Course Notes, 10/18/2020

Another very productive week has come and gone out on the golf course at Elcona. For those who ventured out, you noticed a dramatic change in scenery as a bit under 2 acres of fresh bluegrass sod was laid by the team at Golf Creations around the newly constructed back 9 bunkers. A more detailed look at their transformation and other happenings with the Golf Course Improvement Project is below.

Tom and I are happy to have the back 9 holes open for play, but we still need your cooperation regarding the newly constructed features. All sand and newly laid sod areas (fairway and rough) are to be played as ground under repair and will be for the foreseeable future, given the forecast. While you may enter these areas to retrieve your ball, please do not hit your ball out of these to protect your investment in the golf course’s future. This sod will take some time to root down and firmly establish itself in its new home. Thank you for your cooperation!

Speaking of the forecast, the bottom has dropped out temperature wise. This means mornings with the potential of frost, and delays to the start of your round. Click here for a great video from the USGA Green Section explaining why we delay during frosty mornings.

Our team has also have begun other activities that will maximize turf health and protection from the severe winters that can visit our area. For our Poa annua 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.

Topdressing. 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.

The Golf Creations team has transitioned from finishing the back 9 to beginning work on the front, beginning with holes 4-6. We changed the order to complete the middle of the golf course before any detrimental weather set in, and to leave better road access to their machinery when the project enters the final phases (holes 1,8, and 7). Unfortunately, Monday night’s downpours left them with cleanup to the new sand in a few bunkers. This silt was quickly removed from the bunkers by their team, and the sod laid around the bunkers will prevent this from happening in the future.

Bluegrass sod was laid around all bunkers at the Practice Facility, 9 approach, and all bunkers on the back 9. Some sod work is needed around 10 green, and their sod team will return to complete that. Our staff spent some time last week laying fairway sod left of 12 green, completing that hole’s fairway expansion to the left. Great job fellas!

The bluegrass sod was laid over the edges and into the bunker, with sand then raked over the sod and to the edge. Why? This method seals the liner system and prevents contamination of the surrounding soil into the bunker, which reduces the playability of the sand and the drainage capability of the liner. This look will be maintained for the first year after installation to properly seal the new bunker system.

Before the sod team arrived, construction of the new fairway bunker on 10 was performed. The 2 old bunkers were combined into one, and the area is much better centered from the view at the tee. The bunker will be sprayed with Better Billy polymer and have sand added this week, weather permitting. The green complex features a couple of new mounds to the left, and will have a bentgrass run off area to the back left of the green. The bunker was removed at the green and the surrounding terrain was sloped to better shed water away towards CR 21.

Holes 5 and 6 are also ready for Better Billy polymer and sand. The fairway bunker on 6 was moved a bit further down the hole and reshaped to better shed water away. The left greenside bunker was filled in and will be replaced with a slightly widened approach and bluegrass mounding. The right greenside bunker was massaged and brought slightly into the existing approach. Our team moved irrigation and old stumps that were in the way of the new fairway bunker. The fairway bunker on 5 was moved further down the hole a bit and reshaped. Gone are the deep 3 greenside bunkers along the left side of the green complex, and in their place will be one single bunker, closer to the green, along with a series of swales and mounds designed to shed water away from the green complex and improve the playability of the turf there. Stay tuned for its final look!

The Golf Creations team began work on 4 Friday afternoon. The first fairway bunker is being moved slightly down the hole, the second fairway bunker is being filled in, and the third fairway bunker is being reduced in size and reshaped. The greenside bunker is being massaged but will remain in its general shape and location.

This week’s agenda includes finishing work on the above holes, as well as work starting on holes 2 and 3. Our team will begin solid tine aerification on fairways, laying more bentgrass sod at new fairway and approach areas, and irrigation modification made necessary by the GCI project.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them at ryan@elconacc.com. Thank you again for your patience and understanding during this quite exciting time for your golf course. Have a great week!!

Ryan

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