Friday, March 27, 2015

Practice Tee Expansion

When the weather finally breaks and you make it out to the course, one of the improvements you'll see is the expansion of the upper practice tee.  By having a retaining wall installed at the front of the tee, additional teeing ground was created.
We have sodded this area to one of the new, cold tolerant, Bermudagrass varieties, Latitude 36.  As we've seen on the lower practice tee, the Bermudagrass thrives in the heat.  With a quick recovery when it's hot, this will now allow more use of the upper tee during the summer months.
The crew is finishing some sod work on the front of the upper tee.


Friday, March 20, 2015

How Parts of a Green Spent This Winter May Influence Spring Growth

Golf course superintendents often discourage golfers from making comparisons between courses for a number of reasons.  Although two golf courses could be only a few miles apart, they may deal with many different factors including the number of rounds, variety of grasses they're managing, and growing conditions, such as the amount of sunlight, air movement, soil types, etc.

To take this a step further, even within an individual golf course, conditions can vary greatly.  People use the term "micro-climate" to describe a particular area which may differ from the rest of the course.  At Laurel Creek, #8 and #15 greens are a great example of this.  Although they are only 500' apart, the growing conditions are vastly different, with #15 receiving full sunlight and great air movement, while #8 sits down in a hole, and is consistently much hotter in the summer.

You might think that this is the level where varying growing conditions end.  However, as we come out of this winter, we're actually seeing a good deal of differences even within individual greens. 

So, why would the growing environment change from one part of a green to another?  Well, in the winter, a higher, mounded part of a green may lose its snow cover, and be subjected to more wind and desiccation.  A low swale in a green, might have been protected from these winds and be in better shape having spent much of the winter under a nice blanket of snow. 

However, in another scenario, over the winter some of these low areas of greens may have had the snow cover melt while the ground beneath was frozen.  If this melting water couldn't run off the surface before the next blast of cold weather, it often refroze, creating an ice layer on the surface--and ice is not a good thing for the health of greens in the winter.  In this situation, the low swale may be struggling come springtime.

What does this all mean for Laurel Creek's greens this spring?  While we haven't seen any signs of severe winter damage to the greens, the differing conditions that the putting surfaces had to deal with throughout the long, cold winter probably means we're going to have a brief period where some areas green-up before others.  Once we start seeing some consistent warmer weather, we expect that the turf growth will be more uniform.

Lastly, some have asked when we can expect to see green grass again.  The answer is in the two pictures below:
The top picture shows plugs taken from greens on March 11.  They were placed on a windowsill and wrapped in a moist paper towel.  The bottom picture is the same plugs six days later, on March 17.  So, what do we need for the course to green-up?  It looks like some consistent temperatures in the 60s will do the trick.  However, when we'll actually see those temperatures is the real question at this point.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

What a Mess!

As the snow finally disappears, we're left with a big mess, thanks to the thousands of geese who decided to spend some time on the course this winter.  Unlike the handful of resident geese we see, who try to call this home year around, we were bombarded by a multitude of migratory birds. 

They will scare easily and take flight, but often circle around and land on another part of the course if they can't find someplace more inviting to spend the night.  We saw thousands of these geese this winter, and it seemed that as soon as one flock departed, another group must have seen a "Vacancy" sign, and come in the next day.

The good news is that, unlike in past winters, we've found little evidence of turf damage from the geese munching on the golf course grass.  The bad news is that these thousands of geese apparently were dining elsewhere then using the course as their private restroom.

We've started the cleanup process by focusing on the tees and greens, and are working out from there.  When the material is dry, it can be blown and picked up pretty easily.  Unfortunately, with the snow and rain, the droppings are far from dry, and are not at all easy to clean up.  Depending on what was for dinner, they may break apart, or simply smear like grease.
Goose droppings dot the surface of #13 green.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Waiting for Winter to Wane

The crew is close to completing the annual pruning of the wetlands crossings on the course.  The permit we have for this work mandates the use of hand tools only.  With four acres to trim, the hedge and lopping shears (and the guys' arms) get a good workout.
Finishing the pruning on #14.
Hopefully the completion of this project coincides with the last snow of the season.  We have a good deal of work to complete on the course this spring, and the prolonged period of  frozen, snow covered ground has us longing to see some green grass growing.