Monday, May 28, 2012

"Houston; We have a problem!"

When testing tine hole patterns using our Toro Procore 648 greens aerifier we experienced the following problem.

What you are looking at is two passes made on our nursery green using .25" needle tines on 2 x 5 tine holders for a total of 10 tines per block.  There was adequate soil moisture at the time of our test run.  We made the test run to evaluate tine spacing and depth for a summer stress management plan of action called "Venting."  I want to be pro-active and in action ready mode should we experience another summer like 2011.

This is unacceptable damage caused by a machine who's sole purpose is to make things better!

Here's a photo of post aerification damage taken in June of 2009.  In the photo above the damage is more severe because we used two rows of smaller open diameter tines and pulled cores in an effort to speed post aerification recovery primarily for golfer satisfaction.  At that time we blamed the scraping blades of the core harvester for causing the injury.  I recalled the pattern of our injured turf on several greens after last Augusts aerification!  Hell, instead of making things better, we've been making things worse! Poisoning our own well so to speak!

There's NO WAY I'm using this aerifier on putting surfaces until a solution is found!

The problem is a lifting of the turf and a tearing of the roots at some point below the surface.  In essence, the aerifier is acting like a sod cutter!  Sod with no roots and with an open hole to atmosphere quickly dries out and goes dormant or worse yet dies!

Our investigation into the cause of the problem and intent to secure a solution for our troubles took many avenues last week.

Equipment manager Tim Johnson read the operators manual from cover to cover and posted pictures of our problem on the Golf Tech website. We were given some suggestions to alleviate the problem.  He adjusted the angle of the head.  He adjusted the forward speed of the traction unit.  He investigated the turf guard hold down pressures against the turf.  He called other golf course mechanics.  Service bulletins were reviewed in an attempt to glean useful information.  Many test runs were made with the results analysed.

As Superintendent, I used my many turf grass connections in the industry and have been in email contact with golf course superintendents from Wisconsin and Minnesota that own the machine.  I asked them if they have seen the problems I've experienced and what they did to resolve them.  Two courses actually sent the machine back!  We were in contact with the engineers the Toro Company seeking their input and advice.  Reinders, our Toro distributor, sent three men to review the problem and offer recommendations. The problems were discussed with University of Wisconsin professors, one of whom labelled the machine as "extremely aggressive."  No argument there.

The recommendation and course of action we will follow will be to remove one row of tines from the tine assembly. To trial this tine configuration, Tri City greens will be aerified on Wednesday of this week. We have noted little if any damage to Tri City greens following aerification when using the single row tine blocks.  If I do, we will postpone the aerification of Bull's Eyes greens until the time we can secure other aerifiers that will do the job. 

Thanks for all the help, I'll keep you posted. _Mk


Monday, May 21, 2012

Busy Work: Week of May 21, 2012

Your green section staff is now focusing attention on putting surfaces (Round Two with May 1st being the first.) now that fairway aerification is complete.

Greens will be fertilized in the up-coming days, inter-seeded where needed and topdressed to smooth out the "pock marks."  This will aid healing now that the grass has finally started growing after a series of frost events.  Several greens that saw winter kill in low pockets stemming from last January's melt (water) will be plugged out using sod from our nursery green.  We will be using sod to repair the upper left hand side of sixteen green.  Most of the winter injury you see this spring is carry over from the previous year.  The annual variety of Poa lived it's short life cycle of one year and now shows as ugly pock marks on greens.  This was to be expected and not out of the ordinary.  Once the perennials varieties fill in covering the scars they will be less visible over time.

Be advised that we will be switching the golf course to a one color flag system to allow our course set-up personnel to stay away from areas that we are trying to regrass.

Some college students have returned for seasonal employment so it will be nice to get caught up on some detail work that has gone neglected.  We have replaced 80% of our summer staff this year so there bound to be some growing pains so please bear with us.  With the additional summer help we may attempt some tee aerification taking advantage of the time the tractor aerifier is in our possession.  I know, greens first.  _

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fairway aerification complete!

All BE fairways have been aerified by 9 AM this morning.  Clean up to follow.  We could use a little thunderstorm to settle the dust.  _Mk

Friday, May 11, 2012

What a difference a day makes!

Editors note:  (Always wanted to say that.)  This was supposed to be posted on Monday, but with fairway aerification and clean-up in full swing I now find it's Friday afternoon.  The crew is gone for the day and I'm now able to sit for a few moments at my desk to write this.

It was one week ago today, May 3rd, that Wisconsin Rapids native Mark Grundman, Jacklin Seed technical sales rep and I stood on the 16th green scratching our heads as to why that green still refuses to fill in after all the work we've put in on it.  We could see the success of the seeding we completed in early May of last year, but were stumped as to why those turf grass plants steadfastly refused to fill in.

Where's the grass?  What's the soil temperature?  Mark pulled out a soil temperature gauge he carried with him and plugged it into the ground. It registered right around 60 degrees.  Good things should start to pop!  Most plants start growing in earnest with soil temperatures above 55 degrees as a general rule of thumb.  One week prior, soil temperatures were a chilly 46 degrees after several nigh time lows in the mid to upper twenties.

The dramatic jump in soil temperatures was due to the "warm" spring time thunder shower that soaked the course with over an inch and one half of rain most of Thursday morning May 3rd.  I got caught out on twelve green trying to complete the greens mowing before the storm struck but failed getting soaked to the gills as I returned on my snail paced greens mower to the shop.  I didn't think that rain felt so warm at the time.  We received 3.65 inches of rain from Thursday through Sunday May 6th when we recorded over 2" of rain.  The course was saturated.  All work was cancelled for the day.  (Heads up as this is a prelude to another discussion I'll address in my next blog post.)

Mowing greens on Monday I was in for a shocker!  Wow, look at all the grass!  For the first time I noted significant green-up and filling in on the 16th green.  Many of the seed rows had vanished over the week-end!  We still might make a smooth putting surface out of her yet!  This green is still very troubled, but I'm now more encouraged than ever that we are on the road back to full recovery.  Upon further review, I noted other greens that had ulcerated area's from all the winter injury that carried over into this season looked much better as well.  (The seeding of April 30th has begun to sprout, and we are running short daytime bursts of syringe water to prevent dessication and loss of that new plants now that it is sunny, windy and dry.)  It was like looking at my grandson for the first time in a couple of weeks and taking note of how tall he has grown in such a short time.

Thank you Mother Nature for the badly needed timely warm rains.  No it's time to mow some grass!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

2012 Fairway Aerification now in progress

Our annual spring time fairway aerification is now underway. 

It is our intention to aerify all Bull's Eye fairways Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week and we'll try our darnedest to be finished by Wednesday of next week.  The aerification is tied to the delivery of the Toro 848 tractor mounted unit that was delivered Noon Monday.  That has turned into a comedy of errors and frustration for me because that unit has yet to make it out onto the course because it was delivered without tine holders or turf hold-downs!  The tine holders arrived late Tuesday without the special bolts required to attached them to the aerifier arms.  The turf hold-downs had to be shipped from two separate warehouses.  Now for the head knocker, why would this aerifier be without these two important items in the first place?  It's useless without.  Always something!  Arrgh!

Fairways completed Wednesday May 9th, 2012 were #1, 2, 3 and 10.

Fairways completed Thursday May 10th, 2012 were #5 and 9.  (AM Frost)

Fairways completed Friday May 11th, 2012 were #6, 7 and 11.

Fairways completed Monday May 14th, 2012 were #4,  8, 12, 14 16 and 18.*
(*Yea, we finally have the turf hold downs and was able to use our "leased" aerifier!)
Fairways completed on Tuesday May 15, 2012 were the heavy soiled fairways that take the longest to dry #13 and 17.  We will be aerifying select cart path ends and wear areas to maximize the use of the aerifier while on hand.

Fairways that must dry before we can complete them after the 3.65" inches of rain received so far this month.  You know them by heart so I will not list them.  Hint?  Think cart restrictions.

Pray for sunny and dry weather!  _MK  (We've had perfect weather to date.  Clean up of core debris absolutely the best I've ever seen.  Hey no mud for once!)

PS:  It's Friday May 11th, and we still are waiting for parts for the big Toro fairway unit.  NOT making me happy!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Here we go again

Your Green Section staff has been busy working on putting greens this week as warmer weather finally arrived after a cold windy and dry April.  Our focus is to remediate any winter damage that occured this past winter and to beef up areas thinned over the past two very difficult and stressful years.  (2010 & 2011.)

We'll be using a combination of cultivating techniques to incorporate seed into damaged areas as we have done in years past.  This year we've started out using an old Ryan Greensaire 24 outfitted with "JS" tines.  ("They who must not be named." or Superintendents be cursed!)

Here's a close-up of the business end of the tine assembly.

It is a slow process but the JS tine assembly creates a nice clean 1" x 1" hole pattern for the seed to fall into for the start of the germanation incubation period.  The holes offer a moist environment and protection from the drying winds.

We follow seeding with a light layer of topdressing.  The sand is lightly brushed to cover the seed and to partially fill (but not completely) the holes.  We actually want the seed to germinate below the height of cut of the mowers to the time it is mature enough to withstand the stress of cutting.  We finish up with a light rolling.  Now we wait for timely rains or an irrigation cycle AND a little kindness from mother nature.  _Mk