Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Red Foxes

Have you ever tried to get a red fox to hold this still for a picture? The real trick is getting enough starch in the flag to mimic a strong breeze. While this does make for a nice photograph, this little character has caused me a few headaches. For two weeks straight, this fox and six of his/her friends have been digging in the north bunker of #8. The tunnel extended at least 5 feet into the face and possibly under the green. Each morning we would fill in this hole and pack the sand the best we could. Of course, each night, the fox would dig out the same hole and leave us with another morning task. We consulted with wildlife control and received very few options. Unfortunately, red foxes are considered pests and cannot be relocated.
Just two days ago, Robert Bosworth suggested sticking a paint can in the tunnel to block the path. We had already tried a large rock, chicken wire, and wooden stakes to no avail. Apparently, a fox cannot figure out a paint can and did not dig around the obstacle. They have given up in that area and we will watch out for new locations. Hopefully, they return to the native area on #2 or move off the course completely. I will keep you updated, so check back soon. The easy choice would be to shoot the trouble makers and eliminate the problem all together, but I would have a hard time taking that photograph without any foxes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Disease Profile: Southern Blight

I receive many questions about these types of spots on the golf course. So to explain what you are seeing on the course, 'Disease Profiles' will be a regular segment of this blog as we go through different seasons. The patches you see here are the result of a disease called southern blight. The fungus attacks cool season grasses like poa annua and perennial ryegrass, and can sometimes harm bermudagrass. This photo was taken on #18 fairway in August of 2006. Since then we have been spraying a chemical called Prostar once we first notice the disease. Other areas that have experienced some damage include #2 tee, #2 fairway, #4 tee, and a few green surrounds. The product that controls this disease is very expensive so we will only treat the high profile areas. Every soil harbors many fungi that are just waiting for the right conditions to infect a plant. Our job in the maintenance department is to make the turf strong enough to resist disease and to recover from damage.
Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pond Repairs

The pond that borders holes 7, 8, and 12 serves as the course irrigation source. Water is drawn from the deep water channel and stored in the pond until it is pumped out to irrigate the course. The water level is frequently raised and lowered during these cycles and has resulted in some undermining of the concrete rim. Unfortunately, there is no liner or erosion control installed along the bank of the pond. I'm sure some money was saved during this project, but it looks like future repairs will return any of those savings.
This small portion in the photos was washed out all the way to the rough on #12 resulting in its collapse. Much of the rim is close to this same situation and contractors and engineers have been contacted to submit bids for the repair. Until then, we will repair any eroded sections one at a time. We removed the sunken soil, back filled with 12 inches or more of crushed rock, topped that with a synthetic liner, and finally, filled in the rest with soil. This process should produce a miniature rip-rap effect. The rock will protect the soil from the undulation of the water level and keep it from washing away. Since there are no waves hitting the side, the small rock should be efficient. However, this small repair does not support the cement ring, it only protects the surrounding soil. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you updated on the progress.
Friday, June 12, 2009

Fairway Aerification

Everyone has heard this before, "We never grow out of toys, they just get bigger ....... and more expensive." A great moment in the life of every superintendent is when a new piece of machinery arrives. It opens up the possibility of improving the course to a level that could not be achieved prior to this machine's arrival. I will give you one example before introducing the new member of our equipment fleet.

Three years ago, the greens were very compacted and had black layer everywhere. The lack of oxygen in the soil leads to this condition and adversely affects the turf and its quality. One great improvement to the maintenance program was the introduction of walk mowers. These machines provide a better cut without the compaction created by a ride-on mower. The greens are now rolling very well and there is no black layer. The new mowers were just a small step towards this goal, but the results would not be possible without them.

Starting the week of June 22nd, we will aerify fairways using a new machine. The Wiedenmann aerifier is the first machine the club has owned that is capable of penetrating our very firm, clay soils. The last few years we have used a Soil Reliever that actually belongs to Brookside. The old machine is outdated and did not perform well. Last fall we demoed the Wiedenmann on #9 fairway side-by-side with the Soil Reliever. I put a flag in each hole from the two machines to compare their operation. The portion with 6x the number of flags is the new unit. Notice the lack of disruption of the surface compared to the Soil Reliever. Also, the Wiedenmann can travel over twice as fast.

Opening up the fairways in this manner will greatly improve the course. Both wet and dry spots will decrease as drainage is increased. Best of all, this practice will lead to greater uniformity, and therefore, playability. Aerifying is the most important cultural practice that takes place on greens, tees, or fairways. I am very excited to finally give these fairways what they need. Approaches will also be aerified at a depth of 6-8 inches. As the turf conditions improve, I bet you will enjoy our new toy as much as I will.

Look for a video post of the Wiedenmann's operation in late June. This is an impressive machine that will be extremely useful in providing optimal playing conditions.

Welcome to the Turf Care Blog

Blog pages and social networks are quickly becoming a popular tool for businesses and managers including golf course superintendents. I consistently get asked the same questions about course conditions, current or possible projects, and future maintenance practices. The club's newsletter has been very useful in reaching a large audience, but I want to communicate with the membership on a more frequent basis.

You can bookmark this page in your 'favorites' list and even subscribe to get notified on updates. The left side of the page includes the Blog Archive that allows you to look at past blogs by title or date. Also, at the bottom of each blog is a link to post a comment. Feel free to contact me directly if that is your preference. My email address is sgccturf@sbcglobal.net and the office number is (209) 462-6734. If there is a topic that I have yet to address or you would like some other information, do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for your interest in course maintenance at Stockton Golf and Country Club. I look forward to sharing our work with you so we can watch this course improve together.