The begining of the end of the season.

With the official end of the golf season fast approaching, I’d like to share with you whats on the Green departments schedule for the next two months. Aerification, seeding, aerifcation, topdressing, aerification, fertilizing and more aerification! Oh, and leaf clean up too!!

Starting Thursday October 26, we will began aerating the perimeter of some greens, collars and roughs around greens. This will continue through next week with the addition of slit seeding of fairways beginning with 1,10 & 18 and the balance of the front 9 fairways along with aerification of the gray leaf spot damaged step cuts.

The green and collar aerification will be done with 1/4″ holes and shouldn’t have a large affect on ball roll, neither should slit seeding of fairways, its very non invasive once completed. The aerification of the step cuts will be disruptive but confined to the weakest of them, i.e. 1, 10,18 etc.

In the following weeks, we are planning on aerating more large areas of the rough. This will have to balance with leaf clean up as we use the same equipment to do both tasks.

Two dates you may want to note if you play in November are the 15 & 16. Weather permitting we will be bringing in an outside contractor for a process called “drill and fill” on greens. The process is very disruptive to the point of greens not being puttable until after we process them. Here is a video link to the process:

In the video, the machine is equipped with actual drill bits. These bits bring subsoil to the surface which should be removed to reduce the risk of creating a impermeable layer on the surface of the green. To prevent this, we have the contractor use a solid bit that brings nothing to the surface. We then do an extra step by aerating the greens with 1/4″ solid tines after the machines are finished on a green. This additional step provides channels for the excess sand that remains on top of the green to be incorporated in the the top 3 1/2″ of the putting surface thus providing additional pore space and reducing the amount of wasted sand. I need to emphasize the fact of dry environmental conditions must prevail throughout the entire process to be efficient and successful. The benefits of this type of aeration is the 12″ depth that the machine achieves. This depth is 8 1/2″ deeper than our traditional aerifing process and provides deep channels for air/gas exchange, root growth and water percolation. An email reminder will be sent out the week before and it will be posted on the “members only” section of the website. I will also include updates on the process on the website and if times allows, this blog.

With leaf dropping season getting started early this year(although it has subsided in the last week or so for whatever reason), I’d like to throw caution in the wind as the dry warm fall will probably alter how we handle the leaves this year. Normally the roughs are growing vigorously right now and we are able to mulch the majority of fallen leaves. Since this fall hasn’t been normal, and the rough is sparse in may places from being drought stressed, I’m concerned that we may have to pick up the majority of the leaves and transport them to the recycle center to the left of 3. This is very laborious and time consuming! Mulching them can only be successful if we are able to match the growth rate of the grass which is impossible under these current dry condition. Hopefully normal precipitation will prevail to rejuvenate the roughs and allow us to expedite leaf clean up.

 

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Double edge sword

The weather forecast ahead should bring much needed relief to the roughs, but this warm and wet forecast comes with another threat of Gray Leaf Spot disease (GLS)

GLS disease is a major problem on perennial rye grass and to a lesser extent tall fescue. Your fairways are 95% rye grass. Its also grown on the tees with bentgrass and in the roughs along with tall fescue and other turf varieties. If you have played in the last month or so, you have noticed the damage GLS has caused in the green side roughs, step cuts and fairways 1,10 & 18. Other fairways have a few affected areas in them, but not like the ones previously listed.

The last outbreak of this magnitude came in October of 2008. Since that time we have always sprayed preventatively for this problem because once the turf gets infected, its very difficult to control. The spores for this disease will travel with tropical storms coming up through the south. This years hurricane season began early in April but has had little effect on our region. Activity in the tropics grew in June and July so I pushed up the first application to the end of July. Spraying every 14 days in the past years have proven to be very effective. Not this year though, by the end of August, we began to see symptoms of GLS in the step cut of 18 and around a few greens. At that point we began to closely monitor the course and adjust the spray schedule accordingly. When possible we shortened the intervals, increased the fungicide rates and rotate the fungicide chemistry only to see it spread to 1 & 10 fairways! I was doubting my diagnoses at one point because of the rate is was spreading but I was reassured by Dr. Buckley at Rutgers that GLS was what we were dealing with!

With tropical storm Nate appearing in the forecast overnight on Thursday, we decided to spray on Friday and Saturday hoping to prevent another out break. I have suspended all over seeding at this point because all rye grass seedling are very susceptible, regardless of GLS resistant variety’s that we have purchased. The affected fairways and roughs will have to be over seeded but will have to wait for more seasonal weather.

Infected seedlings on #10

 

Hopefully this will be the last of the warm humid weather for the year and we’ll be able to resume overseeding and fertilizing to expedite recovery. I’d also like to note that the spores for GLS do not overwinter well so here’s to a harsh winter!

Stakes Anyone?

If you’ve played golf last week you may have noticed multiple stakes laced with ribbons throughout the golf course and groups of people with golf carts but no clubs touring the course. The stakes are marking percolation testing wells that will be drilled next Monday and Tuesday. This is the beginning of phase 1 of a storm water management project that the Club has entered into with the Philadelphia Water Department and a outside contractor, Opti, to retain the Club’s storm water on site, along with exploring the possibilities of storing water from the adjacent neighborhoods in order to reduce the fees that the Club pays the city for storm water runoff.

The monitoring wells will be installed on the same days that greens aerification are scheduled to keep disruption to a minimum. If you are planning on playing either of those days, I suggest you call ahead, check the web site for updates or seek another place to play as there will be lots of activity on the golf course those two days.

Bonus Bunker

We had sand left over from the SGA bunker rebuild, so we decided to replace the sand in the right side bunker at 18 green. This bunker was last rebuilt in 2003 and is subject to flooding from the creek under a very heavy rain. Between this and evolution, the sand has become very contaminated. The drainage still works and the margins are strong, so we just had to remove the old sand,

and reveal the stone layer in the drainage that covers the pipe

then just add new sand, spread evenly, compact and rake!

in less than 48 hours after we started!

Selvin, Darren and Brian W. did an awesome job!!

Thanks guys!

Wilt 101

In my June post about wilt and the irrigation system, I mentioned I’d explain wilt to everyone following the blog.

Wilt is nature’s way of preventing death! And it works! Wilt occurs in all plants but I will focus on turf. The grass plant cools its self by drawing water from the soil, up through its roots and out its stomates, which are located through out the leaf surface. This constant flow of water regulates the plants temperature. When moisture levels are too low for the roots system to draw from the stomates close. The temperature of the leaf blade rises and turns purple, then to brown in color. How quickly this happens depends on the air temperature, wind, relative humidity and traffic.

A tell tale sign for anyone to check for wilt is to look back at your footprints on the turf. Wilted turf will lay flat in the pattern of your shoe and will not bounce back. Hydrated grass is very resilient to traffic and will spring right back up even under the heaviest of traffic. You can use this method here at the Club or in your own yard to check for wilt.

The picture above is 14 green from June 13. It is wilt, not dead grass. All life of grass originates in the crown of the plant. The crown is located right at the soil level. All roots, shoots and leaves begin at the crown. Wilting and dead leaves prevent the crown from drying out and put the plant into dormancy, thus keeping the plant alive. Depending on the species of grass, this dormant state can last for months. Now with a little water, the plant will again begin to grow and develops new shoots, leaves and roots. As evident by the photo below taking of the 14th green on June 19.

As we move into the heat of the summer, recovery from wilt can become a bit more complicated. A plant going through the wilt/dormancy period is stressed which can lead to infection from disease that can slow down the recovery process or even worse, kill the plant. We due apply fungicide on a 14 day schedule, but may have to shorten that schedule when the environmental conditions favor such infections. This is insurance to keep the turf healthy and strong during the most stressful time of the year!

 

 

 

One step forward, two steps back!

The crew has been working longer days the last two weeks to prepare for Presidents Day this Thursday. Our biggest accomplishment last Friday was opening up the left side bunker on 16 for play! Even though we still have some minor details to complete surrounding the bunker, we were all very excited to have the bunker back in play!

Now we have set our sites on detailing the golf course. We always keep an ongoing punch list of things that need to be addressed but for Presidents day, that list grows by pages. Giancarlo, Assistant superintendent, added to the list over the weekend along with preparing the course for play and keeping the new sod alive on 16 with this summer weather.

When I asked him how the weekend went on Monday morning, he replied”frustrating!” My first thought was we lost the sod on 16. “Nope its fine” he replied but some greens have developed severe LDS (localized dry spot). This was a huge surprise to me since the heat was only two days old and Giancarlo had been watering with both the irrigation system and by hand!  All greens and some tees were checked for moisture and a list was developed for hand watering. This had to be completed before noon’s outing.

Reviewing the list raised suspicion with me, normally wet greens were dry and dry greens were wet!! My suspicion was confirmed when we couldn’t water the SGA tee with the radio. We checked and confirmed we had water pressure at the snap valves at the tee so we immediately went back to the office computer and checked the black box recorder only to find some areas of the course have not been working electronically.

The irrigation software has the ability to run a test on the wires, decoders and solenoids. Running the test revealed exactly what is not working.

As in school, red “F”‘s are not good! Roughly 1/3 of the system is down electronically! This is probably a result of a lightening strike! We haven’t had to run the system since May 21 and have had a couple of storms in that period. Usually we’ll find a tree that was struck by lightening that would indicate where the problem started and we know to check the system when we do see a damaged tree, but we haven’t noticed any such tree!

We are able to water manually and will continue to do so until we can troubleshoot the system and make the necessary repairs. This will commence after Thursday.

Greens 14 and 15 suffered the most damage. Greens #12,13,15 & 17 have some damage, along with # 5 and 18 tees.

I expect a recovery rate of +90% which has already begun.  As in all of agriculture, plant recovery is very slow, especially this time of the year. Wilted turf is not necessarily dead but dormant. My next blog will discuss what happens to wilted turf and the recovery process.

I appreciate everyone’s patience’s while we work diligently to speed the healing process and prepare for Presidents Day.

The ins of wash outs

Last Thursdays heavy rain created a little havoc at the Club. It cancelled men’s league, caused an electrical problem in the kitchen, flooded the second green and wash out the majority of the 44 bunkers throughout the golf course!

Front bunker #2 with gas pump

We use gas powered pumps for the deeper bunkers and electric pumps for the shallower ones.

Once drained, the mud and silt on top of the sand must be either removed or replaced into the washout from where it came from. This prevents the sand and drainage lines from becoming more contaminated.

Then the sand is shoveled or push back in to place throughout the entire bunker.

Raked smooth before compacting.

Compacted using the bunker rake and a hand tamper.

The final process is a normal raking to bring the bunker back into play.

Front bunker #2 restored.

If your a number person, this storm required 130 man hours at a cost of $2200.00 to repair.

I’d like to give a shout out to my staff who worked very hard last week. We were already working 10 hour days to get caught up with the rough and projects when the storm hit on Thursday. A few of them changed their weekend plans so they could come in and help with the repairs. I really appreciate their hard work and dedication in repairing the bunkers!

 

Bunker update

The left side bunker revealed many a surprise as we removed the massive amounts of old sand.

LS 16 tree roots

LS 16 large tree roots

16 LS bunker old pipe

And we are not the first ones to work in this bunker as we discovered an old obsolete drain line.

16 LS bunker old drainge

With all the old sand removed, we are now ready to reshape the bunker. I have consult with Wayne Morrison, he is an William Flynn historian, who concurred with me that the original bunker was much shorter and wider back in the day. So my plans are to restore the bunker back, as close as possible, to its original design using the aerial photos from the 1930’s that you see hanging in the grill room. Doing so will also provide better surface drainage and wider egress to and from the rear of the green.

 

 

Project update.

We are very close to wrapping up the 3 winter projects. Working on projects this time of year always takes longer than expected as maintaining the golf course is our priority everyday in season. Add in some wet weather, outings, and unexpected setbacks(cutting the 4″ irrigation main behind 3 green last Wednesday as an example) can add time to the most conservative deadline.

Here is were we stand on the projects.

Fan at #3 green. The electric line was installed and inspected last week. We will be pouring the concrete mounting pad this week. The concrete will need a week to cure before we can mount the fan and have the electrician return for the final hook up. Once that passes inspection, I will submit a request to PECO for a meter.

Stairs at 4 green. The landing areas will be filled with a material called Porous Pave. Its composed of recycled tires and a binding polymer that allows water to flow through it. I’ve seen this material used with success at Fieldstone GC last fall. Renting a small mixer is required and will be used in conjunction with pouring the pad for the fan at 3 green this week. The next step will be installing the hand rail which will be completed by May 26.

Bunkers at 16 green. Rebuilding of the left side bunker has begun. I saved this one for last as its going to be the most challenging. And it hasn’t disappointed! The bunker is extremely deep as we determined after removing the old sand. And judging by the layers of sand on the back side, the bunker was much larger back in the day. Play-ability is the priority when we rebuild bunkers. We also consider the original design of the feature and lastly, the ongoing maintenance involved. So for this one I’m going to consult with a couple of industry experts to get other opinions. I’d like your opinion too! So please feel free to comment on this bunker and any other golf course related topic. In the meantime, we will be moving forward with completing the clean out and determining where the original bunker once stood.

Please check back for updates as I plan to blog on a regular basis. Thank you for your patience while we finish up these projects.

Jay Parisien CGCS

 

 

 

So close!!

Well my June 10th deadline for completion of the SGA tee project has come and gone. We could of laid sod today if I pushed harder but with the hot and humid weather I thought it would be best to wait till Monday to sod the tee and its surrounds.

SGA tee ready for sod

With my staff’s batteries recharged from the longer than normal hours we worked this week in preparation of both Women’s and Men’s member Guest events, I expect to have the entire area covered with sod before we go home on Monday.

I have to ask everyone for their patience’s over the next 3 weeks to refrain from using the tee as it will take this long as a minimum, for the sod to root itself to withstand hitting off it.

Thank you for your continued patience’s while we wrap up this winter project.