Sunday, July 31, 2016

Big Time Busy

This time of year always has its challenges--the weather is more unpredictable than ever, turf roots are dwindling, and we are trying to prepare for August's aerification.

In addition to this, the implementation of the Golf Course  Master Plan commenced this past week, with work starting on #8 green complex, and mounding on #15 landing area.  As luck would have it, as soon as construction started, so did the rain, with the golf course receiving 3.4" of rain from Tuesday through Friday (and additional rain on Saturday and Sunday).

Despite the uncooperative weather, the team from Mottin Golf made great progress on the bunker complex around #8 green, as well as the mounding on #15.  Barring any further issues this coming week, these two areas will be completed.

Some photos showing the quick transition on #8:
Monday morning, architect Andrew Green looks on as the work commences.
By Monday afternoon things had changed dramatically.
Thursday afternoon and the shaping was nearly complete.

As the Master Plan shows, on #8 green, one of the major changes is eliminating the large bunker left of the green which rarely came into play.  The new green complex will still have three bunkers, and although they are much smaller in square footage than the old bunkers, their proximity to the green will likely make them every bit as challenging to avoid.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hot, Hot, Hot!

When you are already at the hottest week of the year, and then see temperatures forecast to be 10 degrees above average, you know it's going to be a tough time for the turf.  Our weather station told the tale on Saturday, as we hit 97 degrees:

Rain can certainly not be counted on either.  A few storms looked like they were heading for the course, then the mysterious invisible dome repelled them, and they missed us to the south.
Looks like the rain is heading our way...
...but no, it slid right by us.

When temperatures are this hot, root growth in cool season turf will be virtually non-existent, and the best we can do is try to maintain the existing root system.  In a "normal" year, we see the greatest root growth in the spring, followed by a decline in the summer.  It seems quite likely that this July will accelerate that root loss.
Nothing lasts forever, and undoubtedly this nasty weather will end eventually.  In the meantime, we're going to batten down the hatches, and will do what's necessary to protect the course.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Quick Payback

In a post earlier this year, Quick Coupler Install, we discussed the installation of dozens of quick coupler valves as one of our winter projects.  Right now, winter seems like a distant memory, however this is the time when we are reaping the rewards of this work.
Team member, Joe Kringler, gives the new quick couplers a thumbs-up.
So far this summer the crew has spent three hundred man hours hand watering fairways.  As we had hoped, the installation of these valves has allowed the time to be spent much more efficiently than in the past, as sprinklers no longer need to be disassembled and then reassembled after use.  In addition to being able to spend more time actually watering, the new quick coupler valves have also dramatically reduced issues we would see when sprinklers were being taken apart repeatedly.
No longer do we have to mess with the many parts of a sprinkler.

Once the quick coupler valve is located, just remove the lid, stick the quick coupler key into the valve and give it a turn--instant water.

Having installed the valves in 10" boxes, they're easy to find.  However, we also created a guide using aerial photographs of the course to help the crew locate them in a hurry.  As the quick couplers are next to sprinklers, the yardage is noted on the picture.

Had this been a summer when little hand-watering was required, it wouldn't have broken anyone's heart not having to put these quick coupler valves to use.  However, it's not often that occurs, and as the Sun now beats down, it's good to know that we can quickly provide some relief to the stressed turf.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Riding the Roller Coaster

We're approaching mid-July, and as always seems to be the case, it feels like we're on the weather roller coaster ride!  We received close to 8" of rain in May, followed by less than 2" in June; and as of July 10, we have already gotten 3.5" of rain this month.

One of the most challenging aspects of water management at this time of year is dealing with the uncertainty which comes with the typical heat, high humidity, and pop-up thunderstorms.  We often see storms split around Philadelphia, missing us to the north and south as they cross the Delaware River.  However, on Friday evening, the golf course got dumped on, while some surrounding neighborhoods experienced only light showers.

The rainfall total Friday was 2.4", or 65,000 gallons of water per acre.  Looking at the bunkers on Saturday morning, it was clear that the velocity of this heavy rain was way too fast to infiltrate the soil.  Instead, most of it quickly ran off, causing significant damage to these hazards.

Many hands may not have made for light work, but the team did a great job trying to get the sand back in place.

In addition to what we saw in the bunkers on Saturday, pulling a couple of plugs on #9 fairway confirmed that the quick-hitting storm did little to wet the soil profile, leaving many localized dry spots.

Obviously, water is just one piece of the puzzle in maintaining the course now.  The extreme temperature swings make for another gut-wrenching part of the ride, which certainly keeps grass growing interesting in this region!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

(Finally) Turning the Corner on Take-All

With June now in the rear view mirror, it looks like we've finally seen improvement and recovery in areas affected by Take-All patch this spring.

Below is a picture of #7 approach taken on May 26.  The turf has significant thinning and discoloration from the disease:

Here is the same area on June 29.  While a small amount of scarring remains, the Bentgrass has improved greatly:

Of course, while Take-All may now be less of an issue, there's no doubt that Mother Nature will have some other surprises for us as we enter July.

8" of rain in May, followed by under 2" in June--who knows what the rest of the summer has in store for us!