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!