Thursday, May 30, 2013

Brown Means Dry?

There are currently some patches of discolored Bentgrass on the tees and fairways.  So, does that mean the soil is dry?  While off-color turf certainly may be dry, there are several other possible causes as well.  This would include dormancy, insect damage, or a turf disease. 

This last option is the cause of what we're presently seeing on the Bentgrass.  Specifically, this is a root-borne pathogen called Take-All Patch.  While we've had this disease show up to some extent each spring, this year there appears to be a larger area affected than in the past.  As with most turf diseases, Take-All Patch thrives in a relatively narrow temperature range--when it's really cold or really hot, you typically won't see any damage.  The most likely reason for greater disease activity this year is the prolonged period of below average soil temperatures we've experienced this spring. 

The good news is that while Take-All Patch may temporarily discolor the turf, it rarely lives up to its name.

Discolored turf caused by cool and moist soil conditions, not hot and dry.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Slow to Grow

The below average temperatures have made for good grass growing weather this spring.  However, we do have one area that needs some heat:  the lower practice tee. 

With many nights in the 40's this past month, the warm-season Bermudagrass is taking its time greening up.  Fortunately, changes in the maintenance and setup of the upper tee have allowed members to hit from this area for almost two straight months, with plenty of good grass remaining.

Although the Memorial Day weekend weather isn't going to feel like the unofficial start of summer, we expect to be able to start using the lower tee next week.
Cold temperatures have made for some slow growing Bermudagrass on the lower tee.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Toll of Traffic

One of the more challenging parts of the golf course to maintain are the approaches to the greens.  The mowers and rollers turn here coming off the greens, and the fairway mowers have to turn here as they near the green.  This spring, with below average temperatures, the Bentgrass has been slow to grow, leading to longer than normal recovery from traffic injury.

Interestingly, Merion's Director of Golf Course Operations, Matt Schaffer, indicated that because of the compaction they experience, the approaches were the one area that would be core aerified this spring, prior to The US Open.

Even with smooth tires, equipment causes wear and tear on the turf.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Yet More Bunker News

Last week was supposed to be the final post discussing bunkers, but we had heavy showers on both Wednesday and Thursday of this week.  So, what does a rainstorm have to do with bunkers, you ask?

Well, as previously mentioned, one of the benefits of the porous asphalt we used to line #7's bunker, is that the coarse texture of the asphalt helps to keep the sand from moving during heavy rains.  Thursday morning, everyone was asking, "How did #7 hold up?"

In a word, the answer is great!  An inspection of the bunker following Thursday morning's storm revealed no sand movement at all.  Granted, we had one inch of rain between Wednesday and Thursday morning, not a true "gully washer."  But are the results good thus far?  Definitely.
It looks so good, you almost want to land in it...well, almost.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Bored by Bunkers?

Well, we're not exactly bored with bunker work, but as we enter May and the grass is finally growing, it's time to take a break from the project work we've been focused on. 

However, one last project that we felt had to get done was cleaning out the practice bunker at the range.  With many a ball having been hit out of here each year, we were finding that drain stone had been exposed and contaminated the sand.  In relatively short order, the guys removed the old sand, cleaned the edges of the bunker, checked the drainage, and installed new sand.
New sand being installed at the driving range.