Saturday, August 11, 2018

Take All Patch

Following up on the last update...

Despite the name, Take All Patch will not "take all" our turf so do not be alarmed.  The disease has done it's thing and we are now left with the symptoms from which to recover.  Recovery efforts involve spot treatments with hand tools like a spiker and a seed/fertilizer cocktail.  We will be taking care of these spots with frequent light watering (just where needed) to encourage seed germination.  We will also be increasing our manganese inputs and tweaking our nitrogen sources to help reduce the pH level.  As we feel necessary, we may plug some areas out with turf from our chipping green (we don't have a nursery green).  In the case of hole number 8 we will use a temporary green periodically in order to give our efforts a chance to succeed.  Hole 8 is by far the weakest link in terms of this disease and we are limited in ways to keep traffic out of the areas where turf is thin.  Some greens are completely unaffected and some have just a patch or two of infected turf.

The disease cranks up in cooler weather in areas that are poorly drained, higher in pH, and compacted.  The symptoms appear when the turf is under stress from things like high heat, drought, traffic, etc.  Treatments to avoid this issue next season will begin this fall and repeat in the spring.  However, fungicides have been erratic at best so far.  We made preventive treatments for this year, but obviously didn't see the results we expected.  We'll revisit the plan and switch products and/or timing this go round.  The good news is that typically this disease runs its course.

Here is a quick read on Take All Patch

Max is using the spiker to put tiny holes in the surface. 
He'll spread a light rate of seed and fertilizer and then brush it in the holes.

This is one of the patches from last summer

On top of our issues, we continue to see a ton of untouched ball marks.
This one was left on the middle of 8 green between 9 and 10AM on Friday.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Summer Struggles and Greens Update

This has been a roller coaster year and now we are fighting a new challenge.  From June 25th to July 20 we received just .19" of rain and had extremely high temperatures during that time.  We were all very thankful to receive a steady soaking rain on July 21st to give us a much needed break from hand watering.  The temperatures backed off as well which was nice.  However, it has now rained 14 of the past 17 days and we are hot again.  Humidity, air and soil temperatures, and soil moisture are all way too high for bentgrass to be happy.   Greens will not be firm and fast in this weather although it's not because we're "babying" them as many may believe.  It's just a fact of bentgrass life in the mid-Atlantic.

We are battling a disease issue at the moment as a result of this weather.  Samples were sent to Blacksburg on Monday and we got feedback today.  Despite preventive treatments and scouting daily, conditions have been perfect for disease on turf (especially bentgrass putting greens).  Treatments for Take All Patch will begin tomorrow.  This is an odd diagnosis for older greens, but it's the same issue we battled last year.  Typically it's associated with newer greens.  Of course it's raining as I type this so it may be too wet to treat in the morning.

Shade covers most of 8 green until almost 10 AM

I'm still limber enough to get on the ground for a closer look

My camera on top of the lens actually worked although a more powerful microscope was
needed in order to make a diagnosis. 

Pre Game Meal

Monday we were honored to have the LGA provide lunch for our staff.  They've done this for as long as I can remember and we can't thank them enough.  The guys devoured the buffet of home cooked food and appreciated the kind gesture more than you can imagine.  

After lunch we teed it up for our annual "World Championship" match.  A nine hole scramble among the staff for bragging rights.  Most of the guys don't have a clue how to hold a golf club, but they all had a blast and enjoyed seeing the course from a player's perspective.  We spread the talent out among the groups and ended up with a real close finish.  Jimmy, Alex, Andrew, and Chase took home the trophy.  Shot of the day went to Eric who holed out from 30 yards on 13.  It was his first time playing golf.   All the guys that played for the first time have a new appreciation for the game.  They understand its not as easy as it looks.  

Chase, Jimmy, Alex, and Andrew

Friday, June 29, 2018

Reminders and Alerts

Every summer we like to give you a heads up on what to expect as the heat cranks up.  Some of it is obvious, but some of it may be news to many.  Over the next few weeks you will likely notice a number of changes in the way the course looks and plays.  Most of these changes are out of our control and are strictly weather related.  Some things you'll see and a few reminders....

Cicada Killer Wasps will soon be back.  These are intimidating, but harmless.  They are a nuisance to greens and bunkers primarily as they burrow into the soil leaving behind piles on the surface.  They especially like to find the exposed soil above the cup liner on greens.  It's not uncommon for them to fill the hole on a green in a few minutes following our morning set up routine.  We change the hole location and before the first golfer arrives a cicada killer wasp burrows into the side of the hole leaving the cup full of soil.  Do not panic if you see one of these and know that we'll do our best to keep them at bay.  Here is a little more info on these things if you're interested

Green speeds may slow with hot muggy weather.  It's more a function of the weather than of something we do differently.  We mow at the same heights and frequency, but the texture of the leaf blades change in the hot weather.  When the temperatures cool and the humidity drops, speeds will ramp up.  Recently we've been roughly 10' on the stimpmeter, but during uncomfortable weather the speeds will likely be closer to 9' 6".  When we get past labor day the speeds will be closer to 10' 6" to 11'.  We aren't trying to slow greens down, but the weather isn't suitable for getting aggressive with them to combat the affects of heat and humidity.  Fighting with mother nature in July is not a good idea.  She will win and we will lose.  

Hand watering bentgrass has not been a regular occurrence lately with over 10" of rain in June.  However, as we go through dry spells, we will have to use hoses to water dry areas.  We can't rely on irrigation heads as they don't know the difference between a wet area and a dry area.  In order to avoid over watering, we use moisture meters, soil probes, and hoses.  This gives us the power to put water where it's needed and keep it out of wet areas.   The downside to hoses is that you may encounter staff from time to time during your round of golf.  Please bear with us and know that we are hustling to get in and out of golf traffic.  We make the rounds at sunrise, but our second or third trip around may cross paths with golf.  It will never be for more than a minute or two.  

Cart traffic stress is starting to show up and will be more evident as it gets hotter.  Please remember not to leave the path until you pass the first black and white post and get back before you see the second post.  You can leave and return to the path anywhere between the two black and white posts.  Don't think of them as defining the spot where you must leave or return to the path.  Think of them as the ob stakes for your cart.  Drive it anywhere between the posts and you're ok.  Also remember to keep the carts out of the rough except when getting to and from the fairway.  

It's also important to keep all four tires on the path when parking at greens and tees.  Goosegrass control is the sole reason for this.  Killing the turf along the path by driving over it is an open invitation for goosegrass.  

Summer weeds are starting to pop up.  Over 17" of rain since May 1st along with some dangerous heat this week have brought out the weeds.  Kyllinga and nutsedge have been plentiful with the wet soils.  Goosegrass is germinating in compacted areas where turf is thin along paths.  We'll battle all of these weeds, but you will notice them more in the coming weeks.  Hopefully the weather cooperates and we can stay on top of them.  

Venting and Topdressing greens will continue throughout the summer.  As mentioned in numerous previous posts we will use our aerator regularly to keep the surfaces of the greens open.  We call it "venting" in order to prevent the heartburn associated with the word aeration.  Yes we use our aerator, but it's equipped with very small solid tines that do little, if anything, to putting quality.  They do however, provide much needed temporary relief to the greens.  Very light topdressing will also occur from time to time when conditions are suitable.  This is another plus for greens and ultimately for putting quality.   

These are just a few of the biggies.  Hope to see you on the golf course often this summer!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Offense and Defense

Years ago the Green Committee was successful in moving the Member Guest to a time of year when the golf course is most likely to "peak".  Mid June was chosen because it's not too hot for the bentgrass, but it's plenty warm enough for the zoysia.  When the grass is happy we can play offense with it and get great results.  When we held the event around Labor Day the bentgrass was tired from the long summer and the course in general was ready for a break.  We were never going to peak for a Labor Day Member-Guest.  June is the best time to do it and we are thankful the Committee helped to make it happen.

Member Guest is now behind us and the forecast tells us it's time to start playing defense.  You may notice that we recently vented the greens with small solid tines.  This helps to relieve some of the stress from 6" of rain last week and gets us ready for the heat that's coming this weekend.  We also lightly topdressed with sand to help dilute some of the organic matter near the surface.  The light dose of sand also helps to protect the crown of the turf (where the roots and shoots come together) and smooths the surface.  The holes do not impact putting, but topdressing may slow the ball down a little on the day we do it if we brush it in.  Over the next two months we'll vent and lightly topdress multiple times in an effort to stay healthy and keep the ball rolling true.  Timing will depend on current conditions, course availability (outings?, heavy play?), and short range forecast.  The goal of everything we do over the next 2-3 months is to keep the turf healthy enough that we can go back to playing offense as soon as the weather breaks (typically in late August to early September...ish).  Over 10" of rain so far in June and extreme heat/humidity on the way means it's time to switch gears. We've done a lot of work this spring that will pay off over the summer and set us up for a great fall. 

Hunter, a turf student at VT, using the aerator to "vent" greens.  This is the most important tool we own.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Member Guest Week is Here!

I just finished watching "Live From The US Open" where my counterpart has nearly 200 volunteers prepping for the US Open later this week.  I'm a little jealous, but we have a great group of guys and are eager to try and get things in peak condition for the Member-Guest.  This is our "US Open" and we look forward to it every year.  Unfortunately, 2" of rain since Saturday evening will make it difficult for us to pull off a firm and fast test of golf.  We are crossing our fingers that the rain has ended for the week.  If that's the case we should be able to get things mowed down before the kickoff on Thursday.  The weather forecast for the event looks fantastic so we are hopeful that a good time will still be had by all. 

When the sun popped out last week

Not counting the 2" we just got.  We're lucky compared to many