Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Course Happenings for April

     April certainly has been full of ups and downs weather wise.  From 2" of snow on the 15th of the month to upper 70's and dry on Easter weekend, it has seemed like a roller coaster ride of weather to deal with when executing all that we need to do on the grounds. 

   Besides completing our aerification on greens, tees, and fairways successfully, we also are in the process of applying pre- and post-emergent weed control around the golf course.  Another critical spring application to our Poa annua greens is for seedhead suppression.  Note that this first of two applications does not eliminate the presence of seedheads on our putting surfaces, but is effective in greatly reducing the number of them that affect ballroll.  As in previous years, we have place checkplots, such as the one in the left picture, to measure the success of the timing on the application.  To learn more about why we place these on certain areas, Greg posted a great blog article here.

Another project that we have completed is the area between 6 green and 7 tee.  Several large trees were removed over the winter and were replaced with four Amelanchier species.  These trees will be smaller and more compact, and add a dramatic white background in the spring with its blooms.  Sod and seed were added to fill in the bare areas.  Many of you have commented on the new look from the green or tee, thank you for those.


Perpendicular grain on 7 fairway
Lastly, we began verticutting tees and fairways this week.  Our tees have a good amount of thatch in them, making them spongy to the feel.  Some thatch is good, acting like a mulch barrier protecting the plant from extreme temperature fluctuations and moisture loss. Thatch also gives the turf some cushion from cart, mower, and foot traffic. Too much thatch leads to soft playing conditions, potential for mower scalping, and increased desiccation of the root system. 

Verticut mower on 1 fairway
Vertical mowing is also a great tool to create a more upright standing plant, which in turn creates a better quality of cut for our regular mowers, and a tighter lie for your ball in the fairway.  The picture top left shows the grain issues we are facing in the fairways today, and the bottom left picture shows the unit in action and the clippings that the vertical mower leaves.  This will be a regular bi-monthly practice for us unless weather dictates otherwise.  Keep in mind that it will take many vertical mowings for the fairways to get to where we need them to be.  For more information on vertical mowing and its benefits, a great article can be read here.  See you on the golf course!


Practice Green Repair

Green after sodding 4/16/14

One project that you probably have noticed is the small Practice Green next to the clubhouse.  I had closed that green to traffic in March in the attempts to further aid its recovery from the severe winter damage that it sustained on the far east side.  After three weeks, no major recovery was taking place, so we had to sod the dead turf using new sod from our greens nursery.  This sod will require lots of rolling and topdressing to further smooth it out, and we have begun mowing it at a higher height to slowly work the new sod down to the height of other greens on the golf course. 

Green one week after sodding
     The green will remain closed until the roll and playability of the green matches the conditions on the golf course and the height of cut is the same as the others on the course.  I appreciate your understanding with this repair. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Course Opening!

The view from 12 tee

I have been waiting for 7 weeks to say this.....the golf course will be open this Friday, April 4th!  All 100+ inches of snow and ice has melted, and the ground has become frost free.  But what can you expect to see when you next visit the course?  For starters, we have began mowing playing surfaces, continued clearing leaf litter and other debris from the course, and will start raking bunkers next week.  While we do our best to achieve great course conditions from the start of the season, we will be doing these on an "as needed" basis.  Patience is required for the full quality of Elcona's golf course to truly shine.  A recent USGA article further explains why, which you can read here

18 green after repairs
With our necessary removal of snow and ice (info posted here and here), we have had some repairs to perform on the greens.  It is quite nice to have a large nursery to do these repairs in house, as the picture on the right shows on 18 green.  The other thing you will notice are the shovel marks in that picture.  To completely remove ice on some greens (5, 10, 12,18, large practice green were the heaviest in terms of ice) we had to chip and crack the ice with shovels.  These marks will heal in on their own, with the help of aerification and warmer temperatures from Mother Nature.

5 green 3/25/14
5 green 4/1/2014
5 green suffered bruising injury from topdressing sand that was mixed in with the slush and ice that was removed.  As the pictures show, this green has slowly recovered with some new green tissue starting to peek out of the crown, and should be just fine with some warmer temperatures.  Other greens that have similar injury is 2, 4, 8, 9, 12, 14, and 17. 

The small practice green next to the clubhouse took a decent hit from the winter weather, mainly from the freeze/thaw cycles and cold temperature exposure.  This part of the green does not get any sunlight in the dead of winter until mid afternoon, so winter was harsher on that portion than the rest of the golf course.  I am cautiously optimistic on its recovery, as there is some signs of growth, but we may have to re-sod the turf if it does not recover soon.  I will keep you posted on any repairs that would be necessary.  Until further notice, that practice green will be closed from putting and traffic

The new view from 7 tee
As for other parts of the golf course, you will notice some trees that were removed as part of our annual tree maintenance program.  The picture on the right is the new view from 7 tee.  We removed several ash trees that were in poor condition due to Emerald Ash Borer, and will be replaced with 3 or 4 Amelanchier trees behind the green in their place, farther to the north than the old trees.  These new trees will give some backdrop to the green while allowing a better growing environment for 6 green and 7 tee.  Trees were also removed along the north side of 13 cart path, again for the betterment of the turf and cart path in the surrounding area.  The staff and I will be leveling stump holes, and seeding or sodding them, depending on their location. 

Pink snow mold on Range Tee
Finally, we did have some pink snow mold pop up, mainly on the range tee.  While we are still diagnosing why this tee was more severely affected than the rest of the golf course, we have treated it with a curative fungicide, and with warmer weather and mowing beginning on the tee soon, the turf should grow through the infection and recover.  We have also spot sprayed other smaller outbreaks on tees and continue to monitor greens and fairways. 

Overall, I am still pleased with how the course came through winter.  We as a staff cannot wait to get the season started, and to welcome all of you back to Elcona.  I look forward to seeing all of you out on the golf course!