Monday, June 29, 2015

Stop Right There!

While the golf course greens are dominated by Poa Annua, we have been able to keep the fairways virtually 100% Bentgrass for over 25 years through the use of a selective post-emergent herbicide (which is not labeled for use on putting greens). 

This year we are using an aggressive plant growth regulator (PGR) on the fairways, which gives Bentgrass a competitive edge over Poa.  This is a different product than the PGR we use on the greens.

In the interface where the greens and fairways meet, we may experience some overlap of fairway and green spray applications.  As you can see in the picture below, the Poa is not a fan of this combination, and will not be able to expand outward from the green complex.
Weakened Poa can be seen in yellow patches.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


When all is said and done, 2015 may end up being an "average year" in terms of weather.  However, it definitely feels like a rollercoaster ride both in terms of temperatures and precipitation thus far.  A quick look at rainfall totals for all of May, and the first three weeks of June, illustrate this:

With a full week left this month, we've already received 4.75 " of rain--that's close to 10X the precipitation we got in all of May.  Dramatic changes like this keep us on our toes, as we have to quickly shift from one type of activity (such as hand watering), to another (such as bunker pumping).

Monday, June 15, 2015

Welcoming Weevils?

For many years we have applied a selective post-emergent herbicide in late fall for the control of Poa Annua on the tees and fairways.   The product has a reputation for being most effective when the weather's bad--basically, the worse the winter, the better this works.  Therefore, given how harsh this past winter was, it was somewhat surprising to find more Poa in the fairways this spring than we've seen in the past. 

There are a few options for controlling Poa in fairways, including the use of other selective herbicides, or plant growth regulators.  But what about trying a biological control?

One of the biggest insect concerns on golf courses in the northeast is the Annual Bluegrass Weevil.  With Poa (Annual Bluegrass)  being the predominant turf species on the greens, we must guard against this damaging insect.  However, on fairways we may welcome weevils as they can potentially help keep the fairways clean of Poa.  

Weevils have damaged the Poa in the fairway. 

Here's the plan:  We spray plant protectants on the greens to prevent weevil damage and do not treat the fairways, allowing the weevils to selectively remove the small amount of Poa we have.

Well, that sure sounds simple and easy.  Here's the catch--while Poa may be the preferred plant for weevils to wreak havoc upon, once the Poa is gone, they don't hop on the bus and head to the course down the street.  So, despite their name, Annual Bluegrass Weevils can damage Creeping Bentgrass.

Thus the plan becomes a bit more complex:  Allow weevils to munch on fairway Poa, but don't let them get so out of  control that they start damaging the Bent.   

In order to do this, we have allowed weevils to work on the Poa in fairways throughout the spring.  The damage to the small amount of Poa we have has been welcomed.

However, now that we're in the summer heat, we don't want weevils adding to the stresses that the Bent turf goes through.  We will now apply a plant protectant to the fairways in order to keep the weevils from working their magic on the Bentgrass.

As the year progresses we'll see if allowing this limited weevil activity truly helped keep Poa out of the fairways, while protecting Creeping Bentgrass.
At only 1/8" in length, the weevil larvae resemble a grain of rice.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Practice Perfectly

With an unlimited supply of balls to hit on the range, there's no doubt that the practice tee takes a beating on a busy day.  Just take a look at a single station after one day:

That's a big area which was impacted, and will take some time to fill in.  So, what's a better way to preserve some grass and allow rapid recovery of the turf?  Check out the picture below:

As you can see, the same number of balls were hit from the three areas, however working an area in a linear manner makes a huge difference when compared to the other options!

Monday, June 1, 2015


The three fans we use on the golf course must be taken in for storage each fall and then hauled back onto the course in the spring.  Previously this was a harrowing and hazardous job, as we swung each fan onto a trailer and then hoisted it up by a chain once out on location.

Fortunately, over the winter, Don Robel came up with a simpler and safer way to transport the fans.  Don fabricated a pair of devices which attach to our front end loader forks.  The fans can now be picked up from their storage pole, and transported securely by one person, without ever touching the ground, or swinging around like a 500 pound pendulum.

Ever looking to improve the operation, Don has already come up with a few modifications for this great device which we'll try when we bring the fans in for storage this fall.