Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fall Aeration 2012

Fall aeration is in full swing.  We completed fairway aeration on August 22nd and tees were finished on August 28th.  We will be aerifying greens on September 4th & 5th. 

Green Edges

 You may have noticed that some of the green edges have been recently scalped off.  This was not by accident.  When mowing the cleanup lap (the circle around the outside edge of the green) it is very difficult to get the edge in precisely the same spot time after time.  Say; for example, the cleanup is mowed a mere 1/8 of an inch off the edge of the collar- doesn't sound too bad, right?  Multiply 1/8 inch by 3 cleanups per week times 20 weeks = 7.5 inches!  For this reason we have a measuring tool which we use to keep the green and collar consistent over time.

Why did we get so far off?  One of our best cleanup mowers did not return to the maintenance staff this year.  We are left with only two men who truly do a perfect cleanup every time.  It is a skill that requires a very steady hand and is difficult to master even with years of experience.  Add to this employee vacations and we got off track.  Also, this spring we had several large projects which diverted the skills of our talented and experienced staff members.  Modifications made to #17 and Lower #2 took experienced workers weeks to complete.

The edge of 12 green.  We will reduce the mowing height of this turf down slowly over time until we are back to regular greens mowing height.
The tool we use to measure the width of the collar.  We use the outside edge of the collar as a reference point because we have a distinct edge when two different species meet (Kentucky Bluegrass & Creeping Bentgrass.)  We paint small green dots around the edge of the green to keep the mowers where they need to be.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Back In the Saddle

 We in the Wakonda Grounds department have officially forgotten about July.  It was hot, dry, and stressful.  The forecast is looking much better and we are moving on.  The golf course is doing well considering the challenges we have faced. 

If you've played golf the past couple weeks, you've probably noticed that the greens are a little softer and slower than normal.  This is due to reduced maintenance practices (specifically verticutting and topdressing.)  When temperatures skyrocket, we must reduce stress due to maintenance activities to ensure the greens survive summer.  The greens are healthy; and collars are doing much better than expected!  Roots continue to impress us- still very deep and strong.

Cooler temperatures have ushered in a return to our normal maintenance practices.  We verticut greens last week and are topdressing today.  Mowing height will be reduced to 0.100 inch.  We will be putting down a slightly heavier rate of sand through August to reign in thatch development which causes the softer, slower playing conditions.  If you like firm and fast playing conditions, then you will have never been so glad to see topdressing sand on the greens!

Slightly heavier topdressing rate applied today.

Brushing in.
 Fairways are also doing well; however, they are not without blemish.  The hot, dry season has "natural selection" in full force.  Areas where we have Poa annua encroachment have been killed- which is not necessarily a bad thing.  The majority of these areas will fill in with desirable bentgrass and we will be better off in the long run.  

Areas like this will recover quickly in the fall with no additional maintenance.
 What happened to number 5 fairway?  The bottom of the fairway near the creek has very poor soil, physical properties.  What looks like drought damage is actually the opposite.  The heavy, clay soil has very little pore space which allows for moisture and gas exchange with the air.  The result- roots are literally cooked.  Some of this area will recover on it's own while other areas will need seed or sod which we will apply later this month when the weather is most favorable for turf establishment.

Some of this turf will likely recover.  Patience will prove virtuous.
 We should take a moment to focus on the positive:  the vast majority of fairway turf is performing extremely well.
6 approach - flawless.
5 approach.
 Tees continue to perform well while the practice tee is showing the signs of a busy, hot golfing summer.  We will aerify and overseed the practice tee later this month.  Rough looks, well, rough.  Non- irrigated areas are dormant.  Time will tell how much seeding might need to be done.  We are confident that most areas will return from dormancy once rain and cooler temperatures arrive.