Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Wee One Foundation

I just wanted to share this video with you regarding the Wee One Foundation.  I'd look to both Wayne Otto and Rod Johnson for advice when I found myself with questions I couldn't figure out on my own.  FYI:  While I wasn't in the video, Rod did mention volunteer superintendents that helped prep the course for the event.  (My job was to empty grass clippings from mower baskets into a manure spreader and then finally spread those clippings in out of play rough areas.)

If you would like more information or you would like to play in the event yourself, please feel free to call me for more information. _Mk

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Red Solo Cups

Sorry, but its a Kienert tradition to "Pre Celebrate" another Badger FB victory by using a Red Solo Cup for a simple pregame Bloody....  Enjoy Toby Keith's CMT video.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

When Cart Paths Bleed.

Touring your golf course to see how well our "Smiley" surface drains were working I was reminded of a blog idea I wanted to post from a few weeks back.

With the holidays and football, it just fell off the table I guess.  With the recent warm weather and rains that followed a week long cold snap and with knowledge not all golf courses in the State closed for winter, I wanted to post this head scratchier.  "When cart paths bleed."
Because "Winter Kill" is a very real and costly concern for courses in Wisconsin, I've often wondered if I could link some of the turfs injury to the frost as it leaves the soil.  Late season play is generally based on the leaves and never on the soils condition.  The main premise of my concern is based on the phenomenon in some of the photo's seen below.

Question; At what time does play, cart traffic cause significant loss of turf grass and at what time should we as responsible turf grass managers close the course for the season to protect your greatest asset, the golf course for the year?

In the photo's you can clearly see moisture on the turf grass leaves following leave debris removal by our blowing equipment. These wheel prints could have just as easily been formed by golf cart tires.  You have to really look closely to see the outline of a footprint but trust me it is there.  It is more visible on closely cut greens but hidden from our view today due to our recent heavy winter coat of topdressings.

Winter injury caused by play, carts and equipment will be a topic of discussion for years to come as we continue witnessing climate change.  As golf course managers, we all know the "How and Why" turf dies, we just have never been able to identify "When" turf dies!  (but we all know what it looks like and we both can agree, we don't like seeing it when it's there before our eyes.) _Mk

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Vista's restored

Taking advantage of the weather (snowless course) work continued on tree and Sumac removals on the Club house hillside and the "original #4 fairway" of the Stiles and VanKleck's 1922 design of Bull's Eye Country Club.
I'm always amazed at the capacity of growth of the Sumac plant.  Some canes cut down were at least eight feet in height!  (The sumac plants are stabilizing an unsettled excessively steep bank keeping the club house patio and putting green from sliding into the river...barely.)

Twelve man hours later (counting the man taking this photo,) your view up river has been restored.
Here is a view looking down "old #4" or as you would know it today as a look from #10 green down onto #16 fairway.  The white pines had grown to a height of 24 - 30 feet at the time of this removal.

FYI:  Those trees were planted in the spring of 1987 or 1988.  Trees were "grubbed from the woods" and planted primarily to thwart winter sledding by the general public trespassing on our private property.  The sledders would stand on #10 green compacting the snow into ice killing the putting surface below.  By now most of you know first hand what winter kill looks like after this season of misery.  _Mk

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Benefits of Turf

Please click on video link to view.  _Mk

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pulling out all the stops?

Besides tree removal, our very weak sixteenth green has been covered with a turf blanket for this winter.  It is hoped that is cover will keep the soil warmer longer extending the available time for root growth before winter shuts things down.

This wind ripped tattered old beast was purchased in 1988 to aid growing in the fifteenth green.  This type of cover allows moisture and oxygen exchange does nothing to prevent ice formation underneath, the principle culprit to this greens troubles this season. 

Green cover technology has changed much over the past twenty five years as more research into winter injury has been uncovered.  These blankets are not cheap, need to be installed before the soil freezes, have a short lifespan and summer storage can be an issue but are worth their weight in gold if they prevent winter kill. _Mk

Smilely Drains

In an effort to assist rapid evacuation of water off putting greens during snow melt, sections of sod was removed in drainage patterns on greens suseptable to winter injury caused by ice damage.

The removed sod was placed over the sand in bunkers for safe keeping.  (Having heard of the successful implimentation of this practice on other courses, I have no experience if this sod will survive winter due to the lack of moisture and desication.  I would rather have dead turf in bunkers vs. dead turf on greens all things considered.)
All our efforts didn't come without fail.  The turf is still very weak and the lack of rooting going into winter is alarming.  As seen in the photo below, the turf is not "knitted" together well enough preventing its removal on greens that really needed this treatment.
Editors Note:  Over time a lip of sand has built up in the collar to bluegrass interface.  This lip was formed by the heavy topdressing requirements needed to backfill aerification holes.  To fill aerification holes sand is moved by sweeping equipment to green centers then back off the green to disperse it.  Over many years of this practice a lip was gradually being formed.  This lip slows positive drainage and backs up water on the green creating additional stress to the turf being growing there. Unfortuneatly these areas are the same "walk on and walk off" areas that recieve the most foot traffic and has shown historically the most winter damage throughout the years.  Once the sod has regained strength, it will be removed and the subsurface soil removed to lower this area to regain positive drainage flows.  _Mk 

Oh how the mighty have fallen!

The closing of the golf course for the season has allowed the greens section staff to redirect its maintenance focus on your course.  Yes there is plenty of clean up in the aftermath of heavy snowfall of November 9th married with the late leaf fall of the Oaks and Silver Maples the course is an absolute mess.

Taking advantage of cool dry days we attacked some of the shade issues around several green sites the most noticeable being around our sixteenth green.  There we removed over 25 large long standing timbers of Pine and Oak that cast heavy shade on this green for over five decades.  Tree removal there will allow greater light penetration and improve air circulation.

Other green sites, the canopies was selectively thinned to remove trees that cast cold shadows over putting greens making for weak putting surfaces.  Zones of shade that typically could be blamed for ice damage to putting surfaces because the shade prevented uniform snow melt and drying of those areas. These areas will be further evaluated over time to see if additional thinning of the stand is needed.  As it was so aptly stated, "you can't put em back up once they're on the ground."
A second goal was to avoid changing the overall look and feel of the golf hole.  Here the heavy shadows cast by White Pines were removed leaving Red Pines behind to maintain appearances.

After a week of this, there are plenty of sore muscles and two broken chainsaws to show for our work.  _Mk

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Course Closed for the Season.

The Bull's Eye Country Club is closed for the season. 

Yesterday's 4.8" of snowfall did it.  Sure glad I got a lot of "traditional work" done before the snow fell in order to put your course to bed for the long winter ahead.  Still plan on adding "smiley drains to putting surfaces to see if we can improve putting green surface drainage at snow melt.

Please be safe and have a wonderful winter.  We hope to see everyone next year.  _Mk

Friday, November 4, 2011

Irrigation System Drying

First you need a big compressor.

Second you need good help to manually actuate the controllers.

Third you need good seasoned help to visually inspect the heads.

And you are looking for this.

Because you really want to avoid this. 

Happens every year even with pressure regulation devices in place.  _Mk

The White Flag lap.

Snow mold chemicals in place, check.  Felling trees and splitting firewood during frost delays, check.  Pond fountain pulled from pond, check.  Waiting for the Oak leaves to fall for that one last full course clean up, check. 

Irrigation system drying now done, check.  Poor mans deep tine aerification completed one week early due to poor weather, check.  Topdressing greens to protect the crowns from winters ills before the snow flies, check. 

My list is getting smaller and smaller and maybe I'll finally be able to reclaim some desktop space, check.  On the horizon is getting your equipment and cart fleets ready for next year, Check, Check, Check!  It can't be next year already? It'll be here before you know it, ready or not!  _Mk

Work and No Play makes for a very dull day!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Employees can be Stooge's at times.

I had three "Ragamuffins" pop into my shop asking if I had any work just a little after 7 AM this morning.  They said they could count and really clean up the course now that the leaves are falling.

Joan, Cheryl and Marge
They only went by their first names Larry, Curly and Moe.  One of them constantly went "Nuk,nuk,nuk!"  I remember two of them really had a nasty "Habit" about them a few years back and were full on "Nun sense" too.

I hate to admit this but they are a lot better looking than some of the applicants I've seen this year!  What do you think, should I hire them?

"Happy Halloween" from Larry, Curly and Mo and all of us on your Green Section Staff!
Joe, Tim, Matt, Brian, Joan, Cheryl, Marge, Ron, Steve, Pete.

These "Stooges" really made my day!  It's great to see fellow BECC Staffers having fun on the job!  Thanks girls for the memories and the treats.  They guys on the crew were still talking about your visit over lunch. _Mk

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Growing (err..Mowing) Season is Over!

Well there is a point in time during every golfing season when the turf ceases to grow and that time has come.

This bucket is full of needles and leaves.  Very little turf is seen and this was after cutting(?) ten greens!
We've backed off the frequency of cutting playing surfaces and have been doing that for a couple of weeks mowing only to "clean up" pine needles and leaf debris.  Now with the colder temperatures and limited amounts of daylight, it is actually in our best interest to allow the turf to became a little "shaggy" going into winter.  The extra length will allow for more photosynthetic surface for greater carbohydrate building and storage.  The turf will depend on that energy source for rebirth next spring.  The greens will be "rolled" but not cut to smooth out putting surfaces until the course closes for the season.  This is very important to eliminate mowing as final contact snow mold chemicals will be in place on the leaf blade.  They're expensive and need to stay in place for almost 150 days.  We'd be wasting your dues dollar to mow them off.  _Mk

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hindsight is 2020 but it's also a year in the future.

I'm a firm believer of seed establishment of turfgrass over sod's immediate gratification!

For many years I've maintained the mantra that "If it is sown there and grows there it will stay there until it dies there!"  Well that was until the miserable spring and summer of 2011 pushed me to the limits of my tolerance levels when trying to re-establish turf cover on our sixteenth greens putting surface.  I set the fifteenth of September as a drop dead date in my mind knowing seed establishment after this date is greatly compromised by frost and cold shorter days.  If measurable gains were not attained by that date, I would do something I didn't want to do and that was to plug out the ulcers with our nursery green sod. 

A template was used to maintain uniform plug thickness.

Larger areas were sodded at traditional sod cutter widths and is much more difficult to bring to level.
My reluctance to use sod from our nursery green in the first place stems from the fact it is grown on some very bad greens mix (rounded sand particles making it unstable under foot and it's extremely hydrophobic.)  I didn't care to create a problem for myself in two locations until now.  Secondly, this sod is grown in full sun and would have to transition to a green site that is at best partial shade.  Third, this nursery sod is a hybrid bentgrass plant Alpha, whose density and color would not match up well in a putting green chock full of a "perennial" Annual Bluegrass plants. Turf that has survived under those light conditions in that location since the mid sixties. 

My network of peers from all walks of the profession all advised me to "avoid sod at all costs because there are too many obstacles to overcome, and the patches will be visible for most of a decade.  I can attest to that as there was an ultra visible sod stripe through the middle of one of our greens needed to repair an hydraulic oil leak that was visible for better than eight years when I took this job so many years ago.  I too remember using my own version of "washed sod" to hasten (another lesson learned) the opening of #15 green the summer of 1989 that remains visible to this day with a sharp eye. 

You will know this area was sodded for many years to come. (2020?)
"Washed sod" is a soil-less sod that has had the soil cleaned from the plants roots in order to avoid issues associated with soil layering.  Layering is when one layer of soil with certain physical properties is placed over another soil type creating distinct physical boundaries between the two.  It is these missed matched layers that create substantial issues in rooting and water movement across unmatched boundaries.  If these boundaries are too severe rooting will not take place preventing the sod from "taking" in its establishment phase.  There are probably easier ways to have said that but layering is an inherent problem associated with any sod establishment.  It has to be "baby-sat" as much if not more than a site that has been seeded and can still be lost through some sort of rejection  (I.E. being forced to grow at a lower height of cut than what it was maintained at before it was sold as sod.)

Shade is not the only issue facing #16.  This push up style of green was made with donated Muck soil.
Why the failure this season?  Why didn't we see any re-establishment of the turf coming from below ground root structures as we have seen in other years when similar ice damage occurred?  Where was the tremendous reserve of Poa seed in the soil?  Seed that had been genetically altered to survive this shaded environment.  I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that one as I have too many questions that go to this day without sufficient answers.  Was it disease?  Did C-15 decline (bacterial wilt) finally remove the Toronto bentgrass?  After all this green was sprigged with Toronto in the mid sixties.  I would have thought the Toronto turf would have been history by now.

A disease sample sent to the University of Wisconsin Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab from this green did not show a cause for decline and currently is listed as "Abiotic Stress."  However speaking with Dr. Jim Kerns, turfgrass plant pathologist at the University of Wisconsin said and I quote, "this sample was 'unlike' any sample to cross my desk this season."  You can be sure the next time I see similar symptoms I'm going to personally rush a sample into the lab.

Frustration, you can see the success in our May 1st seeding attempt, but why hasn't this plant spread out filling in the voids?
Why didn't our efforts to minimize seedling mortality work this year when it has so many times in previous years?  After all we raised the height of cut on this green.  We used a walking greens mower outfitted with solid rollers. We mowed this green every other day or not at all until the seedlings had a chance to break into its third leaf stage to further reduce mower shock on the new plants.  We hand watered exclusively and topdressed frequently to promote, protect and preserve the crowns and root systems.  We used fresh seed and covered the plots with "Seed-Guard" tarps to prevent mower injury and to limit foot traffic on these damaged sections.  Finally, the why of all whys!  Why didn't the plants that grew and established themselves in the aerification holes on our May 1st interseeding date spread out and fill in?  To this day you can still see the rows of plants just hanging back!  There by last count we spread six pounds of nitrogen on that turf to force spreading top growth.

Our patched project looks good from a distance.
"The Halo Effect,"  I've never sodded without this symptom showing up. Optical illusion between healthy dense turf plug or the thin turf being plugged into?  Or is it the first signs of incompatibility between the new and old surfaces?

To this end, we should consider limiting fall play on some of our weakened putting surfaces.  We know why turf dies but we do not know when the turf dies.  As the turf is no longer actively growing, how much additional duress can we place on weakened turf before it succumbs is any ones guess?  We'll all know the answer to this question next spring.

Speaking of next spring.  Should we experience another episode of winter injury like we did this year, there will be temporary greens employed to hasten recovery!  With that said, we will be utilizing as many preventative measures as our budget allows to mitigate turf loss this winter.  We will be removing a ring of sod to aid surface drainage before winter in an attempt to alleviate the ponding of water on putting surfaces.  Greens will also "solid tine" greens before snow cover to open some channels to move water away from the crowns.  (Deep tining would be better.)  And will be following the latest development in turf covers to see if they could assist us here.  _Mk

Friday, October 14, 2011

Why is the golf hole 4.25" wide?

I thought I would share Dr. Karl Danneberger's explaination as to why the golf hole is 4.25" wide.  Please enjoy.  _Mk

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall (Spring) Solstice

Recently I spent time collating photo's in an effort to identify trees which cast the most shadows on our greens.  Shadows as you know prevent uniform melting and drying down of turf under a blanket of snow and or ice.  Ice crystals pierce cell walls killing them when the crowns of the plants are refrozen if they are holding excessive amounts of water. 

I took photo's as near to the first day of summer, cloud cover permitting with the idea of comparing those with the first day of fall.  It's in my minds eye September photo's should mirror those the first day of Spring come next March.  All things being equal, we should get an idea what trees are casting shadows that prevent good snow melt.  I didn't take Noon and 2 PM photo's on June 21st as the sun was too high in the sky to determine which green I was standing on.  I also tried to remember which sprinkler head I stood on to keep sun angles as near the same as possible.

I'll be honest with you, this is a lot more difficult than you might guess but is truly eye opening.  Trees that are well off the green can create the most problems. 

#2 green June sunrise.  Trees are well back up the fairway.
 Now take #16 for example.  On the first day of summer, it is the trees on the right side of the fairway that eliminate early to mid morning light. 

#16 green on a June sunrise.
Naturally it is the trees on the left that cause problems when the sun reaches the equator.
#16 green September sunrise.
I know through my education that morning sun is the best sun, but at what time of the day are you OK with shadows?  10 AM?  Noon?  2PM?  Questions that are not easily answered when you consider day lenght changes. 

Oh, Arborcom, where are you when a real golf course cut from native forest lands needs you but isn't able?  _Mk

Expanded roller theory.

Several years ago I had a discussion with a person that asked me pointedly why I wanted greens mower cutting heads with roller brush attachments when so many other golf courses didn't specify them with their new mower orders.  Yes, they're a "pricey" option but the pictures speak for themselves.

With roller brush attachment.

Without roller brushes!
 As clippings "stick" to the roller it expands swelling it and making  it larger.  As the roller expands the bedknive (actual cutting surface) is lifted higher off the turf raising the effective height of cut.  A quick check with a height of cut gauge confirmed a difference of .010" to .030" with debris on the roller vs. a clean.  With that said, if you are trying to maintain 1/8th of an inch cutting height on greens, adding .030" to you roller is giving you 5/32nds of an inch height of cut.  That's was a "low" height of cut for a green back in the 70's!  Now I hope you can see why I specified them on our fairway units too.  Just my two cents.  _MK

It's Raining Leaves!

Sorry for the lack of updates, but we've had our hands full keeping both courses playable during this correct stretch of warm weather.

I have more open seats than operators to fill them.
I've enclosed a video from last Friday when we were trying to keep the course playable for a collegiate golf tournament.

I just blew this green off at most two hours ago!
Oh well, it's that time of year.  If you lose a ball and need one, just ask me for one because we're sure to find yours sooner or later.  _Mk

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Of Tree's and Turf.

We all know tree's are tremendous "pumps" when it comes to pulling water from the soil and away from the desired turfgrass we're trying to as seen from the photo example below.  Tree roots have been shown to graft with companion trees to branch out far and wide to satisfy their thirst for a drink.  I'd be thirsty too if I had to haul several gallons of water up eighty feet.  That's equivalent to the height of an eight story building!  My back hurts just writing that.
However a tree the size of this one, died and was removed this spring creating a whole new issue for us that was never a problem before when this tree stood alive.

Now, after removal, we have a pot hole full of standing water!  You can just make out the darker shade of green turf, the backfilled stump hole, just above the pocket of standing water.

Tree's and Turf! Damned if you remove them, damned if you don't!  _Mk

Color Blind?

No we are not color blind.  It's the same material just a different color. The supplier of our golf cart path gravel is now mining a new quarry and no longer produces the gray path material we've used in the past. I like the color change but not the combination of the two. Slowly over time our paths will take on the red hue of rotten granite as we top dress ruts and potholes. _Mk

Monday, September 26, 2011

Drainage 101

You may have seen your grounds crew busy down on #16 fairway and the cut through between #14 and 16 making repairs to the sub surface water drainage system found there.  This system was first installed in the late sixties, early seventies to drop the water table in those fairways in an effort to keep them playable.

With the heavy rains that pounded the course this past summer those areas often stood wet and did not drain for long periods of time.  To find some answers, we hired a hydro-blasting firm to inspect the drain lines between the eleventh and fourteenth fairways.

I suspected tree roots overtime had grown into and plugged drain lines, what I didn't expect to find was the irrigation main installed in 1994 cut the drain line compromising its ability to function.  I was always led to believe this drain line was several feet under ground.

Note the flow of water pouring from the pipe on left.

The irrigation contractor poured washed stone around the pipe to allow some drainage but in wet years this make shift repair wasn't enough.

Removing the old tree root plugged drain tile.
I've included several photo's to give you an idea of the scope of some of the work.  Because I was on the "idiots end" of a shovel, in a wet hole that isn't kind to electronic gear, I didn't get all the photo's needed to complete this essay.

"Clogged arteries!"

New tile buried under a bed of washed stone.  What you didn't get to see was the small river flowing downstream before the drain tile and gravel was added.

Water "free flowing" as a result of our repair.
Heavy rainfall recorded on Monday September 26th will be the first test of our repair.  I'm confident I will not be greeted by a lake in that cut through area.  This system has served the club well over time and requires more maintenance.  Now that we have repaired the severed line it is our intent to scope the rest of the system to see if we can identify more problems that we can fix to keep her running freely.  _Mk