Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Big Green "X" = Timber!

Felling the largest Oak west of #17 cart path.  This video is lengthy so once the tree is on the ground you can stop play.  (We are just learning how to play with video's on our smart phones. Very cool don't you think?) We used a cable to "pull" the tree between a living oak.  Unfortunately, the Oak Wilt fungus is present in this area and will continue to move unabated.  We removed five large Oaks in 2012 and six more were cut down this year and anticipate many more in the next few years. Our efforts to keep high value specimens alive through fungicidal injections and root pruning barriers never resulted in saving trees.

Felling dead Oaks North of #18 fairway.  A tree consultant commented to me that you have to remove every oak in every direction from the base of the dead tree as it is tall to stop the spread of the disease.  In other words if the dead oak is 80 feet tall every Oak in side that radius is doomed and needs to come down to stop the disease from spreading 
It's too bad as these trees were hundreds of years old and present at the time my ancestors set foot on some rock in Plymouth MA in the Seventeen Hundreds.

Monday, November 11, 2013

1200 Sq Ft Addition

Starting the 27th of October number 14 green was ripped up to enlarge it.  Below is a photo essay of that work.

#14 green was designed by Stiles & Van Kleek; a Boston Massachusetts architectural firm in 1922 and was constructed by the Leonard McComber construction company from Chicago Illinois.  The green painted line in the picture above is the foot print of the new green.

Sod was stripped from the approach and saved to repair weak collars found on other greens through out the course.  Bentgrass sod never did match up with the Poa laced sod that it replaced.  This sod would match the older turf perfectly.

Sod from the putting green and surrounds was striped and saved in our spoil piles.

Ready for rebuilding.

The former approach was hollowed out and the cavity backfilled with greens mix.

History Lesson:  The original green was constructed by capping the sand base fill with 6-12" of black topsoil (to hold moisture.)  The top 4 inches of sand is the result of thirty plus years this green has been topdressed with sand. The white column of sand in the center of was the result of deep tine aeration hole backfilled with sand and provided internal drainage during stressful summers.

This layer had to be removed from the existing putting surface as it greatly impeded drainage.  It peeled up in thick slabs.  If you look closely, you can see the pores punched through this hard pan by the deep tine aerifier.  This is the principle reason I always valued deep tinning more as a tool for drainage.

We first used our back hoe to mix the black soil with the sandy subsoil but this method proved too slow.

Ultimately, we used our front end loader to peel, chop, mix and bury this layer.  A good old fashioned deep rototilling operation would have blended the two soils better.

The new surface being "floated in.  Without GPS, Scott tried to retain some of the unique features of the old putting green surface.

While we were at it, the bunker was moved to create a wider footpath and the ugly built-up lip of sand was removed.

Sod harvested from Lawsonia Golf Course in Green Lake was unrolled.  It took us two days to complete the sod laying due to travel times and intensive labor involved in cutting, rolling and stacking of sod.  We simply ran out of day light.  Original plans to use large roll sod and machinery to lay it fell apart when the nursery became "sold out" due to other projects in the area.

We completed approximately 70% of the green on day one.  It looks good from a distance.

The seems are being topdressed as it is impossible to match the edges perfectly.

When will this green be ready for play?  Good question and unknown at this time as we will need to aerify and topdress this green multiple times in an effort to "level it" enough for greens height of cut mowing let alone play.  It will remain bumpy for sometime until a new topdressing layer is built up to smooth the surface out.  While not ideal, this new addition is an improvement to the ever present condition of a green that has struggled during times of super summer stress.  _Mk

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Waiting for the leaves to fall.

An opportunity to add sprinkler heads to a pair of tee's at the Tri City was the order of the day.  Sprinkler heads were salvaged from a course undergoing renovation and the pipe and fittings were in inventory.

The back half of this tee was always dry and especially noticeable during this years drought.  The weather men in Wausau mentioned they had 2.4 inches of rain last month and give or take 1.2" below normal.  At Bull's Eye some 45 miles to the south as the crow flies received a paltry 1.5" of precipitation for the month.

And as long as we had the rented trencher in our hands we took this opportunity to do some badly needed "root pruning."  Surface feeder roots of trees began invading tee box surfaces robbing the turf of moisture and nutrient.  Similar work is badly needed along fairways and is the principle reason a root pruning machine remains on my top ten "needs" list.

Severed roots.  Trees and turf make uncomfortable bedfellows.

Notice how dry the soil is.

After the trench has been backfilled and seeded.  There will be some settling of the soil that will be addressed sometime down the road.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Back in Play

It's been since June and the first day of fall is upon us that we finally was able to install and activate the decorative fountain in #8 pond.  When we first installed it in early June (it was not needed due to all the rains we received) the electrical connection on the power wire lead needed to be replaced.  Once this repair was completed by us in house, the fountain failed to work when powered on.  It was sent to the factory for inspection and repairs were it was determined the "upper unit" failed but the motor was in good working order.  We are fortunate that repair parts were available as this unit is an antique and no longer made.

Gunch Removal Progress update:

You will notice we cleaned the entire woods line between #14 and #17 fairways.  Once  we got started it just didn't look right any place we tried to terminate.  It is our plans to clean up the area left of #16 ladies tee and the overgrown mess of pines to the east of that same tee box.  These projects have been on my to do list too long.

Taking advantage of the warm weather and bonus seed available for our use, we inter-seeded weak (due to shade and tree root competition) bunker banks.  These were aerified first to remediate compacted soils caused by golf cart and maintenance equipment.  Please consider all roped off areas as "Ground Under Repair" and take a free drop at the closest point of relief.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Where Credits Due

On one of the only cool day of the past week your grounds crew set out to improve the air circulation around the struggling fourteenth green by removing the "gunch" and liming up low hanging branches as far as we could reach. The guys, curious to the nature of the word "gunch," tried looking the word up in the dictionary and could not find it but did find it listed as a term used in golf.

 It appears to be working.  The air was always still and hot as a sauna.  The alternative would have meant installing expensive fans that aren't cheap to run.  (BTW, we intend to remove several trees later this fall after the course is closed in order to improve the levels of light reaching the ground.)

To stay out of the hot sun a couple of your grounds crew replaced the brick pads near the main entrance of the club house.  The side pictured below was tricky to install as the sidewalks and curbing rose or fell in three different directions.

I think it looks nice and does dress the area up and it is safer by far to walk on.

Recently I was asked what the big green X's stood for marking several trees around the course.  Want the answer?  Look to the heavens.

The tree is dead.  It is much easier to locate and remove the dead from the stand after the leaves have fallen from the living. _Mk

Friday, August 30, 2013

Pythium Spp.

The Stubborn High Pressure system stalled in the Midwest has pumped tropical air and heat (the dampest/warmest air of the summer,) into our area the past several days has created an environment perfect for Pythium development.  This disease is capable of killing turf in a matter of hours.  Spreads like wildfire under foot, mowers and on golf cart wheels.  This disease develops rapidly when dew points are in the upper 60's and 70's like we've experienced here lately.  Some grasses are more susceptible than others.  The disease has the appearance of a bread mold and for that reason it sometimes goes by the name "Cottony Blight." The disease pictured above came from the Fescue seed evaluation plots that are constantly damp due to frequent irrigation needed to germinate seedlings for establishment.  The perfect scenario for this disease development.  I haven't detected Pythium on the course yet, but I'm certain it is lurking beneath in the turfs canopy on our lower holes in shaded areas that stay moist later into the day.  As a side note; I last detected this disease on your course in 1986, my first year here as your new Golf Course Superintendent.  _Mk

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Old Habits Never Die

"Old Habits Never Die," such as the marking of dead and or dying trees on the golf course. The Black/Red Oaks pictured above were killed by the persistent and opportunistic Oak Wilt Fungus.  The fungus multiplies in the vascular bundles of the trees clogging the arteries preventing the uptake of water and nutrients. White Oaks "tolerate" fungal attack barely.  Wood County is classified as a hot spot for this disease.  The fungus is spread by the wind and invades the trees through open wounds caused by storm damage or saw cuts at the wrong time of the year. (April through October.) The fungus can be moved into new areas in firewood.  It is recommended that firewood piles be covered using plastic tarps to minimize the fungal spread by wind.
The marking of trees to be removed by us in the "off season" has become habitual to us.  "The Dead Tree Rolls" tally as of 8/16/2013 is:  (Who needs Imprelis?)
Bull's Eye
  • 39 Oaks
  • 10 Pine
Tri City
  • 16 Oaks
  • 15 Pine
Doing the math, that makes 55 Oaks and 25 Pines that need to be removed after the leaves finish falling and the grass stops growing this fall.  Tree removal is done in house by us usually beginning in November until the time snow becomes too deep to move about the course. _Mk

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Too Wet, Too Dry

The recent below normal weather pattern we've been experiencing had me thinking.  When was the last time I turned off the irrigation system?  It's been awhile. 

With the cool weather the course has been holding together nicely. We've taken advantage of the weather to complete some badly needed aerification and inter-seeding projects, something you typically would not dare to do in early August.  Our cool season grasses are enjoying it and so am I.  This is something we couldn't say last year. 

Back in June the farmers were concerned about getting their crops in the field yet today my home lawn is getting a little bit crispy and even with watering only needs to be cut every other week.  On the course I could see that the pond is a full six inches lower than full.  Rocks normally in the water are now standing on a dry shoreline.

My irrigation records told the story.  July 9th was the last time we've received rainfall greater than a quarter of an inch.  Any rains we've seen since then that approach a quarter of an inch came in short 5 minute bursts that runoff the property before benefiting us or come at us sideways as they did the night of the wind that felled the oak tree on 16 green.  I'm not complaining but we could use a good soaker.

Speaking of #8 pond.  The fountain is broken and in the shop for repairs.  I'm hoping it is returned to us shortly as the weeds continue to bloom in the stagnant water.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dodged Bullet: No more!

I was beginning to wonder if this would be the year we escaped storm damage.  The high winds that tore through the area at Midnight Wednesday put and end to that thought.  Our on course weather station recorded a wind speed of 36 MPH and a paltry .22" of an inch of rain.  A quick tour of the course suggested light damage overall.  Tops of few trees missing, a limb here a stick there.  I've witnessed worse and reminded myself of the wind storm of 2001 when we lost over three hundred tree. Some of that damage you can still see today if you know were to look.

Then I turned the dogleg on #16 and found myself muttering "Oh Crap."  The largest black oak on the course was now laying directly on the green.  This didn't really surprise me as this tree had been in decline and hollow for as long as I've been here.  With the passing of nearly every strong storm I could count on finding at least one major limb waiting to be cut up.  Here's a few photo's.

Damage to the putting surface is being repaired by seeding, topdressing and the larger scarred sections will be "plugged" with sod taken from our nursery.  This will be an ongoing process.
 I looked at my soil temperatures on August 2, 2013 around 2 PM and found them to be 68 and 69 degrees at 2 and 4 inch depths.  Last year during the drought, they were over 85 degrees.  The irrigation water we pull from the river was over 90 degrees last year, it's cool to the touch coming from the wash rack hoses this year.  I'm enjoying the fall like summer we've seen to date and the turf is much happier too.  _Mk

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dog Days of Summer

Busy work.  Every Golf Course Superintendent having a "thin" budget knows exactly the value of busy work.  Creatively coming up with simple projects that improve the golf course without greatly impacting the budgets bottom line.  Glamorous work?  Hardly.  So when the grass mowing finally slows down we can now find the time to set out and complete the small items on our endless "to do" list.  Here  is just a small example of the jobs that are currently keeping us productive.

We grind the stumps from all the trees we removed last fall.

Sprinkler heads are edged to make it easier to find and read yardage plates.

Mulch made from our tree felling is spread out over exposed tree roots.

 Or to make landscape beds like this one.

Trees are limbed up to make it easier for you to find your errant shots and for us to mow.

And we make more mulch. 

Cart paths are graded smooth.

Some "tired" cart paths are simply rebuilt.  This is before,

And the after.  The path is just about complete already looking better.
There is a down side to busy work too.  Some times I'm asked why we are doing "this and not that" when "that" appears to be a priority.  Simple explanation?  You guessed it, money.  Maybe tomorrow, but for today I'll be dreaming up still more ways to improve your golf course without impacting the budgets bottom line.  Enjoy.  _Mk

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Local tennis legend John Powless finds training sanctuary at UW-Madison turf center : Wsj

I thought you might find this link interesting.  It tells of local legend John Powless use of turf grass research plots for practice to maintain his "world class" standing as a tennis player.  It has been through your donations to fund research at UW-Madison that helped create playing surfaces for all types of recreation.  You should also be made aware that Mr. Powless writes a rather large check annually to the Wisconsin Turfgrass Association in gratitude for allowing him to practice on those plots. 

If you are ever in Madison and would like a tour of the research center call me and I will set something up for you.  Please follow the link below.  ( would not let me simply embed the article for you to read here.)  Mk

Local tennis legend John Powless finds training sanctuary at UW-Madison turf center : Wsj

Friday, June 28, 2013

Darwins Law?

On Wednesday the 26th of June, the Wisconsin DNR and the City of Wisconsin Rapids ventured on the golf course to "trap" local resident geese and relocate them to another area.  It was interesting to watch 8 - 10 men circle the geese and slowly close the circle to herd them into a tight pack.  The geese were then "waddled" to trucks and trailers where they were caged and carted off property.  In total 15 of twenty geese were removed from the areas along the Wisconsin River.  In my mind they are welcome back anytime as the geese population has soared in the past decade.  And I have one my story for you and it goes like this.

Darwin's law and the natural order of selectivity tells us the weakest of the species die first.  With that said, I have a nominee:

Look closely and you will see the head and eyes of a goose nesting.  And here is were she decided to nest.

That's right, on the roof of the pump house.  The last I knew, baby geese can't fly!  Their first steps are going to be big one's! The goose abandoned her nest about a week after I took this photo.  _Mk

PSA - Public Service Announcement

Just wanted to alert everyone to a Wood Tick hazard.  It seems the little buggers like to hide out on ball-washer towels.  So check the towel before drying your ball.

And as you know it has been a banner year for Mosquitoes and ticks.  As a yearly reminder, please apply repellents to your person on cart paths away from sensitive turf areas or better yet in the locker room before heading out onto the course. In the picture below you can make out two foot prints.

Also as a safety reminder please respect the deadly power of Thunder Storms!  This white pine was shattered by a bolt of lightning on the 27th of June while many players remained on the course  Some where easily within 200 yards of the strike.  Thank God this wasn't a tragedy! Trees can be replaced, lives cannot.

Friday, June 21, 2013

My Blog is Ranked in the "Top Ten!" Is there a future?

My Bull's Eye Greens Blog is ranked in the top ten ten million blogs based on statistics I stumbled across and has a value just over $1,200!  Wow.  Do you want to buy it? 

With that said you may have noticed fewer posts on course conditions or projects.  Since the green section was acquired by Oliphant Golf, I'm no longer the immediate spokes person for the golf course and its condition.  While there has been no "gag order" placed on me, I no longer feel comfortable commenting on your course as I have enjoyed doing since the birth of my blog.  I've always thought long and hard about club "politics"  before posting but now I fear I could anger one or both parties through a simple post.  As you know, "words are written in stone" once you press the publish button.  We'll see.  _Mk

Thanks Maestro

I want to give a praise of thanks to "The Maestro" Peter McCormick for fixing a problem with my blog.  For some reason the titles of the right hand column vanished after I tried to make some updates.  Thanks a million Peter!

Mark Kienert, CGCS

Another Bumper Crop!

Poa, can't live with it, can't live without it!  It appears that we have a bumper crop of it this year in a direct response to last years environmental stress.

What got me thinking about this blog post was seeing Poa seed perched nicely in a bare area of winter killed putting green turf.

One amazing fact about Poa is that the seed is primed to germinate immediately.  Normally grass seed has to go through a cycle, one of cold or fire, to be primed ready for germination.

The picture above shows little evidence of seed stalks in the area were the greens mower turns.  Is it possible the mower wheels have already tracked the Poa seed onto the green?  As if we need more.

Motha's Cousin?

Remember that mythical creature in the campy "Godzilla" movies?  Well a cousin of his/her showed up on our shop a few weeks back.

Not sure of the species, but it did generate a comment or two from the crew as it was drying its wings after emerging from its over wintering cocoon.  _Mk