Sunday, December 9, 2018

Fun in the Fescue

As we did on # 7 and #13 last year, we are renovating an area of Fescue this fall.  We had re-sodded a small area on #16 two years ago, with good results.  This year we have continued up the right side of the hole.

The first step in the process was to eliminate any existing undesirable plants.  The area was mowed down low, then three  separate applications of a non-selective herbicide were applied over the course of two months.  In the picture below, the only green you can see is from the spray tracker dye.

Next we mowed the area again, raked it, and removed the excess organic matter.  After this we were close to bare dirt, so the next step was to till the area and give it a final raking in preparation for sodding.

Having a sandier soil is helpful for maintaining playability in the Fine Fescue.  However, in the cut throughs where cart traffic will be permitted, we added an amendment to the soil to improve moisture and nutrient holding capacity, and installed wear-tolerant Tall Fescue.

While this sod is typically pretty dense the first year, we have a couple of tricks in mind to promote a thin and clumpy stand of grass next spring.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Doing what we can do...

We received a near record 9.40" of precipitation (as both rain and snow) in November--just a tad over the average of 3.50".  Additionally, the daily temperatures for the month averaged 3.8 degrees below normal.  To summarize:  It was cold and wet!

This wonderful weather combination certainly limited rounds, as well as what we could do on the golf course.  Fortunately, one of the few large pieces of equipment we can safely use under almost any conditions is our largest tractor, with a deep tine aerifier connected to it.  The flotation type tires on this tractor are the key to its having a very light footprint, even when the course is soaked.

The aerifier itself uses solid tines, which cause minimal disruption to the surface.  This solid tining can improve the soupy conditions in a couple of ways.  Below the ground, it loosens the soil by fracturing it, allowing for better infiltration of water.  Additionally, the holes can help to increase water loss through evaporation.

To look at the positive side of this weather,  with high temperatures in the 40's, and winds of 50 mph, Scott didn't have to worry about interfering with play while solid-tining #1 fairway.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Something's missing

With several blind tee shots on the front nine of Laurel Creek, insider knowledge can be helpful in club selection and knowing where to aim.  Since the course was first built, one reference point that some players have used when standing on #4 tee is a test tower for the AEGIS facility, located beyond #5 green.  From the Champion tee on #4, the distance to the tower was 3,850', but given its height could easily be seen.

The tower's height was also the primary reason we never attempted to block it with landscaping.  Even if we had done a planting that screened the tower from the fourth hole, an 80+' tree would have been the only way to block it from view on #5.
Now you see it...

Well, if you didn't notice, that landmark was recently removed.  Not surprisingly, a Google search provided little explanation as to why these towers are no longer needed by the Navy or Lockheed Martin...
Now you don't...

With the "Cornfield Cruiser" in the background, only a utility pole now marks where the formidable tower stood for years along Hartford Road.

The good news is that what some folks considered an eyesore, is now gone.  The bad news is that you may need to find a new reference point the next time you tee one up.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

We tried...

Less than one month ago we said it was time to stop whining about the weather.  Unfortunately, that was only wishful thinking, and a promise we just can't keep.  Yes, only midway through the month of November, and one week prior to Thanksgiving, the first snowfall of the season arrived.
Unusual to see snow before the leaves have finished falling.

To add insult to injury, prior to the storm, we made the mistake of believing the weather prognosticators, who had said the snow would change over to rain by the afternoon--it did not.  With a major event that evening at the Club, it was a scramble to get the snow plow ready, and deal with the Slurpee-like white stuff.

As of  November 16, the course has already received close to six inches of precipitation for the month, and over 60 inches year to date!

The day after this storm, which crippled much of the Mid-Atlantic region, one of the national meteorologists stated that, "The storm out-performed our forecast."  Hmm, that is one way of putting it...

If you were a fan of Happy Days,  you might be able to guess the answer to this:  What do meteorologists and Fonzie have in common?    Click here for the answer!

Sunday, November 11, 2018


The recent clubhouse renovation not only brought improvements to areas frequented by members, but also to some of the behind the scenes operations.  Included in this is a new, more efficient bag room.  By using "high density mobile shelving", only half as much space is now required for bag storage.

So what happened to the old bag racks?  Well, we found a perfect new home for some of them in the turf care facility.  The backpack blowers are now stored in a way that is easy to get to, organized, neat and clean.

It's always satisfying when we can make an improvement to the operation--especially when the price is right.  We are certainly grateful for these hand-me-downs!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Golf course management and the flu shot

So, after being bombarded by healthcare providers, news media, and television advertising, you get a flu shot--and voila, you don't get the flu that winter.  Clearly the vaccination worked, right?  Maybe, but perhaps it wasn't the shot that prevented you from getting the flu but other factors.  There is certainly no guarantee that you would have contracted influenza even without the vaccine, thus a cause and effect relationship would be tough to establish.

What the heck does this have to do with a golf course?  Well, often times we will tweak the turf management program by introducing a new product or practice in hopes of improving turf health.  However, if we apply product "X" to all of the greens and they are in phenomenal condition that year, can we conclude that this product is the greatest thing since sliced bread?  Absolutely not!

Just like your getting the flu shot, if we treat all of the greens, we have no way of truly knowing if the "vaccine" we applied led to improved greens, or it was something else.  In the case of turf, the greatest variable from year to year and month to month is the weather.  There are many, many reasons why grass may lose roots and vigor, most of which are ultimately driven by the weather.

No "flu shot" for the beginning of #12 fairway.

Because of this, it is imperative for us to leave untreated check plots when changes are made to any maintenance practice.  As mentioned last week, we applied the first preventative Take-All patch spray at the end of October, and it won't be until next spring that we see if Take-All develops or not. 
Again, if we spray every fairway this fall, and see no Take-All next year, can we assume the spray worked?  Not really, since weather conditions just might not have been conducive for disease development.  Only by leaving untreated check plots can we begin to draw conclusions.

Lastly, if your doctor recommends getting a flu shot, it's probably a good idea (like having car insurance and hoping you don't need it).  Being an untreated check plot for that miserable virus may not be worth the risk!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

2019 is here

It's officially time to stop whining about this year's weather, and move on.  While we are still focused on providing exceptional playing conditions throughout the fall of 2018, as the golf course mowing requirements start to decrease with cooler temperatures, quite a bit of our efforts are now geared towards having a successful 2019 season.

There is probably no better example of this than our Take-All patch prevention sprays.  The first of these applications was made this past week, on October 26.  Why is this date important?

The significance of spraying for Take-All patch in October, is that the damage from the disease typically isn't seen on the fairways until late spring, often peaking at Memorial Day.  The picture below was taken on May 31, 2018.

So, yes, even as we are still licking our wounds from the summer of 2018, we are actively working to prevent future turf damage from occurring more than half a year from now.