Saturday, August 27, 2011

The best job in Golf.

The best job in golf...hint,,,I miss my dog....

Golf Boys

You'll like this one if you like 'Rap'n it in the hole...'

Mess'n w/Sasquash....

Supts.  Humor.....Please click on link.

Why lawns turn Brown.

Please click on link below.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Tale of Two Greens.

  • Bull's Eye #16 green;  "I came out of winter looking like this."
#16 Green.

  • Tri City #3 green;  "I came out of winter looking like this."

Tri City #3 green.

  • I was cut seven days per week, rolled 3-4 times per week, topdressed regularly, sprayed biweekly on schedule, watered as needed.
#16 green.

  • I was treated the same as #16. The only difference in routine maintenance is my mowing height of cut is .045 of an inch higher.

  • When things got tough this summer, I was watered by hand and cut using a walking mower with a solid roller to reduce the stress on me.
#16 green.

  • I was cut with the same old tri plex and I don't even have a quick coupling valve needed for hand watering.

#3 green.

  • I was seeded no less than eight times. Live sod plugs or sprigs were used at one time to try to help me fill in and I was fertilized biweekly to help me grow strong.

#16 green.

  • I wasn't seeded at all and the only fertilizer I received came with the sprayer at around a tenth of a pound of Nitrogen.
#3 green.
 #3;  Today, I look like this!

TC #3 Green.

#16;  And today I look and feel much worse than this.  Turf blankets cover my sores.
BE #16 green.
  • The only difference in our management programs of note looking back in time was I was aerified in September 2010.
TC #3 green.

  • I wasn't aerified at all in 2010.

Some times you just scratch your head;  "Toss everything but the kitchen sink" at a problem OR is it "better to leave well enough alone?"  You decide.  _Mk

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nose Hairs

Just a close up of one of the open aerification hole or growth chamber as I call them showing prominently two seedlings emerging to fill in our thin putting green turf.  Proof that our inter-seeding can and does work when the time and conditions are right.  Plants like these survive better because their growing points are sub ground having protection from the mower blades and foot traffic.
Two individual bentgrass plants can be seen just south of the ball point pen tip.
You can see rows of inter-seeded grass appearing as straight lines in the aerification holes.
While this is progress there is still a long way for this plant to grow before it reaches maturity.  It is generally under stood that less than 5% of the seedlings survive inter-seeding dieing as a result of competition from surrounding plants such as Poa.  I like to think of it as 5% less Poa I have to worry about keeping alive in years like this. _Mk

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guarding our investment

Protective plant blanket.

What the "heck" is that?  "The heck" is a product called Seed Guard.  It is a cover or a turf blanket that manipulates the "local environment" underneath offering protection against the dessication effects of drying winds and provides cooling shade that keeps temperatures more uniform both day and night.  It also minimizes moisture loss as a result favoring seed germination and establishment.

Probably the greatest benefit of the blanket is that it keeps both men and machine away.  Golfers walk around it and mowers can't mow it.  Sweet.  You can both chip and put over it.  (It probably is less bumpy than trying the same over thin turf.)

The blankets will be moved once a week for inspection and to mow the turf below.  It will be several weeks before the blankets are lifted any where from two to six weeks.  That is a best guess on my part as my only experience with them are in the spring of the year when temperatures are a lot colder.  They will be lifted when I feel the young turf is capable of withstanding traffic.

I did take air temperature readings and as a precaution made a chemical application to prevent Pythium formation when I found the surface temperature 20 degrees above air temperature.

It has been only one week past aerification and I'm detecting the emergence of seedlings in aerification holes.  Now we need the weather to cooperate and this plant to establish itself and grow spreading out and filling in all weakened areas.

The seeded "ulcers" should be thought of as the same as a new greens construction.  In the "grow in" phase of a new golf course under construction or renovation a green seeded in August is seldom ready for play until June of next year.  Heeling takes time.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Aerification Update: We're done-almost?

I wanted to let you know that we completed greens aerification on Friday in a light rain by noon.  The weatherman predicted showers and thunder storms to arrive after 3 PM.  He only missed by six hours!  We anticipated less than ideal cleanup conditions and modified our means to clean the cores from the final three greens completed.  So for now, that will explain the darker "soiled" appearance of those greens.  Rain will wash away the discoloration.  (As I write this, the all day rains predicted for Saturday doesn't look promising.  Nice job weatherman!)

Also I was asked an excellent question by a member that I would like to respond to.  The question was "if we closed one nine for a day could we have completed our task sooner?  My answer was yes and no and I'll explain.

Our total aerification time with clean up totaled 30 hours over the five day stretch.  (40 hours if you count the hand watering to settle sand in the holes done following lunch.)  That would have asked our men to put in two fifteen hour days!  At minimum wage, I don't think I would have had to many takers wanting to work from 6 AM until 9 PM.  Also remember they were performing back ground tasks maintaining two golf courses that were still in play.  Because of the suddeness upon which the aerification notice was thrust upon you I felt having a few greens out of play was better option for the club in the short run.  We met our goal of having all greens cleaned and in play by Noon of each day.  We almost lost this goal on Thursday (yes ladies, men's day) when the greens aerified #10, #11 & #13 remained in the shade past 11 AM. The aerification cores refused to dry to the point we could process them.

What added to our time was the physical nature of hand shoveling chopped cores from the green surface.

With the weakened state of so many of our greens due to the excessive heat and moisture I felt it best to remove cores by hand preventing further mechanical injury we've seen in the past when using our core harvesting equipment.  Also I chose to "recycle" cores by chopping them up using vertical mowers to keep some humus in place.  Hopefully the presence of some organic matter will to serve as a water resurvior for the bent grass seed we dropped in place.  Recycling cores reduced the amount of top dressing media I needed to purchase.

There is a down side to report with this aerification however.  The dry dome of air managed to stress the some Poa to the point of wilting on some greens.   Open holes dries the turf more quickly especially if the surface has been sealed by compaction or blue green algal scum.  It is my feeling if Poa can not make it through an aerification, then why should we keep it on a putting surface if it's going to up a die anyway?  As a result, some discoloration resulted where foot traffic was high around former pin locations.  This I admit surprised me a little as we basically "flooded" the surface to settle as much sand into the aerification hole as possible through hand watering as soon as the surface was cleared.  But then again, I'm not shocked because I was well aware of the non existant rooting back in early June when greens wilted when I tried to dry them out.  With warm days and cooler nights ahead those area's should recover nicely.

We still need to backfill aerification holes with sand that were underfilled early next week.  The sooner we get the sand settled in place the longer our greens mowers will stay sharp the better the greens will be.  Greens will be lightly fertilized to promote their filling in. 

With this big job behind us, I'm looking forward to better days ahead.

Action Plan:  What's in store?

The damage to our putting surfaces can be traced directly to the winter injury.  The board decree of "Maximun Risk" (keeping all greens open) worked nicely back in 2005 failed miserably this year.  With that said I propose the following plan of attack.

For the next 60 days (or the rest of the golfing season, whatever it takes) our weak putting surfaces will be placed on the following regimen.
1)  Following Mondays outing, greens will be topdressed to back fill any remaining open aerification holes.  Weather permitting and if I feel the greens can withstand the procedure.
2) Putting green height of cut will be increased to reduce mower stress.  Greens will be rolled M/W/F only.  So speed freaks beware, there will be a decrease in green speed but that will be your sacrifice to insure full and complete recovery.  Only healthy turf can support low mowing and as you can see, our greens are far from healthy.  I will push them with nitrogen fertilizer to promote growth and filling in of weak thin area's.  We will increase rolling frequency to but I'm not sure we can medigate speed loss with our currently owned roller set.  Another issue for another time.
3.) I will strongly recommend to the green committee that #16 be closed for the season or until the time I deam it healthy enough for play.  I'm planning on covering the ulcers with "seed guard" matting to aid in reestablishing turf.  Daily mowing will cease as our mowers have constantly killed most of our inter seedling to date. I will be cutting a temporary green into the approach large enough for you to enjoy and with time this surface will be lowered to a putting green height of cut we use at Tri City.
4) I will be descretely "roping off" the entrances to holes #2, 3, 11, 12, & 16 (others?) to prevent golfers from entering and exiting the green in the same spot.  Upon observation you will note that this is where most surface waters drain from the green and coinsides with the most common entry and exit point.  Wet area's are weak area's prone to compaction, poor rooting.  These area's were damaged by winter kill and have yet to heal because of foot traffic and mowing stress.  To further reduce stress in these area's, I will be doing away with any "Red" pin location sticking with white or blue pins.

Look forward to my future blog posts "The Anatomy of Murder" and "Overkill? A Tale of Two Greens."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

July 2011; Recaping the "High's and lows."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported July 2011 was the fourth warmest July on record.  In a follow up article both Minneapolis and Chicago tied at 71% of the days above normal for the month.  Wisconsin Rapids, half way between the two cities, it is a reasonable deduction that we were above normal seventy one percent of the time too.

Data gathered from our on site golf course weather station produced some interesting statistics as well.  The highest temperature for the month came on July 20th with a recording of 96.6.  I know cannot expect sympathy from those folks living in Dallas.  Our highest mean temperature (averaging the high and low for the day was July 1st coming in at 85.4 degrees.  (Not a good for sleeping.)  The warmest overnight low was recorded at 73.3 degrees on July 18th at 2:30 AM!  (I recall driving into work in Evansville, Ind. when a bank clock registered 88 degrees at 4:30  AM.  Now you know why I like being a Northerner!)

Now for some precipitation stats.  The golf course received 8.18" of precipitation for the month.  (That figure includes some irrigation.)  Days of rain (>.01") was 25.  Last I checked there were only 31 day's in the month.  We had 14 days of rainfall greater than one tenth of an inch and two days of rainfall exceeding one inch.  We set cart restrictions in areas that were never restricted in the past due to the ponding of puddles. 
There was a record rainfall on the 28th of July 2.95 inches of rain fell in one hours time.  I believe the airport recorded 3.2," a new rainfall record for a one hour period of time.  This storm washed out all bunkers, cart paths and floated duff from the forest floor out onto fairways creating a wet blanket that needed to be cleaned immediately before it could suffocate the turf below. 

2.95" of rain completely swept the erosion control rip/rap from it's base down on the fifth hole.
With all that rain, it is easy to see why root systems are non existent.

Root length observed is less than 1/4" AND these came from one of our healthy greens!  Thus the basis for an early unscheduled aerification.
It seemed like every thunderstorm produced a new crop of windfalls and debris that required cleaning up.  The highest wind speed came on July 1st clocking in at 36 MPH at 11:30 PM.  This storm took down our pumps and dropped a paltry .08" inches of rain.  By the time power was restored, it was too late to run any emergency water as the course was full on this fourth of July weekend Saturday.  On July 11th a wind gust of 31 MPH was recorded.  However I'm very thankful the storm that nailed Steven's Point only grazed us leaving us with a handful of fallen limbs to clean up in its aftermath.  About time we got break.  With all the wind and rain, we still managed to record 9 days of evaporation in excess of two tenths of an inch/day!  I remember manning hand hoses constantly in a effort to keep our compromised root systems alive for another day.

Those are the grizzly details from a beastly month.  Stay cool!  _Mk

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

24 Caret Solid Gold; Aerification Update.

Fourteen down, six greens to go (seven if you count the nursery green as I do.)  Perfect fall like weather with cool nights and warm days has made post aerification a snap.  We will be completing three greens on Thursday and completing the final three greens on Friday before the rains arrive.  I've got my fingers crossed.

Thank you for allowing us to get a jump on this vitally needed work.  To put it simply, our greens had no roots upon which to survive.  8.18" of Rain in July with record temperatures and humidity saw to their demise.  August is one of the best times of year to aerify and to replant lawns.  With that said, every green aerified to date has been interseeded.  With good fortune, some of the bentgrass will germinate and grow forcing out the weaker Poa plant that went "belly up" during the beastly month of July.  I will recap July's misery in a blog note to follow.  _Mk

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Aeration: A breath of fresh air for greens

Heads Up! Greens Aerification Notice:

Putting green surfaces at Bull's Eye will be aerified as soon as the weather turns cooler and less humid.  If  you recall, greens aerification to prepare putting greens for the on coming heat stress of summer was cancelled due to excessive heat levels on the day we set aside for this purpose back in June.

At present, we have no fewer than nine greens under extreme duress and in dire need of immediate attention.  It is my plan to aerify greens damaged by the winter kill first for the purpose of "interseeding" them using quarter inch tines with the narrowest spacing possible.  The aerification holes will create a "safe" zone from mowers for the seedling to establish and grow.  I have noted the our most successful interseeding of damaged green is found in aerification holes completed in early May.  As a result of treating winter damaged greens first means we will be bouncing back and forth between nines.

This is the best time of year to establish turf from seed and we are going to pull the trigger and take advantage of it.  Currently my thoughts are to close no more than three holes a day.  (We only own one aerifier and this method will impact play the least allowing us to reopen the green when ready.)  Our crews will be removing (shoveling) cores by hand to minimize damage to the greens.  Greens will be topdressed "just enough" to replace the material removed and "broomed"  (by hand?) to fill the aerification holes to the top.  They will be seeded and rolled. A heavily hand watering to settle the dust will follow.  Once drained, dry and firm, they will reopen for play.  Hopefully by noon each day.  My greatest fear is this; will the weakened putting surface roll over and die due to the stress of brooming sand into the holes?  But if the Poa dies, so be it, it will be to the benefit of bentgrass establishment. 

Signage will alert the golfer which hole is being worked on.  I will allow the golfer to hit his drive on that hole, but will not tolerate a shot for the sole purpose of crew safety.

I will post an aerification video from Pace Turf that better describes the benefits of aerification.