Monday, September 22, 2014

Natural Weed Control

This is always a nice time of the year as we receive natural weed control from mother nature.  This year we had more crabgrass in the golf course rough than in years past due to our reduction in a pre-emergent herbicide applied in the spring.  Crabgrass is an annual grassy weed that germinates in the spring, grows in the summer, and seeds out and dies off as the weather gets cooler in the fall and during the first frost.

Right now those crabgrass plants are turning purple and starting to die off. Once the first frost hits we will see the plants disappear.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Greens Recovery

Greens are really recovering quickly from aerification.  They were fertilized prior to aerification so they were already actively growing before we punched them and timed with the sunny warmer weather we have received, they are very good for 3 days after aerification.

Rolling greens in the afternoon when it is dry and does not pull up sand
3 days after aerification, after the first mowing and another brushing

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Greens Aerification

Greens were aerified on Monday and Tuesday while the course was closed and the entire operation went very good.  Mother nature really helped us out with the sunny 90 degree weather.  One of the hardest parts is getting the sand to dry and properly fill the holes, with the ultra dry sand it worked very good this fall.  As I have stated before, there are many methods to aerification and you have to understand your end goal as to which operation you will perform.  This year our soil tests show that our organic matter content is very close to where we want it so we decided to not pull a core and go with both 1) deep tining - to increase infiltration, allow roots to grow deeper, and incorporate as much sand as far down as we could in he older sad profile of our USGA greens, 2) smaller solid tines at a very close spacing to incorporate as much sand as possible into the upper 3 inches of the organic matter layer.

Topdressing goes down first so the aerification machines vibration will help work it into the turf

Deep tining machine - 1" tines 8" deep with 4" spacing

After the deep tining

Followed by 1/2" sold tines with a 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" spacing

Double roll to smooth everything out

Finished with brushing and irrigation to water everything in.

The finished product after 2 days

Extra sand is still on the surface because I want to incorporate more into the turf canopy and some holes will open up as we continue to brush and water.  Right now all the holes look full, but some are bridged and have air pockets down in the hole.  As we continue to brush and water this sand will settle down and the extra sand will be brushed into the holes.

The future will be continued brush and irrigate, with a Thursday afternoon roll when it is dry and then start mowing Friday morning, followed by alternation of mow and roll for the next week.  Typically in 4-5 days I will have them pretty well cleaned up and putting smooth.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fairway Aerification

Fairway aerification has been going very good this week and the weather, warm and sunny, has been very helpful.

First the fairway is mowed and the heads are marked with shaving cream.  Then the fairway is aerified with 3/4" hollow tines that pull a core.

The plugs are allowed to dry to the proper moisture level so we can break away the soil part without making mud, but yet they are not to hard so the soil drys to a bullet and will not break-up.  The goal is to return the soil to the turf canopy and fill some of the holes while the organic matter portion, the thatch at the surface, stays intact and can be removed.

Plugs being dragged

Then the organic matter portion is blown off into the rough.

From there the rough mower chews up the organic debris, and that is day 1.

This process is followed the next day with a final clean-up that would be taking a brush and brushing any plugs that might be stuck down from tire tracks and after they are fluffed to the surface then the fairway is blown off again.  Followed by a dry mow in the afternoon with a fairway mower to clean everything up.  This typically leaves the fairways very clean and ready for play.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Shaving Cream

Jason - why were you walking out of Walmart with 12 cans of shaving cream, why is there shaving cream on our fairways?

Not your typical blog post, but a couple questions I have answered this week during fairway aerification.  The answer is, we use shaving cream to mark the irrigation heads.

Here you see a row of heads each with a white shaving cream dot.
We use shaving cream to mark all the irrigation heads during aerification instead of your usual ground flags.  The heads need to be marked so the operator can raise up and over the heads, and with flags they could get caught in the aerifier, they take extra time to go back and remove, and they get hooked as the drag matt goes by.  With shaving cream, we just put a clump on the heads, and then we can drive, drag, or blow right over it and it disappears in about 3-4 hours, the perfect time span to aerify a fairway.  It  is safe on the turf and makes our irrigation process more efficient.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fall Aerification

Turning the calendar over to September and finishing the biggest tournament of the year only means 1 thing - cooler temperatures and aerification.  This falls schedule will be as follows:

Sept 8 week - fairways
Sept 15 week - greens, course closed Monday and Tuesday Sept 15 and 16
Sept 22 week - tees and approaches
Sept 29 week -  fairways and practice facility

Aerification is one the most important parts of delivering the playing conditions that we do.  The alleviation of compaction, removal and reduction in organic matter, incorporating sand topdressing, opening up the canopy to allow gas exchange and oxygen to the roots and soil, and creating the vertical sand channels where the roots always grow the deepest.

With aerfication, you have to understand what you are trying to accomplish and that will lead to what method you use.  We use large solid deep tines to go 8" deep creating sand channels that allow water and nutrients to infiltrate, along with deeper roots.  We also use small solid tines set at a 3-4" depth to create numerous holes and incorporate as much sand as possible into that top thatch layer.  These two methods are used in areas where reducing thatch is not our main goal but instead we are diluting the thatch with sand, incorporating the sand into the channels that we create, and reducing compaction.  In areas where we want to reduce thatch, we will be pulling a core with a hallow tine, picking them up, and then applying sand to fill the holes.  Here are some pictures of the different processes.

Deep tining machine, 1" tines 
Green after deep tining
Pulling cores on a green
On a green - deep tining on the left, pulling cores after clean-up on the right
Solid tining greens, sand topdressing down first
Finished product after brushing
The ultimate goal - deep channel sof sand
Fairway aerification - pulling a core
Stay tuned for the next several weeks as we move through each part of the golf course and I will explain in more detail what our methodology is and what our goal is for each area.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tournament time - Ball Roll

For our biggest and most competitive event of the season, ball roll and greens conditioning is the up most importance and a precedence we have set the last several years to have the greens rolling.  Using the term "ball roll" instead of greens speed for describing the quality of a putting surface, means the condition of a green is not just measured by the speed but also by how smooth, true, and consistent it rolls, and all of those characteristics in my opinion make up "ball roll".  Yes the greens will be very fast this weekend but they will also be ultra smooth, firm, true, and consistent.

2013 Whing Ding Sole Survivor
Staff has worked extremely hard the last two weeks fine tuning the condition of the greens.  Ball roll does not come from just dropping the height of cut, but it is a combination of fertilizer running out at the right time so the greens are very lean, the height of cut, sand topdressing for a smooth and firm surface, rolling frequency and timing, and the moisture level from irrigation in the green.  The first four items listed have all taken place over the last two weeks and now the only thing left is to dry the greens down as far as we can to get the hard firm surface.  A little strategic planning while we watch mother nature to get the timing just right so they peak with moisture level by Monday afternoon (the lack of), but we do not dry them down to quickly.  There are a lot of aspects that go into managing tournament greens and it is not just dropping the height of cut or turning off the water, but a combination of many different aspects.