Course Update

Over 7" of rain has fallen in the past two weeks and the soggy conditions have made it necessary to open up the putting surfaces.  There are many names for this process; Venting, Pencil Tining, Needle Tining, etc.  Whatever you call it, there's no denying it's role in maintaining healthy turf.  The process starts by using 1/4" diameter solid tines on our greens aerifier.  The tines have a fixed lateral spacing of 1 1/2", but the forward spacing is adjustable from 1 1/2" to 3".  A tighter spacing may offer better results, but you can easily damage sensitive turf because you are disrupting a larger percentage of surface area.  The depth the tines penetrate is also adjustable, and we set our machine to aerify as deep as possible without damaging the putting surface.  The purpose of venting the greens is to create pathways (holes) for toxic gas to escape, while also allowing oxygen, water, and nutrients to easily enter the rootzone.  Another benefit during prolonged wet periods is water can evaporate easier from the rootzone by way of the holes.  Immediately after the green is aerified, the surface is rolled smooth and is ready for play.  In a couple of days the holes on the surface will disappear, but the holes below ground will remain open for several weeks providing long-term benefits to the turfgrass and soil.

Interesting Facts About Golf Courses

Presented by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

  1. A properly repaired ball mark heals completely in 2-3 days, while an unrepaired ball mark takes 15-20 days to heal properly.
  2. A typical 18-hole golf course covers approximately 125 - 150 acres of land. The total landmass of golf courses in the United States equals about 1/2 the state of Connecticut.
  3. A typical 18-hole golf course produces enough oxygen to support 4,000 to 7,000 people.
  4. Golf courses nationwide combine to filter 13 million tons of dust from the air every year.
  5. Who is the most important person at a golf facility? According to a 1997 survey of 500 Golf Digest subscribers, the golf course superintendent was listed the most (48 percent). Other responses included the course/club professional 25 percent, club/course manager 14 percent, beverage cart or halfway house person 11 percent.
  6. Golf courses have a cooling effect during the hot summer months. The average temperature on the golf course is typically 5- 7 degrees cooler than a residential area and 7 - 15 degrees cooler than an urban downtown setting.
  7. The infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is home to four holes of the Brickyard Crossing golf course. The remaining 14 holes outside the oval are accessed through a tunnel under the track.
  8. Golf courses delay play on frost-covered turf (especially greens) because stepping on frost-covered grass causes the frozen leaf cells to rupture. The turf will turn brown and eventually die.
  9. The Old Works Golf Course in Anaconda, Mont., is the first golf course built on an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Site. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the land served as a smelting location for the mining of iron ore. The golf course opened in June of 1997.
  10. Why do golf course superintendents aerate turf? Because it reduces compaction on a golf course by removing soil cores from the ground, allowing the movement of water, air and nutrients to the turf roots. Highly traveled areas plus poor soil composition creates compacted surfaces.
  11. What is the origin of the stimpmeter? In the early 1900s, a man by the name of Edward Stimpson was looking for a means to create more fairness in the game of golf. Specifically, he was looking to make putting surfaces on a particular course all relatively the same speed. He developed the stimpmeter to achieve this purpose. By using this device, he could determine, for example, if the fourth green was the same speed of the 17th. The device is often misused and misinterpreted by the novice and avid golfer alike. It is best used to compare greens on the same course, NOT to compare greens from one course to another.
  12. How much has technology and research improved speed and quality of a putting green? In the early 1960s, professional tour event superintendents cut putting green turf heights at about 1/4 inch. Today, the height of putting green turf for professional tournament competition is 1/8 inch or less.
  13. How do trees affect the quality of a putting surface? All things being equal, a putting green with air circulating around it will be in better shape than a green with little or no air circulation. Trees tend to reduce circulation, thereby having a negative effect on putting green quality. Older, more mature trees adjacent to putting greens will negatively impact surface conditions because the tree roots will grow under the putting surface and disrupt the flow of water and nutrients.
  14. What is a golf course superintendent doing when he/she syringes a green? Syringing is the process of spraying a light cover of water on a green during hot weather to reduce the temperature of the turf. This prevents putting surfaces from becoming “baked” or “dried-out,” and having a negative impact on putting surface quality.
  15. What is topdressing? It is the practice of spreading material over a putting green to level and smooth the surface. The material is generally sand and/or organic matter that improves drainage, controls thatch and maintains biological balance.
  16. Golf courses have a positive impact on the economy. It is estimated that more than 25 million people annually spend 2.5 billion hours outside, playing one of the nation’s 17,000-plus golf courses. The impact of golf facilities on the economy is $20 billion annually.

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.