Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"F" is for furlough.

For the second time in two years the greens section staff is being laid off for the winter months.  That being said, this blog will go dark until my boredom at home leads leads me to experimentation with embedding video links, adding pages et cetera as found being used on other superblogs.  As for now, I have to complete a newly expanded "honey do" list.  I'd rather be at work.  (Have I ever told you how much I dislike painting?)  Stay tuned and have a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years.  Go Badgers!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Down and Out

My nearly ten year old Gateway PC finally gave up the ghost.  This is the reason you haven't seen a fresh post from me for a while.

This old girl served to store pictures, budgets, weather data from our weather station among other things I've taken for granted.  She served as my weather radar and speaking of weather, she'd been struck by lightning and survived (can't say the serial port did though.)  I've replaced the Hard drive once and this time around that option wasn't practical.  Loosing that first hard drive taught me a valuable lesson to always back up your data.  Until then I had always had good luck in recovering data from failed drives.  When I lost five years of data, photo's I likened it to losing a good friend to death I was never going to see again.

Now the difficult task of finding and restoring files to my new PC has begun.  When that is complete, I will be up and blogging once again with course updates.

Happy Turkey Day everyone.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall is falling; Part two.

This is a photo essay of what we do each and every fall in keeping your golf course playable.  Leaf removal is the second most machine and labor intensive activity we perform each season, second only to fairway aerification clean-up.  Typically our leaf removal tasks begins on or near the 10th of October.  This year is was a week earlier.  Once the leaves start falling it takes approximately 5-6 weeks before it doesn't pay to continue.  We'll get those leaves next spring when we get back out onto your course.
Your course  is easily the "messiest" course I've ever worked on!
Bunkers require extensive hand work when removing leaves.
Tractor blowers are used to move leaves unto rough or back into the woods.
Smaller blowers are used to clean both green and tee surfaces.
Some blowers allow greater flexibility than others.
We've been raking and sweeping leaves with this sweeper for 25 years and it is still the best sweeper we own.
This sweeper offers large capacity but isn't easily maneuvered in the woods.

Off with another load.  What do we do with all the leaves?

They are hauled to an area where they are composted.
Sometime the dust is my first clue where to find the guys!

Since the ban on open air burning, leaves are mulched and left in place.
Larger areas are mulched with this bad boy.
An operators view of just one row of leaves to be mulched.

This is done for you the golfer in order that you can enjoy the beautiful fall colors and play the game you love without losing too many golf balls in the process.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Snow Mold Application Alert

October 12, 2010

The golf course will be closed until 12 noon on Monday October 18th, 2010 for the first of two scheduled snow mold applications for greens tees and fairway turfs WEATHER PERMITTING.

The first application is considered a vaccine that is active within the cell walls and is applied when the plant is growing. The second application is a protective coating that is applied after the plant stops growing for the year.


Friday, October 8, 2010


Some funky mushroom like looking “gourds” popped up on the clubhouse lawn after the recent floodwaters receded.


Actually the pumpkins came from the Giant Pumpkin Festival in Nekoosa courtesy of Bull’s Eyes Equipment Manager Tim Johnson. Tim with the help of his wife and others were founding members of the festival that draws contestants from all over the state.

Tim planted and grew four individual plants here at the country club. He moved “the great pumpkin patch” here after a soil born disease pathogen decimated his plantings last year. From those four plants he selected eight pumpkins to display at this years event with the largest weighing in at 631 pounds with a circumference of 135 inches. He estimates that the vines produced nearly 5000 pounds of pumpkins or 2.5 tons. That’s a lot of pie.

Artists carve ghoulish faces into the pumpkins that are entered into contests and judged. Never did hear if one of those displayed won any ribbons or not.

Hope you enjoyed our little display while they last.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Fall is falling!

With the passing of September we noted what I feel an earlier leaf fall than normal. The moderately strong northwest winds yesterday, things began to let loose in full force.

Generally we anticipate our foliage to peak color around the first of October and leaf fall in full force around the 10th of the month. Was it the earlier than normal start to the year that advanced the growth cycle or was it the near record levels of rainfall we received since the 2nd of June?

The pine trees are much more yellow than in years past, heavy with second and third year Needles ready to fall.

I’ve also noted the heaviest Oak acorn nut litter that I can ever remember on the course. Tee boxes cart paths just covered. At times you have to watch your step because they seam like marbles under foot.

Editorial; “Trees are weeds!” There will be portions of the course that will not see sunlight until next spring. Soils in the shade will stay excessively moist promoting diseases like snow mold to take hold.

Is this a signal of an early winter? The Farmers Almanac predicts a warm wet winter. As I remember they were way wrong last winter. Time will tell.  (Is that a mean reminder or what? ;o)


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Course Closed!

Water, water everywhere! Break out the webbed feet everyone.

I thought I would share with you some course photos of your flooded golf course.

You can see for yourself why the course was closed. Tri City was closed as well due to standing water on fairways.

I was informed the Wisconsin River Valley Improvement Authority called Tim’s wife alerting her to inform the dam operators that they will be releasing pent up water upstream and to expect a flow rate of fifty thousand cubic feet per minute. At that rate the water should be 2 to 3 feet OVER the flash planks on the Centrallia dam. With this rain and more coming I think we’ve gone from “near record” to record rainfall levels for the year.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nature talks

I always bench mark the seasons by plant growth and color. Trees are always a first indicator, but grass plants tell a story to. Older Bentgrass varieties change color (Purple) when nighttime temperatures fall into the forties. Early last week, just past Labor Day, I noticed that our putting greens were not growing as actively as they were just a week before.

Greens mower operators were now dumping their buckets once per nine holes of cut. During the warm humid “corn growing” weather in July and August of this past year and with all the precipitation we received, our mower operators had to dump every other green or they would find excessive clipping residue left for our clean up lap cut. It was during that time as well that our Plant Growth Regulators were lasting but five days; not the two weeks we were budgeted for.

It is common knowledge that shorter days coupled with cooler nights trigger slower growth but I had a nagging question in my mind was it because they simply run out of steam due to a lack of fertility? Plant growth dictates when we should stop aerification knowing that the holes will no longer fully heal in this fall. Plant growth also tells us when supplemental fertilization will have limited negative impact on putting green speeds yet provides the plant with ample time to preload carbohydrates for winter survival. With changes in scientific study detecting when the plant absorbs and utilizes plant nutrients we will use the lack of plant growth to fertilize a full month before our normal "Late Season" application which is timed to the second killing frost. We always listen to Mother Nature.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Caring for your Assets

One of the things we have been complimented on many times over the years is the appearance of our turf equipment inventory. Guest superintendents, members and especially vendors that sell “iron” for a living always ask if that mower is new. When I tell them the age and hours of the unit in question they’ll usually respond with a big “wow!” I’ll let you in on our dirty little secret. We wash our machines after each use.

When I first learned of another superintendent washing and waxing equipment daily I thought to myself, he’s nuts! Sure he’s got a multi million dollar budget and migrant workers; he can afford to do anything he’d like!

Washing our equipment daily wasn’t always done this way; our new shop built in 1999 provided us with that opportunity via a clean asphalt covered wash pad. Crew members no longer had to stand ankle deep in mud to clean equipment after use. Thus a tradition was born.

We pay particular care to the wheels and flat metal surfaces as juices from grass clippings are quite corrosive. While this may appear to be a time consuming chore, if done daily is quick and easy to keep up with and seldom adds more than ten minutes to the job. Research shows that operators take better care of equipment that is in good shape. We want to keep it that way. Washing our equipment daily should pay for itself over time as we recognize increased trade in values when it comes time to replace it.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Pok'n Holes.

I spent close to 21 hours this past week “spiking” fairways in a poor mans attempt at eliminating some the hydrophobic areas found on fairway turf.

My main concern is that Poa annua or annual bluegrass will colonize the voids and set in motion the endless cycle of grass then no grass when it checks out during the first sign of summer stress.

Poking holes will allow for better water penetration into the soil profile.

Ideally, we would treat hydrophobic areas chemically with wetting agents. In perfect times we would have done both.

The near record levels of rain led to short plant roots this summer. Couple that with the extra cart traffic we witnessed not to mention running heavy mowers over wet fairway turf created compacted soils which magnified our problem areas about the course.  Only our worse fairways were “spiked” in there entirety.

Manning the aerifier alone brought back memories of the 8 six hour days we would spend aerifying fairways with one unit. It would take us two weeks to completely get through the course and we always prayed for mother natures cooperation.


Friday, August 20, 2010

First signs of Fall

You might see leaves on a tree under stress beginning to change color or you may have noticed small birds foraging for seeds on crabgrass seed stalks but for me a sure sign of fall is our annual crew picnic held each year as a thank you send off for our departing college students.

I bring this to your attention as we will be modifying our maintenance schedules to compensate for the loss of manpower. The frequency in which tasks are completed will be reduced with some jobs shifted to other parts of the week and we will simply eliminate some altogether until the return of the next season. Always bitter sweet.


*#@&&!!! CRABGRASS!

Crabgrass: “Mother Nature, What a bountiful crop you've produced this year!” The summer annual Digitaria sanguinalis or Crabgrass seems to have taken over the world this year when compared to previous years and our two golf courses offered no resistance to this yearly pest invasion.

There are two reasons for this. First is that we had an early warm spring this year that put plant growth two to three weeks ahead of normal when comparing growing degree days with those of other years. If your lawn has a severe crabgrass problem this year, your preventative control measures may have been put down too late to control germination. Mistiming of an application was easily done this year. Secondly, we’ve had warm and humid conditions for weeks on end, ideal conditions that allowed the plant to grow exponentially this year. Also, severe diseases removed vast amounts of Annual Bluegrass (Poa annua) from the turf creating voids that were rapidly filled by this adventitious plant whose seeds can lay dormant in the soil for decades.

Notice the lack of traffic tolerance of the crabgrass plant under the constant pounding of the beverage cart multiple trips over the same tracks.
Now the question I ponder is do I aerify Tri City fairways this fall through the extensive patches of Crabgrass with the knowledge that there are billions of seeds on stalks ready to fall into these newly made growth chambers? I’m coupling this with the knowledge that this is an annual plant and that any seed that would happen to germinate this fall should be killed by the first frost. In the first photo you can clearly see the crabgrass follows the contour lines of a fairway cut that is much closer to the ground.  Was this caused by repeated fall aerifcations? (Answer “yes” to aerification this fall as this weed seed germinates in the spring. Better to have open holes now over next spring if the turf is weak. Also this is a good time to interseed your turf with desirable seed grasses allowing them the time to become established before winter hopefully with enough growth that they can grow and shade out any crabgrass poised to germinate next spring.)

Hopefully future budgets will allow the purchase of herbicides necessary to prevent spring germination or post emergence of this weed.

Speaking of crabgrass, in the photo below is a trial experiment using never before planted and I mean in the world planted "Round up Ready Ryegrass." 

We are experimenting to see if we can establish a combination of Ryegrass and low mow Bluegrass on Tri City fairways as a means of creating better fairway playing conditions there.  Once established, we should be able to remove and control all grass and broadleafed weeds with a single application of Round up at a low cost to the budget.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wall Street Journal "The Ugly Summer of 2010."

Here's the link to the newspaper article.

Not sure how long the link will stay active
Enjoy as we've seen another 1.4" of rain.  Even our puddles are drowning in water.....


Thursday, August 12, 2010

EBay Saves you money.

     Lost my camera out on the golf course somewhere and didn't find it until after the deluge early Wednesday morning. Digital camera and water = fried no longer working camera despite my efforts of disassembly and drying with compressed air. Oh well, I needed a newer model anyway Speaking of rain, since Sunday morning we’ve seen an additional 3.7 inches in the past four days. With all the heat and humidity (dew points in the 70’s) I wouldn’t bet against seeing Pythium raise its ugly head. I hope not, as we no longer apply a preventative chemical application to fairway turfs. With highs predicted in the low 90’s forecast for Thursday coupled with standing water present on several back nine fairways I have my doubts.

    Speaking of money, one of our Cushman Utility Vehicles governor self destructed internally. Just bits and pieces of metal inside. We called for availability and costs and were told there were no rebuild parts available and that a new one would cost over $1050! After calling a Dale Morrison CGS at Trappers Turn who rebuilds old Cushman’s as a hobby asked me if I tried to find the part on EBay. After a brief search, setting up both EBay and PayPal accounts we located and purchased a used part for $161.75 saving my maintenance budget almost $900! We got lucky this time, can not say the same about some repair costs encountered this summer as no fault of our own.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Why does Turf Dies in the Summer?

I stumbled across this video link via a fellow Turfnetter Jerry Coldiron, CGCS that I thought you might like to watch.  Enjoy as another week of heat and high humidities is in the forecast.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Boot Blight Bug Dope

With all the rain we’ve seen over the past couple of months has lead to an explosion of mosquitoes everywhere on the course. The photo is a reminder that the aerosol in the sprays is harmful to the turf. (Makes me wonder what this stuff does to the skin?) Please apply sprays to your person over asphalt or gravel cart paths.

I’m guessing a size eleven.

And as a bonus:  The old saying goes;  "The more rain you get, the more you need."  This is a photo of Hydrophobic areas on our third fairway.  It is not a disease but sure looks bad.  Hydrophobic soils are created by soil bacteria that deposit a "waxy coating" over the soil particals.  Water is unable to adhere and is basically shed.  This happened in spite of the fact we've seen 15" of rain since the first of June.  Preventitive treatments of wetting agents, even in wet years, help strip the wax coating from the soil allowing the plant available water to stick.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Glad You Asked That

From time to time I’m asked questions out on the course about what’s happening on the course.

For example, “How did you get the ‘Big Cups’ into the green?” We used a “Big” cup turf plugging tool like the one pictured below.

It took a lot of brute force and effort. My arms, shoulders were sore for a few days afterwards.  The real take home message I found was the exposure of the subsoil for several greens was just awful to put it politely.  (#14, 16 and 9.)  I'm amazed we're able to keep growing not to mention alive on those greens.  Talk about inconsistancies between putting surfaces.  Thank explains a lot.

Do we have to spray chemicals on the course? Here’s a picture of a test plot at the University of Wisconsin’s OJ Noer Turfgrass research Station on a section of a Poa/Bentgrass putting green surface when they decided to “Go Green” by eliminating chemical inputs. The picture was taken 07/29/10. We spray to keep the turf alive and this has been a terribly stressful one to date.

You think our greens are bumpy and slow when the Poa is seeding, they’re REALLY SLOW when the Poa is missing!  BTW, This is where your generous $5 contribution on your annual Bull's Eye membership dues statements goes.  As budgets have been slashed, the turfgrass research center, no different from other non profit organizations, has too seen a fall in donations.  If you like golf and the turf the game is played on, please consider making an annual contribution.  New restrictions and regulations enacted by our legislators will place an even greater burden on our ability to grow and maintain golf courses in the future.  Research conducted at the OJ Noer Center and others will help us along that way.

Speaking of rain, we’ve received 14.99 inches of rain since June 2nd with more rain predicted through the 31st of July. Carts>NOCARTS>Carts>NOCARTS. Sheesh!

And with the rain, humidity and heat I offer this photo.

It has been suggested that I cut roughs once per week at a lower height of cut.  With all the rain, heat and humidity we've seen this year, corn growing weather, the plant growth has been out of this world.  The photo above shows the clipping mess in an area that receives one mowing per week.  At a lower height of cut, we would be removing too much of the plant in one cutting injuring the plant.  We've stood by our two times per week schedule to mitigate having a wall to wall mess.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Respect for your Course.

Come on; show a little compassion for your course! This isn’t the US Open! Move the ball off the collar. I’ve got a divot from an errant shot on the putting surface on your seventh green that looks like this too. Please move your ball if you are NOT playing in a match or tournament. Thanks.

FYI: Most divots I’ve seen over the course of my career on putting green surfaces were scalps made in anger next to the cup after a player missed a putt. (The greens fault of course.)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The US Open Browns

US Open Greens.....err Browns.

Blame it on the Poa. Yeah right. Conversations I had with members this past weekend regarding the appearance of the putting greens at Pebble Beach is the basis for this conversation. First and foremost, I hated it. It was difficult to turn on the my television and look at those surfaces.  The bleamishes, the spots of dead grass, it was nightmarish.  I didn’t like how the ball rolled across these areas and I swear they fell into a depression each time the ball stopped rolling. The talking heads or "on air talent" all blamed the Poa.  I blamed the severe moisture stress the greens were subjected to and the resulting hydrophobic soil conditions for the appearance of those putting greens surfaces. Those patches could have been very easily the only Bentgrass found on those greens!

I’ll post a couple of pictures taken today of hydrophobic soils on Bull’s Eye and these areas are now showing up after four weeks and nearly seven inches of rain for the month of June. Also I’ll paste a link to the USGA’s comments on the appearance of Pebble Beach when I track down the article for a scoop of the "official dirt" when the forum I read regularly is back online.

Can’t really say I would like to fork out $499 to play on putting greens that look like those did for the open. I do know they didn’t look like that during the 2000 US Open when I stood on the 4th green (or was it the 11th?) as a buddy of mine Dave Ward CGCS of Olympia Fields Golf Course preparing for the 2001 US Open took stimp meter readings all for the purpose of putting green consistency.