Sunday, July 16, 2017

Some perfect weather...

...for breeding turf problems.  Yes, we finished our fourth heat wave of the year last Thursday with oppressive humidity and some showers.  Although we dodged the heavy rain that neighboring areas received, there was still a whole lot of moisture in the air, which made the golf course a great petri dish for turf diseases.

Fortunately, at this time of year, we make preventative plant protectant applications to most areas of the course, and we saw little active disease.  However, one notable exception to this is the Fine Fescue areas.  While the Fescue definitely require more herbicide applications than any other part of the  course, fungicides applications aren't something we'd typically consider.

If we're looking for a way to keep these areas thin and wispy, then some well-placed Dollar Spot disease might not be a bad thing.


Of course, Mother Nature will rarely do exactly what we would like.  So, while a small amount of Dollar Spot may not be so bad, finding Brown Patch plus Dollar Spot in the Fescue isn't ideal, and may make spots a bit too thin.

We often say that there are no two years alike.  If nothing else, we can always count on that, and with its own unique challenges, 2017 is proving to be no different.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Brothers in Turf

Finding reliable summer help is often a challenge for us--the hours are crazy and the work is hard.  That is why we are very grateful for having a solid group of young men this year.  One unique thing about our 2017 team is that we have three brothers working together.

Entering his third season at Laurel Creek, is oldest brother, Joe.  He is a graduate of Ursinus College and now working as a teacher in the Moorestown school district.  Joe was a stand out performer for us two years ago, when he relentlessly pushed a blower during our August aerification.

Youngest brother, Mike, has returned for a second season.  He has completed his freshman year at Virginia Tech. and will be majoring in Engineering.  Like his brothers, Mike is a strong, consistent man on the team.

Middle sibling, Luke, is here for his first season, but has picked things up very quickly, and does an excellent job with the bunkers.  Luke is an Environmental Sciences major at Rutgers, and will be receiving internship credit for his experience on the golf course this summer.

Given their varied career paths, you might wonder if these siblings share any common interests?  Rumor has it, there is at least one thing they have all enjoyed during college:  Rugby!

Whether it is Luke banging out bunkers, Mike laying down some razor-like lines on greens, or Joe terrifically triplexing tees, these guys are a real asset to the Laurel Creek team.

If you happen to see them (or any of the staff members) on the course, please feel free to give them a thumbs-up if you appreciate their efforts.  Honestly, that quick, simple gesture can make someone's day during these dog days of summer!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Back to Bunker Basics

As a reminder, when coming in and out of bunkers, they should be entered and exited only from the low side.  For example, on the bunker in front of #2 green, the bunker should be accessed from the side closer to the tee, not the green side.


We have been instructing the maintenance staff to place rakes on the low side, however it seems that every morning, a few rakes have magically migrated back to the high side.
This rake is now between the green and bunker--not where golfers should be entering or exiting.

While the picture below doesn't do justice to the severity of the slope, at 33 degrees, this is a steep face.  Repeatedly entering and exiting the bunker on this slope will obviously move sand, eventually destroy the sod lip, and is potentially dangerous to the player.


Of course, seeing unraked footprints on a bunker face is like adding insult to injury.  We have spent an enormous amount of time and effort this year to improve the condition of the bunkers.  Your help in properly maintaining them is appreciated!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Back to Basics: Ball Mark Repair

Unfortunately, we continue to see a good number of unrepaired ball marks on the greens, or ball marks which were not properly repaired.   The picture below gives step by step directions for how to properly repair a ball mark:



Further instruction can be found by watching this brief USGA video:
USGA Course Care Ball Mark Repair

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask a member of the Pro Shop staff.  Your help in keeping the greens smooth, will be appreciated by all who play behind you!

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.