9 Green

9 Green

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Course Update -- 4/24/14

It has been five days since we over-seeded the damaged greens.  It was a multiple step process that took place last Friday.  First the greens were verti-cut in three different directions, which created a 1/3" deep silt in the turf.  Next the greens were aerated with a 1/4" tine that went down less than an inch.  Following aeration we spiked the areas.  These processes made a perfect bed for the seed.  Next the seed was applied, spiked once again and lightly topdressed with green sand.  The green tint to the sand will help attract heat and hopefully speed seed germination.  Lastly a starter fertilizer was applied, the area watered and then covered.  Below are a few pictures of the processes we performed on 1,4,5 and 8 greens.



The covers are a vital piece to the recovery puzzle this spring. This week we have experienced some unseasonably cool weather and the forecast is calling for much of the same into early May.  This cool weather is not ideal for recovery.  By utilizing covers we will be able to create a mini greenhouse on our greens.  This will help keep soil temperatures where we need them even during cold weather.  We have utilized some make shift covers over the last week and they have helped a little.  After speaking with ownership and looking at the long term forecast we have decided to purchase top of the line covers for our greens.  The covers are green in color and have a special radiant layer that will maximize the amount of heat we can trap under them.  Here is a link to their website and a description of the covers, Greens Covers.

As you can see I am utilizing all the tools possible to help push this recovery process along.  This process is a marathon, not a sprint.  You have to think of these greens as a new born baby.  A baby needs proper care, attention and nutrition to build a healthy body.  Same goes for the grass plant. Only the proper amount of care will give us the results we are looking for.  Here is a great link to a blog post from a fellow superintendent in the Detroit area.  He does a great job explaining this process, The 5th Season.

In the meantime we will be creating a true temporary green in front of the affected greens.  We will mow a lower cut circle, paint a white circle and place the flag in the center.  Sean is in the process of taking with the RDGA about getting a temporary rating for the affected holes so you can properly post scores.  We will also be posting the yardages for these holes for your convenience.  Look for these temporary greens in the coming days.

On a positive note I am very pleased on how the rest of the course is coming along.  We have seen significant greening on all areas of the course.  Some other damaged areas on 6,7 and 17 greens are slowing starting to bounce back.  As these areas continue to recover, we will be keeping the flag away from them to minimize traffic and hasten recovery.  As of today, we are planning a course wide greens aeration the week of May 5th.  Traditionally this is performed in early April.  Due to unfavorable conditions we have been forced to delay the aeration until now.  The process will take a full two days to complete.  This aeration will aid in the recovery of the areas on 6, 7 and 17 and set us up for a successful summer.  I will update you as we get closer to that week as to what days we will be aerating.

As you can see there are a lot of moving parts right now.  I ask you for your continued patience as we work through this recovery process.  We just need some time and good weather to get us where we need to be.  I will continue to update you as needed.  As always I am here to answer your questions.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Good with the Bad

As I sit here and write this update it is pouring rain and there is snow on our doorstep.  It is a far cry from the 80 degree temperatures we saw over the weekend!  I guess we have to take some good with the bad.  As the weather has been up and down over the past week, so is the condition of the course coming out of winter. The warm weather brought significant greening to the golf course.  The grass is starting to wake up from winter and is beginning to grow.  We have mowed the greens, rolled them and sprayed them with a dose of fertilizer.  The improved weather also brought some significant drying days.  Many areas firmed up allowing us to get much needed equipment onto the course.  As of yesterday a majority of the debris on the front nine has been cleaned up.  We made great strides over the past week and I am very pleased with what was accomplished.  Once this "winter" weather passes we will get back on the course and continue with the clean-up process on the back nine.

Besides cleaning up the course, there are many other things we will be doing over the coming weeks.
  • Stump holes from last fall's tree removals will be filled and seed once our topsoil pile is accessible. 
  • Drainage work will be completed and cleaned up on numbers 1, 12 and the Putting Green.  
  • The pump-house will be put back on line and the irrigation system charged.  
  • We will utilize the new mini excavator and rehab many of the chronically bad cart paths.  
  • On top of that we have our normal mowing, aeration and cultural practices to perform to get the course ready for the season. 
As you can see spring is a busy time of year!

For those of you that played over the weekend you know we have some temporary greens on the front nine. Over the weekend there was some significant greening and recovery in some, but not all of the damaged areas. Any of the grass that is still a deep whitish brown color and will not be recovering. The greens hit hardest are 1, 4, 5 and 8.  My hope is to begin the recovery process on Friday.  We will be aggressively verti-cutting and aerating the damage in order to create a seed bed.  We will then overseed the areas with bentgrass, topdress with sand, fertilize and cover.  With the covers in place and some seasonable weather we should see some germination fairly quickly.  That being said these new seedlings are going need time to mature and develop.  During this developmental process we are going to need to keep the greens closed. Any added traffic or stress introduced to the seedlings will inhibit their development and prolong the recovery process. You are probably wondering how long these greens are going to be closed for?  As of right now I truthfully don't know the answer.  It will all depend on mother nature.  The warmer the weather the quicker the recovery.  Luckily the damage on 5 and 8 is fairly localized.  I envision these two greens opening sooner than the other two. On numbers 1 and 4 the damage is larger and will take more time to heal.  Here is a link to a good USGA article that further explains the processes mentioned above, Spring Recovery.  Here is another great post from a fellow superintendent in the Chicago area, Winter Recovery Progress.  I contains some great links to more information on winter damage.  I also encourage you to check out my previous posts on winter injury, which will explain things further.

At this time I ask for your patience and understanding as we recovery from this damage.  It is never an ideal situation closing greens, but its one of necessity to facilitate recovery.  I am approaching this situation with a glass half full mentality.  All the areas that were damaged have a high population of Poa annua.  Poa does not have the winter hardiness like other varieties of grass.  This is a prime opportunity to introduced a stronger, more winter hardy stand of grass.  The inconvenience will be short term, but will pay dividends down the road.  I will continue to update you throughout the recovery process.  Before you know it summer will be here and this winter will be a distant memory.  As always I am here to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Course Update -- April 8th 2014

I want to update you and elaborate upon by previous post about winter kill.  Here is a link to the post in case you missed it, Old Man Winter.

It has been close to three weeks since I first discovered some areas of concern on our greens.  1, 4, 5, 8 have sustained localized areas of winter kill from crown hydration.  As you can see from the pictures below they are a whitish brown color and are not looking as healthy as other parts of the green.
                                               5 Green                                                              4 Green

Traditionally these areas are know for holding water.  With the wild temperature swings we experienced over the winter, water from melting snow accumulated and froze almost instantly when the mercury dropped below freezing. This happened at least 5 different times over the course of the winter and has lead to the damage we are seeing.  We did our best to remove as much water as possible, but it's impossible to get every last drop.  I have pulled samples from these greens and brought them into the shop in an attempt to get them to grow.  It has been 5 days since the latest samples were pulled and the pictures show the results.

                                      Sample from 8 Green

4 and 5 greens are showing little to no growth.  There are a few little shoots of grass popping up, but nothing encouraging yet.  8 green is showing some promise.  There is a bunch of new growth on top and some more below the grass surface waiting to emerge.  As for number 1, I have not been able to pull a sample due to the area being extremely wet.  At this point the area in the very front of the green looks very similar to number 4.  Along with the areas listed above the Putting Green, 3, 6, 7 also have some "questionable" areas that may have sustained some minor damage.  I am confident with some warm weather and fertility, these areas will recover on there own.

5 Green with covers
With that being said where do we go from here? Currently the worst areas have been covered with a permeable blanket to help warm the soil and promote recovery.  As soon as the weather becomes consistently warmer we will have a better idea of the full extent of injury.  The way it looks now we will be reseeding 4 and 5 greens and taking a wait and see approach with the others.  That means the damaged greens will most likely be taken out of play to let them recover.  Here is a great article from the USGA explaining proper techniques for recovering from winter injury, With Spring Comes Patience.  The article does a great job explaining why patience is going to be the key to our success and recovery moving forward.  We have not experienced a winter like this in a very long time.  The grass is in a weak and fragile state. Adding any unnecessary stress to the damaged areas will dramatically increase recovery time.

We are not the only ones dealing with winter kill this spring.  There are multiple reports from coaluges in the Rochester area who have similar or even worse winter kill than we have.  I want to share this blog post from a fellow superintendent in Michigan who has experienced winter kill this year, Greens Recovery.  It does a great job explaining the steps it takes to recover from the damage.  We will be implementing many of the same practices to our damaged areas.

As for the rest of the course, I am very pleased how we made it though.  Fairways, greens and tees are relatively snow mold free and healthy.  We are currently in a holding pattern, waiting for mother nature to allow us on the course.  We have a good head start on course clean-up thanks in part to the member clean-up day.  My staff is slowly beginning to return and we are doing some limited work on the course.  It started drying out over the weekend, but got set back to square one thanks to the .9" of rain we received Monday afternoon.  It is extremely wet everywhere and flooded in the normal areas.  I know many of you have been asking about when the course is going to open.  At this point I can honestly say I don't know.  The weather looks very encouraging headed into the coming weekend.  We desperately need several warm, rain free days to dry things out and allow us to get the proper equipment out there to open the course.  I am hopeful we can get the non-damaged greens open at some point this coming weekend, but I can't promise anything. As the week progresses I will have a better idea of where we stand and will pass that information along to you.

This is not an ideal situation for anyone.  I ask for your patience and understanding as we work to repair the affected greens.  If you have any questions feel free to contact me and I will be more than happy to answer them.  I will update you as soon as we start the recovery process and I know more.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Out with the old, in with the new

Over the winter I worked with ownership to secure a package of maintenance equipment for the golf course. The package includes:
   (2) Triplexes for mowing greens and approaches.
   (1) Rough mower that is an updated version of our current mower.
   (1) Heavy duty utility vehicle to be used for drainage and tree work.
   (1) Mini excavator to perform drainage and other construction work.
   (1) Large area aerator for fairways.

As you can see this is a very comprehensive equipment package.  It builds upon the past equipment purchases, fulfills multiple needs and will make our whole operation run more efficiently.  I would like to thank ownership for their continued support and commitment towards making our golf course what it is.  With out there support my staff and I could not do what we do.  With this purchase we now have the foundation to continue improving the course for years to come.  Now we just need some consistent weather to give it try!

Toro Workman Utility Vehicle

Toro Rough Mower and Triplexes

Volvo Mini Excavator