Sunday, June 18, 2017

Tired of Talking Take-All

As we discussed last month (The Patch is Back), we've been monitoring this year's Take-All patch closely.  Like many turf diseases, this pathogen operates in a fairly narrow soil temperature range.

The good news is that this past week's heat wave and record-breaking temperatures appear to have gotten us out of the "sweet spot" for Take-All to continue damaging the Bentgrass roots.
2" soil temperatures spiked to 81 degrees last week.

The bad news with this sudden burst of heat was that many of the areas which were damaged by Take-All quickly showed up when having to deal with heat stress--no roots and 96 degrees is not easy for a plant to survive.

Back to the good news. We kept the tees and fairways well hydrated throughout the week, and by Saturday it looked like we were starting to see some recovery, which is encouraging.

Again, this disease is somewhat random in when and where it appears, however we do see some patterns.   While it's not something we can graph in a straight line, there is a correlation between the amount of organic matter in an area, and the prevalence of  the disease.  The picture below shows that the forward tee on #3 got hit hard with Take-All, whereas the main teeing area, which was stripped and reseeded a few years ago, has little disease.


Going forward, we will continue to work to prevent Take-All,  This fall and winter there are a number  of different treatment protocols we will be looking at that will include different levels of fertility, applications of different trace minerals, as well as preventative fungicide applications.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Member-Guest Week


Each year, a good deal of planning and preparation goes into getting the course ready for our Member-Guest tournament.  So, how can you tell when it's Member-Guest week?  Well, from the perspective of the Grounds Staff, here are a few giveaways:

The regular 4:25 a.m. wake up time is starting to look really good.

There's a whole lot of double mowing...

...but not a whole lot of clippings to show for it.

After the mowing comes the rolling.
The divot mix boxes are getting Armor All.
A patch of brown grass gets painted green.
You've hit your daily step goal by 7:00 a.m.

  
This year we were fortunate to have great weather for the event.  When you combined this with a team of employees who focused on the details, the resulting course conditions seemed easy--almost...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hydraulic Leak: A Success Story

Did you see the 100 yard long hydraulic leak we had on #9 fairway?  More than likely, the answer to this question is no, and we're happy we can say that with confidence.  Two weeks after it occurred, you will have to really look hard to see the remnants of the leak.

Even up close, you may have difficulty seeing the oil line parallel to the sprinkler and quick coupler valve.

In an ideal world, we would never have to deal with issues like hydraulic leaks.  However, even when following manufacturer's best management practices for preventative maintenance on equipment, sooner or later a leak will occur.  In this particular case, it was not a hose, but a seal on one of the mower's hydraulic motors that failed.

The pictures above don't do justice to this leak either.  When we initially saw it, this looked like it had the potential to leave a solid dead strip of grass up to 2" wide.  So, how did we minimize the damage and not have, "...some splainin' to do?"

Well, for the same reasons that most of us keep a fire extinguisher in the house, "just in case," we keep a spill response kit in the maintenance facility, to address hydraulic leaks.  In this instance, we were able to quickly grab the remediation products, and get on the spill within a couple of minutes.

It's not often that we would ever consider putting the phrases, "hydraulic leak" and "success story" anywhere near each other, and truthfully, good fortune was on our side.

The incident took place very close to the maintenance facility, the operator notified us immediately, and the turf wasn't stressed prior to the leak.  So, while we can't guarantee the same results every time, we are very grateful that solid planning and a bit of luck led to a happy ending in this situation.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Repurposed

Often times, when we receive bulk deliveries of liquid fertilizer or wetting agents, they are packaged in large totes.  Typically, the  companies who sell the goods are not interested in getting these totes back.  So, what do we do with these containers?

Well, for years we have been using large concrete mortar pans to hold the divot mix we make.  These metal pans cost a few hundred dollars, and eventually rust out. 

In trying to come up with a good replacement for these, a light bulb went off, and after a quick zip with a reciprocating saw, we now have a new divot mix storage container. 

As the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."  Whether you call it recycling or repurposing, we now have a good divot mix container which won't rust, and the price was right!  An added bonus is that this can easily be moved with a pallet jack or loader forks.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Patch is Back

After dealing with Take All Patch  throughout much of the spring of 2016, it was a real bummer to see the signs of it once again a few weeks ago.  This disappointment was compounded by the fact that following last year's battle with Take All, we had taken a more proactive approach to handling this disease, and made preventative fungicide treatments last fall, using three different treatment protocols.

Take All Patch on #7 approach.

As with many root-borne turf diseases, once you see the damage to the foliage from Take All Patch, it's often too late to do anything, as the plant's root system has already been compromised.

Whenever we make any treatment to the course, we try to leave check plots to see if the treatment was effective, or not.  However, this disease is seemingly so random in nature that it's difficult to quantify what impact the fall fungicide treatments may have had.  As General Manager, Joel, pointed out, maybe the treatments actually worked well, and we'd be in a whole lot worse shape now without them.

While prevention is the key to this pathogen, we are testing a curative approach this spring, using a liquid fertilizer and wetting agent program.  We marked a small patch on #7 approach, so we can easily track whether the disease is getting worse, or if the spray has stopped it, and we start to see recovery in the Bentgrass.


Like most turf diseases, Take All Patch is only active in a fairly narrow temperature range.  Its appearance in 2017 was later into the spring than in 2016, leaving us hopeful that it will be gone sooner rather than later this summer.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Greens Aerification

The greens were aerified last Monday and Tuesday.  As we have the past few years, we went with a two step process, using hollow tines first, then following this up with the use of the Dryject system.  People often ask, why we are aerifying the greens twice, basically at the same time?

Each of these two methods of aerification has its own strengths.  While just one of the two may work well for some greens, with Laurel Creek's greens now closing in on 28 years old, we find that the two different methods complement each other, without increasing the recovery time we would see from just core aerifying.

In the case of the hollow tines, we use a very tight hole spacing to remove a significant amount of organic matter from the top few inches of the root zone.  These plugs are scooped up using a core harvester and removed.  We then apply an average of three tons of sand per green, and broom this in to fill the holes.


The next day the Dryject contractor arrives with four of his amazing machines.  This unique piece of equipment creates a very small hole on the surface, while injecting a significant amount of sand into the soil profile, at a deeper level than we can achieve with our conventional aerifier.  While this process isn't removing organic matter, it is diluting it, and providing great drainage channels into the heart of the green's root zone.


Grass growers may get a bit giddy seeing the results of the Dryject treatment, shown in the plug below.  This is exactly what the greens need to get through the upcoming summer heat.


Immediately after aerifying on Monday and Tuesday, we began using our new roller on Wednesday to smooth the greens.  At 1,500+ pounds, this is a pretty heavy piece of equipment, and the results could be seen and felt immediately.


Between the hollow tine and Dryject, we used over 170,000 pounds of sand.  Admittedly, there are times when it may appear that we were a bit heavy-handed with the sand, as you can see in the picture of #9 green below.


However, it is generally better to have too much sand than too little after this operation.  Check out the picture taken just two days later--we are actually starting to see some green in the green.  


Without question, when it comes to aerification, we stand by the old saying that you've got to break a few eggs to make an omelette.  When asked why we have to aerify the greens when they've been so good, the answer is simple:  Because we want them to continue to be among the best putting surfaces.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sod Management

Sodding an area gives instant gratification--what was brown in the morning, is green in the afternoon.  However, there are a few things to consider when deciding whether to go with seed or sod.  This would include the area's slope, the time of year, and the amount of traffic it will face.

In executing the Golf Course Master Plan work last summer and fall, sod was the logical choice in all areas.  Of course, with sod, we're growing it in a different location from where it started--think skin graft on a person.  In a golf course situation, the turf must be able to withstand quite a bit more extreme conditions than a typical backyard which has limited traffic.  Additionally, in the case of Bentgrass sod, it will have to endure a very low height of cut.

One of the best things we can do to help this sod acclimate to its new life on the golf course is to aerify it.  This reduces the thatch level, and increases pore space, giving the roots someplace to easily move into.  Aerification will also help to alleviate layering which may exist between the original soil, and the new soil.  For the lower cut Bentgrass green surrounds, aerifying, topdressing and smoothing with a mat gives us an opportunity to remove any tiny lumps and bumps, thus preventing scalping.

We currently see a window of opportunity to aerify with good results.  The turf is actively growing, and we're not yet facing the heat of the summer.  It is time to make some holes!

Bentgrass green surrounds on #16.