Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sierra Nevada GCSA at the Haggin Oaks Golf Expo

Just a quick post this morning before I get back to work.  We are busy this morning mowing, rolling, raking, setting new cups, and cleaning up after the wind.  I am working irrigation, putting a minute or two of water on the greens to help our mowers see their lines and provide a little lubrication (the wind has really dried things out).  I also have a stuck valve to contend with; clams are giving us some problems.

After a few hours at the course this morning, it's off to Haggin Oaks to work the Sierra Nevada Golf Course Superintendent Association booth. Try to stop by, here's the main web page: 2011 Haggin Oaks Golf Expo

We are there to promote the game of golf and the environmental benefits it provides.  This is a great opportunity to talk to a bunch of avid golfers with 25,000 expected to come through the gate.  Yesterday, we met golfers from throughout Northern California, most of whom play on the course managed by one of our superintendent members. 

We'll be giving away bags (the nicest ones I've seen at the show) to attendees that sign up to become a Green Golfer by taking the Audubon Pledge.  You'll commit to respecting environmentally sensitive areas, fixing you're ball marks, and filling divots, among many other items.  Every golfer should read this: The Audubon Green Golfer Pledge

Happy green golfing!!
Sunday, April 24, 2011

Long Divot Line

G'day everyone.

In the golf course maintenance department, we are always on the lookout for anything that may help us in preparing and maintaining the turf to the highest quality and condition. The condition of the practice areas turf is just as important to you as they are to the member that steps up to the triangle of balls after you.

It is frustrating to try to hit golf balls on a range with holes the size of several dinner plates, or divots scattered over the entire station prevent you from consistently being able to place the ball on turf or take a level stance when addressing the ball.

The following video, posted by the director of agronomy at the Philadelphia Cricket Club,is a great illustration on how we can enjoy a productive range session and in the process leave the station in great shape for the next person to practice on.

The resulting divot pattern not only creates a smaller area of wear allowing more members to use the station, it also allows us to prepare and maintain a higher quality surface that will germinate and fill in faster.

The video is wide screen. You Tube link below

With our mowers, we create stripes that are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. We now invite you to make a few stripes of your own on the practice tee, long divot stripes.

Enjoy the rest of your Easter weekend.

Rob Williams.
Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tree Program: Cheap, efficient irrigation

Mass plantings in a arid environment can pose a few problems. In the past, we've had some trouble maintaining newly planted trees when the heat of summer arrives. Since we try to get the turf as dry as possible, our irrigation in the rough or fairways do not provide enough water to wet the root zone of trees. The established trees have no problem tapping into our shallow ground water, but these new ones will struggle without a little help.

Running around with a hose is labor intensive and much of the water will runoff if you're in a hurry. There are some well designed drip containers that can be found at forestry supply companies or your local hardware store, but the price kept me away. I am pretty cheap. So, to save a little green in the wallet and on the trees, we gathered up a bunch of five gallon buckets.

Jan, our Equipment Manager, dressed them up with a little spray paint and drilled one or two 1/16 inch holes in the bottom.  The slow drip of water takes about 2 hours to empty the bucket straight to the soil.  It only takes a few minutes to move the buckets to the next batch of trees which we've been doing daily.  Right now we have 10 buckets and 50 trees so they all get a shot of water in a week's time.

We will continue this practice through the bulk of summer until the trees are firmly rooted and can find water on their own.  We may be able to skip a few, here and there, when we start to water the turf on a regular basis.  At this time, we are irrigating very irregularly to keep the course dry and to transition out some of the poa that grew in the fairways over the winter. 
Saturday, April 16, 2011

Post Punch Update

The greens were aerified on the 4th of April and are still healing up.  Hopefully, we will be ninety percent healed by the middle of next week.  Comments from members and guest have been mostly positive, "they're not that bad" is about the best I can hope for.  As usual, spring aerification takes a much longer time to heal up than fall aerification, mainly due to soil temperatures.  The recent daytime highs in the low 70s have not been that great, but it could be worse.

 From a little distance away the greens look like they are completely healed, but a lot of things look good from a long ways away.  Upon closer inspection, or when rolling a putt, the greens still need some time to recover from this aggressive, invasive process.

The keys are in the photo for a size reference (not sure what half of them go to, but always been afraid to throw them away).  The density and smoothness is no where near what we want or what we had on April 3rd.  However, drainage has been improved, the greens can breathe, and they are ready to take on the heat of summer.  We just need a few more days to get back in shape.

Bentgrass populations continue to improve due to our growth regulator practices during the winter.  We still have plenty of poa annua so we will manage both to maintain a good putting surface.  Thatch is enemy number one and aerification is the main way to combat the problem.  We are set up really nice for the next few months, so thank you for your patience and giving the maintenance department the time needed to care for your greens.  The payoff is far greater than the price.
Friday, April 15, 2011

Disease Profile: Spring Dead Spot

Spring dead spot is one of the more mysterious turf diseases.  It is hard to predict from year to year.  Locations are different and severity is also inconsistent.  To treat the disease with a fungicide, applications must be made in fall even though damage is not seen until spring, hence the name. 

We have never treated for this disease even though we may have experienced it for years.  Now that we have a fairway that is solid bermuda year round, the damage is obvious and treatment may become necessary.  Other bermuda areas that are damaged have been hidden by overseeded rye grass or poa annua that has come in during the winter months.  By the time these are burned out by the weather, the disease looks more like transition struggles than disease. 

The photos below are more obvious than transition problems.  This first one was taken back on the 3rd of March.

This next one was taken last week, and obviously, the bermuda has had some better weather to green up and the bad spots are beginning to fill in, slowly.

One more, a little closer this time to show the brown, yet playable surface.

We'll keep an eye on this and decide if we want to spray a fungicide to control the problem in the fall.  At this point, especially on the par 3 11th hole, I would not be a fan of spending money to clean this up.  A few more warm days and the surrounding turf will quickly fill the thin spots. 

The 11th hole looks sweet right now and the 10th and 17th fairways are starting to transition on their own.  We will help them out with a selective herbicide in the near future and will be on our way to firm, lush, tight fairways.  Irrigation will once again, favor the drier side to encourage a little turf to fade out in the heat of the summer, making way for some more common bermuda.  I welcome questions on this or any of our maintenance practices, so if you see something out there that you don't like or don't understand, please shoot over an email and I'll be happy to discuss our work.

The greens are healing up, tomorrow's post will show you how close we are.  Thanks for reading.

Oh, and the Asparagus Festival starts today, so get your tickets and go enjoy the beautiful weather if you can fit some other recreation around your tee times.

Friday, April 8, 2011

We still need to fix those ball marks

The greens were aerified earlier this week during a long Sunday evening and a very long Monday.  Everything went very well and the staff worked their tails off to finish the task in one closed day.  Now we have to patiently wait for the greens to heal and do all we can to assist in that process.

You, as the golfer, have your responsibilities as well.  As usual we are asking you to fix all of your ball marks and a couple extra so the greens can get back to fast and firm.  We always have a problem with ball mark repair after we aerify.  Some people think it is unnecessary because the greens are "torn up anyway."  Other people tell me it is hard to find a ball mark with all that sand on the greens.  In my opinion, this is the most important time to fix your ball marks because the greens are so delicate after the aerification process.  We are watering nightly to encourage bentgrass seed germination and to keep the greens from drying out and suffering drought stress.  This results in soft greens and very large ball marks.

You cannot honestly tell me that this ball mark is hard to find.  Yesterday, I walked out on the 18th green and could count over a dozen ball marks without walking anywhere.  The sand splashes away from the impact area and the dark green circle is very easy to locate.  The small holes, 3/8 inch, will heal pretty quick and we'll be back to good playing conditions.  Please do your part by touching up your ball marks and we'll have some really good greens thanks to this team effort.
Sunday, April 3, 2011

Time to open them up

This afternoon, starting at 4:00 pm, we will begin our spring aerification.  We've been getting a lot of compliments about the greens from our guests and new members and I know it may seem counterproductive to put a bunch of holes in a surface that seems just fine.  In order to keep the greens in the best shape possible we have to do some things that are not so pleasant.  Aerification is the most obvious and disruptive practice, and the most important.  We also, from time to time, verticut, topdress, flush, and of course, fertilize.  All these can impact play, but they are worth the trouble.

To maintain the firm, yet receptive surface you've come to expect, we need to remove some of the old and put in some new.  As we've done for the past few years, we'll be using smaller tines and closer spacing.  So, we will have many small holes that heal a bit quicker while impacting a greater amount of surface area. The greens should heal up within two weeks. Recovery time in the spring is much longer than fall due to soil temps. Last September we were healed up in less than a week.

If you missed it last time, here is a post from spring, 2010 that details the aerification process we will be following the next few days.