Course Notes, 6/28/2020

IMG_1507.jpgWhile there may be differing opinions of the year 2020 out there, the fact that it is half over already bring to mind a busy, but exciting time for the club and our staff.  I always look forward to preparing the course for the Walter Wells Men’s Invitational, and with a larger amount of teams participating this year, it should be an excellent event and fun for all.  Our young staff continues to learn and get a bit better each day. I am quite proud of their efforts and very happy to work alongside such a great group of people.

IMG_1557The golf course has been quite firm and fast given the very dry June we have had (1.12” rain all month so far).  We continue to adjust maintenance and irrigation practices on greens to keep speeds as consistent as possible and surfaces receptive to well-struck  shots.  Given the forecast the next 2 weeks, we may have to make some changes there.  More on that in a minute.

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Cart path edging with our bunker rake
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The final look.  Turf had overgrown on the path by 2″!

Some Invitational preparations have already begun.  Our annual mowing down of the native areas has started, except around areas of milkweed and other wildflowers that we are saving for our pollinator friends.  I will blog on our efforts there later in July.  We also have been edging cart paths with a new tool.  Over the winter we machined an edging device using a cultivation disc that fits on our bunker rake that allows the process to be faster and more efficient.  I want to thank Rob Steger at Saginaw CC in Michigan for the inspiration of our build.  We will continue to edge these through the month.

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14 Tee’s new butterfly garden

The butterfly garden on 14 tee is finally complete and it looks spectacular.  A special than you to Greg Stump for his beautiful vision and work on this awesome addition of color and habitat on the course.  I hope you enjoy it as well as it matures over time.

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Brownish rough around 12 fairway

A few of you have asked me about the brownish ring around the fairways.  This is a negative result of a growth regulator application made in early June to slow down growth in the rough around fairways and greens and improve the playability out of it.  The hot, dry month we have had turned some of the leaf tissue brown, and the growth regulator has inhibited the recovery efforts of the plant.  Upon closer inspection, there is much green leaf tissue below and as the regulator wears off, the turf will recover just fine.

IMG_1425The rains of the past week have been much welcomed after receiving only 0.2″ of rainfall the first 22 days of June.  Given the next 14 days of forecasted heat and humidity however, we may have to play defense on our putting surfaces to maintain their health and vigor through the rest of the season.  I wrote a blog article last year that you can click on here for more information on defensive maintenance practices we use to defend the turf as best as we can through tough stretches of weather.  As I wrote, it’s not necessarily what we do when the heat and humidity arrives, but more about what we don’t do.  Any changes in maintenance are intended to be temporary and that the ultimate goal is to provide you with a golf course that you can be proud of through the summer season, and the rest of the year.

While I have not raised mowing heights yet, dragging the dew off of fairways and keeping irrigation to a minimum have been our main weapons so far to help fight turf stress. Our staff has been and will continue to be out syringing greens on hot summer afternoons, and a video of the process can be viewed here.  Plant protectants are helping us as well, although they have been performing well without increasing rates. The humidity forecasted can and will lead to some decreased green speed, with the added moisture in the humid air being taken up by the plant, creating larger leaf blade surfaces.

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Cross section of the Better Billy Bunker system.

Finally, I wanted to provide an update on the Golf Course Improvement Plan.  The design committee of Tom Thome, Tom Zimmerman, and myself have been meeting fairly regularly discussing final logistics of the project, as well as procuring top soil and the other amendments needed for the project.  One of the most critical components is the gravel necessary to construct the drainage and liner of the Better Billy Bunker system that we are having installed.  Above is a picture of a BBB cross section model I saw at the Golf Industry Show that illustrates the liner system well.  Around the drainage pipe there is a layer of pea gravel, which is 3/8″ thick stone.  Another layer of pea gravel is placed on the entire floor of the bunker, which is the layer that receives the Better Billy polymer.  The BBB polymer is heated and applied using a pressurized spray wand.  After curing, it is inspected for any additional work before sand is added.  While not totally representing what our project will look like, there are a few YouTube videos on the BBB installation process, my favorite is hereHere is an informational video from Better Billy Bunker as well on the history of the product and the process.

I will be sharing a few holes on what our project will look like with you each blog article I write from now through Labor Day.  Today holes 1-3 are below, with the legend of what each line or color represents in the beginning picture.  As a reminder, all of these bunkers will have maintainable grass slopes that will be easier to get in and out of for both the member and our machinery, and the sand area will be flat bottomed with minimal flashing up any slope.  The entire project design is also on the club website for those who are interested.

2020 GCIP LegendGCIP Hole 1GCIP Hole 2GCIP Hole 3As always, if you have any questions about the golf course or the upcoming Golf Course Improvement Project, please do not hesitate to reach out at ryan@elconacc.com or when you see me out on the course.  Have a great, safe 4th of July holiday and I hope to see you out on the golf course!

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Ryan

Course Notes, 6/7/2020

IMG_1557It continues to be awesome to see so many of you enjoying your golf course and club during these unprecedented times.  When the weather is good, the golf course is packed.  The staff and I appreciate all the comments everyone has told me regarding the conditioning of the golf course.  We continue to work hard each day to provide you the best conditions that weather allows us to produce.

Each day here at Elcona I get the opportunity to interact with many of you while out working on the course.  These interactions provide me with some great feedback on the course and the chance to answer questions that you may have. Below are some of the more frequent ones I have been asked this year.  Please bear with me as this is another longer than normal blog post, but one that is hopefully informational to you.

Why is the rough so thick right now?

The combination of a regularly scheduled fertilizer application and 5.86″ of rain in the month of May has caused a flush of growth in the bluegrass, especially around greens and tees.  A growth regulator application will be applied this coming week, and normal growth and playing conditions will return soon.

Why are there so many cart tracks in close proximity of greens?

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Please park on cart paths around greens and tees where available.

With the increase rounds and usage of the golf course, this is the perfect time to remind everyone about 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 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.

 

How do you repair a ballmark properly?

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Poorly repaired ball mark on 4 green

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.

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A dandelion growing in a fairway divot.  

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.  Not replacing divots can also provide an avenue for weeds to germinate, as was the case in the picture from 6 fairway above.

 

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. Adding soil could potentially  introduce weed seeds to the fairway.  Many people can also 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?

During a normal week, greens are rolled on Tuesday, Wednesday afternoon, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. All of these scheduled days are dictated by weather, golf schedule, and turf conditions.  Our greens maintenance program continues to focus on providing  consistent green speed each day as weather allows.  I will be blogging soon about factors that effect green speed, so stay tuned for that.

Where are all the wildlife this year?

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Newborn deer running along 12 fairway
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Ducklings on 14 pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are around!  We have observed 3 newborn fawns on property, including one that jumped out in front of me yesterday at the Practice Facility.  The turkeys are hunkered down in the woods as well as along the Nature Trails.  I observed 6 new ducklings learning how to swim on 14 pond last week as well.  Pollinators such as butterflies and native bees are also starting to increase in activity too.  One of the best parts of my job is interacting with nature on this beautiful piece of land they get to call home.

What is causing the sand mounds on certain greens?

Many of these mounds are caused by the Seed Corn Beetle.  The second picture above shows the beetle in its burrow.  They are not damaging the turf and should disappear soon.

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Ant mound, 1 green

A few greens also have small colonies of ants that are creating unsightly mounds along the green/collar interface, such as the one pictured above on 1 green.   These will be treated with an insecticide this week.

 

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 areas like the picture above will take a much longer time to fill in and heal.  The practice tee is seeded each week, and sections are overseeded heavily after they are turned over, which averages once a month.  A staff member will be out hand watering divot seed each afternoon to further aid in a quicker divot recovery.

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 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.

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!

Ryan Bowser Signature Picture

Ryan