Sunday, February 12, 2017

2017 Maintenance Game Plan

This is a VERY basic summary of our plan for course maintenance this year.  Weather can and will require us to make some adjustments on the fly.  The "big" jobs like aeration as well as the "major" events are listed in this schedule.  We try to select aeration dates based on when the grass will recover the quickest so that disruption to play is minimized.  Once the dates for aeration are plugged into the calendar the golf schedule is set up.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Winter Greens

In the winter our Southshore creeping bentgrass greens take on a very different look.  They become a mix of many different colors that can make the green look like a quilt.  In essence, each color is a different variety of bentgrass with it's own set of characteristics including winter hardiness, texture, growth rate, etc...When the weather warms up these differences become much less noticeable.  We do not mow greens when they are frozen, frost covered, saturated, or extremely dry from cold winter winds.  This, in addition to the fact that there are many different patches of bentgrass on a green, make putting quality much less than ideal in the winter.  Having said that, we've had very mild weather lately and have mowed greens multiple times in the past two weeks.  When the weather warms up for good and we are mowing daily, topdressing regularly, brushing, grooming, rolling, etc.. the greens will putt much better. Until then we are at the mercy of the weather.

Here is an excerpt from a USGA article by David Oatis...


Some golfers seem to like the uniform color and blemish-free appearance of a brand-new putting green, and these golfers may complain when the grasses begin to segregate. Segregation refers to the “sorting out” of individual clones or biotypes with which the grass cultivar was planted. So why does it happen? Creeping bentgrass seed is the product of sexual reproduction, so the individual seeds are not identical. New plantings initially have a very uniform appearance (assuming the seed is pure and there are no preexisting weed seeds in the soil) because the various different biotypes are uniformly dispersed. After planting, certain better-adapated and more aggressive biotypes gradually begin to crowd out weaker, less well adapted ones. As this occurs, different clones/ biotypes segregate into patches, gradually becoming visible to golfers. Segregation can be especially noticeable on putting greens, where the variety used is more prone to segregation or where multiple cultivars have been used. It also is especially noticeable in the early spring and fall when temperatures are cool. During cool temperatures, different biotypes of creeping bentgrass change color and grow at somewhat different rates, thereby enhancing the patchwork appearance. Generally speaking, the older the green, the more noticeable the segregation is. Segregation begins as soon as a green is planted, but it usually is not apparent until the green is at least five to seven years old.  Although some golfers dislike the patchwork appearance, others argue that segregation is desirable.  It is a natural attribute that almost all older greens have, and some claim that it makes putting easier because the different patches make great aiming points to align putts.  What is the downside?  During the spring and fall, when growth is initiating or slowing down, the growth rates of the different patches will be slightly different, and this can contribute to slight unevenness in the putting surfaces.  However, segregation cannot be prevented, and any resulting unevenness would be more than matched by the overall lack of growth.  In a nutshell, segregation is not worth worrying about.  

Monday, January 30, 2017


Our plan to spray the fairways this week has been scratched.  A surprise 2.5" snowfall last night will take a day to disappear.  It will be too wet for at least a few more days once the snow melts.  I guess I should not have announced my plans in public.   At some point we'll get it done, but not this week.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Winter War on Weeds

Every winter we launch an attack on weeds in the zoysia.  Poa annua (annual bluegrass) is our primary target although we have some bentgrass creeping outward from the greens and some fescue that was tracked in during the fall rough seeding project.  Since the zoysia is a warm season turf it's dormant right now.  Anything that is green in the zoysia this time of year is unwanted.

For us to be able to make this weed control application we need to have perfect conditions.  We need temperatures safely above 32, no wind, dry ground, and a forecast with no rain for at least a day.  In each of the past two winters we have not had these conditions long enough to complete the entire 40 acres of zoysia.  Without any setbacks from weather or wet ground we can complete the entire course in two days.  However, our window of opportunity in any given day may be just a couple of hours.  It may be frosty until 10:00 and too windy by noon.  Therefore, it can take several weeks to complete the project if conditions do not cooperate.

Thankfully it looks like we may luck out this year.  If the ground dries up and the wind stays down we plan to get started Tuesday.  We will have to keep some of the course closed in order to do this so please bear with us.  

Spraying the outer edge of the collar to keep the bentgrass from taking over the zoysia

Poa Annua is easy to see in dormant zoysia
A board is used to keep spray from drifting to the green

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.