Monday, November 28, 2011

Golf Course Closing

We will be covering the greens for winter beginning today, November 28.  Temperatures have dropped significantly  and the covers must be stapled down before the ground freezes.  We will also be topdressing and fertilizing the greens ahead of the covers.

We were able to drain and blow out the irrigation system on Monday November 21st.  We then applied fungicides to tees, greens, and fairways Tuesday and Wednesday the 22nd and 23rd.  We have the golf course prepared to overwinter.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Course Closing Procedures

Monday was a beautiful day with very little wind and the grounds crew took advantage.  We successfully removed the driving range net and were able to blow and mulch leaves.  We were able to clean holes 1,2,3,4, and 18- areas which were in desperate need of attention. 

Tuesday and Wednesday we will be experiencing foul weather- there is SNOW all around!  With the weather rapidly declining we have been preparing for the golf course to close and thought we would outline the major tasks that must be accomplished before winter arrives for good.

13 green - 8 AM 11/9
 1. The driving range net has already been taken down.
2. The irrigation system must be blown out.  We use a huge air compressor to blow all the water out of the pipes.  If water is allowed to freeze in the lines and sprinkler heads, pipes would freeze and burst with disastrous consequences.
3. We must spray fungicides to all greens, tees, and fairways throughout the course to protect against snow mold.
4. There are several measures taken to prepare the greens for winter.  First, all greens are topdressed with sand to add an extra layer of insulation  We then fertilize the greens with an organic fertilizer to provide the plant with ample nutrition for good root building through the fall and early spring.  Finally, we will cover the greens with our breathable tarps.  The tarps protect the greens from harsh winter extremes which can cause dessication and turf decline. The covers must be installed before the ground freezes so that we can drive 6 inch staples into the ground which hold the covers in place during blustery winter days.  

We have pulled our green covers down from storage- ready and waiting for Old Man Winter!
We will likely blow out the irrigation system and spray our snow mold protection during the week of November 14.  You will also see us positioning tarps near the greens Thanksgiving week.  Weather will ultimately determine the final closing day when the greens are covered.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Practice Tee to Close Tomorrow

The grounds crew will be taking down the net along the south and west sides of the driving range on Monday November 7th.  Once the net is down all practice will take place from the west end of the range at the indoor practice facility.  This is the first major procedure in winter preparations for the grounds crew.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2011 Season Ending

We have enjoyed a mild, dry autumn at Wakonda Club.  Conditions for golf have been very favorable and we have observed greater than average play on the course. Our staff now consists of a mere 6 personnel and it has been a struggle to keep up with mowing and leaf cleanup.   Crew number peaks in May with 23 people and decreases in size beginning in August when our interns return to college  On October 14th our seasonal employees worked their final day for 2011.  Please be patient and recognize that our maintenance schedules must change when we have fewer staff members.  Greens, tees, fairways, approaches, and collars will all be mowed less frequently through the remainder of the season.  We will also change hole locations less often. 

November is typically a very busy month as we prepare to close the course for winter.  Course closing is obviously weather dependent but usually occurs toward the end of the month.  We will outline the course closure procedures in a later post.  We thank you for your understanding and hope you are taking advantage of the opportunity to enjoy your golf course this fall!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


 The bunkers at Wakonda Club are beginning to show their age.  During the very wet summer of 2010 and also during Spring of 2011 we experienced heavy rains which highlighted the growing need for bunker repairs or a complete bunker renovation.

Over time bunker sand becomes contaminated with fine soil particles which restrict water perculation.  An analogy would be to think of new, clean sand like a window screen- water would pass quickly through the large voids of this material.  Think of dirty sand like a coffee filter- the very fine particles of soil are very restrictive thus water tends to pool in the bunker rather than releasing to the drainage underneath.  A major source of this contamination is from the bunker's sub grade- especially when torrential rains send rushing water through the bunker carrying (and mixing) topsoil and clay with bunker sand.

There are several products/ methods available to improve bunker performance.  Essentially the idea is to keep everything in it's place.  A few years ago we applied a product called Klingstone in the left bunker next to old 9 green.  We are happy with this product and this bunker performs well.  This week we have begun a "trial run" at utilizing some relatively new bunker lining products from Sandtrapper. We will be utilizing these products in the left bunker on #13 and #16.  Every golf course is different so we want to find out what works best at Wakonda and get feedback from our golfing members.

We started by removing the old sand as well as the old drain pipe and surrounding gravel.
In this bunker we experimented with the drainage by lining the trenches with Sandtrapper II.  We utilized drain pipe wrapped with a fabric sock.  The pipe is then covered with sand.
The sub grade is then covered with the Sandtrapper fabric.
The fabric is held down by 6 inch sod staples spaced 8 inches apart.
We then glued the staples to the fabric in an attempt to keep winter frost from pushing the staples out of the ground.
The end result- before sand.  Notice we are also experimenting with two different Sandtrapper products.
 The process has taken several days for a team of three people- we're learning as we go!  For the bunker pictured above on #13 we used over 3,000 staples and 31 tubes of glue.  We will be filling the bunker with sand tomorrow and are confident this bunker will perform much better in years to come.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


View our 2011 USGA Turf Advisory Report here.

Fall Colors

 It is a great time to enjoy golf at Wakonda Club.  The greens are now completely healed from aeration and are rolling well.  The weather continues to be dry and mild.  The leaves on some of the trees have begun turning color and are even beginning to fall.  Turf throughout the course is benefiting from the cooler weather.  The rush is now on for us to complete a few small projects before our seasonal staff depart October 15.
A Red Maple near 16 tee.
Oak leaves are beginning to trickle down on the west side of the golf course.  We have begun periodically blowing and mulching to clean them up.
We recently mowed the Little Blue Stem natural area between holes 16 and 18.
We are nearly finished making bentgrass sod repairs on fairways.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


 We have had beautiful weather for our fall aeration practices.  Greens were aerated last Wednesday and Thursday and are growing aggressively and healing nicely.  We just added some additional topdressing sand today to top- off any aeration holes which had settled since last week and were not quite full to the surface.  We anticipate that the holes will be completely healed by next week's Wakonda Cup Event.

Aeration holes on the 10th green.

Fairway aeration is now in full swing.  We were delayed a few days due to a bad clutch in our large tractor.  It will take us over a week to aerify all 26 acres of fairways.

Tee aeration was completed the past two days.  

The 13th red/ yellow tee being aerified early Tuesday morning.

Our staff has worked extremely hard the past two weeks harvesting cores.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Labor Day is nearly upon us so we thought we would provide a friendly reminder that fall aeration will take place on September 7 & 8.  We will have 9 holes closed each day to allow the greens to be aerified.  We have already begun the green healing process: we have applied fertilizer and have withheld application of plant growth regulators.  This (along with cooler weather) will provide a flush of growth which will aid in speedy recovery of aeration holes.  We will also be diligently assessing ball roll and will topdress the greens until they are rolling smooth and true.

The fairways and tees will be aerified once the greens are finished and should be completed by September 16- depending on weather.  These areas will not require closures and should cause minimal disruption to play.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Our Midwest Region USGA Agronomist, Ty McClellan, visited Wakonda on Wednesday, August 17.  Ty spent the day with John Temme and the green committee discussing the golf course.  Ty was complementary of the condition of the golf course given the extreme heat experienced in July.  He said that our collars looked better than average and said we are taking the correct measures to promote overall collar health and recovery.  Ty also added that our greens once again had the best roots he has visited this season.  

Roots on #11 green extend well beyond Ty's soil sampler.
 The entire grounds crew is currently enjoying the cooler weather.  With the drop in temperatures we have begun our efforts to seed various areas of the course which died this summer.  Areas seeded include: low- lying fairways, 10 tee, and small patches in the collars and first cut of rough.

Areas like this one on #8 have been seeded and should recover through the fall.
 We have also started a few other projects this week:

Drainage being installed in front of the indoor practice facility.
We are also cleaning up bentgrass invasion along pond banks.

You may have also noticed that climbers from Perficut removed a large dead oak near the 13th fairway.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

August Update- Hot and Dry is Better Than Hot and Wet!

It has been a hot, dry second half of summer 2011.  Earlier this year we were quite wet- in May and June we received over 15 inches of rain.  July was a month that was touted as the "Hottest July since 1955" by KCCI.  While some areas in the state received rain, Wakonda did not. We observed only 1 inch the entire month.  The hot and dry conditions had us battling to keep the irrigation system running smoothly so we could give our turf the moisture it desperately needed.

When conditions are hot and humid, turf disease pressure skyrockets.  It is a daily struggle to 'walk the fine line' between giving the turf enough water to handle the heat while avoiding over watering which exacerbates disease issues.  To avoid this scenario each green is scouted every day, checking overall soil moisture and for localized dry spots.  Each green receives an individual watering plan- countless hours of checking and hand watering and the result is healthy turf.

While the past several weeks have been a challenge, we are much happier with the condition of the course than we were this time last year.  Summer 2010 was a very wet and hot season.  Turf everywhere struggled to survive the many pressures- at least this July we were able to control how much water falls on the course.

Greens- are performing phenomenally!  Roots are strong and deep (8+ inches).  Ball marks are slow to recover but we are masking their appearance with green sand.  Speeds are holding steady.  You may have noticed a slight dip in speeds during the hottest days in July as we were forced to back off our maintenance a bit to avoid over stressing the turf.  With the cooler temperatures we are back to our normal routine.

Collars- have responded to aeration and traffic control efforts.  Their condition is slowly improving.  Cooler weather will be the key.  We will continue our efforts to the nurse them through summer.

Tees- are doing well.  We have seen some minor disease issues pop up but were able to handle them quickly with fungicides.

Fairways- are also performing well.  Our new bentgrass varieties handle the summer months much better than the fairways did in years past.  We do have a couple areas that are struggling.  The wet spring and early summer left the turf in low lying areas without strong roots- these areas are struggling with the hot weather.  You will also notice other small areas where we have some dead turf- this is to be expected.  We do have some Poa annua in the fairways and treated with Velocity Herbicide in May and June.  The heat has really added a knockout punch to a lot of Poa!

Number 8 fairway Aug. 6, 2011.  Some turf here is struggling.
The same area August 13, 2010- looking much worse.  Hot and dry is MUCH better than hot and wet!
Rough- is struggling in areas without good irrigation coverage and without the protection of turf fungicides.  The good news is this turf is better equipped to handle summer stresses and will bounce back on its own with the arrival of cool fall temperatures and a little rain.  Weeds are the most visible sign of stressed turf.  Crabgrass and nutsedge have carved out a niche the past few weeks- they love the hot weather.  We will selectively treat these weeds in areas of high priority to avoid using a lot of herbicide.  October frost will kill theses summer annual weeds for free!

We are using portable sprinklers to keep the rough green, as best we can.
Yellow Nutsedge.
Bunkers- We're glad to have been able to take a break from repairing storm damage.  We will give them more attention once the weather cools down a bit and we can divert our attention from the turf.  We will be inspecting them individually to redistribute sand and add sand where needed.

Friday, July 22, 2011


 The "Dog Days" of summer are upon us and we are feeling the heat at Wakonda.  We have changed the work schedule for our seasonal staff to avoid working during the hottest time of day.  We are now starting our workday at 5 AM and the majority of our staff heads for home at 11:30. 

The grounds staff aren't the only creatures dealing with the extreme temperatures.  Remember, the golf course is alive and must also cope with the stresses that come during this time of year.  If you have played golf recently you have undoubtedly noticed that the course is getting quite dry and there are some areas that are turning brown.  Don't be worried.  The vast majority of these areas are in the rough where we do not have irrigation coverage and this turf is merely going dormant until more favorable conditions return.  

Every part of the course is different and requires specific management but the grounds crew is working feverishly to keep the course alive and healthy.  We are constantly probing the earth to check for moisture, repairing sprinklers, adjusting sprinkler run times, and adding supplemental water through hoses and hand watering. 

The most difficult area of any golf course to manage is the collar around the green.  The collar receives extra traffic from greens maintenance practices- when mowing, rolling, and topdressing we must travel across the collar to maintain the green.  Bunkers are also an added challenge for the collar.  First and foremost, the bunker creates a "bottleneck" where mowers and foot traffic become concentrated.  Also, when sand is ejected from the bunker as a result from a golf shot it often lands on the collar.  This creates two problems.  First, the sand becomes very hot and scalds the turf- think of walking barefoot on the beach on a hot day.  Second, the sand can accumulate over time and effectively topdress the collar with bunker sand so turf in the area is often growing in soil which is poorly suited to support plant growth. 

Turf in front of #6 green showing stress.

Our collars are performing as expected.  They are healthy but some ares are showing signs of heat and traffic stress.  We are doing several things to nurse the collars through this challenging part of the season.  First, we have raised the mowing heights by about 10% to 1/2 inch.  Second, we have and will be aerating some of the collars to relieve compaction and allow for gas/ water exchange.  Third, we are checking each green, and collar every day for dry areas and hand watering as needed.  Finally, we utilize plastic lattice to help protect the turf from the traffic stress caused by our greens mowers. 

Plastic lattice- purchased from home improvement stores are lightweight and easily transported and moved.  They provide protection from the grinding motion of a turning greens mower.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ball Marks!

 The heat of summer is here so we would like to take a moment to talk about ball marks.  Repaired ball marks heal much more quickly than those that are neglected.  At Wakonda we are fortunate to have a large maintenance staff- repairing ball marks is a detail that is a part of our daily routine.  However, when temperatures heat up it is often too late for a ball mark to have a chance at a speedy recovery if it is not repaired immediately. 

A ball mark that has been neglected.
By the next day it will look like this one.
 When we enter the hottest months of the year we are also in the peak of our season- more golfers, more ball marks, slower recovery.  Over time the marks become so numerous that they begin to affect hole locations and ball roll.  Another strategy we employ is to fill the marks with a green colored sand.  This has two benefits- the void is filled and thus smoothed and the green pigment masks the appearance.

 Here is a short demonstration video made by PitchPro Golf, the maker of our ball mark tools you find in your golf carts and in the baskets located on the first and tenth tees. Please take time to learn how to use this tool and properly repair your ball marks.

 We've all missed putts when our ball rolls through a previous golfer's mark so do your part to help make Wakonda the best that it can be.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"Turf Twister"

 We found some unique turf damage on the golf course today.  See if you can figure out the cause: 

The damage is pictured above.  The turf is Kentucky Bluegrass and is located in the primary cut of rough on hole #10.
Here is a close- up of one of the five or so areas affected.
The area outlined in red shows a distinct pattern.
These areas appeared after our July 4th celebrations at the club.  There were activities for children and many families walked to other locations on the property to get a good view of the fireworks.  The cause of this damage is...... Insect Repellent!  The pattern shows a well- intentioned mother or father lined their children up like ducks in a row and gave them all a treatment, undoubtedly to prevent itchy mosquito bites.  We see insect repellent damage every year and the damage can be confusing at first but once you spot the flip- flop prints the diagnosis is a lock.  Luckily this damage occurred in the rough and this turf will recover.  However, we would like to promote the application of these products in the rough only and not on the green, tee, or fairway- ideally on the cart path!

Thursday, June 30, 2011


June was a wet month for Wakonda. We received a total of 9.5 inches of rain with 5.5 inches on June 8 & 9.  It has been a wet beginning to the 2011 season- we have received more than 20 inches of rain since April 1st.

We are taking advantage of the drier weather this week by tackling a drainage project on holes 12 & 13.  

Jaret Vasey operates our trencher on the left side of 12 fairway.
Intern Jason Conrad is prepping a trench for pipe.
The process is labor intensive but will have a tremendous impact in playability.  Other areas we would like to install additional drain pipe include fairways 3, 5, and 8.  Hopefully we will have weather favorable for drainage work so we can address theses areas before turf health declines.

The type of drainage we are installing is a corrective measure for excess ground water and is not necessarily part of the drainage master plan which was completed last fall by Turf Drainage Co.  This consultant focused primarily on upgrades which would better handle surface runoff from surrounding areas during major rain events.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Junior Days are Here!

We were pleased to host a visit from Wakonda's Junior golfers this morning.  John Temme spent time with the kids and showed them our maintenance building and our fleet of mowers.  He also gave a lesson on taking care of the golf course- filling divots, fixing ball marks, etc.

Golf Pro Aaron Krueger gets hands- on with a walking greens mower.

You will see Juniors on the golf course on Tuesday and Thursday mornings throughout the summer.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cart Restrictions

The view from our shop as a large storm cloud rolls through Thursday morning.
Thursday into Friday we experienced several waves of thunderstorms which dumped over 5.5 inches of rain at Wakonda Club.  We were forced to restrict carts these days but were allowing carts to be used in the "rough only" by Friday afternoon.  When we make golf cart rulings it is not without careful consideration or without cause.  We give every golfer the benefit of the doubt- that everyone will obey the ruling and respect the golf course.  We want you to enjoy the course as much as possible- this is what motivates us. 

To clarify: a ruling of "rough only" means that a golf cart should never contact the fairway turf.  In addition, it is recommended that carts be driven at least 10 feet from the fairway and not in the first cut of rough.  This turf is mowed at a lower height and is therefore less tolerant of traffic stress.  Reference April, 2010 posting "Off the Beaten Path."

 In addition to cart restrictions we utilize ropes to keep traffic from areas of concern where carts will have deleterious effects on the turf.  As you can see below sometimes rules and ropes are ignored.

This area is in the bottom of the approach on #3.  If the ropes were not enough the ruling for this particular day was "rough only"

Tire damage from a golf cart on #11 fairway- not a favorable lie- again the damage was done on a "rough only" day.
The good news from this situation is that the forecasted weather has temperatures in the 70's and not in the 90's.  The affected areas pictured above should recover in a couple weeks.  However, when ambient air temperatures approach 100 degrees and soil temperatures rise into the 90's the areas depicted above would likely die. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Monitoring Our Nest Boxes

As you may have recently noticed, all ten of our newly constructed, bird nesting boxes have been strategically placed throughout the course property. Our birdhouses were placed in a variety of locations to see which ones are most successful. To help keep the nest dry, each birdhouse faces southeast, away from the prevailing winds. 

It is very important to monitor these nesting boxes on a regular basis to help ensure nesting success; therefore, we would like to include the membership with this project. We are seeking a small group of interested people to check the houses every week or two.  If you would be interested in helping us out, please contact superintendent John Temme.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another Blazer Days!

#17 with shadows falling about 8:30 Friday evening.
We were blessed with fantastic weather for Blazer Days 2011.  The grounds staff are always excited to prepare the course for this event.  We put forth our best effort to ensure that the course is as close to perfect as we can achieve.  Our entire staff worked over 50 hours last week despite only working 3 hours on Memorial Day.  Crew members worked a continual shift from 5AM until 8PM on Thursday and worked a split shift on Friday to allow the tournament to be played.  With cooperation from Mother Nature we were able to maintain green speeds between 11 and 12 feet.  We received numerous complements and got the impression that a good time was enjoyed by all participants.

One of our crew members mows #7 approach- almost sunset.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dewar's and Divots

We would like to extend a quick "Thank you" to the numerous families and individuals who participated in the fairway divot filling last night. Due to the excellent weather conditions, we had a great turn-out, with approximately 40 individuals helping fill divots. All fairway divots on the front nine were filled, along with the divots on the old nine approach. This night saves our grounds staff numerous hours of work and allows us to focus our efforts on other parts of the course. We look forward to another Dewar's and Divots later on this season.

Water Quality Management

As part of our continued environmental efforts, we recently conducted water tests to check the quality of our water bodies. Protecting the health and integrity of our water bodies is an essential component of showing our commitment to environmental stewardship. Our main goal for this water test was to determine exactly how much nitrate was leaching into our water bodies.

For this water test, two water samples were taken. The first sample was collected by 10 tee complex, to determine the water quality at the top of the watershed. The second sample was taken at the bottom of the watershed near the Hubbel property line. These sites were chosen to check the quality of water coming onto and leaving the course.

Water testing process

After completing  the chemical analysis, we began to evaluate our results. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has set 10ppm as the maximum value allowed for clean, safe drinking water and groundwater. Both water samples had a nitrate level of 2ppm, which is well below federal regulations. Another positive is that no extra nitrates were deposited into the water than were already present in the top of the watershed. One reason for this is the taller grass surrounding all of our water bodies. This tall grass acts as a buffer and helps us reduce chemical runoff. We will continue to monitor our water quality monthly and pursue a more environmentally friendly golf course.