Sunday, May 22, 2016

What To Expect With All This Rain

The staff has been very patient and willing to juggle their personal lives to accommodate the extreme weather we've faced.  I can't thank them enough as without their extra effort, I'm not sure we'd have a golf course to play. 

Last Sunday evening we pulled staff together for some mowing despite conditions that would normally be considered too wet.  We knew Monday was going to be a better day, but we had a 144 players showing up for a 9:00 shotgun start and weren't going to be able to mow for 6 hours (yes it took them 6 hours to play 18 holes).  We also knew that more rain was coming Tuesday and the course would be even wetter then.  So Sunday evening, early Monday morning, and again late Monday until almost 8PM we got the rough, fairways, tees, and approaches mowed.  We made a mess, but kept the grass at a manageable height.  We got through the course again with mowers Wednesday evening until late Friday in advance of the storms that washed us out of Saturday and Sunday.  At this point we are just trying to keep things under control.  Turf is struggling with disease, greatly delayed weed control applications have allowed some weeds to get a head start, roots are sitting in water, and bunkers are a wreck.  We've been using push mowers to mow green surrounds, tee slopes, and other areas where large mowers are unable to go.  

  • Expect to see a summer with some weed problems related to this month long rain as we are 4 weeks behind schedule on the pre-emergent herbicide application for fairways.  Weeds like kyllinga and sedges are our target with that product and they love wet soil.  We will treat curatively once we are able to get the sprayer off the cart path.  However, the problems are already very obvious in some areas and it will likely get worse before it gets better.  

  • Expect to see some diseases like dollar spot on tees and zoysia patch on fairways.  Again, it's tough to stick to the schedule with control measures when the rain doesn't let up.  When we have had a nice day the focus has been to simply get the turf mowed. 

  • Expect to see some potential loss of turf vigor when it finally warms up.  Grass with roots sitting in water for a month and leaves that see very little sun do not thrive.  

  • Bunkers have aged 5 years in the past month.  Each rain washes sand off the slopes and underlying rock and clay mingle with the eroded sand.  Shovels remove the aftermath leaving less sand than we started with.  Do this 4 or 5 times in a month and sand quickly disappears.  We have been buying new sand, but it is not cheap and it does not solve the real issue.  Bunkers need to be renovated with new drainage and/or liners and of course sand.  

  • The zoysia practice tee normally opens for use at the end of April.  We had a very hard freeze on the 28th of April followed by rain for 20 of the last 24 days.  The zoysia, which thrives in hot weather and does not like wet soil, is understandably weak and is about 4-5 weeks behind schedule.  If it dries up this week we will get the grass surface back in play.  For now, we need patience and better weather.  

Rain 20 of the last 24 days.

This is from the weather station at my office....

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Another Day Another Downpour

Our plan to try and get the course mowed was crushed yesterday afternoon by another storm.  Make that 16 days of rain in the last 17.  No chance of mowing today and very little chance tomorrow.   80% chance of rain Tuesday.   We may invest in a dozen walk mowers and make a go of it that way.

We are going to make an attempt to mow some rough today.  Fairways are a no go.  Rough will be spotty at best.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Tee Time For Mowing

IF we don't get any more rain tonight or tomorrow, then our plan is to mow as much as we can Sunday afternoon.  We put Mr. and Mrs. Fairway Mower on the tee sheet at noon and paired them with Mr. and Mrs. Rough Mower.  Following them will be a host of other staff members armed with blowers, rakes, mowers, etc...We blocked an hour off of the tee sheet as this is a very slow process typically reserved for early morning hours and taking several days a week to complete.  Afternoon is the only option now that the grass has gotten so tall.  Mowing in the morning won't work due to the mess that would be left behind with wet grass.  Please pardon our efforts to get through this very unusual situation.  We've now had 15 days of rain in the last 16 days.   Monday brings 100+ golfers in an outing and Tuesday/Wednesday looks like more rain.  Cross your fingers the streak ends today so that we can make some hay on Sunday. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

It Could Be Worse

Today is the anniversary of another rainy day in Spotsylvania.  I will use this as motivation for the staff as our biggest challenge is mowing deep grass and raking messy bunkers.  Golfers have to trudge through the slop as well, but it doesn't seem so bad when compared with this day 152 years ago.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Rain Gauge Workout

Our rain gauge is getting a workout these past two weeks.  12 of the last 13 days we've had to empty it when we arrived at work.  In that time we've totaled 4.12" (.32"/day average).  Recovery from aeration two weeks ago would be further along with a little sun.  A couple of rainy days was nice to have following the process, but 12 rainy days and constant cloud cover is not kind to any plant.  Luckily we have plenty of fresh holes for water to move through and when the sun finally returns we should be fine.

The golf course is a mess as you can imagine.  We took a chance yesterday morning and slopped through two holes of fairway mowing before the skies dumped a quick 1/2" on us.  We got a few tees mowed, some intermediate rough mowed, and in general made a mess doing so.  Overnight we received another 1/4" and it's pouring as I write this.  We may have to beg for some time on the tee sheet in order to get things mowed once the rain stops and the ground dries out.

Below is a screenshot of our rain gauge data...

Friday, April 29, 2016

Aeration Update

We had a busy week with greens aeration and for the most part things went very smoothly.  It took two full days for us to get the sand down, the holes punched, the sand brushed, and then the greens rolled.  Then we had the Soil Relievers arrive on Wednesday to punch the deep holes.  Ideally that would have happened on Monday and we would have followed it, but we couldn't make that work with the contractor's schedule and our golf calendar.  In any case all went well and the healing process has begun.  Rain Thursday and today have kept us from doing any follow up topdressing, but we've rolled a few more times and things should bounce back soon.  Below are some pictures of the process and aftermath...

Monday and Tuesday sand was applied and then Tim aerated with our machine to a depth of about 3".  The holes were 1/2" in diameter and they are about 2" apart.   We then brush the sand into the holes, roll the green, and water

Wednesday the Soil Reliever puts a much deeper hole in the ground to alleviate any compaction below the reach of our machines.  The 1/2" holes are about 9" deep and 3" apart.  Roots grow much better and deeper following this step.  

We brush and roll more following the Soil Reliever and the end result looks like this.  It's tough to fill the deep holes with sand as they are so far apart and very deep.  They should close up fairly soon with the wet and warm weather.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

High Gear From Now On

We have had a very busy few weeks and we will stay that way until next winter.  Spring is officially here we are trying hard to wrap up some much needed projects before the zoysia grass starts growing. We are working on bunker repairs, tennis court re-surfacing, mulching, tree work, and a host of other important spring jobs.  The staff is slowly growing as the weather warms up, but the to do list will be growing even faster.  We'll put aside projects soon so that we can put all our efforts into the daily routine tasks of course maintenance.  Here are a few pictures from the past week...

"other duties as assigned"

re-establishing the edge, repairing drainage, and adding sand to #7 

One of the new mowers in action.  We are mowing and/or rolling daily now.