Tuesday, November 13, 2012

SodFest 2012

It has certainly been a while since I provided any type of update on this blog, and for that I apologize.  The Grounds Department has been exceptionally busy this Fall working on several projects. Most notably the sod work around the greens that has been an ongoing project since early Fall.

All of the green surrounds, or at least a 7-8 ft. pass around each green has been stripped and had new sod laid in an attempt to improve playing conditions during the summer months when certain types of turfgrass are stressed beyond what they can handle.  For more detailed information and a video explaining our circumstances, please click here to revisit a previous update from this blog.

Finished sod work around a green. A MAJOR improvement!

If you recall, three greens on the golf course (#2, 7 and 15) had "mowouts", or areas of lower mown turf, around them to make the playing conditions more favorable. These mowouts were established in areas where there was an extremely high population of bentgrass. By mowing these areas lower, the ball had a better lie and shots from around the green were more manageable.  These areas have since been stripped of the bentgrass and received new sod. Going forward, this sod will be maintained at rough height, thereby eliminating the mowouts.

The contaminated mowout around #7 green has been replaced 
with clean sod and will be maintained at rough height.

The 7-8 ft. pass around each green will be staged down in the spring to match up with our Intermediate cut that we have always maintained around the greens. I am sure you will notice a significant difference, not just visually, but in the conditioning as well.

All totaled, it took 76 pallets of sod just like this one to complete
the project. With that may pallets, you can see why the crew dubbed this 
project SODFEST!

Please contact me if you have any questions and I promise that the updates will be a little more regular in the future. There will be lots of updates to post as we have some minor projects with some of the tees, tree work and our usual winter maintenance around the shop and golf course. Have a great remainder of your Fall!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Green Speed: Please Consider the Following:

This is a longer than normal post, but I feel it is important that you please take the time to read it in it's entirety.

I have been wanting to address this for quite a while and this appears to be the appropriate time since I have been receiving numerous comments about the speed of the greens.

When I first started working here over 6 years ago, I was asked in the interview process if I was willing to post greenspeeds on a daily basis.  I said yes, but was always concerned about the consequences.  This was a new part of my daily routine and a new part of your daily golf game.  I can honestly say that a day didn't go by when the speed of the greens wasn't met with great criticism regardless of what "number" was placed on the Starter Hut.   No matter what the number was, it was immediately criticized for not being accurate. Some said the greens were faster than the posted number but a vast majority commented that it was extremely inaccurate and that the greens were significantly slower than the posted number. This routine had become the single most stressful part of my job and I was constantly amazed at how rounds of golf would be ruined before they even got started because of a simple number that wasn't to a players liking.  With strong encouragement from the USGA and approval from the Green Committee and Board of Directors, we stopped posting green speeds two years ago. Without question, I feel it has improved everyone's mentality before teeing off and it has certainly eliminated a lot of unnecessary stresses for myself and my staff.

 It has been and always will be a top priority for me to keep the greens as consistent as possible while maintaining a healthy playing surface. It is not uncommon for speeds to vary from day to day based on our rolling program and other external factors.  During a typical week of the peak season (see below) we will roll on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so please keep this in mind.  University research has shown that rolling more than 3-4 times/week in conjunction with a daily mowing schedule is the threshold before the turf can become overly stressed and show signs of decline .  This is especially true for Annual Bluegrass, the predominant turf on our greens, in the heat of the summer (remember last summer?).

Contrary to popular belief, I do not have complete control over the speed of the greens on a daily basis. I have compiled a list of factors that will hopefully help you become more educated on some of the things that impact the speed of your greens.

  1. Staff: We are only at peak staffing levels for about 3 months (Memorial Day to Labor Day) which means that there may not be someone available to roll on the day you are playing, especially in the spring and fall.  We make every attempt to keep a consistent rolling schedule, but it doesn't always work as surprises can and do happen at any moment.
  2. Moisture Levels: What can affect moisture levels? The two main culprits are rainfall/irrigation and humidity. It's no secret that firmer/drier greens tend to be faster and soft/wet greens lead to slower speeds.  We combat this as much as possible by hand watering the greens in the summer and using products to help move water down through the soil profile leading to a drier, firmer surface.
  3. Weather: What happens to your yard after it rains? It grows and typically grows much faster than it did before it rained. Rainfall provides the turf with clean, usable water that helps to flush elements from the soil that tie-up nutrients, therefore making the nutrients readily available to the turf. Nutrients lead to healthy turf which can lead to additional growth.
  4. Nutrition: The turf needs food to be healthy. Just as with humans, the healthier it is, the more active  it tends to be.  Healthy turf will grow more than unhealthy turf. 
  5. Growth: Turf is a living, breathing entity.  It doesn't just grow at night when most of us are sleeping, it grows during the day as well.  This means that the greens will usually be slower in the afternoon than they are in the morning.  If they didn't grow, we wouldn't have to mow them every day.
  6. Growth Regulators: Growth regulators work and work very well, but despite what you may think, they do not completely stop growth, they merely slow it down.  Over the years we have found a schedule that will provide very consistent results from day to day, minimizing surges in growth, but like everything else, the performance of the product is predicated upon several of the factors listed above.

The game of golf should not revolve around a number that was originally intended to measure consistency from green to green NOT the speed of the greens (this alone is a topic for another post).  Having said that, please understand that my staff and I try our hardest to give you some of the fastest (within reason), most consistent and enjoyable greens in the region on a daily basis, but sometimes outside influences lead to results that are temporarily out of our control. Please consider which factors may be at play if the greenspeed is not to you liking on a particular day. Lastly, I would encourage you to spend a few moments before each round on one of the practice greens.  They are maintained EXACTLY like the greens on the golf course and will give you a good reference as to what the greens on the course will be like.

Thank you for reading and please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Course Update: Greens and Green Surrounds

By now it should not be a surprise to any of you when I say that there has been a dramatic change in course conditions in the last 4-6 weeks. The extreme heat has finally taken its toll on the greens as well as the turf surrounding greens.  Please indulge me while I make an attempt to explain what is happening in each of these respective areas.

While the stress from the heat on the greens may not be visible on the surface, there are plenty of symptoms visible below the surface. Throughout the spring and early summer we had some fantastic root growth thanks to a strong agronomic program and some great growing conditions.  Unfortunately, once soil temperatures reached 80 degrees and higher, the roots began to die off and will not return until temperatures consistently drop below the 80 degree mark again.  With the record setting high temperatures this summer and lack of rainfall, we saw some unbelievably high soil and canopy (surface) temperatures which severely impacted the health of the greens.  Please see the photos below for root depth comparison photos as well as soil and canopy temperatures. (click for larger view)

117 degree surface temp.  FYI: This is not good!

100 degree soil temp at 2" depth

Good rooting of the Annual Bluegrass on the greens
prior to the heat
Current root depth on greens. FYI: This
is not good either!
For those of you wondering why the greens are so soft and why green speeds have been slower even though the weather is showing signs of cooling off, this picture showing the current rooting depth is the reason.  When roots are this shallow, or even non-existent in some cases,  we have to be extremely cautious not to add any additional stresses to the turf that would give it a reason to die off.  We are constantly on the lookout for any signs of wilt and regularly syringing the greens to keep them cool. As you can imagine, it doesn't take long to dry out and for the condition of the greens to head in the wrong direction.  As Mother Nature hopefully begins to think about cooler weather patterns, new roots will be initiated and our regular management practices will return to normal. Ironically enough, we have now entered a rather wet stretch of weather that will help recovery, but with the lack of roots less moisture is being removed from the soil which also helps contribute to softer conditions. We continue to roll on a regular basis, but we are also promoting improved plant health which has led to additional growth. Please keep this in mind as you enjoy your round and stay tuned for an upcoming post on the hidden factors of green speed.

Regarding the poor conditions around several of the greens, we are once again battling our old friend Rough Bluegrass (Poa trivialis). This is now the third straight year of extremely hot weather, and it's no coincidence that this is the third straight year that we are facing poor conditions around the greens (this year being the worst). Under high temperatures, this turf, much like Annual Bluegrass, does not want to survive.  It enters a state of dormancy and will not recover until weather conditions are more favorable.  More often than not, full recovery, if at all, will not occur until the following spring. Because of this, we have elected to begin replacing these areas with Kentucky Bluegrass purchased form a local grower.  This will provide a quick fix to the problem and will also minimize the chances of these conditions returning in the future.

Rough Bluegrass on the perimeter of #8 green
Rough Bluegrass close-up. Notice how there are no roots
present, only the stolons.  Most of these areas can be rolled
just like a carpet because of poor rooting.

Click Video below for a more detailed explanation.

Please know that I am less than thrilled with these conditions however, given what we have been through this year, the overall health of the golf course is quite good.  Sure, we have plenty of black-eyes and are bruised from the fight, but we live to fight another day. Our gloves are still on as we have no plan on giving up and want to finish the year on a very positive note as we head toward the various club championships. Enjoy the remainder of the summer and hope for some cooler weather.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Justification for a Tough Decision

Change is never easy, especially when it comes to impacting something that you have grown accustomed to and have developed an appreciation for.  With that being said, sometimes change can mean opportunity.  This was the case regarding the tree removal project behind #12 green and along side #13 tee this past winter.  We had a clear opportunity to improve the health of a very important green.

Unacceptable turf conditions due
to poor air movement
Unfortunately, this opportunity was born out of a couple of very stressful periods.  If you recall the previous two seasons we struggled to keep the turf on #12 green alive during the abnormally hot/humid conditions that we faced.  Truth be told, we came very close to losing the entire green on several occasions.  If the fan were not present, I feel very confident that the past conditions would have been far worse.  Last winter, with approval from the Green Committee and Board of Directors, it was decided to significantly reduce the tree population in this area.  This was a very difficult decision to make knowing how it could potentially impact the view of the 12th hole from the middle of the fairway.

#12 before tree removal
With careful consideration to the backdrop of #12 green, a plan was put in place to remove a majority of the trees in an attempt to take advantage of winds coming out of the west, northwest, north and northeast.  I had great confidence that we would achieve our desired results, but there was no way to tell...until the week of July 1st.  The first half of the week gave us three days with temps in the mid to upper 90's, while the second half brought 4 days with temps in the low 100's with humidity.  This unprecedented stretch of weather wasn't exactly conducive for maintaining turfgrass, especially our greens that are comprised of Poa annua.  However, it was ideal weather to test our decision of removing the trees.

#12 after tree removal
Looking back on that week of horrendous weather and surveying the turf conditions of #12 green the following week, the green survived the test and has unquestionably gone from what was easily our weakest green to arguably our best one.  The best news of all is that the fan was never used, although I did consider putting it out.

I will stop well short of claiming that we will never have another problem with this green, but at this point it seems pretty clear that the decision to protect our asset was the correct one.  I would hate to think of what the condition of the green would be like now if we hadn't made such a tough decision.

Please click on pictures for a more detailed view.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Drought Update and Cart Traffic

Mother Nature continues to be very greedy when it comes to sharing her rain with us.  While other parts of the country have more rain than they could ever want, we have just been classified as being in an extreme drought situation.  You probably won’t believe me when you read this, but I would much rather deal with this scenario as opposed to the heat, humidity and rainfall that we had last year.  As of today, July 2nd, our last significant rainfall occurred on June 1st when we received a whopping 1/2" of rain. 

In extreme patterns like this, thanks to the irrigation system, we can be in control of where the irrigation water is placed, how much goes out, and when it is applied. Based on your comments to me, the general consensus is that this year’s course conditioning has been well received. With that being said, we will continue to “ride the wave” that we are on until the weather dictates that we need to adjust our management practices.

This is the perfect time to remind everyone about some simple, but often overlooked courtesies when it comes to driving golf carts. When turf is stressed from heat and lack of moisture it is critical that carts stay out of these areas.  By driving through stressed areas, the turf is subjected to greater stresses that could cause significant injury or even death.  Other courtesies that should be followed all year and especially during stressful periods include: parking to close to the greens, driving more carts than necessary in a group (ex: 5 carts for a 5-some), driving carts where they don’t belong (next to greens/tees and in the tall grass areas), carelessly applying the brakes too hard and leaving skid marks etc. All of these should be common sense, but you would be amazed at how many times I witness all of these on a daily basis.  

5-some with 5 carts. Even if you have
a cart pass, please be social
and share a cart.

Whether accidental or blatant, please
use the brakes carefully.

Please keep cart traffic in dry areas
to a minimum.  Severe damage
could occur.

This is not a recommended shortcut.

Please use the CART-paths when
parking at the greens and tees.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect, But Only Where Appropriate

This is not the Practice Facility

As I came upon #18 green this morning during my usual morning tour of the golf course, I was greeted by these lovely divots right in front of the approach to #18 green.  I realize that this green is the "shiny new toy" that everyone wants to play with, but please consider the consequences.

This green has only been open for a little over two weeks and is still not completely "mature".  While the health is good and the roots are actively growing it still has a ways to go to reach the maturity of the other 17 green on the golf course.  Excessive traffic on this green has the potential to cause poor plant health as we head into the stressful summer months.  The proverbial adage of "monkey see, monkey do" plays a big role here as well.  Because this is a high profile area, if individuals are consistently using this as a practice green to figure out all of the nuances, other members will be inclined to do the same.

Lastly, you have probably noticed that as you finish your round, the edge of the hole on this green is in far worse condition that the other greens.  This is caused by all of the practice putting that goes on throughout the course of the day.  The more often balls are removed from the cup, the more often the edge is damaged and can actually cause the hole to become smaller. 

Please take this into consideration and choose to use the fantastic Practice Facility that we have for you to work on your short game instead of the golf course.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Am I Losing My Mind?

What do you notice about this picture?

Take a minute to look at the picture and see if you can find anything different or new (No, Waldo is not in the photo).


I can hear it now: "He's crazy! It's only May and he's already gone off the deep end. There isn't anything different!".

While this response wouldn't surprise me and I assume that many of you have probably already had that thought that regarding me, the picture does show something VERY different and VERY important.

What are you supposed to be seeing?

The flag at #12 green is blowing in the breeze even with leaves on the trees!  For those of you that have been members at Elcona for a while, this is probably something that you may not have seen before, or at least not on a regular basis during the summer.  The wind on this particular day was blowing out of the northwest, which is common, but in the past, the dense trees between #12 green and #13 tee and understory plants that were growing along the fenceline all but eliminated every breath of air from reaching #12 green leading to extremely poor turf conditions on and around the green.

Remember all of the tree work that was done last winter in this area? This is exactly what we were trying to accomplish.  Here are some photos to remind you of how many trees we removed. Click on the pictures for a larger view.

 Click this link to go to a previous blog post with several more before and after photos.

At this stage in the game it would appear that we have accomplished our goal, but we still need to wait and see what kind of curve balls Mother Nature decides to throw us this season.  We certainly do not want a repeat of the last two summers where we struggled to keep this green alive. At least this season I feel we have a good head start on what may be coming down the line.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Collar Adjustments

Ball resting against green/collar transition
Last year it was decided to begin taking an aggressive approach toward eliminating the drastic transition from the green to the collar surrounding the green. It was also decided to reduce the width of the collar from two mower passes down to a single pass. Over the last several years, the sand that has been used for topdressing the greens has begun to build-up the collars in such a way that there is now a drastic transition from the green to the collar.  The reason for this is that the collars are mown at a higher height of cut as compared to the greens making it easier for the sand particles to work their way through the leaf canopy leading to less removal from the mowers. On the greens, since they are mown at a much lower height, a higher percentage of sand is removed during mowing leading to less build-up over time.  This transition between the green and collar has now led to a playability issue where it can actually be difficult to putt a ball that is on the green if it is resting against the collar.

Our initial thought last fall was to gradually lower the mowing height of the collar to transition it to greens height, therefore making each green slightly larger and the collar more narrow.  As we began lowering the mowing height on the inside portion of the collar, it became very evident that scalping was going to be a major issue and that a different approach was necessary.

A few weeks ago we began trying a couple different methods to minimize the transition which will allow us to begin reducing the width of the collar. (click on pictures for larger view)

Test #1: Strip Sod

This method will provide immediate results and decent playability but will take a significant amount of time and labor. The process involves stripping all of the collar, removing excess material (soil) to help the new soil level match the level of the green, re-laying the sod, tamping, watering and rolling.  It took three individuals approximately 3 hrs. to complete the process on only half of the big putting green by #1 tee.

Strip existing collar
Remove material to lower the level
of the collar

Re-lay sod in its previous
 location and tamp
Finished product after watering
and rolling

Test #2: Aggressively Aerify the Collar

This method will take a little longer to achieve the desired results, but the process itself is very fast and is expected to take less time and labor to complete.  The process involves 2-3 aggressive aerifications of the collar within a month or two, removing the cores, heavily watering the collar to soften it then driving over the saturated collar with a tractor to lower the level of the collar to the level of the green.  It took two individuals approximately 30 minutes to complete the process on the other half of the big putting green by #1 tee.  Keep in mind that this is not the final result we are wanting to achieve.  This process will need to be done 1-2 more times to get it to the point where it matches the current condition of the collar that was done with the other process.

Drive over saturated collar to begin
lowing soil level
Aerify the collar and a small
portion of the gree

Finished product with holes
remaining open

A couple of points to consider:

Test #1: This is not a perfect process.  Sod seams will be visible and there may be some inconsistencies  with evenness until the sod fully matures (this process is similar to the stripping and re-laying of the sod on #18 green).

Test #2: Holes will be visible for a period of time as we want to encourage the soil to fill the holes leading to additional settling of the collar.  If the minimal amount of holes on the green itself is a concern, we will need to fill them with sand, lengthening the amount of time it will take to achieve our goal.

Monday, April 23, 2012

What Can You Learn from 16 sq. ft.?

One of the best things about my job is the educational opportunities that are available on a daily basis.  Whether it comes in the form of a classroom, monthly superintendent meetings, discussions with fellow peers via Social Media or something as simple as throwing a sheet of plywood on the ground, there is always something to be learned everyday. You'd be surprised at how much info you can obtain from a simple 4'x4' square (16 sq. ft.) of plywood. 

During my 6 years here, I have been closely monitoring our applications of fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides to ensure that they are necessary, timely and that we are achieving the desired results. With a struggling economy and the costs of these products continuing to escalate, it is imperative that each application not only work, but it needs to be justifiable.  One of the ways I have been monitoring the performance of the products that we use is through the use of the aforementioned sheet of plywood. 

Portable 4'x4' sheet for easy transport
There isn't anything tricky about how to use the plywood.  Simply place it in an area that is being treated (usually on one of our green or fairway nurseries) and make the application.  The purpose of the plywood is to shield the chosen section of turf from the application so that it can serve as a "check plot" against the treated area.  After the application is made, remove the plywood and wait. Over a period of time, the hope is that there is a noticeable difference between the treated area and check-plot.  If there isn't a difference, you could make the argument that the application wasn't necessary or the timing was inaccurate.  You could also make the argument that the product didn't work, but in my experience that usually isn't the case, but it has happened here.
Unfolded plywood on green nursery
The best example of the use of check plots here at Elcona happens every spring.  Everyone is aware that our greens are mostly comprised of poa Annua (Annual Bluegrass) and that it is a prolific seeder in the spring.  Hopefully you are also aware that we make 2-3 applications of growth regulators to help suppress the formation of the seedheads. It is never expected that we will achieve full suppression of the seedheads, but the hope is to reduce them by 50-60%.  How can we tell?  You guessed it...a check plot.  The photos below show you quite clearly where the plywood was placed and it should be obvious that there are significantly more seedheads in the check plot vs. the treated area.  Imagine how the greens would putt if we didn't make these applications!  As we expected, the application has been successful and certainly more than justifiable.

Check Plot on #1 green. White square caused by excessive
seeding within the check plot.

Check Plot on #10 green.  Software used to add yellow
tone to make the seedheads more visible.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Are You Done Yet?

Silver Maple seeds on #9 fairway and approach
Every year it happens, but this year seems to be worse than in the past.  What am I referring to?  The unsightly and ever so annoying seeds or "helicopters" from the Maple trees, primarily Silver Maples that we hope will end soon.  If there was ever a question as to why it is a priority within our Tree Program to remove these trees, there shouldn't be after viewing these photos.

#13 green
As most of you know, the property that the club is situated on was originally used for farming and grazing and there were very few trees.  During the first two decades of the club's existence, there was a strong push to give Elcona a "mature" look and several fast growing trees such as Locust, Pine and Silver Maples  were added to the landscape.  At the time, this worked well and provided an almost immediate impact, but over the last 10 years or so, these trees have become a headache in many ways.  Not only are they planted too close together and leading to poor turf conditions, but because of their fast growing tendencies, they have soft wood and are susceptible to wind, snow and ice damage that leads to a constant mess on the golf course.
#9 green

Since my arrival in 2006, the removal of these trees, especially the Silver Maples, has been a top priority but a few still remain and are causing the mess that you see in the photos.  During this time of year when the seeds never seem to want to stop falling, it forces my staff to direct their attention toward clean-up instead of focusing on other aspects of the golf course that need attention.  It also delays our mowing in the mornings as we need to clean and blow greens, tees and fairways before they are mown so that our cutting units are not ruined.  Unfortunately, this clean-up is necessary throughout the day as well in order to keep the golf course playable forcing us to put projects on the back burner.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Audubon Project: Funding for Nesting Boxes

Bluebird Nesting Box (photo from Birdzilla.com)

As you are all aware, Elcona CC is designated as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, a title that we are very proud of.  As part of maintaining our certification, we are asked to participate in several Outreach and Education programs that involve individuals from outside the club.  One of the programs that we are implementing is the construction and installation of additional Blue Bird nesting boxes on our property by the public.  We have approached a local Eagle Scout that is willing to take on this project as well as monitor the additional boxes once they are in place.  Currently, all of the monitoring is done by staff horticulturist Greg Stump.

As of now, the arrangement is that Elcona will cover the costs of the materials to construct the Blue Bird nesting boxes and the Eagle Scout will build, install and monitor the boxes as part of his community service project.  At this time I am seeking donations to help cover the cost of materials for this project.  Each nesting box will be made from cedar and will cost about $15.  Our plan is to construct approximately 25 nesting boxes at a cost of around $375 total.  If you would like to make a donation to this project as well as future projects that we have planned, please contact myself or Pam in the front office and we will gladly assist you.  You will have two options for donating: you may simply write a check or have your account billed for the amount you would like to donate. When making a donation, please let us know that it is for the Audubon Project Fund and we will make sure your donation gets allocated in the proper location.

We have several projects planned for this year, including a raingarden that will be built outside the Grounds Building to help filter water that comes from washing off our equipment. Consider this your advance notice that we will also be soliciting donations for this project as well as member participation.  The Elcona membership has always been very generous when it comes to donations for projects such as this and my hope is that a fund can be established that will allow us to complete several projects to beautify the club as well as enhance the environment.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Turf Research: It Impacts all of Us

Annual Bluegrass plot at the Daniel Center
 established from aerification cores donated
by Elcona CC
You may not be aware of this, but did you know that you, as members of Elcona CC, play a vital role in promoting turfgrass research?  It's true.  Every year, each one of you is billed for the annual donation to Evan's Scholars and the Midwest Regional Turf Foundation (Purdue University) and every year I have the privilege of presenting your check to the MRTF at our annual Green Expo that is held in Indianapolis at the Convention Center. Needless to say, this gives me a tremendous sense of pride, not just for my industry, but for Elcona as well.

Now, more than ever, your donation has become critical. Even with funding for turf research decreasing by an estimated 20-40% across the country and federal grants disappearing almost completely, the donations from Elcona CC have remained strong. Since 2006, you have donated $40,000 to various projects that have been conducted at the Daniel Turf Research Center at Purdue as well as at Elcona.  In the last 2 years alone, Elcona has been a research site for several  projects (click photos below) and has also made non-monetary contributions as well.  Two years ago, a large dump truck load of aerification cores from our greens was taken from Elcona to the Daniel Center at Purdue to establish research plots that consist primarily of Annual Bluegrass (click photo above).

Testing herbicides for pre and post
 emergent control of goosegrass on
Elcona's Practice Tee (2010, 2011)

Research to determine timing for Summer Patch
applications on one of Elcona's green
nurseries (2011)
Scouting for White Grubs to establish models
for determining if preventive treatments are
 necessary (2010, 2011) Holes #12,13

One of my favorite studies that we have been a part of the last two years was focused around topdressing sand that is applied to greens and how much and what particle sizes are picked-up after application during regular mowing practices.  This study was not associated with Purdue, but was done with Mavis Consulting Ltd who completes and analyzes our soil tests each year. The fascinating results of this study can be found here

Separating clippings from sand for topdressing sand study
performed at Elcona for Mavis Consulting Ltd. (2010, 2011)

Because of the increased scrutiny of turf regarding its use of fertilizer, water and occasional need for pesticides and the perceived negative impact on the environment, we must plan for a future of significant restrictions if not elimination of some of the tools we currently rely on. It is entirely possible that water restriction will eventually be mandatory across the country and that the use of pesticides could be eliminated all together in certain parts of the country. Without research, we lose the ability to prepare for these scenarios and lose a valuable opportunity to develop new turfgrasses that require fewer inputs leading to a better environment.  For an easy-to-read explanation of the benefits of turf and turf research, please click here.

Another link that can give far more information regarding the state of research in the turf industry can be found here on the Turfresearch.org website.

Satellite view of the Daniel Research Center
at Purdue University
Please take a minute to click on the photo above showing a portion of the 25 acre Daniel Research Center at Purdue University. While I don't expect you to understand what is being done on each plot, you can at least get an idea of how extensive turf research really is and the size and scope of some of the ongoing projects.

The takeaway message is that turf research is and always will be vital to the turf industry and the environment.  Government at both the federal and state levels needs to be aware of the importance of research and the private sector needs to continue making research a priority.  For the members at Elcona Country Club, thank you for your part in this equation. It does not go unnoticed.

For any of my peers that regularly visit this blog, if you are interested in starting a program similar to the one that is established here at Elcona CC, please feel free to contact me and I will get you all of the details you need to start a program at your facility.

Special thanks to Dr. Cale Bigelow and Dr. Frank Wong for their willingness to discuss this topic and for providing me with valuable insight. Many thanks also to Turfresearch.org, the Purdue Turf Program, and the MRTF for serving as a tremendous resource for information in our industry.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What's the Plan?

Before I get too many questions about the new #18 green, I thought I would make an attempt to answer some of them ahead of time.

Current health of #18 green
The mild winter and early arrival of spring has been a blessing for the maturation of the green.  I couldn't be happier with the health of the green at this point.  Roots are actively growing and the sod seams are slowly beginning to disappear, but there is still a lot of room for improvement prior to the fence coming down.  Unfortunately, the green cannot be opened based solely on maturation.  There is area in particular that must be improved before the green is opened and that is the actual playability of the putting surface.

First mowing on the new green

Because we stripped and re-laid the sod from the original #18 green to keep the putting surface consistent with the other 17 greens on the golf course, there is a lot of unevenness to the playing surface that needs to be corrected before opening.  Many frequent aerifications and topdressings will be done over the next several weeks to correct this problem.  During this process, the green will be unplayable, so there is no point in opening it for play at this point.

I realize that everyone is "chomping at the bit' to get out an play on the new green, but the maturity and playablility indicate that it just isn't ready yet. Your patience will be well rewarded on May 5th when we plan to open the green.  As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions.

The first topdressing last fall. This has been done several times
and will continue to be done many more times.