Monday, January 16, 2017

Trees Are Bad For Grass And Concrete

We are in full winter project mode now that the ground has become too wet for routine course maintenance. Tree work is once again our biggest focus.  It is something that doesn't require a great deal of money and we can do it safely now that play has slowed down.  We have identified a great number of trees that need to be removed for the sake of saving cart paths, safety, and/or turf health.  We don't have the manpower to accomplish this entire list in one season so it's possible we end up getting some outside help to assist.

TREES BREAK CONCRETE (must remove trees close to cart paths)

The course is 20 years old and the trees are much bigger now than they were in the beginning.  Trees, as most of you are aware, have damaged cart paths in a number of areas.  We have been working on this issue for several seasons and will continue to do more this year.  It is important for members to realize that a section of cart path costs over $800 to tear out, haul away, and replace.  Tree removals are a proactive approach to preserve cart paths and improve turf.

TREES KILL GRASS (must remove trees that are killing grass)

Shade issues are another headache caused by trees.  The most critical shade issues are on holes 8 and 12 where the east side of each green is surrounded by trees.  Morning sun is non-existent in both cases and we are seeing clear signs of trouble as a result.  The trees that need to come down will not change the hole in any way other than make the greens better.  A number of other areas are being impacted by shade, but greens are obviously the most important part of the course and therefore we plan to start our shade related tree work on holes 8 and 12.

This is the back of 12 green at roughly 10:00 AM in September.  The shaded area has very weak turf each summer
We need to remove the trees that surround this green.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Brief Look Back at 2016

It's been a wild year with lots of highs and lows, but in the end we are ahead of where we started and excited for what 2017 brings...

Weather Ups and Downs

The warmest December on record allowed us to play golf in shorts a year ago.  We even pulled in staff to mow greens daily between Christmas and New Year's Day.  The deepest snow on record in Fawn Lake soon followed.  March was hot, April was cold, May brought 22 rainy days, June was normal, July through October was the hottest on record, November was bone dry, and now December is here with frozen ground.  A year full of extremes made 2016 the most challenging season of my career.

Staff Ups and Downs

In June we suffered a major blow with the sudden passing of Gene Thompson, our equipment manager. Many of you knew Gene, but all of you benefited from his handiwork maintaining the large

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Rough Rough

It's not called "smooth", it's called "rough" but we'd still like it to be better.  The areas of turf that surround the low mowed fairways are living up to their name right now.  We aggressively attacked the unwanted grasses like bermuda, zoysia, and bentgrass because they are impossible to play from at the heights that are required for fescue.  We then seeded and aerated all of these areas.  The immediate aftermath was not better than the "before" picture and was by no means easy to play from.  Consequently we've been living under a "lift, clean, and place" rule when playing shots from the rough.  We are trying hard to make the rough smooth if that makes any sense.  We've also been asking for your patience and understanding with regards to cart traffic.  Most of you have been very helpful at keeping carts on the path and out of these newly seeded areas and that has been a big help.  Unfortunately we haven't seen the same results we saw in September with the tees and tee slopes, but a later start and a dry spell are primarily to blame.  In the end I think the course will be much "cleaner" looking and easier to play.  We'll let carts get back on the grass real soon I promise.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Slow But Steady Progress

  • Lots of progress has been made in recovering from a tough summer (the toughest in my 16 years here).  We started our efforts on and around the tee boxes in late September. The results are very positive and we continue to nurse these areas with a little extra water and fertilizer.  Some tee markers are still placed on spare tee boxes or paired with other sets to allow for full recovery.  The most extreme effort put forth on tees was to the front two tee boxes on hole 13.  We killed off everything on and immediately around these tees and re-seeded with 007 creeping bentgrass and turf type tall fescue.  Hopefully the bull paspalum, a weed we've battled unsuccessfully for years, will be a thing of the past.  
Here is a picture 10 days after seeding....

  • Once we wrapped up all our efforts around the tees we turned our focus to aerating greens.  This process went very smoothly and we are fully healed at this point.  It should be noted that we have now gone two full seasons with solid tines for aeration.  In other words we've not pulled cores as was the norm for the previous 15 years.  The jury is still out on whether or not we can continue this method, but it sure makes the task much easier and speeds up the recovery process.  Physical properties of the soil are examined annually through lab testing so that we can make the most informed decision possible.  We'll keep a close watch on things and make changes to our strategy if/when its needed.
  • The final big step in recovery is overseeding the roughs.  We began this process in early September with applications of herbicide to suppress/eliminate unwanted bermudagrass, bentgrass, and other weeds from what is supposed to be the tall fescue rough.  This "chemotherapy" requires three applications three weeks apart before seed can be applied.  Unfortunately we suffered a setback in late September with a solid week of rain.  Once dried up enough to complete the chemical applications Hurricane Matthew showed up.  Finally as of late last week, all the seed is down and we've just wrapped up the process of incorporating it into the soil with our Aeravator (seeding/aerating tool).  It's now time to start the process of watering the seed which will likely make some holes "Cart Path Only".  We will be watering lightly but frequently to keep the surface moist in order to get seed to germinate.  Once we see the seed begin to germinate it will be important that carts stay on the path.  We invested a great deal of your money into the seed and labor to repair the course from a tough summer.  Your help in following the cart traffic rules will be the critical final step in a full recovery.  With continued good weather you will soon see a big improvement.  

Friday, September 16, 2016

One Week Down...One Week to Go

Thanks for your patience with us this week.  For the first time in my 16 years we got a break during the growing season to do some much needed turf repair work.  We know it was a great week to play golf, so we appreciate your willingness to let us have nine holes each day to do our work.  The entire course is open today, tomorrow, and Sunday before we go back at it next week on greens.

This week we:
  • applied herbicides to the rough to suppress bermudagrass, and remove unwanted weeds.   
  • verticut and aerated tees, then seeded where needed, topdressed, and rolled
  • aerated, overseeded, and fertilized all tee slopes around tee boxes
RIP #13 tee.  In addition to the chores listed above we decided it was time to surrender in the battle against the 13th tees.  Bull Paspalum is the wonderful weed that has plagued the 13th tee for 16 plus years.  It is a perennial that cannot be selectively removed from bentgrass.  We sprayed the front two tees on 13 with Round Up and re-seeded them to a new variety of bentgrass.  Bermuda or zoysia may be our next step in the summer of 2017, but this is not the time to sod those varieties.  We'll probably see bull paspalum again next year on this tee, but it should be a much smaller population.  We'll give the new bentgrass a chance and then make another move if needed.  

Next week we will:
  • aerate and topdress all greens
  • brush and roll all greens 
  • follow up topdressing if needed 
  • brush and roll all greens again until satisfied that all holes are completely full and the greens are smooth
  • keep tee complexes well hydrated for the sake of all the new seed we just put in place (they will be soft and messy in places until the grass starts to come up and then we'll back off the water
  • begin aerating roughs
  • fertilize roughs
The course will be closed from Monday morning until 11:00 AM next Friday.  We think the fall golf season will be fantastic in large part due to your patience and cooperation over this two week period.  Enjoy golf this weekend, and get back on the course next Friday.    

Truth And Consequences...the latest update from your USGA Green Section

USGA Green Section Update: Truth and Consequences

Friday, September 2, 2016

Recovery Plan and Golf Course Schedule

We've made multiple announcements recently regarding the difficult summer on the golf course.  Hopefully a break in the weather will arrive soon and we can begin some much needed recovery work.  With a busy tournament schedule over the next two weekends we are focusing on September 12th as a starting point for this work.  Tees will be our priority this first week.  Greens will then be aerated on September 19th and 20th.  Given the scope of work to be done we will be closing part or all of the course for several days during this two week period.  

The course will operate under the following schedule from the 12th to the 23rd :

Monday, September 12th 

Tuesday, September 13th
Front Nine Closed / Back Nine Open

Wed/Thurs, September 14th/15th
Back Nine Closed / Front Nine Open

The putting green will be closed all 4 of these days, but the Practice Tee and Chipping Green will be open

The course will be open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (16th-18th)

Monday, September 19th- Noon Friday, September 23rd
The course will be closed for greens aeration and continued recovery work.  

The putting green will be closed until Friday morning, but the Practice Tee and Chipping Green will be open

The course will re-open at Noon on Friday, September 23rd.  

We thank you very much for your understanding and cooperation.  As previously mentioned, this summer has been extremely painful for many areas of the course.  We are surrounded by courses with similar situations and many with far greater challenges.  I am sure that with some small breaks from the weather and your cooperation, we will have a pristine course very soon.