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.