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