Fine Turgrass Management

Fine Turgrass Management

Steve Cook, CGCS, MG - Director of Agronomy

Monday, January 12, 2015

Turfgrass Interships 2015

Every season Oakland Hills hosts a team of Interns, on the golf course as well as the Pro Shop and clubhouse. The Turf Care Team has 2 positions remaining for Turfgrass Intern in 2014. The information for that program and the application process can be found at the following link:

The Interns are exposed to all facets of golf course maintenance. A particular emphasis is placed on chemical/fertilizer applications, special projects and learning how to hand water. Our "firm and fast" philosophy requires close attention to irrigation practices and the Interns are required to become adept at monitoring moisture levels.

The Interns will also learn how to maintain a golf course to the exacting standards expected at a "Top 100" Platinum club. Oakland Hills has hosted 9 Major Championships, is currently ranked #16 by Golf Digest and is the site of the 2016 US Amateur. Housing is provided on site free of charge for the duration of the Internship. The successful Interns will set high expectations for themselves as well as for the golf course.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Work Space

Thank you to the members at Oakland Hills for reinvesting in the work space environment. Our "new" shop floor is safer, easier to clean and sets a professional atmosphere for visitors. A clean, well organized work space improves moral and lets the staff now their work matters.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

North Irrigation Resevoir

Today we sent divers into the North Irrigation underground reservoir to do an inspection and cleaning. This structure has been around a while, several decades at least. It hold over 400,000 gallons of water and is the place from which we draw irrigation water. The North pumphouse sits directly over this structure, located behind the sixth green.

Contractor inside the North pumphouse

Monday, November 17, 2014

This Winters Weather

I've been asked to predict the weather this winter. There are lots of experts out there that have differing opinions.

The Farmers Almanac website says: A slightly cooler than normal winter with around average precipitation is currently favored. Low confidence. Snowfall is projected to be below normal.

Here's what the Weather Channel website has to say: The forecasters note that recent scientific research, pioneered by Dr. Judah Cohen of the Atmospheric and Earth Research division of Verisk Analytics, shows a strong connection between October snow cover in Siberia and breakdowns in the stratospheric polar vortex during the mid-winter months. The authors believe the early snow cover may cause a tighter temperature gradient over Asia, strengthening the jet stream. Eventually that momentum may work its way up into the , which in turn would knock weather patterns off balance around the Northern Hemisphere several months later.

Try to make sense out of that!

It's difficult to have an opinion on the weather this winter. We'll prepare for the worst. I'm very confident that we've done our best to put the golf courses to bed in good shape.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Topdressing Greens

Today we topdress the North greens. As we do not use winter covers on the North (like we do on the South) this layer of sand helps protect the turf from harsh winter conditions. While not a guarantee, it does provide some insurance against the most severe conditions.

Tomorrow we will be installing the winter covers on the South greens in advance of the extreme weather moving in over the next 10 days.

Friday, November 7, 2014

South Course

The South was closed for the year yesterday. The forecast for next week is cold, especially at night. With lows in the low 20's, the ground will freeze deep enough that we will be unable to get the staples used to secure the green covers in the ground. Before covers can be installed all of the other winter preparations - leaf cleanup, snow mold applications, topdressing and fertilizer - must be done first. The next 4 days will be busy for us, getting everything completed and put to bed.

The North Course will remain open as long as weather allows.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Weekly Update

This week:

  • Aerification of #15 and #6 green North will help the turf defend itself from winter damage by promoting a healthier root system.
  • Removal of annual plant material at clubhouse.
  • Winterizing ice machines and fountains.
  • "Deep tine" aerification of South fairways.
  • Drainage projects North Course.
  • Mowing of South fescue areas.
  • Herbicide applications for clover.
  • Leaf cleanup.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Course Update

All of our agronomic practices this week continue to be focused on winter preparation. A typical summer day would see us entirely focused on quality playing surfaces centered around plant health ... but always prioritizing playing conditions first. Now, in October, is the time to really concentrate on plant health: higher heights of cut and a little more fertility.

We purchased a few more covers so that this winter all of the South greens will be covered, a new practice for us. We will continue to remove snow from the South greens, the North Winter maintenance Program will not change from prior years. Covers will not be installed until mid-November or just before the ground freezes.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Frost is formed when the temperature of a solid surface is cooled below the dew point.

Frost on objects is just water vapor in the air that has condensed as ice onto a surface. Frost forms on objects close to the ground, such as blades of grass. At night, a blade of grass loses energy by emitting a non-lethal kind of radiation, but it absorbs energy emitted by surrounding objects. Under clear nighttime skies, objects near the ground emit more radiation than they receive from the sky, and so a blade of grass cools due to the net energy loss. Once a grass blade gets cold enough, frost will form on it.

Overnight cooling of air near the ground causes morning frost on grass and car windshields. Frost will only form on a surface that is at or below freezing temperature. The observed air temperature may be above 32 F, since observations are taken at about four feet above the ground, where it can be warmer. The difference in frost formation from one to the next is most likely due to differences in elevation.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Course Update

 At this time of the season turf health and recovery takes precedence over playing conditions. All of our Agronomic practices are centered around getting the turf prepared for winter. Annual bluegrass is very susceptible to winter injury (as we discovered last winter). Here are a few of the things we do to get ready for the most difficult time of year for turfgrass:

Raise mowing heights - increases leaf surface to provide more photosynthesis
More fertility - provides food for the plant to become stronger
Aerification - increases rooting
Adequate irrigation - watering more frequently decreases moisture stress

All of these practices are an insurance policy for quality playing surfaces next year. In addition to covering greens and removing snow, this gives annual bluegrass the best chance to survive the winter.