Fine Turgrass Management

Fine Turgrass Management

Steve Cook, CGCS, MG - Director of Agronomy

Monday, November 21, 2016


From David Owen, Golf Digest:
http://www.golfdigest.com/story/why-we-should-do-away-with-bunker-rakes

Why We Should Do Away With Bunker Rakes

Golf, much more than other sports, is a game of good and bad luck. A great drive rolls into a divot: bogey. A lousy drive bounces off a boundary stake: birdie. Such unpredictability isn’t a defect. The tension between happy accidents and undeserved disasters helps to turn mere hackers into obsessives and philosophers. To make tennis comparably thought-provoking, you’d have to shift the lines during rallies and randomly lift and lower the net.

Yet golfers complain. Instead of savoring the game’s sublime inconsistency, we yearn for courses as predictable as tennis courts. We grumble when greens aren’t flawless, when fairways aren’t uniformly carpet-like, when sand is either too fluffy or not fluffy enough. A friend of mine once skulled an explosion shot, then slammed his wedge against his bag and cursed the greenkeeper’s crew for having failed to undo the effects of the previous day’s hard rain. Tour pros are even more finicky. If the sand in one trap isn’t indistinguishable from the sand in every other, they gripe.

Complaints about “unfair” bunkers are especially contrary to the spirit of golf: aren’t hazards supposed to be hazardous? On TV, the standard greenside-bunker shot is about as thrilling to watch as a two-foot putt. You know the guy is going to spin it close, and he knows he’s going to spin it close -- otherwise, he wouldn’t have yelled “Get in the bunker!” when his ball was in the air. Sand’s function in a tour event is often just to make the surrounding grass seem troublesome.

There’s a simple remedy: follow the example of Pine Valley, the legendary New Jersey golf club, which for decades has been listed at or near the top of nearly every ranking of the best courses in the world. Pine Valley has many, many bunkers -- some small, some large, some soft, some hard some coffin-shaped, some bottomless, some seemingly miles across -- but no rakes. The club’s maintenance regularly smooths everything out, but, if your ball ends up in a footprint (or behind a rock or under a cactus), that’s your tough luck, and you deal with it. As you should.

Rake-free bunkers would make televised golf a lot more interesting to watch. They would even be good for choppers like you and me. Pristine, consistent bunkers are expensive to build and maintain. Why not let a course’s sandy areas take care of themselves, and spend the savings on something more obviously beneficial, like cutting back overgrown trees? Most golfers, who can’t hit sand shots anyway, wouldn’t notice a difference. (That guy I mentioned earlier skulls balls from well-conditioned bunkers, too.) Everyone else either would learn an arsenal of useful new shots or would get better at doing what bunkers are supposed to make golfers want to do: stay out of them in the first place.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Leaf Cleanup

This week we're completely focused on leaf cleanup. It takes about 3 full days each course to get the leaves blown and mulched and this typically happens during the first 10 days of November.

Other projects like irrigation shut down occur this week too, so we're busy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Common Question - Why no carts in late fall?



WHY DOES THE GOLF COURSE CLOSE NOW AND WHY CAN'T WE USE THE GRASS TEE AT THE RANGE? At the end of the growing season just prior to dormancy, tufgrass needs to maximize it's ability to survive the extremes of winter. We can help that process by employing practices that enhances the reserve carbohydrate (food) level and general health of the turf. Practices like: limiting mechanical damage from play and cart traffic, applying small amounts of nutrients and raising mowing heights to relieve stress.

In the fall, when the grass stops growing, it cannot recover from damage by carts, foot traffic and mowing equipment. We close the golf courses so they have the best chance of avoiding winter damage and allowing the golfer good playing conditions the following spring.

Days are shorter in the fall and with fewer staff, time is at a premium. Aerification, topdressing greens, fall fertility, irrigation blowout, snow mold applications, treating ponds, winterizing the bathrooms, putting protective covers on before the ground freezes ... the list of things we must do to put annual bluegrass greens to bed for the winter is extensive.

The Range Tee stops growing too, in mid-October. It's too cold for seed to germinate and any damage incurred now will remain through next spring. By using the matts only, we are insuring a better playing surface next April.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Update 10.22.16



No frost. Carts OK both courses.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Trees and Shade



Grasses growing under trees are subject to more than just shade stress. These grasses must compete with tree roots for soil space, water, oxygen, and nutrients. Tree roots may extend far from the canopy line (beyond the tree's actual branches and leaves), so these competitive effects can also occur at some distance from the tree. In some cases, removal of trees or trimming of lower branches may be necessary for continued grass growth.

Decreased photosynthesis under lower light (shade) is directly related to a decrease in the biosynthesis of carbohydrates (sugars) essential for growth and health of turfgrass. Reduced sugar availability to support adequate growth can also exacerbate the negative impact of wear and other stresses on many turfgrass species because reserves are not available to support re-growth of damaged turf.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Prepare for Frost 10.9.16



Tomorrow looks like our first chance for frost with a low around 40 degrees tonight. The following is taken from the "Common Questions" page on this blog:


WHAT IS FROST AND WHY DO WE HAVE TO WAIT TO PLAY?

Frost is basically frozen dew that has crystallized on the grass, making it hard and brittle. A grass blade is actually 90 percent water, therefore it also freezes. Because of the short mowing height (sometimes as low as 1/8 inch) and fragile nature of the turf, putting greens are most affected by frost. Walking on frost-covered greens causes the plant to break and cell walls to rupture, thereby losing its ability to function normally. When the membrane is broken, much like an egg, it cannot be put back together.

Golfers who ignore frost delays will not see immediate damage. The proof generally comes 48-72 hours later as the plant leaves turn brown and die. The result is a thinning of the putting surface and a weakening of the plant. The greens in turn become more susceptible to disease and weeds. While it may not appear to be much of an issue if a foursome begins play early on frost covered greens, consider the number of footprints that may occur on any given hole by one person is approximately 60. Multiply that by 18 holes with an average of 200 rounds per day and the result is 216,000 footprints on greens in a day or 6,480,000 in a month.

As golf enthusiasts superintendents do not like to delay play, but they are more concerned about turf damage and the quality of conditions for the golfer. Frost also creates a hardship on a golf facility's staff as all course preparations are put to a halt until thawing occurs. Golf carts can cause considerable damage, therefore personnel cannot maneuver around the course to mow, change cup positions, collect range balls, etc.

You may see the grounds staff working on the course before play is allowed. The staff must get ahead of play to prepare the course by at least 30 minutes to avoid getting caught by the lead groups.



Thursday, October 6, 2016

Update 10.6.16

  • #14 and 1/2 of #12 fairway South aerified today. We'll aerify the other 1/2 of #12 this Friday.
  • Greens mowing height has been raised slightly in preparation for winter survival.
  • Monday and Tuesday of next week, we begin the surface drainage project on #'s 2,3,9 and 11 green North. Same process as last year on #'s 5 and 1. We will have a temporary green/pin installed on the hole while work is being conducted.
  • Some of the bunker capes/noses on the North Course are being resodded.
  • The Short Game green is progressing even though the seeding was late.
  • The bunker drainage project on #7 fairway South is complete.
  • The fescue areas have been mowed. We are applying herbicide this month.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Short Game Green

The regrassing of the Short Game green went well despite the heavy rains last week. We have 100% cover and I expect to start mowing soon. With a normal spring next year it will be open for practice in May.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Winter Prep

Now is the time when the turf gets ready for winter, storing carbohydrates for energy. To facilitate this process and insure we have the best chance for our greens to make it through the winter, we fertilize greens and raise the mowing height slightly. This extra "food" and extra leaf surface allows the plant to strengthen before the dormant season.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Update 10.1.16

3.7" of precip since Thursday.

No carts all day today on both courses.