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.