9 Green

9 Green

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Moving Forward

As you may have seen 1 and 4 greens have been sodded. It was a long, tedious process that went very smooth. I have to hand it to my staff, they stepped up and did a phenominal job! Here is a step by step photo tour of what we did.

1.  We identified the areas to be sodded and removed the dead turf.

2.  After the sod was removed we utilized a laser level to map out the surface grade of the effected areas. These areas are notorious for holding water and was the main contributing factor to why the grass died. We regraded the areas to promote surface drainage. This was the most important step of the entire process to ensure the long term success of the greens. A big thanks to Frank Puccia at Irondequoit Country Club for letting us borrow his laser level! 


3. Once the surface grade was established we started the meticulous process of laying the sod.  


4.  As the sections of sod were layed we hand tamped each peice and filled all the seams with topdressing sand. The sand will speed the healing process and help each piece to become one.

5.  After the sod was installed we watered the sod heavily to wash in any surface debris. Soon after the sod was rolled in serveral directions to begin smoothing the surface.


6.  Once the surface dryed we applied an extremely heavy layer of topdressing sand. The sand will be the key to smoothing the surface moving forward.  Many more applications similar to this will be applied.

7.  Here is a before and after of 1 green.

As the sod begins to root, we will be installing smaller round 2" plugs and larger hexagon plugs to some areas on these two greens. There are still several areas that are thin, but did not warrant sod. By installing these plugs, along with some seed and sand, it will help speed recovery. We will also be utilizing plugs on some of the other greens that were damaged such as 6,7 and 17.  My hope is to have all the plugs installed in the next 7-10 days. Once we are finished with all the repair work we will reestablish the south practice green. My hope is to begin mowing the new sod at weeks end. We will follow that with more rolling, topdressing and aerations. It is going to take time for these areas to behave like the greens you are use to. Once the sod roots we can start talking about opening the greens for play. My hope is 2-3 weeks from today. I will keep you posted. 

I want to thank you for your continued support and understanding. This has been a tough spring to say least. Nothing has gone as planned for anyone in the industry so far, including us. The mantra has been adapt and move forward. I feel we are doing that and taking things one day at a time. I want to leave you with some light reading. Here are a few links to some industry articles from the past few weeks.

USGA Regional Update:

Detroit Metro News:

Turfnet Recovery Article:

Michigan State University

Monday, May 19, 2014

Change in Plans

Today we have made the decision to sod the winter kill areas on 1 and 4 greens.  We have been trying hard to get seed established, but have not been successful. There has been a little germination and recovery, but not at the speed we need to get the greens open in a timely fashion. As part of the process we are going to regrade the fronts of the green, collar and rough to eliminate our "bird baths".  This will allow for proper surface drainage and hopefully prevent future winter kill. We will be taking the sod from the practice green on the south side of the clubhouse. This grass is identical to what is on the greens currently and will blend in extermely well. At a later date we will renovate the practice green and restablish the turf. Closing the practice green is a small price to pay in order to get the greens on the course open. The hope is to have the two greens open and playable in roughly 3 weeks. This should give the sod ample time to root and able to withstand traffic. After the sod is established we will be performing mulitple core aerations and topdressings to get the sod to blend seamlessly into the green. I will go into further detail in a future post.  The hope is to get 4 green completed tomorrow and 1 green on Wednesday. Stay tuned for pictures and descriptions of the process.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Slow and steady

It's been awhile since my last post. Things have been extremely busy and time for writing has taken a back seat. I wanted to take a moment to update you on our recovery progress so far. We have finally got the warm weather we have been looking for. Soils have warmed and turf recovery is progressing. Here is a comparison taken over the last 3 months of 1 green.

            1 green -- A prime example of how shade and poor drainage equals winter kill 

As you can see things have come along way. There has been substantial seed germination on 5 green along with parts of 1 and 4. The larger areas on 1 and 4 have seen some recovery, but not what we are looking for. Germination has been very slow and the process is taking a lot longer than anticipated. I met with ownership and have come up with a plan. We are giving the greens until Monday to see if we get some substantial germination from our latest seeding last week. If we don't get the catch we are looking for then we are going to sod the large areas on 1 and 4. We will harvest the sod from the practice green on the south side of the clubhouse. This will insure the sod will match perfectly with the existing grass. Prior to installing the sod we will regrade portions of the rough, collars and green to promote surface drainage. This will help prevent water from sitting in these areas and help to avoid damage in the future. As for the practice green, we will restablish it with seed and aeration plugs. The price of closing this practice green to in order to get the greens back into shape is a small one. I will let you know next week which way we decide proceed. If we sod, a realistic time table to open the greens would be three weeks from the time of sodding. This gives the sod a chance to root and be able to with stand foot traffic. 

Those of you who have been following the blog, you have learned that winter kill has been a hot topic thoughout the industry. Here are two more great articles explaining how the recovery efforts are going around the region and what to expect moving forward.

As for the rest of the course.....

We had perfect weather to aerate greens the other week. With warm weather and timely rains, it helped the greens to heal extremely quick. We are starting to return to our normal mowing schedule and height. Green speeds and smoothness will follow soon after. As part of our agronomic program, each spring we make an application to prevent poa seed heads on greens. This application has a tendency to slow the plants growth. With the greens in the condition they are I decided not to make the application. We are solely focused on promoting recovery right now. This application would have hindered our progress. If you see the white seed heads out there and the greens are a bit bumpier, that is why.

We are making progress filling stump holes. More than half of the holes have been filled to date. The holes have been seeded, fertilized and covered around 6 green. We should start seeing grass popping very soon. The large area to the right of 6 green has also been sodded.  With the recent rains the sod should root very quickly and be ready for play.

All and all things are starting to come together. I estimate we are about 3 weeks behind a normal season. We are doing things now that should have been weeks ago. It has been a tough spring to say the least. The flooding rains today haven't done us any favors. All we can do is put our heads down and continue moving forward. As always I'm here to answer any questions you may have.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Where's Spring?

Cool, wet and cloudy conditions have dominated the weather this spring.  More days have been spent below normal than above.  The calendar might say May, but it sure feels like early April. This pattern has lead to an extremely slow start to the growing season.  Trees and flowers are just starting to wake up and the same goes for the grass.  Soil temperatures have been hovering either side of 50 for most of the month with only a few days spent in the 60's.  For grass to get going we need soil temperatures to be consistently in the upper 50's, with 60's being ideal.  This will only be achieved by a shift towards a warmer and sunnier weather pattern.  

So where does this leave us with our recovery efforts?  It's not hard to understand this pattern is not conducive for growth and recovery.  Despite the weather hampering our seeding efforts we have seen some positive results.  Seed germination, along with recovery from existing plants, has been observed on 5 and 8 greens.  1 and 4 greens have a tiny bit of germination along with some great recovery in spots.  That being said there is along way to go.  If the weather pattern beings to turn warm I envision 5 and 8 greens opening in the coming weeks.  Due to the extent of the damage on 1 and 4, these two are going to take longer to recover.  Only time and weather will dictate when the greens will open for play. As for the other greens, numbers 6,7 and 17 look better each day.  Once the weather warms and the greens are aerated these spots will quickly begin to go away.

There has been a lot of chatter thought out our industry concerning winter injury recovery over the past few weeks.  I thought I would share some of the important highlights with you. I assure you we are not alone.  A great number of courses in the northern region are dealing with winter injury just like us.
  • @AdamMoeller: @golfwerkz @OntarioGSA The damaged I've observed has been most severe in S. Ontario. Upstate NY and New England also damaged badly

                 Adam Moeller, USGA Argonomist, Twitter post

  • @AdamMoeller: Recovery from winter injury has been very slow so far. Soil and air temperatures have been far from ideal; limiting recovery significantly.

                Adam Moeller, USGA Argonomist, Twitter post

  • @AdamMoeller: Temporary greens are never fun but they will dramatically improve recovery from winter injury. Many courses will have them this spring!

                Adam Moeller, USGA Argonomist, Twitter post

  • @AdamMoeller: @TheGolfCanada @OntarioGSA Be patient. Understand that temp greens in the spring are better than bad greens in the summer.
                Adam Moeller, USGA Argonomist, Twitter post

  • @wnywxguy: Frigid fact: Our avg temp for the 1st 4 months in #ROC is 28.9°. That makes it the coldest start to ANY year since 1940! That yr: 28.3°.
                  Josh Nicols, 10 NBC Meterologist 

That being said we are doing everything we possibly can to promote recovery.  Top of the line radiant greens covers are in place to help warm the soil.  Seed and fertilizer have been applied waiting for the proper temperatures to grow.  I ask for your continued patience as we work though and continue the recovery process. 

The cool spring has also set us back on a lot of tasks that need to be completed.  Greens aeration originally scheduled for early April had to be postponed, since conditions where not ideal.  We are planning on aerating greens this coming Monday and Tuesday May 5th and 6th. The front nine will be completed Monday and the back nine on Tuesday.  Temporary greens will be in place if you wish to play the nine we will be working on.  The weather looks great early next week so we should have no problem finishing by Tuesday.  This aeration, as in seasons past, will set our greens up for success this season and help promote continued recovery. Along with aeration we also have a lot of loose ends to tie up.  Stump holes on 6 green have been prepared for seed and sod.  We are waiting for the area to dry so they can be installed. The rest the stump holes on the course will be filled and seeded in the coming weeks. Drainage projects at the clubhouse and 1 rough will be cleaned up and seeded as soon as the areas dry. New drainage installation around the course and cart path work will commence as soon as the above is complete.

All and all, for the hand we have been dealt,  things are coming together.  Despite the weather I am pleased with our progress so far.  The course is starting to take shape and soon this recovery talk will be a distant memory.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions and concerns.