Saturday, October 19, 2019

The deer are everywhere!

While we see deer year round on the golf course, fall is definitely the time when they are most active, and show little fear of humans.  Few would argue that the 237 acres of golf course space can make a pretty great home for deer.

However, there are a couple of potential issues with these guys and girls roaming the region.  Their hooves can do some pretty good damage to the fine turf, which can be challenging to repair.  We cut the greens at 1/10", and any imperfection in the putting surface has the potential to throw the ball off-line.
Looks like somebody needs a manicure--or would it be a pedicure?

Thankfully, this group followed the 90 degree rule, avoiding the green.

Another big concern with deer activity, is when they decide to share the road with us.  The abundance of preserved open space in Moorestown often has the deer roaming across the streets to get from one area to another.  Over the past few years, several Club employees have had "run-ins" with deer while on their way to work.
The wildlife manager (and Shepherd) is unhappy that he's not permitted to herd the herd he heard.
So, as we enter the deer's mating season, it's particularly important to keep your eyes and ears open.  Remember, safety is no accident!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Summer goes down swinging!

While it finally looks like we can turn the page on summer, September was way warm and dry.  For the entire month we were four degrees above average each day.  To put this into perspective, for any day that was actually at the average temperature, there was an offsetting day that was eight degrees above average.

While the temperatures were well above normal, rainfall was 50% below average in September.  The last significant rain was on September 12--a quick shower which ran off.  This left us relying on irrigation, which is never as uniform as what falls from the sky, and can lead to inconsistent conditions on the course.
So wet, then so dry...

The impact of this weather pattern has been significant to golf course operations.  Instead of focusing on some fall projects, we've been hand watering, addressing irrigation issues, and mowing grass like it's the middle of May.  The warmer weather has also kept us on our toes as far as turf pest management.  Even as September ended, we were seeing Annual Bluegrass Weevil injury on collars, and were forced to apply a plant protectant.
While the Bent is unscathed, weevils continue to pit the Poa in collars

We think of meteorological summer as being June-August, however in 2019 the end of summer seemed to be much more in alignment with the astronomical summer season.  Fall often provides some of the best playing conditions of the year, and nobody will be complaining if this pattern continued and we get into late December before winter weather is upon us.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Fill those divots!

One of the nice features on the Club's new fleet of golf carts, is the large storage compartment for divot mix.  This holds several times what a bottle of mix can.

However, if you're one of those folks whose divots are measured in acres, even this new larger container on the cart may not hold enough for 18 holes.

If that's the case, you now have the opportunity to reload mid-round.  We have added some bulk storage bins to the two bottle stations on the golf course.

As always, we appreciate all of the help in filling divots throughout the season.  To date, our members have used over six tons of divot mix this year!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

It doesn't happen by accident

The golf course was seeded, beginning on Labor Day of 1989.  30 years later, there is less than 1% Poa Annua in the fairways, and that didn't happen by chance.  For many years, we have successfully used a combination of maintenance practices, along with a post-emergent herbicide to control Poa, and prevent it from invading the fairways.

However, it now appears that we may be seeing some resistance to this herbicide developing.  (Resistance can also occur with insecticides, fungicides, and human medications--such as antibiotics.)  We are therefore looking at alternative ways to prevent Poa from gaining a foothold.

This year, we have added a late summer pre-emergent herbicide application to the fairways in an effort to prevent Poa.  This is one of  the products we typically use in the spring to prevent Crabgrass.

While there is no perfect grass for this region, Bentgrass is definitely a much, much better choice for fairways than Poa, and we will continue to fight to keep the fairways Poa-free!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Slamming Sedge and Crushing Kyllinga

September is always a challenging month, with lots of activity on the golf course, and a slightly decreased staff size, as some summer help returns to school.  We have been trying to play catch-up on weed control and are now focusing on two weeds which have become a real nuisance over the past several years:  Yellow Nutsedge and Green Kyllinga.

In home lawns, Nutsedge growth will easily outpace the grass, and creates an uneven appearance in the lawn just days after a mowing.  Even in the Fescue, Nutsedge rises above the long grass.
Yellow Nutsedge in the Fescue.

Green Kyllinga has a somewhat different growth habit.  In contrast to Nutsedge, Kyllinga forms a dense mat, and can easily persist at a range of mowing heights, down to collar height or lower.
Green Kyllinga is green no more, after treatment.

In the past, we would often spot spray these weeds.  However, the results were not great, as any areas we missed would quickly become evident.  This led to the old "chasing your tail" feeling, as we had to make repeated applications.

Because of this, we are now taking more of a "blanket" or "wall to wall" approach in treating for these weeds.  While the time spent, and cost of this may initially be higher, the results will be much better, and we will be able to focus on other tasks.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Those Evil Weevils

Over the past decade, the Annual Bluegrass Weevil has become the most troublesome, and difficult to manage insect on the golf course.  With a high percentage of Poa in the greens, we must remain vigilant in protecting this preferred turf (for weevils) from damage.

Being smaller than a grain of rice, you might not think the larvae could cause much damage.  However, when turf is either stressed from other factors, or there are high numbers of weevils, these little guys can really thin out the grass.  Due to the height at which they are maintained, collars are actually more prone to weevil damage than the putting surfaces.

While we initially see adult weevils emerging in the spring, by the time we're into summer, there are no clearly defined generations, and every life stage can be found at the same time.  With most insecticides targeting a specific stage in the weevil's life cycle, this makes control extremely challenging.

In sampling this past week, within the same location (#9 green collar), we found larvae, pupae, and young adults.  With less weather-induced turf stress this time of year, initially, weevil activity may not be noticeable, but it's definitely not time to let our guard down.

In previous years, early fall is actually the only time we've seen weevils cause damage to our Bentgrass tees and fairways, so we continue to monitor weevil activity and treat based on population density.  Is this game of cat and mouse challenging?  Absolutely.  Is it boring?  Absolutely not!     

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The value of experience and commitment in golf course maintenance

It seems that everyone who chooses to work on the golf course, does so for a different reason.  Some are students just passing through, others love the game and being outside, and many are retirees who enjoy getting out of the house.

One unique member of our team is Jacques St. Elien.  Jacques emigrated from Haiti in 1991, following his brothers and mother.  Three of Jacques' brothers were working for the general contractor during the construction of Laurel Creek, and they all stayed on as part of the maintenance team once the course was completed. 

After a few years, Jacques went to work at Philmont Country Club, but returned to Laurel Creek as a part time employee three years ago.  Jacques is one of the most polite, soft-spoken individuals you will ever meet, and his experience makes him a true asset to our operation.

If you ever see Jacques on the course mowing greens, cutting fairways, or raking bunkers, feel free to introduce yourself to this dedicated individual!