Friday, December 26, 2014

A Nice Edge

As most golfers know, walking or driving across frosted grass can cause some serious turf injury.  So, what does the crew work on when we have frost delays in the morning?

One of the projects we address is edging cart paths.  During the growing season, this task often gets shifted down the priority list.  While we don't have paths from tee to green, there are still 3.4 miles of paths to be edged.  And with two sides to a path, that's a lot of edging to be done!

The crew has done a great job on this project over the fall, and the end is in sight.
Looking back towards #6 tee.

Paths nicely edged at #4 green.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Great Deal

People involved in the golf course industry joke that when you add the word "golf" to a piece of maintenance equipment, you should also add a "0" to the price.  Unfortunately, this is often a bit too close to the truth.  Many of the mowing units we use are quite specialized and need to perform with surgical precision--adjustments to the mowing height of a greens mower are made in thousandths of an inch.

Another specialty golf item is the hover mower.  While we don't use these every day like a greens mower, this piece of equipment works very well for mowing steep areas such as bunker faces.  Our oldest hover mowers have seen better days, and were in need of replacement. 

Again, if you look into the cost of these, you'll find that they are pretty expensive--maybe not quite what you'd expect to pay for Bubba's hovercraft golf cart, but more than you'd think a small trim mower would cost.

Fortunately, thanks to the keen eyes of our mechanic, Joseph Ferman, we were recently able to upgrade our hover mowers at a bargain price.  Joseph regularly checks the used equipment section on TurfNet, a company which helps golf courses in many areas, including the buying and selling of used equipment.

As luck would have it, a Club in our region had decided to go with a different type of mowing equipment for their course, and no longer needed their hover mowers.  They posted these for sale on TurfNet, and it was a match made in heaven.
While we weren't originally looking at a fleet of hover mowers, this was a deal just too good to pass up, so we acquired six of them, all of which are in great shape.   Thanks to TurfNet and Joseph for helping us throughout the year!

Friday, December 12, 2014

More Drainage

The focus on drainage continues as we dug into the front of #18 green this past week.  While several of the projects we have planned for the winter will be quite visible in the spring, hopefully these green drainage improvements won't be one of them. 

That is, when corrected, it's unlikely that a former drainage issue on a green will be at the forefront of your mind.  Nobody's going to be standing on the greens during a rain storm just waiting to see if a puddle forms, or not.  Lets face it, when drainage works correctly, we often take it for granted.  Just as in your home, only when there's a problem with a drain do we realize how important it is.
Installing a new drain along the front of #18 green.
On #18, in addition to improving the drainage from under the green, we also did some work on the surface.  Once the sod was stripped, we shaved off an additional 1/2" of material from beneath, which was enough to allow water to run off the surface as it originally did.

Another nice repair job by the guys.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Greens Drainage

During the past couple of years we've seen areas of several greens fail to drain as they should.  Standing water on the surface, accompanied by saturated soils don't make a good growing environment for turf that's mowed daily throughout the golf season at 0.10".

Uncovering the cause of the drainage problem and the best solution often requires some "exploratory surgery"...also known as digging.  We decided to tackle one of the worst areas this week, and dove right in on #9 green.  After removing several tons of material, we found that the green's internal drainage  appeared to be fine, and it was the exit point that had become compromised.  That is, water was draining through the green's mix to the gravel layer below, but the water was unable to leave the green.
Creating a new "smile" drain at the bottom of #9 green.
With the changing elevation from turf to bunker to pond, and several obstacles to cross (such as drain lines in the bunker and irrigation lines in the turf), we opted to dig the new drain line by hand.  When the new line was opened, thousands of gallons of water that had been trapped under the green came pouring out.
Water comes streaming out from beneath the green.
New perforated pipe and pea gravel were installed, and despite some challenging weather conditions, the guys did a great job cleaning the area when finished.  The end result should be some much healthier turf in this area next spring. 
Good to see no standing water on the green after rain on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Why No Carts?

When the temperatures fall, conditions on the golf course can be somewhat deceptive.  For example, on Wednesday we received 1.35" of precipitation, or over 36,600 gallons of water on each and every acre of the course. 

As temperatures dropped below freezing, much of that moisture was trapped in the upper part of the soil profile.  Thus, if you ventured on the course Thursday or Friday morning, the frozen conditions made it appear to be much firmer (less wet) than it really was. 
Water was still running down cart paths Friday morning.
On days like this, what appears to be fine conditions in the morning, will often turn into messy conditions in the afternoon as the surface thaws.  The damage to the turf that takes place at this time of year from cart traffic is of particular concern as the plant is dormant and unable to grow out of it.
Cart traffic on wet turf can cause damage to both the foliage and roots.


Friday, November 21, 2014

#3 Tee Update

With several golf events taking place in September, we weren't able to re-grade and seed #3 tee until the beginning of October.  While this was about one month later than what is considered the ideal time for seeding, the tee has filled in nicely, and should be in good shape next spring. 

Interestingly, the one area that we will need to address over the winter is the perimeter of the tee, which we sodded after the tee was re-graded.  So, what happened to some of the sod?

As most people know, the usual concern with sod is making sure it doesn't dry out.  With cool temperatures the first week in October, and the pallet of sod stored in the shade, we really didn't need to worry about the sod drying prior to being installed.  Apparently, however, the conditions were perfect for the sod to actually start to decompose as it was rolled up.  When we picked it up from the pallet, there was no doubt that an exothermic reaction was taking place, as the sod was almost too hot to handle.

Fortunately, only a small amount of sod will need to be replaced.  With some other winter projects requiring sod, we will be sure to get a little extra to clean up the edge of the tee and have it looking good for the 2015 golf season.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Shifting Gears

The irrigation system will be winterized this week, and that always marks a significant change for the crew on the golf course.  With most of the leaves finished falling and a frigid forecast, mowing will now take a back seat to some project work. 

One of our favorite projects to tackle is drainage, and the fairway drainage we've installed over the years has been a tremendous help in several ways.  Thanks to these drain lines, we can allow carts out more quickly after rain events, get the fairways mowed without causing damage, and improve playability of these areas by having  them dry faster.

A drain line was installed in the swale on #4 approach several years ago, and as a warm up for some bigger drainage projects this winter, this week we added a couple of new laterals to this existing line.

Additional drain lines being installed on #4.

Friday, November 7, 2014

#7--A Bellwether of the Weather

While September was relatively dry, we've certainly had a good amount of precipitation since then.  From October 1 through November 6, we received 5.35" of rain.

Around the golf course, some of the ponds slowly lose water into the ground, while others have springs feeding them, which keeps their water levels at capacity even under the driest conditions.  However, #7 pond falls somewhere in between these two extremes. 

When overall conditions are wet, #7 remains full, but during dry periods the water level will drop.  After being about six to eight inches below the overflow level for the past few months, this pond is back to capacity, and given all of the recent rain, will remain that way for some time to come.

So for a good idea of how the weather has been lately, you can always just take a quick look at #7.
#7, back to capacity.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Earthworms—Friend or Foe?

Compared to the long-term average, September was relatively dry, with only 1.70" of rain.  However, from October 15-23, the golf course received over 2.20" of precipitation.  These soaking rains were welcomed, however along with the saturated soils came the appearance of worm castings on the tees and fairways.

Earthworms act as nature’s aerifiers, providing a service by creating pore space for air, water, and plant roots, as well as increasing the microbial population in the soil they process. How important are earthworms to healthy soil? To quote Charles Darwin: " may be doubted if there are any other animals which have played such an important part in the history of the world as these lowly organized creatures."

So why wouldn’t we be happy with the help in creating pore space in the soil?  Well, the work they do below ground is fine, but the downside to having earthworms on a golf course is that when they expel soil on the surface, it leaves little hills, like miniature volcanoes.  At best, these piles can be dragged or broomed off when thoroughly dry.  However, when we have moisture in the air, these piles stay wet.  Dragging them turns them to mud.  Left alone, the piles get squished by carts and mowers leaving mud spots about the size of a quarter.
Earthworm castings on #16 tee.

At some golf courses, especially in the UK, this is an ongoing problem.  Numerous strategies have been employed where worms have created such a problem. As there are no products labeled for the control of earthworms, some people have tried spraying mild soap solutions in hopes of irritating the worms and discouraging their surface activities.  Others have used an aggressive topdressing program of straight sand to create a surface that, like the greens, is abrasive and uncomfortable for the worms. Fortunately for us, it is only during unusually wet periods that we have to deal with the mud piles.  

There is some debate over why the worms come to the surface when conditions are wet.  One theory is that there is a lack of oxygen in the soil, and the worms need to come up for air.  A second possibility is that the worms can obviously move from one location to another more easily above ground than underneath, and that when conditions are wet, they can retain their moisture and safely move across the surface.
A final thought about the earthworm population to contemplate: Some scientists calculate that in the soil of a dairy farm, per acre, the total weight of all of the earthworms that live underground exceeds the weight of the cattle grazing above ground—it’s a wonder we don’t feel the earth moving beneath our feet.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Tee Time Two

While certain areas of the tees have become unlevel due to divot filling and settling, we've also lost teeing ground from mowing patterns changing over the years.

In order to bring them back to useable teeing space, some of these spots may need to be re-sodded.  However, other areas are still completely Bentgrass, and can easily be reclaimed by mowing them down to tee height.

So if you see an area that looks like it got scalped by a mower, it doesn't necessarily mean that the operator fell asleep at the wheel.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tee Time

With more and more balls being hit from the practice tee, there is no such thing as too much teeing ground to have available for use.  This week, we expanded the tee in a couple of spots, in order to have a bit more area to use next year.
Prepping the area along the right side of the upper tee.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Member Survey

How are you feeling about the golf course?  Are there things you like, but other areas which you feel need improvement?  Your golfing experience is a top priority, and we are always working to make it better.

During the next few weeks Laurel Creek will be conducting an in-depth survey which covers all areas of the Club.  Please be sure to share your thoughts and opinions about your golf course, as this survey provides a great opportunity for you to let us know how we can make your time on the course even better. 

Use the survey to let us know how you really feel!


Friday, October 3, 2014

On the Level

After 25 years of filling divots, the large tee on #3 had developed quite a hump in the middle of it.  It may be hard to believe, but from one small scoop of divot mix at a time, there was actually a 4" rise and fall in the area of the Medal tee monument!
The hump on #3 tee could be seen from the cart path below.

Clearly it was time to re-level this tee.  This week, we stripped the existing sod from the tee, then aerified multiple times to loosen the mix.
Prepping the surface for re-grading.

We then had a contractor come in with a laser level grading box.  Once the material was redistributed, the perimeter of the tee was sodded, and then it was time for seeding.

The tractor mounted grading box.
By next spring, we will be able to put the newly leveled tee to use.  For the remainder of the season, we will be using the alternate left tee, and the forward tee on #3.  Please take care to walk around the seeded tee, and not across it.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tournament Preparation Time

What's easier for a course to host, a US Open or a PGA Championship?  Well, this is something of a trick question, as hosting any major championship takes many years of planning and preparation, and could never be considered easy in any way.

However, there is one advantage that the grounds crew and dozens of volunteers have at a US Open when compared to a PGA Championship:  Daylight.  If you look at the hours of daylight we have to work with, you'll find that there is over 1 1/2 additional hours of light in the third week of June than in the second week of August.
Three hand mowers cutting #9 green and collar, pre-dawn.

While we're not hosting a major at Laurel Creek, we too face "lack of light" challenges in preparing the golf course for certain events.  In June, we can easily see at 5:00 in the morning.  By the time we get to September it's a very different story, where even a much later 6:00 start for the crew, will require the use of lights.

This time of year, when play starts from the first tee only, or even off #1 and #10, we can usually stay ahead of play without any issues.  But for an event with a shotgun start, such as the Member-Member, it just wouldn't be possible to have all areas of the course cut and blown by 8:15 AM.  So, on these occasions, the grounds crew will work a split shift, cutting the tees and fairways in the evening, and then focusing on greens and bunkers the next morning, prior to play.

We're fortunate to have a group of dedicated, hard-working individuals who will do whatever it takes to get the course in great shape for our members.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Precipitation has been well below average recently, and even with cooler temperatures and less daylight this time of year, you can still see dormant turfgrass on lawns that aren't receiving supplemental irrigation.  So, when you see some rough that's off-color, is it just dry?
Rough on the left of #16.
 Well, we've often said that a lack of moisture is only one reason turf may be brown.  Other reasons could be temperature-related dormancy, disease, or insect damage.  A tug on the grass, in the area shown above, quickly reveals that the cause of the problem is grub activity.
If the turf peels back like a rug, look for grubs.
The preventative application for white grubs was made over two months ago, and there are several possible reasons why we may not always achieve 100% control.  These include a sprayer missing an area, excessive thatch, timing of the application, or a lack of timely rainfall/irrigation to move the product into the soil.

Fortunately, we're only seeing grub activity in small, isolated areas.  With a 238 acre golf course, we won't complain about having to make a follow-up treatment on a couple of spots the size of a dining room table.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


If a picture is worth one thousand words, these photos have a lot to say:
#15 green.

#16 green.
These were taken on August 5 and September 5, and both were within a few feet of the flagstick.  Some words that come to mind:  Disturbing, upsetting, and inconsiderate.

We all know that the game of golf can be frustrating, but taking divots out of a green isn't the answer. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Waging a War on Weevils

Just as we enter the time of year when the turf should be able to recover, we were hit with another wave of Annual Bluegrass Weevil activity.  While they may be tiny, these guys can really cause some damage, particularly to the collars.
Thinning of the collar caused by weevil larvae.

  A control spray was applied on Tuesday, and many of the little guys raised the white flag.
Annual Bluegrass Weevil larvae.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Guess Who's Celebrating a Birthday?

It's hard to believe, but Labor Day weekend marks 25 years since the first holes at Laurel Creek were completed.  #6 and #13 (or #15 and #4 as they were known then) were the first greens seeded.
#13 green, now 25 years old.

And as we celebrate Labor Day, consider the amount of labor that went into building the golf course.  1.3 million cubic yards of material were moved during construction.  That may be a difficult number to visualize, so try thinking of it this way.  1.3 million cubic yards would equal a wall of dirt with these dimensions:  3' high x 3' wide x 739 miles long!

Friday, August 22, 2014

60 Second Soil

After several long days, the fairway aerification process is now complete.  We often say that the actual aerification is the easy part--it's the cleanup that takes so much time and effort.

The first trick after the cores are pulled is to time the processing of them just right.  Dave Oatis, Director of the Northeast Region of the USGA Green Section, once commented that we have "60 second soil."  He was referring to the very narrow window of opportunity when aerification plugs are neither too wet nor too dry.  If we start working the fairway a bit soon, we end up with mud, mashed into the turf.  However, if we're a minute too late, the plugs dry into something you could make pottery out of, and won't break up.

Aerification plugs on #1 fairway, starting to dry.

Not surprisingly, the amount of time it takes for the cores to dry will vary greatly, based on the time of day, and weather conditions.   As they lose moisture, they lighten in color, and we prepare for the processing phase of the operation.  For this, we use an old fairway mower equipped with verticut units, which chop the plugs.  The machine also tows a heavy drag mat, that further separates the soil from the thatch.

Mike is processing cores on #18 fairway. 

 After dragging, the thatch is picked up and hauled away.  The final step is blowing, using both a tractor-mounted blower, and several backpack blowers.  This part of the process is very labor-intensive, but the end result is a clean fairway which will heal quickly.

Thatch removal and blowing on #18.
#18 fairway the day after aerification.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Greens Aerification

The greens were aerified on Monday using 1/2" tines.  This is a slightly larger tine size than we've used the past few times, therefore the healing process will be a bit longer.  However, by going with this bigger tine now, we will not need to do another aerification until next year. 

In order to fill the holes, an average of 7,000 pounds of sand was used per green.  Some timely rain during the week has done a nice job of working this into the turf canopy, and cool nights will aid in the healing process.
A good dew pattern in the morning is a sign of healthy turf, on the road to recovery from aerification.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Thanks, George

Last week, one of our long time employees, George Raff, passed away.  George worked the past 14 years at Laurel Creek. 

During the growing season, George's primary job was mowing rough.  In that capacity,  George operated our largest and loudest piece of mowing equipment.  Yet, in all of the years he worked here, we never received a single complaint that he was disturbing anyone during their round.

If you think back, and can't really recall seeing George mowing the rough, he would undoubtedly be proud.  George knew what areas grow faster than others, and how to avoid play while still being productive. 

He truly did an amazing job of reducing the amount of hand work that needs to be done thanks to his ability to operate the mower with surgical precision.  By efficiently managing his time, and being able to work unsupervised, George was a tremendous asset to the Club, and from both a personal and professional level, he will be sorely missed.

George possessed a rare combination of great work ethic, dedication and professionalism.  For all you gave to the Club, George, we say, "Thank you."

George, striping the left side of #1.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Low Maintenance?

Over the last several years, many golf courses have established "no mow" naturalized areas in an effort to reduce expenses, as well as to increase the environmental benefits a golf course can have.  Having wrestled with issues in our Fescue areas for years, I would say that the question as to whether or not these areas can achieve both of these goals is certainly debatable.

With regard to naturalized areas being "low maintenance," it sure doesn't seem like it.  Weeds are an on-going battle in these areas, and have to be dealt with throughout the growing season.  In the picture below, there are four different weeds amidst the Fescue. 

For each of these, a different selective herbicide would be used to control the undesirable plant.  With the weeds being scattered throughout the area, it would be wasteful to make a blanket application of herbicides.  Therefore, we may need to make four separate applications, each targeting a specific kind of weed.

These applications will have to be made with anything from a one quart spray bottle, to a mop, to a hose and nozzle.  Sound labor intensive?  It is.

You may wonder why we don't just drive through the areas with a sprayer and use a boom for the application.  In the summer, driving through these areas will have a lasting impact--and not a good one.  Not only will driving crush the Fescue seedheads, but it can actually kill the Fescue we're trying to grow.  Secondly, as mentioned above, the weeds are scattered, thus making an application with a boom type sprayer will waste material, and unnecessarily use herbicide.

This sounds like a lot of time and effort.  How does it compare to the "higher maintenance" Bluegrass Rough?  Well, the Bluegrass does have to be cut one or two times per week.  However, this task can be handled by one person. 

As far as weed issues, in contrast to the Fescue, the vast majority of the golf course's Bluegrass Rough requires no post-emergent herbicide treatment throughout the entire year.

So, do these naturalized areas live up to the name "low maintenance," and are they environmentally better than an area that gets mown on a regular basis?  Despite the need for frequent weed treatment, these areas do provide excellent habitat for wildlife, and slow run-off even more than closely mown turf.  

However, from our experience, the low maintenance moniker for naturalized areas gets a thumbs down.  At the end of the day, if given a choice of which turf to maintain, the Bluegrass Rough is much easier, and in many ways, it is actually the lower maintenance area.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Practice Tee

With less than one week remaining in July, it's fair to say that the practice tees are in the best shape we've seen in years.  The photos below show a significant difference from 2011 to 2014.  While this summer's weather has certainly helped, there are several other factors  that have contributed to the improvement.

Clearly the conversion of the lower tee to Bermudagrass has been one of the keys to better conditions in the middle of the summer.  While it may be slow to get going in the spring, the Bermudagrass thrives in the heat.

However, we've also made several changes to the upper tee as well.  The procedures of setting up and rotating the stations which were implemented over the past couple of years have made a tremendous difference.  With these policies in place, we are now able to give an area ample time to grow in before using it again.

We also continue to tweak the protocol we use on divoted areas.  This includes changes in seed rates, fertility, aerification, and hand watering. 

So as we prepare for August, we're happy to say that there is plenty of good grass to hit from. 
Upper Tee July, 2011


Upper Tee July, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Good Plant Gone Bad

Shortly after Laurel Creek was built, a number of different ornamental grasses were planted to add some variety to the Fescue, as well as to help frame bunkers, tees, and green complexes.  Many of these have done well over the years, and require only an annual cutting in late fall. 

However, one of the ornamentals, Fountain Grass, has gone from a welcomed variety, to one that has taken over areas.  While this may not be an issue around a tee complex (such as on #7), a dense stand of Fountain Grass found on an in-play area of the course will be a problem.  If you ever flew the green on #6, you'd be much better off landing in one of the two bunkers than in the Fountain Grass that surrounds them. 

In addition to being a nasty grass to play from, Fountain Grass has the ability to persist when cut at our rough height.  This too is undesirable, as it is clumpy and coarse-textured.

In an effort to prevent Fountain Grass from becoming a bigger problem, we're aggressively trying to control some of the existing plants through the use of a selective herbicide.  Individual plants are being targeted using a hand held spray bottle.
Above, Fountain Grass plants in decline after being treated.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pampering Poa

When you mow a Poa Annua putting surface seven times per week (actually 10, if you include days we double mow) at a height of 1/10th of an inch, perhaps pampered isn't the correct term for how the greens are treated.  However, if you look at what's required to get them through the dog days of summer, Poa Annua is a bit more needy than Bentgrass.

There are several reasons why Poa has to be watched closely, and one of the key factors is the root system...or lack thereof.  When compared to Creeping Bentgrass, Poa has a fraction of the roots. 

Last week, we had days with evapotranspiration rates of .25-.30".  That's a lot of moisture being lost, and Poa's short root system limits the area from which the plant can draw water to replace what it's using. 
The Poa sample at the top has approximately 1/2 the root length of the Bentgrass sample beneath.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Localized Dry Spots

Wednesday night we received 1.75" of rain, or over 47,000 gallons of water on every acre of the golf course.  With that much water, you might not expect to find any dry areas Thursday morning.  However, a fast moving storm's heavy downpour often does little more than refill the lakes, because much of the water runs off.
A bone dry soil plug right next to a moist one.

During extended dry periods, the fairways can become hydrophobic (water repellent), and it takes much more than a thunderstorm to rewet the soil.  These dry patches are often referred to as "localized dry spots" since they may be surrounded by soil with good moisture levels.

With the hot weather this week, we had an army of workers dragging hoses, hand watering stressed turf.  So, if you see us watering areas even after it rained, localized dry spots may be the reason why.
While these localized dry spots occurred on a mound, they often appear in flat areas as well.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Healthy Greens

Take a look at the picture below, and note the lines from the greens aerification two weeks ago.  The happiest, healthiest grass on the greens right now is growing in these holes.  The aerification has increased pore space, improved gas exchange in the soil profile, and decreased compaction.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Magic Magnet?

At the annual Golf Industry Show, there are always a number of new products on display.  One that caught our eye this year was a magnet used for hand-watering. 

Here's what the manufacturer claims the in-line magnet does:

* Increased water infiltration and moisture retention in soil due to washing out of salts by 300%
* Reverse scale in irrigation pipes & sprinklers without chemicals or acid wash
* Less chemicals due to increased solubility and disolveability
* Soften water without chemicals, energy, or maintenance
* Realign and restore soil pH towards neutral
* Increased water flow with same pressure
* Increased fertilizer and input efficiency
* Improved color and uniformity
* 10-30% less water
* 10% less energy
* Healthier turf

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?  Well, we weren't quite ready to purchase a whole set of these, but after speaking to some folks who have used these magnets, we went ahead and acquired one.  Our head hand watering expert, Joe Honnig, is putting it to the test this summer.  Based on his initial observations, Joe is a believer that the magnet is helping to achieve improved water infiltration in the soil.
We're looking to do some more testing, using water treated by the magnet, next to an area with untreated water, and we'll pass along the results.  If the product truly lives up to its claims, we'll definitely purchase more hose-end magnets, and possibly consider installing much larger in-line magnets in the irrigation pumping stations. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Awesome Aerifier

While the weather was less than perfect for this week's greens aerification, our new aerifier couldn't have performed better.  This machine has several advantages over our older aerifiers, including a wider swath with each pass and faster ground speed, leading to greater productivity.  The machine also created a cleaner hole with no heaving of the turf.  Lastly, unlike most aerifiers, our new one has the wheels set inside the width of the coring head, so the plugs don't get smashed into the turf as you turn and come back for the next pass across the green.
The new aerifier quickly traverses across #1 green.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

It's Back

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.  With diseases that attack the roots, by the time you see it on the foliage, the damage is done. 

Because we've had this disease show up to some extent each spring, we took a preventive approach to controlling it by making some applications of Manganese earlier in the year to areas where we typically see damage.  Unfortunately, we have seen little difference in the treated areas from untreated check plots.

The good news is that while Take-All Patch may temporarily discolor the turf, it rarely lives up to its name.  Like most turf diseases, it operates in a relatively narrow temperature range--once we get into warmer summertime temperatures, Take-All is no longer active.  Going forward, we will look at other treatment options, including the use of fungicides to prevent this disease from occurring.
A patch of Take-All Patch on #5 tee.