Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Winter Weed Prevention

Over the past few days, we applied a product to the entire course called Specticle. This is a liquid pre-emergent that is very effective against most common cool season annual weeds, especially poa annua, or annual bluegrass. We used this product for the first time last season, and saw great success in suppressing not only the winter weeds, but many of the weeds that we expected to see an emergence of in the spring and summer months. This product works by creating a barrier atop the soil surface, so you will notice that we will be running some water around the course behind the application. Last season we were only able to use this product on our well established roughs since our re-surfaced tees and fairways didn't have enough time to establish. Because this product works by suppressing new plant growth, our short grass needed more than a year to develop and grow. This year we will be applying this product to the entire course except for the greens. Not only will this process provide us with a significant reduction in weed emergence, it will also give us the opportunity to focus our daily tasks on more detailed touch up work in other areas of the course.
Watering in the product on hole #2

Friday, September 26, 2014

Divot Patterns

  As we enter the busy golf season, our practice facilities will see much more action than in the summer season. Since the turf is slower to recover in the colder months, it is important to understand which divot patterns will result in the quickest turf recovery. This will help insure that there is minimal time needed to re-grow these areas in-between range station rotations and will promote smoother and more consistent practice surfaces. Please take a few minutes to read this article from the USGA which explains this in more detail.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Summer Recap

 As the summer season begins to slow down, we have completed the majority of our summer cultivation work and are starting to focus on details. It is now time to prepare for the fall transition and insure that the course will sustain the winter months. All of our work over the summer is primarily geared toward helping us achieve this, and I would like to briefly recap what we have done during the growing season.

 We aerified three times this year and our greens are continuing to fill in nicely since the most recent aerification. Again, this process serves many vital purposes to the overall health of our greens. It helps to remove the excess thatch layer and build a stronger, deeper, and more dense root structure. Although we will not be doing any more heavy sand applications, we still need to continue to topdress the greens periodically. These applications will be very light and will not greatly affect play.

 In July we made a Curfew application to the greens, which is very beneficial in controlling our nematode population. Nematodes are microscopic root feeders and can be very difficult to control. This application was made to all of our greens and to the most problematic areas on tees and fairways. The product is applied as a liquid that is injected several inches into the soil profile. As it makes contact with moisture, it volatilizes into a gas, escaping to the surface and killing nematodes on contact.
This is the tractor unit used to apply the Curfew to the greens.

A look at the discs that cut the slits for the product injection.
 DryJect is a process that provides many of the same benefits of core aerification without the need to remove material from the greens profile. The DryJect machines used high pressure to inject large amounts of sand into the greens to help amend the soil and improve water movement and root density.
The end result is a large amount of sand in the profile without removing any material.

Our crew worked with the machine operators to fill them with sand as they went.

As we move forward, we will focus on detail work and preparing to transition. Now that the aggressive cultivation work is done, we can begin to dial in our mowing heights around the course and work to maintain smooth and consistent playing surfaces. As always, we will continue monitoring for weeds and insects and will treat the course accordingly. Our fertilizer and pesticide applications will also be adjusted to compensate for the changing seasons. As I said, all of our efforts throughout the summer months have been geared toward sustaining the upcoming months. It has been a very productive summer and we are looking forward to the busy golfing season!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Time to Focus on Weed Control

Now that our major cultivation work is out of the way for a while, we can switch gears to focus on detail work and weed control. This week we finished applying a product called Ronstar. Ronstar is a preventive herbicide that works by preventing weed seeds from germinating and reaching the surface. It is blended with a fertilizer so it will also provide a green up effect and assist our turf with filling in after aerification. This application was made to the entire course to help with weed control in our roughs and other surrounding areas. Since different annual weeds germinate with different seasons, we do this application every few months. We will also continue to address spraying of weeds that have already established around the course and in bed areas. With continued applications of preventive herbicides and constant monitoring of weed activity, we can continue to maintain manageable weed populations.
The application was done "wall to wall" with a tractor spreader unit.

Smaller areas that were difficult to get to with the tractor were done with push spreaders.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Time for Primo

The summer season is upon us and our maintenance program is changing to adapt to the conditions. One of the things we will be doing following aerification and verticutting is applying a product called Primo. Primo works by slowing down the vertical growth of our grasses and encouraging lateral growth at the same time. In other words, it helps to reduce mowing frequency and increase the turf density. It will assist our fertilizers in helping to strengthen and fill in our tees, fairways, and approaches following aerification. One possible drawback to this application is that we may see slight bronzing, which is only temporary and will not damage any turf. As our grasses are entering the peak of the growing season, we begin to see an increase in grass clippings around the course. Primo will help to reduce these clippings, leaving cleaner playing surfaces and less cleanup work as we progress through the summer season.
Spraying 7 fairway
Tees and fairways were sprayed with the spray rig. The approaches will be sprayed by hand with a spray hawk for a more accurate application.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Round 2...

Our second wave of greens aerification is complete and we are still continuing the Graden and aerification process on our fairways. We also aerified the tees and approaches this time as opposed to only verticutting as we did last time. As I said earlier, these processes are a critical part of alleviating traffic stress and maintaining a proper thatch layer on our playing surfaces. Our greens are already healing over faster this time for a few different reasons. We were able to get a sufficient fertilizer application down following aerification while avoiding heavy flushing rains afterward.

Here is a look at the process...
First, the greens are verticut and the clippings are blown off before they are topdressed

Once the topdressing is applied, the greens are then aerified

After aerification, the cores are dragged, blown off and picked up. Each green is then brushed to incorporate the sand into the profile, rolled, fertilized, and watered. 

The approaches were also aerified, cleaned off, topdressed, and dragged

Here is a look at 2 fairway following the Graden process

We will be doing more verticutting and a few other cultural practices during this summer season to insure that our playing surfaces are stronger and will be ready for next upcoming season. However, none will be to the extent of the Graden process.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Summer Work Has Begun

As you all have noticed, we have begun the first phase of our aerification and verticutting processes around the course. Although they are disruptive to the quality of our playing surfaces, it is important to realize that these cultural practices are essential to the health and sustainability of our grasses. Aerification is a process that relieves the compaction from the traffic of our busy season and helps eliminate the thatch layer that has built up over the fall and winter months. Verticutting also removes thatch build up and promotes new growth that results in a smoother, more consistent playing surface. On the greens, we follow up with a layer of topdressing sand to fill the aerification holes with fresh sand. We then apply fertilizer to stimulate quick recovery and new plant growth. Our overall process on the greens this year was different than years past. After monitoring the greens following aerification, our next aerification will be fine tuned for quicker recovery. We will repeat these processes throughout the summer to establish a strong foundation for the busy season, and information on the dates when we will be doing this work will be made available through the pro shop.

The driving range tees are in the process of recovering from the spring transition. The reason we saw struggling surfaces was partly because of overseed transition and partly because of heavy damage from divots. Ideally, new grasses require about a year of growth and development before they are strong enough to grow with the competition of the winter grasses. However, due to the fact that the practice areas take on significantly more divots than fairways, we needed to insure that we had a full stand of turf in these areas. Now that all the overseed has died out, we have increased our fertilizer applications to the practice areas and are beginning to see strong recovery.
The verti-cut lines on fairways are nearly healed from the first verti-cut.

Aerification holes on greens are fully sealed and ready for round 2.

Friday, February 7, 2014

How To Stay Green In The Winter

We have been very pleased with our new grasses on the course throughout the winter so far, as they have maintained color and resiliency even through the coldest stretch of the season. One of the factors we took into consideration when selecting new turf for the renovation was their cold weather tolerance. Most warm season grasses shut down and enter dormancy during this time of year. There are many reasons why selected the Celebration and Champion varieties, one of them being their ability to retain color and recuperative ability. We also incorporated several different strategies to help our turf sustain, and to ensure that we did not lose any of our playing surfaces. Our weekly foliar sprays were adjusted to provide the greens with a more appropriate nutrient package necessary to survive cold stress and enhance a darker color to retain higher temperatures. We also used a black topdressing sand as another way to retain heat. You may have noticed since last weekend that the greens went through a substantial color change and growth flush after only a few days of temperatures near the 80's. This rapid natural response is not only a sign that the greens are strong and active, but also a sign that we can look forward to a quick and easy transition into the active growing stages of spring and summer.
Good color for early February!

Only isolated rough areas saw any effects of frost

From 4 green- lush, healthy leaves!

Friday, January 31, 2014

# 3 Continues to Improve

Since the re-opening of the course in October, our approach to maintaining hole #3 has been slightly different than the rest of the course. You may recall some areas being slower to fill in and develop than others, mainly just beyond the tees and a few areas in the fairway. We ultimately determined that the largest contributing factor to this issue was a slight buildup of toxicity in the soil profile that was holding back plant development. We initially applied a wide variety of fertilizers to encourage the sprigs to fill in all the way, but after seeing a less than desirable response, we applied charcoal to test the possibility that there may be an issue of toxicity. Charcoal works by neutralizing these toxic materials within the soil profile, and in our case showed a vast improvement in our problem areas. We will continue to monitor these areas and make both charcoal and fertilizer applications as necessary to promote growth and development in the future.
The right side beyond the ladies tee showing improvement

Root structure overall continues to gain strength and density

An area where charcoal was applied is filling in nicely