Sunday, July 30, 2017

To mow or not to mow...

...that is the question.  While rainfall is often welcome after a long dry period, the unpredictability of summer storms can lead to some tough choices.

For example, between July 22 and 23, the course received just under 2" of rain.  When we arrived on Monday, July 24, the turf was pretty juicy, and not in the ideal condition for us to be cutting fairways.  However, the weather prognosticators were calling for the possibility of additional storms Monday night.  If that occurred we were looking at going five days between fairway mowings.  This would be messy and have the potential for "scalping" the plant.
Slight mechanical damage can be seen on a fairway following a mowing under wet conditions.

While our focus is primarily on turf being cut as low as 0.10", we often see summertime mowing issues in home lawns as well.  Cutting the lawn when it is under drought stress can really set things back.

Of course, cutting when the backyard is saturated isn't a whole lot better.

As it turned out, while the conditions on Monday were less than ideal for mowing fairways, it was the correct decision.  Monday night, the "hit or miss" storms hit us again, depositing an additional inch of rain on the golf course, and leaving us saturated on Tuesday.

Working around the weather is never dull, and can be frustrating.  This weekend, they were predicting a rare summer nor'easter, and had us on the 2"+ line for rainfall.  Instead, we received 0.2" of rain--only 10% of what was forecast...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Irrigation Intake Screen Install

Last year, we began finding items such as plastic bags (and fish) in one of the pump station's intake wet well.  In the fall, we had a diver inspect the intake pipe screen. What he found during that inspection were some gaping holes in the original metal screen.
The original screen wasn't keeping anything out.

This past Monday, we finally had the intake screen replaced on this station, which is located between #5 and 6.  While the serious work was taking place under the water, we had plenty to keep us occupied on the surface.   
The new stainless steel screen is ready to be installed.

The first step was to remove the build up of silt around the intake pipe using a dredge pump. 
Again, there was a tremendous amount of setup required, including the placement of a "turbidity curtain" in the pond, to prevent cloudy water from getting back to the intake screen area, further hampering visibility. 
The dredge pump is being setup.

The pump's discharge hose, deposited the sediment into a geotextile bag.  The bag initially wanted to slide towards the water, so we placed one wheel of a utility cart on the bag to hold it in place. 
The bag filled up quickly, and it soon became clear that the cart was no match for this bag.

To get the screen in place, lift bags were attached, then it was carried out to a point where it could float.

The screen is being floated out to the end of the intake pipe.

Given the hot temperatures, nobody was complaining about having to go for a dip.  An air hose was connected to a small compressor and the lift bags, giving the diver the ability to adjust the level of the screen as he set it in place, and attached it to the intake pipe.

It was a long, hot day, and after 8:00 p.m. when the install was completed.  However, if it lasts for another 25+ years, it was well worth it!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Some perfect weather...

...for breeding turf problems.  Yes, we finished our fourth heat wave of the year last Thursday with oppressive humidity and some showers.  Although we dodged the heavy rain that neighboring areas received, there was still a whole lot of moisture in the air, which made the golf course a great petri dish for turf diseases.

Fortunately, at this time of year, we make preventative plant protectant applications to most areas of the course, and we saw little active disease.  However, one notable exception to this is the Fine Fescue areas.  While the Fescue definitely require more herbicide applications than any other part of the  course, fungicides applications aren't something we'd typically consider.

If we're looking for a way to keep these areas thin and wispy, then some well-placed Dollar Spot disease might not be a bad thing.

Of course, Mother Nature will rarely do exactly what we would like.  So, while a small amount of Dollar Spot may not be so bad, finding Brown Patch plus Dollar Spot in the Fescue isn't ideal, and may make spots a bit too thin.

We often say that there are no two years alike.  If nothing else, we can always count on that, and with its own unique challenges, 2017 is proving to be no different.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Brothers in Turf

Finding reliable summer help is often a challenge for us--the hours are crazy and the work is hard.  That is why we are very grateful for having a solid group of young men this year.  One unique thing about our 2017 team is that we have three brothers working together.

Entering his third season at Laurel Creek, is oldest brother, Joe.  He is a graduate of Ursinus College and now working as a teacher in the Moorestown school district.  Joe was a stand out performer for us two years ago, when he relentlessly pushed a blower during our August aerification.

Youngest brother, Mike, has returned for a second season.  He has completed his freshman year at Virginia Tech. and will be majoring in Engineering.  Like his brothers, Mike is a strong, consistent man on the team.

Middle sibling, Luke, is here for his first season, but has picked things up very quickly, and does an excellent job with the bunkers.  Luke is an Environmental Sciences major at Rutgers, and will be receiving internship credit for his experience on the golf course this summer.

Given their varied career paths, you might wonder if these siblings share any common interests?  Rumor has it, there is at least one thing they have all enjoyed during college:  Rugby!

Whether it is Luke banging out bunkers, Mike laying down some razor-like lines on greens, or Joe terrifically triplexing tees, these guys are a real asset to the Laurel Creek team.

If you happen to see them (or any of the staff members) on the course, please feel free to give them a thumbs-up if you appreciate their efforts.  Honestly, that quick, simple gesture can make someone's day during these dog days of summer!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Back to Bunker Basics

As a reminder, when coming in and out of bunkers, they should be entered and exited only from the low side.  For example, on the bunker in front of #2 green, the bunker should be accessed from the side closer to the tee, not the green side.

We have been instructing the maintenance staff to place rakes on the low side, however it seems that every morning, a few rakes have magically migrated back to the high side.
This rake is now between the green and bunker--not where golfers should be entering or exiting.

While the picture below doesn't do justice to the severity of the slope, at 33 degrees, this is a steep face.  Repeatedly entering and exiting the bunker on this slope will obviously move sand, eventually destroy the sod lip, and is potentially dangerous to the player.

Of course, seeing unraked footprints on a bunker face is like adding insult to injury.  We have spent an enormous amount of time and effort this year to improve the condition of the bunkers.  Your help in properly maintaining them is appreciated!