Thursday, September 27, 2012

Third time a charm?

Your Sixteenth green will be the death of me yet!  This is what I was greeted with Tuesday morning after learning of the damage and its cause.  Our blower, when cleaning off leaves from putting surfaces actually lifted sod from a section of sixteen green that to date refuses to root!  This sod actually "shattered" along the slicer lines of the spiker and holes from the needle tine aerifications performed on this problem area to encourage rooting.  If you read my post "I'm back"  (one post back) I explained some of the problems we were facing with our June sodding that died as a result of lack of surface drainage.  We knew the problem needed to be addressed, we just didn't know when.  Well the question of "When" became "Now!"

The result above was the straw that broke the camels back, enough was enough.  It was time to tear this section out and reestablish grade for positive surface drainage while we still have time before the leaves fall in earnest.  In other words, restore the original contours as best we could.  Both greens mix and sod were ordered that afternoon as our inventories were exhausted.  Below is a photo essay of just a few steps used in an effort to fix this problem once and for all.  (A permanent solution to this greens problems would be the belching of black diesel smoke coming from the engine of a D-9 dozer!)

Wednesday morning your green section staff began removing the weak section of the green.

The section of putting green removed for repair was approximately 12' wide by 83' long.  All totaled, 996 square feet of putting surface was removed for renewal.

To restore grade we fashioned a "scrid" board and "struck" this area just as you would do in a concrete pour making sure all low pockets were no where to be found.  We also shot grade with our level and used a digital carpenters level to determine slope.  Unfortunately due to this greens design and construction, 100% of all free water drains to the front at a slope of 1.6 percent.

The subsoil is now prepped for the sod that would be delivered Thursday morning. 

The sod is Alpha bentgrass grown on Sandy Loam soils at Heath Farms near Plainfield, Wisconsin.  It is of some note, but Heath Farms grows sod for Miller Park, Lambeau Field and Soldiers Field to drop a few names.

This area will be topdressed and slowly lowered to putting green height in the weeks to come.  Above you can see the topdressing filling the seams of the sod to prevent dessication and die back.  This area will be treated as ground under repair.  Move your ball to the nearest point of relief no closer to the hole and play away.  This photo was taken at Noon and you can see the shadows of a few trees that will be removed later this fall as weather permits to increase light penetration and a better growing environment heading into the future. _Mk

Friday, September 14, 2012

"I'm Back!"

Just in time for a beautiful weekend weather wise, your #16th green has been reopened for play approximately six weeks to the day it was shutdown for renovation.  While some of the scars are obvious, it is still healthier than say for example your #12 green.  We will continue to maintain the temporary green in the fairway for the next two weeks as we evaluate the putting turfs ability to hold up to traffic.  Anticipate closures from time to time as we give this green time to rest.  Pin placements will be kept mostly in the center of the green where the turf is the healthiest.  Red/Blue pin depths should be calculated as a white pin for distance.

The green will be misshaped for a while as we try to manufacture a way to drain the spots sodded last spring.  Sod was laid to grade as best we could but we soon discovered that it lays in a trough that collects water.  The surface drainage of the original turf was lost.  This was observed soon after a heavy rainfall event of late that the water ponded where the sod was placed. Compounding the problem is the fact the water now sits perched above a muck subsoil where it is very slow to drain away. 

Roots fail to penetrate the heavy Muck subsoil.
This better explains to me why the sod died this summer.  Roots need oxygen and excess moisture be it from hand watering or overhead sprinklers just poached the roots.  This is yet another example why I prefer seeding over sodding.  Don't get me wrong, sodding is great for new construction where you can easily see and correct drainage flaws before hand.

This is how I looked this spring coming out of winter.  Now look at the first photo again.  I've come a long way baby!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

It's been a Busy Week!

News, notes and musings of maintenance activities for the week of September 10th, 2012.

Monday: September 10th.

Fairways  were sprayed to clean up Dollar Spot that is very aggressive at this time of year and what appears to be Brown Patch working.  The weather has been just warm and wet enough to see Brown Patch, but cooler drier days ahead will take care of this disease environmentally. 

Secondary work included spiking and inter-seeding of weakened areas of putting green turf.  This is our last chance to work seed into the ground to expect good germination and growth as warmer soil temperatures offset cooler nighttime lows. Those areas were also topdressed by hand.  Topdressing will protect the crowns and any juvenile plants trying to fill the voids.  Your problem greens, #3, 6, 12, 15, (14 & 16) were fertilized once more.  Just when the surge of growth from the late August application was finally tapering off, (we could mow more than one green before emptying our buckets,) we feed them once more!  We are pushing those greens to fill in as much as possible before the cooler weather of fall puts an end to top growth.  There is no growth regulation (PGR's) in place and the greens are doubling their height of cut daily!  You can tell instantly if you skipped cutting an area or if your mowing overlap is incorrect. 

You can easily see the difference in height of cut between turf cut today and the clean-up pass that wasn't made due to the rains of last night and this morning.

What do Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and BE greens have in common?  They are juiced!  This is the most fertility these greens have seen over the past five years and by the growth, it shows.

Tuesday: September 11th.

The Nursery green was prepped for seeding.  100% of the sod from this green was moved to other greens around the course.  (Editors Note:  Later this month I will discuss sodding in greater detail.)  This green has served us well as a test green to evaluate newer bendgrass cultivars to see if they have a home here on your course.  One half this green will be seeded to Alpha and the other half to an experimental variety called V-8.  We aborted seeding this green Tuesday afternoon as 20-30 MPH winds would have made seeding difficult.

Speaking of Tuesday afternoon, has anyone but me noticed each and every golf outing or tournament we've hosted has air temperatures above 86 degrees?  For crying out loud it's September already!

Wednesday: September 12th.

Tri City greens were aerified for the second time this year.  This aerification is two weeks later this year than what has been scheduled in the past.  That's because our attention is on Bull Eye greens.  I've always maintained that you can add a weeks healing time for every week of delay when putting off aerification past Labor Day.  We'll see as our timing couldn't have been more perfect as we were blessed with a slow .3" soaker overnight.  It is very, very rare to mow greens the day after aerification and NOT fill your buckets with just sand!   Mowing was no worse than cutting after an application of topdressing.  Also I don't know what it is but aerification of Tri City greens flows like clockwork.  While we use the same recipe, aerification of BECC greens seems like a death march as the guys get tired and fatigued.  Maybe it has to due with the size of greens over there and the guys see a real progress and an end in sight.  Or maybe it's due to practice.

After aerification, the nursery green was seeded, fertilized, hand raked and dimpled with sand pro tires.  As I mention earlier, we are running short of time but hope to have this green germinated and up before the first frost can damage it.  If that is accomplished there should be just enough time for seedlings to establish (six weeks) and harden off for winter before the days become too short and cold.

And it's only Wednesday.  _Mk

Friday, September 7, 2012

Simple Math

(Editors Note:  I ran across this "draft" blog from earlier this summer that was never posted.  Recently I had a conversation with a fellow member that followed similar tracks.  So better late than never, circa July 2012.  _Mk)

A member at Tri City posed an interesting question earlier this week as to why we weren't watering more to keep the grass greener.  His comment got me thinking about the limitations of our present irrigation system during periods of extreme heat and drought.  (July was the hottest and driest on record.)

We have all been there.  You can just picture that stretch of I-75 near Chattanooga Tennessee when you just pass by that poor trucker straining to make grade while other trucks seem to effortlessly pull their load past the slow poke.  Ever wonder why?  The answer is horsepower.  The same holds true when it comes to irrigation pumps and I'll explain why.

Our pump station has a capacity of 1500 gallons of water per minute the product of three 50 horse powered motors and pumps.  (Remember this pump station is shared with Tri City.)

Our current system is set up to water "wall to wall" and is set to deliver .14" of an inch of water to greens, tees, fairways, approaches, green banks and roughs if I run it at 100% daily.

.14" x 7 days/week = .98" per week taking nine hours to complete the cycle.  Our water window is 9 PM to 6 AM to avoid maintenance and play as much as possible.

In my book the perfect irrigation system would be able to complete the cycle in six hours and I'll explain why.

During one stretch in Mid July of this year our average ET loss was .28" per day!  ET stands for Evapotransporation.  In a nutshell, it is the amount of soil moisture lost to the atmosphere by evaporating from the soil or trans located through the plant for cooling.  Factors like temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation and wind speed among others determine ET.

So if I wanted to replace the moisture lost on high ET days say .28" per day, I would have to double our systems output to replace that what was lost.  200% x .14" = .28"  Doubling the output also doubles the time.  200% x 9 = 18 hours would now be required to irrigate the golf course to replace what was lost in just one day!  String several days like these in a row and you can see how quickly we fall behind without the help of timely beneficial rains.  That is why irrigation systems are called "supplemental."  They are supposed to supplement what Mother Nature doesn't deliver.

Now why on earth would I want a system to deliver .14" in a six hour day you ask?  Simple math.  Because if I had to double my irrigation output, in this scenario twelve hours, I would rather water between the hours of 8 PM to 8 AM.  The disruption to play and maintenance would be lessened greatly.  I don't know how many golf courses would like to have their course irrigated between 8 PM and 2 PM daily leaving a six hour window of time to play without water flying overhead somewhere.

We do the best we can with what we've got.  There's no other way.  _MK

Waste not, Want not, but....

Your green section staff spent many hours over the past two weeks meticulously sodding sections of putting green and collars in an effort to "use up" the remaining sod on our nursery green as we need to rebuild it.

This job has to be completed now as the window of opportunity needed to regrass will be lost after the first few frosty nights.  Textbook recommendations usually peg the best dates for cool season grass establishment between August 15 and September 15.  Sodding was done with some worry as I never care to lay sod when temperatures were hoovering near 90 as they were several days earlier this week.

Use it or loose it was our mantra as our goal to have this green striped and seeded by the Seventh of September was not meet as an all day soaking rain prevented this.  I'll take the rain as it has been a couple of weeks since we last saw any beneficial moisture.  As a foot note, we have expanded our nursery green by an additional 800 square feet plus or minus.  We may have to purchase additional sod as the new turf will not be ready for harvesting early next spring.

On the 30th of August when the weatherman predicted near 100 degree day the guys spent the morning on their hands and knees hand picking weeds on several tees.  Easy work when temperatures are that extreme.  Here's a look at just a portion of their productivity.  More next week. _Mk

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Iris Morgan Abts

An Iris up until one week ago was nothing more than a flower to me but that all changed when my oldest daughter called to inform us we were Grand parents for the second time.  God blessed our family with a baby daughter named Iris.

Grandpa, Iris, Grandma, and big brother Felix.
Mom and daughter are doing well.  Grandpa is feeling a little bit older by the day.