Monday, July 28, 2014

Irrigation Motor Replacement

No summer is complete without at least one irrigation debacle.  This year, like many before, we lost one of our two 75hp motors.  On the night of July 3rd the motor in question died way too soon.  We limped by on one motor until last week when the new one was installed.  It is a large expense that we did not expect for several more years.  Since our motors are submersible (not the norm) they can not be repaired for less than the cost of a new one.  We are back up and running now and hope to have a pain free summer from here on out.  



White Weeds

Until last week you may have thought we were weed free this summer.  We were doing well, but were not as "clean" as you thought.  Cool temperatures gave us a window of opportunity to attack some weeds on tees.  The product we use causes the affected weeds to turn white.  It's unsightly for a few days, but should disappear soon.  We are planning to use a similar method in the roughs this August in an effort to remove bermuda, zoysia, and patches of bentgrass.  Our roughs are supposed to be fescue, but in 20 years the zoysia has crept out from the fairway and common bermuda has appeared in weed form.  At rough height these two grasses are nearly unplayable and in the winter time they appear as brown patches in the green fescue.  I'll give more detailed information on this project before it gets started.   


small goosegrass plant 

bermuda in bentgrass tee

Monday, June 23, 2014

Grub Control Underway

Beetles (especially Japanese beetles) are everywhere now and soon they will be laying eggs.  These eggs will hatch into grubs (the larval stage of the adult beetle) and quite possibly damage the turf.  If they don't damage the turf themselves, the raccoons and skunks will dig up the turf looking for them.  This is as bad, if not worse, than the actual damage from the grub.  To help prevent this problem from happening we apply a safe and commonly used product to the entire course.  We must irrigate enough to get the product through the thatch layer which may cause some areas to be a little soft.

Time to Vent

A week of prepping for the Member-Guest in very hot temperatures coupled with some rainfall is a recipe for trouble in the summer.  Air is the best medicine for this situation so today we are "venting" greens.  It is aeration without the mess and recovery time.  Venting will help get oxygen into the soil and get some of the unwanted gases out of the soil.  If you don't play again until Friday you probably won't know we did it.  If you play tomorrow, you'll see the holes, but they won't affect your putting.  We will vent greens every two to three weeks throughout the stressful period.  




Friday, June 20, 2014

MEMBER GUEST UPDATE

We rallied the troops this morning for a 5:00 AM start due to last evening's storm.  Thankfully things were not as messy as we feared and we were able to stay ahead of the 7:30 start times off #1 and #10.  The only drawback from the rain is the softer course.  We received an inch in just over 30 minutes and the temperature dropped from 93 to 68.  Two days ago the forecast was for mid 90 degree temps on the weekend and now the forecast is for something in the low 80s.  I'd like a firmer surface, but I'll take the lower temperatures as I'm sure most of you will also.

We have enjoyed the build up and preparation for what we consider to be our "major championship".  It's great seeing some familiar faces among the guests and very satisfying to hear the positive feedback on the course.

Just after the Thursday downpour





Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summer Prep is Underway

PREPARING FOR THE HEAT

By Darin S. Bevard, director, Mid-Atlantic Region
June 11, 2014

The use of knife tines to vent the soil profile is one practice to help putting green grasses survive summer stress. Venting is beneficial to turfgrass health and minimally impacts playability. Do not be surprised to see a similar practice performed on the greens at your golf course.
Weather conditions have been favorable for cool-season turfgrass growth, but preparations for the inevitable summer heat are well underway.
In our recent travels, compliments about overall course conditioning have been heard frequently. Seasonal temperatures and sporadic rainfall have allowed firm, fast conditions to be produced and maintained without risking the health of cool-season grasses. Equally as important, temperatures have been warm enough to provide rapid improvement of bermudagrass tees, fairways and rough. It is one of those rare periods of weather in the mid-Atlantic region when just about everyone is satisfied regardless of the grass they are growing. Inevitably, temperatures will heat up and maintenance practices will become more conservative, especially on putting greens. Different strategies are available to preserve the health of the grass during high-stress periods.
  • Venting. Poking small holes in the soil profile with a spiker attachment, solid aeration tines, or slicing tines can stimulate rooting, improve air exchange and help with water infiltration. These small holes can help the grass survive difficult environmental conditions during the summer. Frequency varies from weekly to monthly depending on individual circumstances. Disruption to playability is minimal and full recovery usually occurs in two or three days. 
  • Smooth Rollers. Putting green mowers have the option of smooth rollers or grooved rollers. When grass is not growing aggressively, grooved rollers can actually create stress, especially under wet conditions. Smooth rollers should be considered under stressful conditions. This subtle change can alleviate stress on the grass. The use of smooth rollers leads to an effectively higher height of cut further reducing stress on the grass but also reduces putting green speeds. Under environmental extremes, the health of the grass must be considered before green speeds. Switching to smooth rollers is not a necessity, but it can be beneficial to turfgrass health. 
  • Cutting Height. Raising the cutting height also reduces stress on the grass. With more leaf tissue on the plant, photosynthesis–the production of food–occurs at a higher rate. Increased photosynthesis helps the plant build up carbohydrate reserves to better withstand summer stress. Again, increasing height of cut leads to slower greens, but plant health must be considered before green speed during stressful periods. 
  • Growing Environment. It may be a little late to make effective changes now, but at least evaluate the growing environments around your greens during the summer. It is no coincidence that the same greens struggle each year, and if nothing is done to improve growing environments the greens will continue to struggle. Compromised sunlight penetration and poor air movement lead to weak grass. Make plans now to take the necessary steps to give the grass the best chance of survival by removing trees and underbrush that negatively impact turfgrass health. Installing fans to create artificial air movement should be considered when air movement cannot practically be improved by removing trees and underbrush.
Our mid-Atlantic summers always seem to provide some challenging weather periods. Enjoy the current weather patterns as long as you can but don’t forget to prepare for summer stress. Understand that certain strategies are implemented to preserve the health of the grass at the cost of green speed. Tolerating greens that are a little slower in the short term while environmental stress is high will be beneficial in the long term.
Source: Darin Bevard (dbevard@usga.org)
Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service

Contact the Green Section Staff

Friday, June 13, 2014

Stormy Week After A Dry Spell

The dry spell is officially over now as storms Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and now Friday are wreaking havoc on our quest for a firm, dry course.   Hopefully the rain goes away and we can start a new dry spell for next week's Member-Guest event. 

The two weeks prior to this one were spent scouting bentgrass and handwatering dry areas.  The course was starting to look and feel much drier than some would like with many brown areas in the zoysia fairways and outlying fescue rough.  With the US Open at Pinehurst this week I don't feel as much pressure as TV golf can sometimes bring.  I love a dry course although being part of a real estate development puts pressure on us to look lush all the time.  A dry golf course is more enjoyable to play and generally healthier than one that is soft and lush.  Prior to the dry weather we were struggling to keep up with the rough mowing and playing from the rough was very challenging.  With the dry spell came longer tee shots, easier escape from the rough, smoother/faster greens, and no cart restrictions.