 12 fairway

One positive of these rainy times is seeing where subsurface drainage would be a good idea. We have worked behind 17 green, and will be installing pipe in other areas in June, like the area on 12 fairway shown here.

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Rain Garden with a new bee hotel
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Carpenter bee inspecting the new bee hotel

 

 

 

 

 

Last month Elcona hosted Georgie Nugent from Audubon International for our periodic recertification visit. I toured the property with her, pointing out the different wildlife corridors of the property, habitat boxes we have constructed, water body management, and reviewed various ways we communicate and interact with the membership and community at large to demonstrate Elcona’s commitment to environmental stewardship. She was quite impressed with the property and I look forward to hearing a positive outcome from our tour.  One of the projects for 2019 was installing another bee hotel, this one is located by the club’s rain garden along CR 21.  I will write a more thorough post on the benefits of these boxes later this summer when pollinator activity really ramps up.  

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Family Tee layout.  All holes measure 4,311 yards in length

All Family Tee markers are out in their locations and from the initial comments Tom and I have received, they are enjoyed and a fun way to experience Elcona’s course from a shorter length. Please give them a try the next time you and your children want to visit Elcona. A map of where each tee is located is pictured here, just look for the stone markers in each fairway or forward tee.

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Family Tee Scorecard

0516191444_HDRPurdue University is using an area of native grass past 16 tee to research the effectiveness and environmental impact of a couple herbicides in these tall grass areas. So far, all the herbicides seem effective in controlling the thistle that was in this area. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you for taking the time to read this longer than normal update.  If you have any questions about what is going on outside, please do not hesitate to contact me at ryan@elconacc.com.  Have a great week and I hope to see you out on the golf course!