Thursday, June 2, 2016

Course Notes, 6/2/2016

May was a month of wide temperature extremes here at Elcona.  On May 15th, we experienced snow showers and a low of 32, a rare occurrence for that time of year.  Up until last week, May was on track to be the 2nd coldest on record, and still is in the top 10 coldest May's even with the heat the last few days.  Rain wise, the beginning of the month was plentiful, but since the 17th we have received only .01" of precipitation here at Elcona. In a matter of 6 days, we went from snow showers to dragging hoses on dry areas!  While the dry conditions have set up firm playability on the course, there are some areas that have struggled.  These areas saw a noticeable increase in traffic wear from our early warm weather and course opening in March, with little to no warm weather to aid in growth and recovery.  

Some of the green surrounds have noticeable rippling and/or uneven lies in and around the turf.  This is a two fold issue, coming from weather and machinery.  The machinery that we used is a rotary bladed unit, and in many areas there is only one direction of traffic that the operator can go to efficiently mow this turf, causing the machine to traverse in the same direction over and over, causing the rear rollers on the decks to hit in the same spots and an uneven turf growth habit in areas.  The colder weather of April and May stunted any growth of the grass in the lower areas to fill in and reduce the unevenness of lies experienced.  

11 green surround, with cores pulled
We are tackling this issue in a couple different ways.  First, fertility has been increased to promote growth to help fill in the lower areas, and will be higher throughout the year than we have done in the past to help sustain more consistent conditions through the year.  We will also be changing mowing patterns on 6 green surrounds each week to differentiate traffic and wear on these areas.  The mower will still traverse over tighter areas in the same direction, but larger areas should see improvement.  Finally, as the picture on the right depicts, we aerified #11 green surround last week, and while it did not provide immediate results at removing the unevenness, the process did relieve compaction and traffic wear, and will provide fresh oxygen and better channels for rooting and water percolation.  In late September, we will be aerifying all surrounds to promote the health of these areas.  

Close up of 17 fairway turf.  
17 Fairway
The fairways are another area that have struggled with May's highs and lows.  The turf in these areas is composed of Penncross, an older variety of bentgrass that does not like wide temperature swings.  With the frosts and freezes that May brought, the growth habit of these areas has slowed more considerably than I would like, producing tighter lies and an off color.  This off color is from older leaves dying and the tips of live plants browning from the frosts and freezes.  The rest of the plant is healthy and growing, albeit slowly.  We have increased fertility on fairways to promote a light increase in growth, and will be experimenting with brushes to stand the plant up and remove more of these brown tips to remove the off color portions.  A verticut may be needed to remove more of these off color plants.  

If you have any questions, please contact me at  Have a great rest of your week!  


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