2019 Golf Course Improvements

The Board of Directors have approved a full slate of course improvement projects for the upcoming year. They range from leveling tees to reconditioning green side roughs. Following is the details of the projects.

Green side fan installation:

We will be installing fans at 2 & 7 greens. With the proven success of the fan at 3 green, the next logical place for fans are the pocketed greens at 2 & 7. The fan on 2 will require a new service from PECO in which the electrician has already started the permitting process. The fan will be located to the right rear of the green along the hillside. The electric for 7 green will be supplied from the same service that serves 3 green. We will be installing about 500′ of conduit behind and along 8 tee to the right rear of 7 green where the fan will be positioned. These two greens would have greatly benefited from the fans this past year!

Tee leveling:

Tee leveling continues this year on holes 13 & 16. On 13 we will be enlarging both tees slightly to the right to increase the playing surface. This will entail relocating the bench and ball  washer to the right of the front tee. 16 will be a larger project with the removal of the tulip tree between the two existing tees. This will allow us to enlarge the teeing surface by combining both tees. We are also contemplating pushing the tee forward slightly to accommodate the forward tees. All tees on 13 & 16 will receive new irrigation with individually controlled heads.

Bunker rebuilding:

Rolling into our forth consecutive year of bunker rehabilitation, bunkers on 17 will receive new drainage and sand. Using the old aerial photographs of the club along with Wayne Morrison’s restoration plan, we’ll be lowering the top of the front bunker to its original height, shifting the left side bunker back and away from the green, and moving the right side bunker away from the green. Drainage will also be installed in the rough between the fairway and front bunker.

Tree work:

Using both consultant reports, membership feedback and personal observation, 60 trees will be removed though out the course. The main objective of these removal are for safety, green surround turf health, and tee shot play ability. In addition to the removals, extensive pruning is on tap for holes #’s 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 15 & 18. Click on the link below for the list of scheduled work. In addition to the list, Paul Csigi has marked up a large version of the tree management study that is located in the grill room. I’m working on a digital version with just the scheduled tree work to post online along with marking each tree out on the golf course. In the interim, the comprehensive version of the tree management study can be found on the club’s website.

2019 Comprehensive tree program

Green surround rough improvements:

This comprehensive project on holes 1 and 4 will be completed in two phases. Phase one will involve tree removals which are included in the aforementioned tree work, minor bunker enlargements of the front of each right side bunkers on both holes and installing new irrigation around each green.  The bunker extensions will consist of removing and storing  the existing sand, excavating the soil, installing sod on the new edge and reinstalling the removed sand.  The upgraded irrigation system will have individual controlled heads for the putting surfaces, the approaches and the green surround rough. Additional snap valves that allow us to hand water will also be installed.  Phase two will include expanding the putting surfaces using the old aerial photos, existing ground contours, along with Wayne’s restoration plan, 1 to the left and rear of the green and 4 to the front, left side and rear. Click on the links below to see Wayne’s suggestions.

#1 green proposed changes                                                                                                                        # 4 green proposed changes

Widening the approaches by using deep drill and sand injection aerification, stripping existing sod and installing new sod. Extending the step cut through sod replacement on both the left side and rear of  1 and 4 greens. Widening the fairways out to match the new approaches will be completed through mowing, aerification and overseeding. Replacing the mixed variety of green surround roughs with tall fescue sod will complete phase 2.  4 green surrounds will require multiple herbicide applications a month before sod installation to eliminate the bermuda grass. Phase two will begin with the herbicide application on 4 at the beginning of August with all sod installation being completed in September.

Resources, contractors, playabilty and the weather will dictate the order of completion of all the projects. There will be multiple projects in progress at any giving time. Please check the website daily for updates. I will also blog about the progress throughout the process. Anticipated completion date of May 4 for the tree work, bunkers, tee leveling and phase 1 of the green surround project. Phase 2 of the green surround project to be completed by September 28.

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A Little Taste of Winter

With 3″ of snow falling last Friday and daytime high temperatures forecast to be below freezing the next two days, I’m wondering how far out is winter? Hopefully very!

The calendar says we have another month, but Mother Nature hasn’t been following the calendar for the past few years by my observations! With all the plans (I will blog about them in the near future) we have for golf course improvements this off season, the last thing we need is a tough winter.

We do have some season ending work to complete before winter sets in. Leaf processing has been fairly successful considering all the rain we’ve had. We’ve mulched more this years than in the past. This is the most efficient way of handling leaves but has the limitation of to much of a good thing can hinder turf growth. Moving forward we will shift to picking up the balance of leaves as we have reached the point of hindrance in many areas.

Alternate greens have been installed and will be in use on Thanksgiving Day if your brave enough to test the forecast. The greens are far from dormant at this point and need to be protected from the combination of weather and play. We will be using the alternate greens throughout the winter months when necessary.  We establish these in order to protect the regulation greens during periods of freezing and thawing. Damage to the putting greens occurs under these conditions. If you’d like more information on alternate greens and their purpose and or are interested in the other perils of winter play on a golf course, this link will take you an excellent article from the USGA, .http://gsrpdf.lib.msu.edu/ticpdf.py?file=/article/hartwiger-moeller-winter-1-9-15.pdf

 

Fruit of our Labor

We are seeing results of our aerification and slit seeding along with signs that more needs to be done.

Pictured below are the rows of new rye grass that have germinated on 9 fairway. We have completed 7 fairways to date and plan on doing 3 more at a minimum. Unfortunately the weather forecast for seed germination is not promising!  Rye grass seed needs temperatures between 68 and 86 to germinate so lets keep our fingers crossed that “normal” fall weather prevails.

New rye grass on 9 fairway

While mowing greens over the weekend, I noticed how green the aeration holes on the right side of 15 green have become. These holes were made last month when we aerated collars ( the slope of the collar is to severe for the aerator so we have to aerate part of the green in that section) This is a great  indicator for additional aerification.  Air entering the aerification holes stimulates new growth of leaves and roots. Very beneficial after the long stretch of wet, humid weather we have recently encountered.

month old aeration holes on 15 green

The plan is to aerate #2, 15 & 16 greens again using the small 1/4″ diameter tines before November’s drill and fill aeration. These 3 greens have responded nicely from the August aerification but are not fully healed. We are going to add the back of 3 green and 7 green to the list  as the late season weather has caused them to thin. I also noticed wear from mowing the clean up pass on the circumference of most greens, which is normal especially giving the weather. Aerification will relieve these areas of stress.

 

Clean up pass wear on 17 green

Looking at the weather forecast for the rest of the week, tomorrow looks to be the best day to perform this. We’ll do our best to keep disruption to a minimum. The clean up process is quicker with small cores. We will need to be careful with the topdressing procedure as aggressive brushing can cause damage to the putting surface.

As a reminder, greens drill n fill is scheduled for Wednesday November 7 and Thursday November 8. This process makes the greens unplayable for most of the day. Please keep this mind if you plan on playing either of those days.

Practice putting green after drill n fill

Sunny Days Ahead.

The forecast for the next four days looks promising for some long overdue aerification and over seeding. Of course we’ll take Thursday off for the McQuiston Open, but we’ll utilize most of the daylight hours on the other days to get as much new seed into the ground as possible as the window for germination is quickly closing in on us.

We will be focusing on fairways , approaches and some tees. The fairways will be slit seeded using the equipment pictured below. Its not as disruptive as aerification but it will bring soil to the surface that will need to dry out before we can drag it along with the seed into the grooves.

The 6th tees will be aerated as the sod that was installed in June is creating a barrier for water to infiltrate the tees. We’ll be using a smaller tine than usual, between 1/2″ to open up the sod and allow topdressing, seed and fertilizer in. We are doing the lower tee today and then the upper tee on Wednesday.

The Green Committee approved removing the Bermudagrass that has encroached into the approaches through select spot spraying.

Bermudagrass left side #11 approach

We are also eradicating clover and other weeds from the approaches. But the troublesome Bermudagrass covers much more area on # 10 & 12 approaches than the clover.

initial herbicide spray on some clover on 12 approach

Bermuda 10 days after treatment.

Both the Bermuda and clover may require multiple herbicide applications, even into the spring of next year to remove them from the approaches. Aeration, seeding and topdressing will be completed in conjunction with the herbicide treatments to provide a seamless transformation between the weeds and turf.

One last note on aeration, drill n fill on greens is scheduled for November 7 & 8. Most of the greens are unplayable through out the process so please plan accordingly. I’ll be sending out reminders in the upcoming weeks.

Wicked Wet Weather

I’d like to update everyone on what’s happening on the course. If you’ve played recently you noticed how the recent wet weather has stressed many areas of the golf course.

The golf course has received over 6.21” of rain in the last 18 days, September’s average is 3.5” for the month. Within those 18 days we’ve experienced 3 partly sunny days with the others being overcast. These conditions are not conductive for growing finely manicured turfgrass.

 

Most greens have algae on them to a certain degree. This is caused primarily by water sitting on the surface and not percolating downward. In an effort to reduce the algae on greens, we were able to solid tine aerate the thinnest greens last Wednesday and spike all the greens on Thursday and Friday. I did blog on the solid tinning aeration on Wednesday. We were also able to quad hollow tine (1/8″) all the collars except # 7 Thursday and Friday.  We will continue to spike and solid tine them as needed until the algae problem is under control.

Greens were sprayed this past Monday with a broad-spectrum fungicide and a fungicide especially for algae. Tees have been holding their own with a few exceptions mainly on 5 & 9. All tees were sprayed last Thursday. We will continue to spray fungicides on all feature areas on an as needed basis to prevent and alleviate the growth of algae and other turf diseases.

Rutgers has found Gray Leaf Spot (GLS) in the fairway samples we sent them last Tuesday even though we just sprayed for it on Wednesday and Thursday, September 12 & 13, and have been spraying for this and other diseases on schedule since mid-July. We picked a fairway that was sprayed each day as the course received 1.53″ of rain on that Wednesday. The disease was found in both samples. The GLS is responsible for some of the fairways thinning, but overall environmental conditions have contributed more to the thinning of the fairways and roughs than the GLS. We began spraying the fairways again last Friday and will finish as weather permits. These fungicide applications will also be continued until the threat of all diseases has past.

For the upcoming weeks, we are planning to begin slit seeding the fairways, the thinnest ones first. (1,4,7 for example) along with aerating and seeding approaches and tees. We will need to balance our work with the golf schedule as October is a very busy month. We will do our best to keep disruption to a minimum but there will be times when our work will interfere with play ability.

It has been a difficult year weather wise to produce consistent conditions. Recovery will have to be in the form of aeration, seeding, and fertilization. These processes will have to be completed as soon as possible to give the golf course time to heal for next season. I thank you in advance for your patience as we work through this difficult period of weather.

Venting of greens

In an effort to dry down some of the wettest greens on the course, today we have begun a process called “venting”. One definition of venting is: “permit air to enter” which is exactly what the greens need after the 6+ inches of rain they have received over the last 12 days!

There is an abundance of black algae on many greens like # 7 below:

algae 7 green

Using a green aerator with 1/8″ solid tines on a 2″x2″ pattern we can punch 36 holes per square foot, 3 ” deep which will allow air to enter the green to hasten the drying process. In the past we have used this process to do just the opposite, to let water in after the soil has become hydrophobic. But that’s not the case this time around.

green aerator with solid 1/8″tines

After aerating, we will roll each green using a mower with the blade off. This will gently smooth the surface to keep ball roll as true as possible. This process is slightly more disruptive to the surface than spiking but should heal over in most areas within a few days.

finished product

At this point we only plan on doing the following 8 greens, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15 & 16 along with the 2 practice putting greens, as they have the most algae on them. We will be spiking the other greens beginning tomorrow. These forms of aerification along with fungicide treatments should expedite the healing process. In the upcoming weeks we will be aerating tees, approaches, collars some fairways and roughs. I will be posting information on these processes both here on the blog and on the “members only” page on the website.

Bunker rake trial

In an effort to improve bunker conditions after a golfer makes a bunker shot, it was suggested that we try wider bunker rakes in the bunkers. I have purchased 4 different models, pictured below(#5 is the current rake on the course) and have numbered them accordingly.

They have been placed  on holes # 1 ,2, 5, 10, 14 &16.

I will be working with Mike Viscusi to make up a quick pole that we can email out at the end of the season. Your feedback on this experiment will give us insight on making changes for the 2019 season.

Aerification Update

Green aerification went well considering the weather. It did take us to Wednesday to complete do to the weather. Greens 2,15,& 16 were handle differently than the others due to the disease level on 15 & 16, and # 2 being under water recently. We used smaller diameter tines on those greens and hand topdressed them. This was the first time we ever attempted this and they seem to have handled it fine. The other greens were aerated as planned and are doing well. We did have an irrigation issue on 12 that has been resolved and the green is expected to fully recover. We plan on over seeding them and adding additional topdressing to a select few where the topdressing has settled into the holes.

Weed control on fairways 1-9 was completed early last week. The bermudagrass is showing signs of discoloration. This is good. It may take an additional application in the future to complete the task. We began aerification last Thursday on the front nine fairways. This was due to the marginal weather earlier in the week. 2 & 5 just need some additional clean up work to be complete. With the hot weather upon us, we will shift today’s aerification to solid tines(no cores) to 3 & 7 landing areas and the large part of 8. This is normal procedure for these fairways and will reduce the chances of damage due to the heat.

And to further complicate aerification, the computer controlled operating system (Rainbird) has totally failed. I have diagnosed it to an interface that is located in my office. I’m waiting for Rainbird representatives to assist me in further troubleshooting and or to confirm my findings on the interface. In the meantime, all watering can be completed during daytime hours as the pump station is 100% functional. Even if the irrigation system becomes fully operational, we need to exercise caution with this heat. We may have to postpone further aerification to later in the year. We did plan on aerating approaches also during this two week stretch as many of them have become weak from the summer weather and may attempt to get some of them done later this week.

I will keep everyone up to date with progress on both aerification and the irrigation system. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions and concerns.

Too Much Of A Good Thing

This past weeks rain and overcast weather did the roughs wonder bringing most of it back from dormancy. There are some areas that were taken out by disease that will need overseeding later in the season to get it filled in. But overall I see a vast improvement in the majority of rough areas. We did struggle with keeping up with some of the mowing last week. Mowing fine turf under those conditions risk mechanical damage to the plants which can lead to stress and other problems.

Which leads me to the stress some of the greens came under when the irrigation pump transformer was damaged in the storm on July 3. I mentioned in my last blog about the problem and some areas on the golf course had some wilt on them and I expected a full recovery. Unfortunately that’s not going to happen without some additional inputs from us and some patience from the membership.

If you recall my blogs from last June and July in which we had an irrigation problem and some greens had wilt on them. I explained wilt in detail and showed how 14 green in particular, had recovered nicely in a matter of a few weeks from the wilt damage.This was my expectations for the newly stressed greens.

The recently injured greens appeared to improving as new growth was visible and some of the older leafs turning yellow and dying off, typical of wilt damage. At the end of last week we noticed more leaves turning yellow and a rust/orange color developing down in the turf canopy. I knew that color from 2004, anthracnose!

Anthracnose is a disease that infects weaken annual bluegrass and in extreme cases creeping bentgrass. We battled it on some greens back in 2003 and 2004 and haven’t seen it since. It slowly takes out the leaves and if left unchecked, will spread into the crown of the plants which will lead to death.

We did determine that it was only foliar on the annual bluegrass at this point and we applied a fungicide accordingly. This weeks damp and humid weather caused an additional flare up and has left some thinning areas on #11 and #16 greens. We sprayed again this past Friday along with spiking and overseeding these two greens. To promote recovery, we will be reducing inputs on them, increasing fungicide and fertilizer applications, continue spiking and over seeding, topdressing and carefully monitoring moisture levels. So these greens may play slightly slower than the others or be a bit bumpy at times.

I will keep everyone updated on our progress. Please check the “member’s only” section of the website for daily course conditions.