Friday, June 22, 2012

Rare Earth

What's so rare about a pin location you might ask?  It's sad to say but the last time I saw a pin location set in the front left of 16 green had to be late fall 2010!  You know the history as well as I but please indulge me.  We encountered severe winter kill in that section of the green coming out of the winter of 2010-2011.  A cold, wet, dreary spring that immediately turned into one of the warmest and wettest years on record all but stymied every attempt at regrassing this green.  The fall of 2011 saw plenty of grass germination, but no significant filling in.  The winter of 2011-2012 witnessed more death when carry over of the true annual bluegrass variety died after completing its natural life cycle upon seeding this spring. There to was ultra frustration with a lot of bentgrass that still refused to budge and spread this spring due to repeated frosts and cold soil temperatures.

As I told several people, all the ingredients were in the bowl, we just had to patiently wait for warmer weather to finally arrive to warm the earth to the point that fertilizers were available and a plant that could actively use them.  Aerification was the trigger mechanism that really set things in motion both above and below ground.  (A second aerification should be done in August of each year.  Hint, hint.)  The green began to grow, heal and fill in to the point that we could set a cup in this zone once more!  While still far from perfect, #16 is on the rebound and hopefully back for the long haul.  We'll just keep on treating this green as we would if we were growing-in one from scratch.  There's significantly greater bentgrass on that green today than what was found there in 2010.

As for the song sung by Rare Earth, "Maybe it's time to Celebrate!"  Enjoy! _Mk

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fairway Spray Notification; Course Closed.

Bull's Eye Country Clubs fairways are scheduled to be sprayed Monday morning June 18th weather permitting.  The course will be closed until 10 AM with tee times permitted off the first tee only. This is an important application targeting the Japanese beetle

Japanese Beetle

plus preventative fungicides.

Sclerotinia homoeocarpa
If our efforts are washed out by weather we will proceed with this application on Tuesday or Wednesday until finished.  _Mk

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Maintenance update.

Now that we cannot find something else to punch a hole in (aerify) the grounds crew has moved into edging bunkers for secondary work.  This is a much hated job that only gets worse as the temperature rises but is a wonderful team building exercise if the right upbeat people are in a talkative mood.  Laughter make the mundane tolerable.   It takes about two weeks to complete this task. _Mk

Starved for attention?

In the photo above you will notice the deep color of the test plots that were fertilized a couple of days before hand.  The test plots were fertilized by Mark Grundman of the Jacklin Seed Company.  The test plots were set up to evaluate the experimental varieties of "Round-up" ready ryegrass they are trying to bring to market.  The advantages of round up ready varieties would be the elimination of weeds most notably Poa annua from fairway turfs using a common inexpensive mass produced glyphosate herbicide.

Due to extensive winter kill in the upper plot, ryegrass does not fair all that well in northern climates, I'm waiting for "round-up" ready Kentucky Bluegrass varieties before recommending a fairway conversion program to you. 

The photo does show how starved for nitrogen our fairway turf has alarmingly become. _Mk

New Kids on the Block.

Turn over. It happens every year.  However, for the first time in my career, we found ourselves replacing everyone!  That's right, 100% turn over of our summer staff of college students!  We lost a lot of seasoned vets from last season to graduation or living away from home because they were "paying rent" (being ripped off by some college housing landlord!)

So now, an introduction is in order:

From L to R.  Kris Terril, Stan Bowmann, Erik Arnold, Tyler Peters, Justin Ironside & Simon King.

Kris Terril is a Sophomore at UW-Marathon County majoring in Biology with a environmental emphasis.

Stan Bowmann replaces long time veteran Leland Olson on the rough mower.  Stan worked for Consolidated construction and later for Boldt Construction up until his retirement.

Erik Arnold is the nephew of Equipment Manager Tim Johnson and will be a Senior at Lincoln High School this fall.  He plays full back on the football team and is manager for the baseball team.

Tyler Peters is a Junior at UWSP majoring in Actuarial Science with career goal of working in the insurance or consulting industries upon graduation.

Justin Ironside is a Sophomore at UWSP and is a Pre-Engineering student with a goal of working in the field of Biomedical or Petroleum engineering.

I've always favored hiring laborers that carried more than a rudimentary knowledge of the game of golf,  preferably those that play regularly and have a passing knowledge of both courses to avoid embarrassing situations like placing the cup three feet from the collar, getting lost or inverting the tee block placements on ladies day!

Newbies!  Bear with us as we educate and train the next wave of staff as they try to put a little spit and polish on the old apple.  _Mk

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Stormy Weather!"

I just wanted to remind you of the high wind that passed through the area two weeks ago today making golf virtually unplayable and the golf course one ultra dangerous place to be.

Three cars were buried beneath this sixty foot white pine that snapped off a good ten feet above ground.

Believe it or not, but this car was buried under all that brush.  You could not see it until the limbs were removed.  One limb punctured the hood and did not stop until it reached the asphalt below.

I would like to publicly thank members of my crew that returned to work after their day was through to clean up the mess on short notice.  Thanks to Steve Crubel, Pete Mason, Ron Klein, Matt Faundorf for assisting me in clearing debris so that the Grand Rapids Police could take pictures of the damage.  Guys, somebody owes you a beer!  I'm tapped out.  _Mk

Greens Aerification complete. Yes!

This past Monday and Tuesday greens were aerified. 

The cores were pulled and topdressing was broomed into the greens to refill the holes.

The weather was perfect except for a minor rain shower that passed around 11 AM.  The .03" of an inch made holes #11 & #12 look like a wet beach, but dried after a couple of hours allowing us to complete the project on that day. 

As of this writing, we have not seen evidence of the problems associated with the use of the ProCore Aerifier. 

That's good news as we need the production speed that machine offers.  To give you an example, it took me one hour and ten minutes to aerify #16 with our older Ryan GA24.  The ProCore completed holes #10, #11 and was three quarters of the way through #12 by the time I finished sixteen.  That includes the time it took to walk the machine between holes.  For the record; that is 16,622 sq. ft. to 5747 sq. ft.!  Almost three times the production.

I think it was the best effort to date of backfilling the holes with very few holes unfilled on all 20 greens aerified.  A deep and heavy irrigation cycle Tuesday night made for the least sand pick up in mower buckets that I can remember.  That is a good thing because the quicker we can get over mower sand pick up the faster our greens speeds will return.

Aerification is one of many cultural means  needed to ward off summers stress. Thank goodness it's done.  _Mk

Friday, June 1, 2012

"Why are Tri City Greens better than Bull's Eyes?"

I first heard this comment last year during the miserable weather of the summer of 2011 by a former greens chair whom I have a great deal of respect for and it has been something I've had on my mind to blog about since then.  So when the subject came up recently I was ready to respond. I quickly generated three reasons in my mind for this phenomenon.

Qualifier: All Fertilizer, Top-dressing and Pesticide programs are the same.  They are completed on the same day with equipment shared between courses.  With that said, following are the principal differences between programs.

First, Tri City greens haven't experienced "back to back" winter kills like those at Bull's Eye.  TC green sites are more open and sunnier allowing for a faster snow melt and drying during the spring thaw.  Bull's Eyes greens will refreeze as tree shadows cross the putting surfaces creating damaging ice reformation.  There was winter kill on the TC greens this past year but it was very minor and because they are warmer sunnier sites, recovery came sooner.

Secondly, Tri City greens are cut at a premium height of cut suited for sustainability not green speed as demanded for on the private side.  The higher height of cut makes for healthier turf better suited to survive the tests of summer stress such as those found last summer.  That .055 thousandths of an inch translates into many millions of additional chlorophyll molecules per square foot which adds up to additional food stored in reserve.  Bottom line, better plant health.

Thirdly, Tri City greens are aerified twice every golf season.  No exception.  Cores are pulled and back filled with fresh topdressing.  This process has improved water infiltration, Oxygen/Carbon monoxide exchange and has provided greater rooting potential.

There are many additional reason that are all inter-related to the various levels of agronomic practices.

This begs the obvious question, so why aren't Bull's Eyes greens aerified twice per year?  Quite simply budget cuts and green committee mandates.  On the budget cut side of the ledger, one aerification event costs our budget $2500 in topdressing costs alone. (It takes 50 tons of top dressing to remove cores and backfill holes.)  This doesn't take into account the cost of tines, fuel, labor.  The green committee mandated we skip aerification in 2008 to give the membership a break after the severe hailstorm of 2007.  The greens were aerified multiple times in 2007 in an effort to "smooth" them out.  Aerification was once again cut for the year 2010.  Planned for aerifications were cancelled in 2011 when the air temperatures on the date were in the 90's and outing schedules prevented rescheduling until fall.

My recommendation has been and will always be two or more aerifications per year and a return of the deep tine program in late fall to encourage surface drainage for those early winter thaws.

The photo above shows winter injury in the year 2009 to the back of Tri City's #1 green.  Tri City is not immune to winter injury and has seen its share over time.  In 2010 this area also had damage, but to a lessor extent as our inter-seedings began to take hold and fill.  The damage in this area lessened over time.  Close examination of the photo shows rows of seed planted by a seeder we demoed for that purpose.  You can preview that seeder in my Top Ten needs section.   _Mk