Friday, December 18, 2009

Wild Goose Chase

One of the greatest challenges the NSCC golf course maintenance staff faces each fall are the large number of Canada geese that make a stop here on their trip south. Actually, as golfers know, it's not the geese themselves that are the problem, but rather the mess they leave behind. It comes as no surprise that an adult goose is capable of dropping over a pound of excrement per day. Most golfers have had the unfortunate experience of walking down a fairway while hop-scotching around the mess that these geese leave behind. Even more frustrating than the mess is the physical damage geese can do to golf course putting greens. If left unattended, geese are capable of digging holes in greens as they make their feast. It is important to realize that golf courses provide the perfect environment for Canada geese. NSCC provides an endless buffet line of manicured turf and extensive waterways that are in an area without natural predators.

Research suggests that the most viable way to remove geese from a property is through humane harassment. Forms of harassment vary from course to course due to the location of each individual course. In more secluded areas, golf course managers are able to deploy devices called bangers which, as their name implies, emit a loud noise to scare off the geese. Due to the number of homes surrounding the club, this is not an option at NSCC. Instead, the golf course staff harasses geese through two primary methods. In peak periods of migratory activity, the automated irrigation system is set so that sprinkler heads pop on for seconds at a time at regular intervals throughout the night. This has proven to be successful in moving the geese off greens, tees, and fairways and into the rough and ponds. Throughout the entire year, Ziggy, our 3 year old Labrador, patrols the golf course in search of geese. Ziggy is especially effective in deterring the geese from establishing residency. This is critical in managing the goose population at NSCC. Once geese pair up and mate, they make their home by creating a nest and laying eggs. These resident geese prove to be a real problem as they are especially stubborn in leaving. By making multiple patrols each day, Ziggy does his best to remove the geese from the property in a humane manner without harming the geese. Recently, Ziggy passed his annual physical exam at the veterinarian. In fact, the vet remarked that Ziggy is the best conditioned animal that comes into his clinic. It sounds like success for both NSCC and Zig.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

White 9 Tree Removal

Following the completion of the drainage work on the White 9, the NSCC golf course maintenance staff has now turned its attention to the 2009 tree removal project. As in prior years, the project will completed in house by NSCC staff and will directly follow the master plan laid out by golf course architect Ron Forse. It is important to remember that the trees designated for removal have been selected based upon the following criteria:
  • Trees in poor health
  • Trees impeding healthy turf
  • Trees which provide an unfair playing environment

That being said, of the forty-one trees which are slated for removal in 2009, twenty-five are evergreen trees. There are approximately fifty additional trees that will be removed upon the completion of the White 9 project. As was the case with the Red 9 renovation, many of the trees that will be removed in the future will improve course playability by eliminating unfair lies and double hazards. In some cases trees will be replaced with bunkers and NSCC's signature roll-off areas. Additionally, the White 9 project includes the planting of twenty-five new trees which will be placed strategically throughout the course.

Coordinating a project such as this requires the proper environmental conditions. Most importantly a firm turf surface, achieved through either dry or frozen conditions, is necessary. Fortunately ,the recent cold spell has afforded us the perfect opportunity to get out on the course with the heavy tractors, stump grinders, and utility vehicles to complete the project with only minimal disruption to the surrounding turfgrass. As long as conditions remain firm and the golf course relatively snow free, the felled trees are dragged back to the golf course maintenance facility in order to be chipped. By centralizing our brush chipping operation, we are able to minimize the hauling of wood chips off of the golf course. While the wood chips provided by the project are not aesthetically pleasing enough to be used in the clubhouse's vast ornamental plantings, they are recycled and used throughout various areas on the golf course. The utilization of the chips in this manner serves to reduce our overall waste and reduces costs as well.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Greens and Tees Closed For Season

What a way to end the season! Throughout the month of November we were fortunate to have had a number of uncharacteristically warm days in which to enjoy the course. Unfortunately, all good thing must come to an end--especially when it pertains to warm weather in Wisconsin.

Even though the upcoming forecast calls for snow and cold, that doesn't mean we may not have a few mild days over the winter which may tempt some of us to get out on the course again. In order to provide the membership with and opportunity to swing the sticks on these days, the course will remain open in a modified format for the winter. Since walking on greens and tees in a semi-frozen state damages the root system of the turfgrass plants, all greens and tees are now closed. The tee markers will be placed in the rough in front of the tees, and the holes will be cut in the fairways before the greens. Hitting into the putting greens is strictly prohibited. As always, please refrain from using the practice green as a short cut from one nine to another. Both the Red and Blue nines have been converted to this format.

Contour Topdressing

One of the keys to successfully managing a golf course is to remain consistent with practices that are critical to the turf's health. Practices such as aerification, sand topdressing, vertical mowing, and dethatching are carried out with great regularity at NSCC to ensure that each playing surface functions at its peak level throughout the golfing season. Similarly, certain tasks must be completed prior to winter to ensure that the golf course is put in the best position possible to endure the harsh Wisconsin winter that is to come. Each year the irrigation system must be winterized, fertilizers must be applied, plant protection applications must be made to prevent winter fungal activity, and careful moisture monitoring must take place in order to ensure that the plants do not become too dry.Check Spelling

Perhaps unique to North Shore's winter preparation is a practice called putting green contour topdressing. Contour topdressing was developed by the 1997 Greens Committee headed by Jim Mitchell and directed by Bob Erdahl. For twelve years, the golf course maintenance staff has carefully applied a thin layer of sand (1/8 to 1/4 inch) to the same areas of the putting greens each year. Each putting green has been diagrammed to guarantee that the sand application occurs in the proper areas. Over time, the accumulation of sand in these pockets has served to provide a more undulating putting surface than previously existed. The yearly change is imperceptible to most golfers; however, the improved putting interest is most certainly evident over the course of the last twelve years.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

White 9 Drainage Projects

The North Shore Country Club golf course maintenance staff has concluded the White 9 drainage projects that were designated for 2009. The completion of these tasks will help improve course playability and conditioning.

At times, golfers may relate drainage projects to course accessibility, more specifically cart availability. While this is a definite advantage to installing drainage on a golf course, most turf managers look beyond cart availability to the benefits that a well-drained golf course offers the grass plants themselves. Dry conditions are preferred when managing a golf course. Simply stated, it's easier to add water through automated irrigation and hand watering, than removing excessive amounts of water following heavy rainfalls. Overly wet turf fosters an environment in which harmful turfgrass diseases can flourish. Physiological problems such as lack of oxygen in the soil, scalding, and mower scalping are common in the turf. Soil compaction also rises to the forefront, especially at a course like North Shore with its heavy clay soils. The longstanding impact that these problems bring on are a much greater problem to the course than the short term affect of not having carts.

As stated earlier, the drainage projects completed this fall focus on areas that will not be disturbed by future White 9 work. Areas where larger subsurface drainage pipes will be added, as well as low areas that will be filled have not received drainage this year. These areas will be finished in conjunction with the completion of the White 9 renovation project.

While smaller drain lines were installed in other areas, the drainage project focused primarily on the following areas:
  • 1 White fairway near the pond
  • 2 White fairway in the landing area
  • 3 White fairway
  • 5 White fairway in the landing area