Course Notes, 3/21/2021

It has been great to see some of you celebrate the Vernal Equinox (first day of Spring!) by enjoying your golf course here at Elcona. What a beautiful stretch of weather we have for late March golf. Our staff has done a wonderful job cleaning up all the winter sticks and debris from the hellacious ice storm we endured on New Year’s Day, and we have turned our attention to preparing turf and landscape areas for the 2021 golf season.

One question I get a lot is how often are you mowing greens and other playing surfaces? The simple answer is “as needed”. Nighttime temperatures are dipping into the upper 20’s still, and combined with soil temperatures in the upper 30’s/low 40’s, growth is quite slow this time of year. Playing surfaces will be mowed or rolled as the weather and growth dictates, with increased frequencies as April progresses. More than likely, we will be rolling more often than mowing to smooth the green surfaces for play while the grass is quite slow to grow.

Other practices, such as raking bunkers, will be done on an as needed basis. The USGA again has produced a very nice video explaining springtime maintenance, which you can watch here. As I mentioned in my last post, bunker sand will be compacted as staff and schedule allow. The playability of the bunkers is one of our top priorities this season.

I am also excited to welcome back our seasonal employees beginning the first week of April as well! Their return is based on historical dates that have been determined by weather as well as budgetary guidelines set for the year. As it has been the case over the years, we anticipate being fully staffed by Memorial Day. Most of our 2020 staff will be returning, with a couple of new faces being added as well.

As March winds down, you will also notice more roping out on the golf course, for a couple good reasons. Some of the sod installed last fall for the Golf Course Improvement Project has not quite rooted fully yet, and is not ready for play. Most of this sod is located on holes 1 and 2, which were the last areas of the project. All of the new approach and fairway sod areas will be subject to aerifying, rolling, and topdressing to further smooth them out over the next few weeks. Some of the ground settling around drains are roped off for your safety, and Golf Creations will be out to repair these areas the first week of April. Additional roping will also be incorporated this year to increase the playability of the rough around greens, such as around 1 green. Reducing or eliminating cart traffic will stand the turf up much better, allowing for a nicer lie should you find yourself in the rough.

I would also like to remind everyone of 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 help make the rough in these areas much more playable (and 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.

One big spring time project we have started is filling in the old practice bunker and drainage pit behind it to further expand the practice tee to the east. We have hauled in over 75 loads of fill dirt from the north end of the property to accomplish this. Over the next few weeks as the schedule and staffing allows, we will be finalizing the grade and plant new bentgrass seed. My goal is to have this tee ready for use in late June or early July.

Finally, we have a few events coming up out the course that you need to be aware of. We will be turning on our irrigation system this Tuesday, March 23, and they may be a few sprinklers running here and there as we bleed all the air our of the piping. We will do our very best to work around any play on the course but you may encounter a sprinkler running here and there. Our staff will also be out applying a fertilizer and crabgrass preventative to the roughs. This time of year, through mid April, is the best time to be applying this control for both the golf course and your lawn as well for a healthy stand of turf all summer long.

Greens aerification will take place Monday, April 5th. We again will be utilizing a small solid tine to incorporate sand into the soil, increase air and water flow into the rootzone, and relieve compaction. Fairway aerification will take place throughout the week of April 5th, again using solid tines. We will be core aerifying tees Monday, April 12th. All of these dates are weather permitting, and any changes to this schedule will be communicated to you via our blog.

As always, if you have any questions related to the golf course, please reach out to me at ryan@elconacc.com. Have a great week and I hope to see you out on the golf course!

Ryan