Course Update - Tee Service

A change to the operation this year is dedicating a staff member to servicing all the tees on the golf course every day.  The task requires someone who pays attention to every detail, and consists of moving and properly aligning tee markers, filling divots, trimming around tee plaques, blowing debris from the tee surface, refilling divot bottle stations, picking up trash, etc.  By doing this we have eliminated the need for divot boxes on the par-3 tees.

Course Update

It's amazing how much the golf course has greened up in the last week.  So much so, that we have started to mow rough and fairways on a regular basis.  Tees & greens are always slower to come out of dormancy, but they too have shown good color in the last few days.  Even though we recently aerated the greens, overall they are in better condition now than this time last year.  A few greens still have some unsightly winter damaged areas, but there is plenty of green tissue when you poke around in the canopy.  Similar to last year, we are utilizing every resource available to help the recovery process, but ultimately the turf will respond when it's ready.  A little patience now will yield extraordinary results this summer.

Here's a quick summary of what my amazing staff accomplished this week:

Greens aerified, topdressed, dragged, fertilized and rolled
Course cleanup (It never ends!!)
Irrigation system filled and several repairs made
Old sand removed, edging done, drainage repaired, and new sand installed at the practice bunker
Clubhouse and surrounding landscaping dialed in
Throw in mowing and other regular maintenance activities and you can see why we stay so busy.

Course Update

Cooler weather and shorter days signal the beginning of Fall, and that means it's aerification season.  All the par-3 tees have been aerified and a sand/seed mix was put down to smooth the teeing surface and promote recovery.  The remaining tees will be aerified over the next few weeks as time and weather allows.  Greens aerification is scheduled for October 14 & 15, and the golf course will be closed both days.  Please check with the Golf Shop regarding hours of operation for the driving range those two days.

This time of year is also when we pick away at our project list, and the first item is renovating the six foot wide step-cut of rough around fairways.  The rough is comprised of Kentucky Bluegrass, turf-type Fine & Tall Fescues, and Perennial Ryegrass.  Over the past 20 years the step-cut has become contaminated with bentgrass that has spread out from the fairways, which creates playability and maintenance issues.  Bentgrass is ideally suited for greens, tees and fairways at a height of cut of .500" or lower.  When maintained higher than .500" golf balls will sink down and the thick turf will grab the club head and cause unexpected errant shots.  Bentgrass is also susceptible to certain diseases and having to spray these extra areas takes a toll on our limited resources.  There are a couple of options we considered to remedy this problem.  The first is to strip all the contaminated sod in the step-cut and lay new sod containing the grasses mentioned above.  This was impractical due to time and cost restraints, plus when bentgrass sod is cut any roots remaining in the soil will give rise to new plants and contaminate the new sod in 2-3 years.  The option we chose was to spray a herbicide that only targets the bentgrass plant and overseed with the desirable rough grasses.  The white turf you see is the bentgrass dying from the herbicide application, while the desirable turf remains green and unaffected.  The white ring around the fairways is not something I care for, but it's a great visual indicator that the herbicide is working.  It also shows how much bentgrass contamination there really is.  Overseeding is scheduled to be done this week, and a final herbicide application will follow shortly after to ensure all the bentgrass is dead.  Another unique aspect of the herbicide is you can seed before or after an application and it will not injure new seedlings.

Course Update

Mother Nature has not been kind to us over the past week and a half, which has made it difficult to provide decent playing conditions.  We've received over 4" of rain since last Wednesday, combined with temps in the mid-80's, that caused the turf to start growing at an accelerated rate.  The weather seemed to affect the putting greens the most, where semi-dormant turf changed overnight into lush, green grass that was slow and bumpy.  Our maintenance practices have changed accordingly to better manage all playing surfaces, and the cooler temps forecasted for the upcoming week will naturally reduce the growth.

Putting greens on holes 3, 10, 11, 12 and 13 still have areas that haven't fully recovered from the winter.  Until recently, the cooler, drier weather has hindered turf recovery, but the warmup is a good thing and I have seen noticeable improvement.  Our verticutting and topdressing program seems to be working and we will continue the process until the areas are filled in.

Tree Removal Update

The removal of dead and hazardous trees continues, despite the relentless winter weather.  My biggest complaint is the increasing snow depth.  Certain areas on the course are inaccessible due to snow drifts and cart paths that are iced over under a thick layer of snow.  We've managed to get around without much damage, but staff safety is always the top priority and we will never do anything to jeopardize that.  Considering the challenges we've faced, the attitude and perseverance of the staff has been awesome!  Our goal of being finished with tree removals by the end of February looks more certain every day.

The area we're currently focused on is between 10 green and 11 tees.  Most of the trees in this area are ash that have been killed by the Emerald Ash Borer and are covered with poison ivy vines, which makes removal that much harder.  Even though it's winter the sap that causes irritation will leak out of cut vines and is just as potent as it is in the summer.  Below are some pictures from this area, along with a few others you may not have seen.

Having the right tools allows us to chip an entire tree
Left of 10 green (before).  Notice all the brush and vines

Clearing underway on 10 looking towards 11 green

A cherry tree with obvious structural damage removed for safety reasons
A maple tree also removed for safety reasons

Dying or dead upper branches indicate a problem