Saturday, June 30, 2012

Practice Perfectly

The USGA recently published a great article discussing the best way to hit balls from the practice tee.  To put it simply, randomly scattered divots or removing a large patch are not the correct ways to "work the tee."  Please take a moment to click on the link below, and read this article:

By following this example, and working the tee in a "strip" fashion, the tee will recover more quickly, allowing us to have good grass to hit from throughout the golf season.

If you have any questions about this, copies of the article are available at the Club, and the Pro Shop staff will be happy to help you get started in proper practice tee use.
The practice tee during a brief lull in the action.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dorsal Fins, Voracious Eaters and Helping the Environment

At this time of year it’s not uncommon to see all kinds of wildlife on the golf course. The lake at #5 green has one of the more interesting inhabitants, grass-eating carp. These herbivorous fish help to control the aquatic weed growth by spending their summer days happily consuming pounds and pounds of filamentous algae, and pondweed. This helps to reduce the need to use chemical controls for the weed growth, thereby allowing us to manage the property in a more environmentally friendly manner.

The lake also has plenty of catfish and bass, but the carp stand out due to their size, and how close they swim to the surface.  The carp can grow to four feet in length and weigh up to 40 pounds.  You can often see their dorsal fins and tails breaking the surface of the water.

While the carp are definitely wildlife, they are not native to these waters, and were originally brought to the United States from China.  Because of their voracious appetites, there would be concern if these fish were released into the wild and allowed to reproduce.  By consuming so much vegetation, they could significantly change the ecosystem, potentially harming native fish and other aquatic animals.  To prevent this, the carp are sterile, and screening is installed on the lake’s discharge piping, to keep them from leaving the lake. 

So if you see a fin sticking out of the water, have no fear that fresh water sharks have invaded our ponds--it’s only the carp, doing what it loves, helping to keep the course and environment in great shape.
The torpedo-shaped Carp

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Take-All Patch

Take-All Patch (aka Gaeumannomyces graminis) is a turf disease that attacks Bentgrass.  As with all turf pathogens, there are many factors which play a part in determining whether or not the disease will present itself, and this year (perhaps because of the mild winter) we've seen quite a bit of Take-All on both tees and fairways. 

The question  might be asked, why don't we just get the sprayer out and use one of the fungicides in our arsenal to eliminate this disease?  Unfortunately, as with many "patch diseases," the point of attack for Take-All is in the root system, and not the foliage.  Therefore, by the time you see disease symptoms on the leaves, the damage is already done, and fungicides are of limited use.

The best control for this disease requires preventative fungicide applications: one application in the fall, and a second in the spring.  However, this kind of preventative spray program has its drawbacks.  With the inconsistencies in severity of the disease from year to year, it might be tough to establish a cause and effect relationship.  For example, if you spray preventatively in the fall and spring, and have little Take-All that year, was that because you applied the fungicide, or would you have had little Take-All even without the sprays, due to weather and soil conditions? 

Answering this kind of question can best be done through the use of untreated check plots.  If the decision is made to go ahead and spray preventatively for Take-All, we will have both treated and untreated areas side by side.  This way we can connect the dots, and determine how well the fungicide application worked, and how severe the disease would be without the use of a fungicide.

Fortunately, while Take-All Patch often discolors the Bentgrass, and weakens the plant, it typically doesn't live up to its name.

Take-All Patch on a tee.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Un-aerified Greens

We aerified the greens on Monday using the tiny, 1/4" tines.  However, when you play the course, you might wonder if we forgot to aerify part of a few greens, since the back half of #6, 12, and 15 were not cored.

Actually, leaving half of these greens un-aerified was done quite purposefully.  In our quest to determine the cause of Bentgrass etiolation/Bacterial Wilt, we are leaving untreated areas in most every practice we perform this season. 

There are several theories as to what is causing Bacterial Wilt on golf course greens, and one of these is that mechanical stress to the turf can induce symptoms.  While aerification of the greens clearly has great long-term benefits, the actual process can also be stressful to the turf in the short run. 

If these areas do not show signs of Bacterial Wilt, where other parts of the green do, it may indicate that the initial stress of aerification prior to the summer heat, triggers this disease.  On the other hand, if the un-aerified parts of the green do exhibit symptoms of Bacterial Wilt, then we might theorize that the long-term benefits of aerification can help ward off this disease.
The back half of #15 left as an un-aerified check plot.