Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tournament Golf; Puzzling observation.

Companies coming!  I remember those words well when spoken by my mother.  Translation; we had chores to complete with a hard and fast deadline.  No excuses with no leaf left unturned and the extra mile traveled in making sure every thing that could be seen was in perfect fashion.

When it comes to course preparation, I've known for years how tournaments (The Lombardi Golf Classic) could galvanize the crew and foster an attention to detail in excess of my expectations without my having to standing there with a whip and a chair.

But I made an observation that somewhat surprised me and has left me shaking my head as I can not explain this phenomenon and I was hoping maybe you could.

Five straight days of tournament play and I could find only one ball mark requiring repair!  (And that one was off in a corner inches from the collar.)  That's counting 100 players a day over 18 putting surfaces for five straight days!

What does this suggest?  The better players take greater care of the course? Or knows how to properly fix a ball mark? Hummmmmm.  Maybe the better player never hits the green in regulation thus his ball never leaves a mark on the green?  What do you think?

I'm hoping maybe you could tell me.  _Mk

Friday, July 27, 2012

Divots: To replace or not?

Dear Members:

Just a little over a year ago I ran across Neil's posting in Turfnets Blog Aggregator.  I remember  then how good it was and how I wanted to share it with you.  This is a topic we've discussed many times in the past and because I couldn't have said it any better myself and with Neil's permission, please enjoy! 

Divot filling vs replacement

Neil Radatz, CGCS, Hawk's Landing Country Club, Verona, WI:

"Over the last few weeks we have gone through a lot of divot mix for the fairways and tees. This is a great thing and your effort is much appreciated, but I also feel that there are many divots that can be very easily replaced instead of filled with divot mix. In the photos below I took three shots into a green; the left and middle full shot with a big divot, while the right side just a scalp with no divot taken.

After one week the replaced divot is completely rooted down and the filled divot has just germinated. It would take most likely another seven days for complete fill in. This shows that if you can replace your divots, do so. If there is not enough sod to fill the void then fill with the divot mix."

Two divots taken and a scalp. July 8

The center divot is replaced;
the other two filled. July 8

Notice rooting of replaced divot. July 11

After one week the replaced divot is completely rooted down while the filled divot has just germinated. July 15

Interesting Article Shared

WisBusiness: Parched for the course -- Wisconsin golf industry challenged by drought 7/25/2012

By Kay Nolan
For WisBusiness.com

Wisconsin's worst drought in decades has golf course greens keepers singing the blues. And the price of salvaging parched golf courses could mean increased membership fees at private clubs, while public courses are hoping it won't lead to higher taxpayer costs.

While the golf industry thrives on sunshine and warmth, too much of a good thing -- such as this year's persistent drought and triple-digit temperatures -- is spiking costs at Wisconsin courses while at the same time dampening patronage in some areas.

"Water is at a premium," said Jeff Bollig, spokesman for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. "Most of the facilities, I've heard, are either tapped out on water supplies or close, and that means they have to buy more water, which is expensive, number one, and then their staff is working more overtime to hand-water places that maybe irrigation doesn't get to as much, so you're talking more labor costs."

"Plus, it's just been a long season," Bollig noted. "I'm sure in Wisconsin, they normally bring out their temporary help later in the year, but if I'm not mistaken, it was like, 83, in Madison in March. They were bringing staff on early, so from a budget standpoint, all the good stuff you got with the added business early in the year is threatened by the fact that you're going to have to pay more for water and your budget for labor is probably tapped out earlier in the year."

Courses are unlikely to raise their prices for a round of golf, Bollig said, but he predicted some private clubs might assess members to recoup this year's additional costs.

Bollig says golf courses in Wisconsin and other northern states are typically planted with bluegrass and fescue that isn't suited for such hot weather. Greens were already drier than usual, too, thanks to an exceptionally mild winter and spring, with little snow and fewer April showers. Working to maintain the grounds in 100-degree heat is no picnic, either.

"Superintendents and staffs are quite frazzled," Bollig said.

David Brandenburg, who manages the Fond du Lac County public golf course, said this year's warm spring allowed the course to open in March, at least 20 days earlier than usual. But with July heat soaring in the 90s and 100s, many golfers -- especially retirees who like to play in the middle of the day -- have stayed home.

"We've lost as many days to heat this year as we normally would to rain," said Brandenburg. In his 16 years with Fond du Lac County and 24 years in the golf business, Brandenburg says he's never seen a summer like this. "I've seen it this dry but I've never seen it this hot when it's this dry," he said.

Not all Badger State golf courses are in poor condition.

"Our course is actually in really good shape," said John Okray, assistant golf pro at Glen Erin Golf Club in Janesville. "We're watering, of course, a lot extra than we normally would -- pretty much close to double the water amount that we put on the course."

Glen Erin has its own well, so the water supply is plentiful. But Glen Erin did stop watering its driving range, in order to concentrate on the fairways and tee boxes.

Jason Boaz, a golf pro with Grand Geneva resorts in Lake Geneva, said recent rain has helped restore parched grass just when the staff was beginning to worry about water shortages or restrictions.

"We were dry, we were having to pump some extra water on the course," said Boaz.

Business has remained strong at Grand Geneva.

"People are showing up -- golfers will play in any weather," Boaz says. But he adds the resort has stepped up services to help players weather this summer's intense heat. "We started giving out bottles of water to guests and we're giving out ice-cold towels," he said. "We're doing our best to keep everyone hydrated."

Hydration is a concern for Brandenburg as well.

"We have marshals who travel the course. They have brought a number of people in that just didn't feel well," he said. "We supply drinking water every three holes, but sometimes that's just not enough if you're older, or even if you're young and you're just not prepared to be out in that humidity and that heat."

Waukesha and Milwaukee counties, however, report an increase in attendance at public courses this year, thanks to sunshine and an early season.

Ginny Bocek, Waukesha County Parks program specialist, reported a 25 percent increase in revenue and rounds over last year.

"We had a great start to the season with golf in January, as well as a number of successful events and outings at the golf courses," said Bocek.

One of the county's three courses is within the city of Waukesha, and is subject to watering restrictions, but Bocek says all three courses are in "great condition considering the drought."

Although there's been an increase in watering this year, the golf courses have had to mow less often, which saves on fuel costs, Bocek points out. That, along with the increased attendance revenue, has helped Waukesha County courses stay within budget, she said.

Joe Roszak, chief of business operations for the Milwaukee County Parks Department, is actually predicting a banner year for use of the county's 15 golf courses. That's because for the first time in his memory, golfing never totally shut down, even through the winter.

"With hardly any snow, we literally had some of our courses open every month of the year -- we had people golfing in January, March, December," he said. "I would say we got probably a six-week jump on the main chunk of the season, too, which obviously has helped as well."

Roszak said revenue is up 20 percent compared with this time last year. He said last summer saw several rainy weekends, whereas this year, "Reservations are popping up further in advance -- often three or four days and some are scheduled one to two weeks out -- because people are fairly confident there won't be bad weather."

There are no watering restrictions in Milwaukee County. Roszak admits some courses look better than others, but says all are usable.

"I've heard stories of courses around us where greens are starting to let loose and the root systems are starting to go wide and not deep enough, but we've been very fortunate to not see that happen," said Roszak.

At Brookfield Hills Golf Course in Brookfield, a creek runs through the property, filling a pond, which in turn, is used to irrigate the grounds. But three weeks ago, the pond went dry, and things were looking pretty rough, said Jack Storm, who co-owns the course with Peter Epperson.

Storm said he never considered using the well on the property to water the golf course, however, out of consideration for his neighbors, including condos and apartments bordering the course.

"Even though it's our own well, it draws from the same aquifer as the city of Brookfield," said Storm. "To water the golf course would take 150,000 to 200,000 gallons a day. Just being who I am, I wouldn't do that."

Luckily, recent rains refilled the creek and pond, and Storm says the grounds are looking much better.

But it's also clear that the intense heatwave has slowed business.

"We're way down compared to last July," he said.

Storm views the ups and downs philosophically and says that like a farmer, he's seen it all: floods, droughts, fungus problems and bugs. "If it's not one thing, it's another," he said.

Bollig offers this advice to players during this year's drought:

"Golfers have to realize that you're not going to have as thick of a rough," he said. "The fairways will be much firmer -- you'll get more roll. It won't be as emerald green as you're used to at this time of year -- there will be a little burnout and the putting greens will probably be a little slower."

Golfers should drink plenty of fluids, wear sunscreen and consider playing early in the morning or in the evening on the hottest days," said Bollig. Because golf carts pack down already-dry grass, some courses may restrict their use during drought conditions.

"I would take a cooler with water and towels that you can soak," said Bollig. "Pay attention to your partners to see if they are showing any signs of heat stroke or heat stress. If you're feeling dizzy, find shade."

Monday, July 23, 2012

1988 vs. 2012; A Guest Superintendent Post.

On 7/12/2012 Dustin Riley wrote the following message I thought I would share with you, especially those that were members here in 1988!  Mk

Good afternoon Noernetters:

 Just a little light reading to jog your memories or to use to inform others .

 As we continue through the high heat and droughty conditions, most of the Southern half of WI has been questioning whether this year is worse than 1988, which is widely considered the worst droughty summer (excluding the Dust Bowl years).  Southern WI is officially categorized as in a Severe Drought according to the US Drought Monitor.

Unfortunately, Milwaukee is the closest official weather station to me with detailed records dating back to ’88.  So your location may have different numbers.  But here’s what I’ve found comparing the periods of June 1-July 12 for both year.

1988                                       2012

Max Temperature                           100                                         103

Average Daily Temp                        72                                           74

Average Dew Point                         52                                           57

Total Rain                                            0.4                                          0.84

Total Days 90+ degrees                 13                                           11

Total Days 100+ degrees               2                                              2

Courtesy of Wunderground.com

I dropped out of statistics in college, so I can’t confirm my analysis.  But, it appears that both years are pretty damn close.  1988 is winning with less rain.  However, 2012 has been warmer.   However, for us to exceed 1988 we’ll need to accumulate 24 additional days of 90+ degrees.  36 days in 1988 exceeded 90-degrees.  Milwaukee’s at 12 for the season so far.

So what’s your feeling per your location or experience?

Dustin Riley, CGCS

Oconomowoc Golf Club

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Parking Lot improvements! My thanks!

I would like to publicly thank Mr. and Mrs.Bach, Doc Fenander and members of our grounds staff for their time and efforts spent to make a silk purse from a sows ear!  For starters, Doc removed the lower mostly dead limbs from the spruce trees that bordered the sidewalk in the area of the baby parking lot as we call it.

Jerry and Julie, tired of seeing the deer harvest the Hosta's for food destroying this bed annually suggested removing the old rock flower bed replacing it with lawn space.  I couldn't have agreed faster.  Jerry removed the sand stone that surrounded the old hosta bed and restacked them at the back along the Lilacs to form a wall.

Question;  Does any one remember the original location where these Hosta's were first planted?  Pete Mason and Ron Klein placed top soil, seeded and straw mulched the area before the first rain in weeks arrived.  Ken Rahn applied Round up and other members of your grounds crew added wood chips to the area.

The transformation greatly dressed up the area don't you think?  This was a non budgeted item and cost the club very little as most materials were on site.  Answer; The Hosta's were planted in a border along the railroad tie wall along #14 men's tee.  They were moved after the deer destroyed them in that location.  Other area's are on my short list for a make over.  Time, money, talents put to good use.  My thanks.  _Mk

By the Numbers

Since the mid 90's, irrigation decisions were made using data from our on site weather station.  Many times it boiled down to a gut feeling when it came down to watering your golf course based on weather patterns.  Today, watering, hand watering is determined by using a soil moisture sensors as the one pictured below.

Soil moisture readings are taken over several locations around the green with an average of each green recorded.  Our meter records soil moisture data to 3" depths.  The solid tines send out an electrical pulse into the soil and is recorded as real number that determines the volumetric water content of each sample. (%VMC.)  Scientifically this is called "Time-domain reflectrometry."  Technical jargon I know, but I finally have a real number I can use along with the data the weather station supplies.

I've used the data from the moisture meter to rank all 31 putting greens on the golf course.  The spreadsheet lists greens from the driest to the wettest.  (#15 is the wettest green on the golf course and thus is watered totally different than the others.)  So if it is dry, I can quickly probe the driest of greens to determine if and how much irrigation water we'll schedule for that night.  The moisture meter also alerts us to dry soil conditions before they appear.  Hand watering is ordered and sprinkler rotation is checked.

I make changes to irrigation run times for each green to attain a balance of plant available moisture across the course.  I know this is an unattainable goal of putting green consistency, but we strive non the less for the sake of reduced pumping electrical costs and pesticide, fertilizer inputs.  It is not perfect, but beats the hell out of my trusted soil probe screw driver.  Now did I squeeze the water out of the soil, its organic matter or the turf grass plant?  With my trusted moisture meter, I no longer guess.  _Mk

Friday, July 13, 2012

" Go Big Blue!"

We have a new addition to the course today to satisfy your "Back nine beer bladder blues."  Do enjoy!  _Mk (UPC)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Return to the Red/White/Blue.

It was inevitable, the red/white/blue flag system is back.  Tag me old fashioned, but I liked the game a whole lot better when a man had to think his way around the golf course.  Golf was a game of skill, feel, strategy and maybe some dumb luck for good measure.  The better players always noted the pin location on 9 when they walked off the first tee and down the number one fairway.

The over sized "Princess" tennis racket all but destroyed tennis.  Can the same be said for golf with todays drivers and ball technologies?  If I could only bend the rules and invent a device to take thinking out of putting!  Thomas Edison where are you when I need you?  Please enjoy.  _Mk

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Heat is On!

Oh, Momma!  Returned home from Madison around 6:30 PM yesterday to be greeted by 97 degree temperatures........IN MY HOUSE!  Not sure if we broke the triple digit classification, not really sure I wanted to be there to witness that record first hand for myself.  (Almost as bad as watching the Brewers lose the game with a lead.  Sheesh!)

With today forecast to be the hottest day of the year, you should know some of the things we are doing to combat the heat and to avoid a repeat of last years lost summer.  (The Summer of '11 was very warm and wet.  This year it has been very warm and dry.  A very big difference as we can put the water on easier than we can take it off.)

First, we have "raised" the height of cut on greens and have replaced the grooming rollers with solid ones.  Greens are "rolled" only on days of excessive stress or after early morning rains.  Green speeds will take a backseat to plant health.

Second, we have reverted to hand watering in conjunction with deep and infrequent irrigation cycles to insure our root systems stay healthy for as long as possible. Turfgrass roots need oxygen to survive.  Soil temperatures are rapidly approaching the point where root loss is eminent.  Soon we will be venting greens on a weekly basis through spiking and needle tine aerification.

Third, our chemical spray program are up to date.  Plant protectants are in place.  Vitamins, minerals, cytokinins, humic acids, you name it whatever the Doctor prescribed are in place.  The greens are still responding positively to the spoon feeding of fertilizers, however, the benefits of our PGR's are lost after a couple of days of this oppressive heat.

Fourth, we have backed off most cultural programs that stress the plants.  Those programs include but are not limited to a reduction in the frequency in verticutting, brushing, top dressing.  A great mentoring superintendent friend of mine always spoke "do yourself no harm."  No wiser words spoken in times of oppressive heat.

If you tour the course today you will see the Poa or Annual Bluegrass showing signs of heat stress, that is going off color becoming yellow.  Typically these are the older leaves of the plant that will drop from the plant as a means of protection and will be replaced by newer leaves upon the return of favorable cooler day and night time temperatures.  You will also note how razor thin the line error is between adequate soil moisture and not having enough.  Soil moisture levels well above 15% are quickly consumed on days with ninety degree temperatures, low humidity's and winds above 15 miles per hour.  Couple that with a sprinkler that "hangs up" no longer turning and just like that, you find yourself staring at more yellow turf!

That's that in a nutshell.  I can feel the weight of your expectations as I try my darnedest to carry this course on my back until the cool nights of August prevail.  See you in September.  _Mk

Fairway Spray Pending.

The golf course will be closed until 10 AM on Monday July 9th for a scheduled spray.  With the hot and humid weather overhead, this spray is important to guard against Pythium, Brown Patch and Dollar Spot diseases.  Let's also pray for cooler temperatures.  _Mk