Friday, September 25, 2015

The Dark and the Light

For those who work on the golf course maintenance staff, the hours can be long and tiring.  To stay ahead of play we start before first light each morning. 

In an effort to help the crew do their job safely when it's still dark out, we made a recent purchase.

While rising before the rooster may not always be the most fun, there are many aspects of the job that are rewarding and make it all worthwhile.  Witnessing scenes like this is a privilege we never take for granted.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Weary of Weevils

Over the past several years, the Annual Bluegrass Weevil has become the toughest insect we have to battle on the golf course.  With a high percentage of Poa on the greens, we are constantly monitoring for weevils, particularly in the collars.  There are a number of generations of weevils throughout the growing season, and it often feels as if the war on weevils will never end.

As the name implies, these weevils prefer Poa Annua over Bentgrass.  However, as a person might prefer filet over hamburger, when there's nothing else to munch on, the weevils will cause damage to Bentgrass. 

We've heard about this for some time, and have seen pictures of Bent injury, but this week was the first time we've experienced it at Laurel Creek.  With little Poa in the fairways, they have gone after Bentgrass.

While the turf in the picture below may not exactly look devastated, close inspection of the flagged mound shows signs of thinning.

Digging into the turf, the cause of the trouble is found--weevil larvae.

We pulled several plugs and placed them in a salt solution, causing the larvae to leave the turf and float to the surface.  This area had close to 100 larvae per square foot.  Bentgrass is much more tolerant of weevil activity than Poa, and we certainly don't anticipate any widespread damage at this time of the year.  However, going forward, we know we'll have to keep a watchful eye on the tees and fairways for wicked weevils. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Holy Hydrophobic!

It often surprises people to see us hand watering following a rain event.  Last Thursday, after three plus weeks of no precipitation, we received 1.75" of rain over a 24 hour period.  Unlike thunderstorms, where much of the water runs off, you might think that Thursday's slow rain would have evenly soaked the soil profile.

However, after this extended dry period, areas often become hydrophobic.  Literally, this means water-fearing.  But in turf terms, when we say hydrophobic, we are referring to soils which are water repellent.  If you've ever let a house plant dry too much, you've likely witnessed water running off, instead of soaking in.

The picture below is from #7 approach after Thursday's rain.  That is still some very hard, dry, crumbly soil!

The next time you see us watering after rain, you'll know why.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Still Hot and Dry

The timing of our late summer aerification typically coincides with a shift in the weather, going from hot, dry summertime conditions, to cooler temperatures and beneficial rainfall.  Clearly, somebody forgot to make Mother Nature aware of this, as she has yet to turn the page.

We have always said that it takes one good rainfall to help the course completely heal from aerification.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen this year.  As of last Wednesday, we were over 3.5" behind in precipitation for the past 60 days.  Given this lack of rain, we have relied almost exclusively on the irrigation system to provide the water the "patient" requires following major surgery.  Over 800 man hours have been dedicated to hand watering fairways this season, as a supplement to the irrigation system sprinklers.  Yet, with no rain, it's been a battle trying to maintain moisture at a uniform level, which will help the turf recover most quickly.
An unirrigated section of the course.

The second blow from this one-two punch has been the excessive heat.  Last week, we enjoyed heat wave number five, and this week we may be dealing with number six.  For the first time in 42 years, September started with four days in the 90s.  Again, this has proved to slow recovery from aerification and lead us to irrigate more than we typically would under normal growing conditions this time of year.
Our on site weather station's recording last Wednesday.

With cooler temperatures and timely rainfall, late summer and early fall often allow us to provide some of the best playing conditions of the year--firm and fast.  Undoubtedly, we will get there...just not as quickly as we'd like.