Thursday, December 30, 2010

Winter Thaw Ushers In Potential For Ice At NSCC

The upcoming weather forecast calls for a winter thaw with temperatures approaching fifty degrees and the potential for significant rainfall. Should these conditions actually occur, the potential for ice formation on the golf course is likely. Since the ground is frozen, the only means for water removal in the winter months is through surface drainage. The golf course maintenance staff has worked diligently this week to prepare the putting greens for water accumulation due to rainfall and snow melt. Over the last couple days, crew members have cleared the snow, which acts as a natural dam, from the low points of all putting greens. Should we receive rain in the next couple of days, the water will have clear paths to exit the putting greens and minimize any formation of ice on the greens themselves.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Improving Turf Conditions and Playability On 9 White Green

Ice Damage Due to Shade Problems 9 White Green

The rear of 9 White green has historically been a difficult area to manage turf. The overabundance of Spruce trees in close proximity to the green not only inhibits morning sunlight, but also provides golfers with the potential for an unplayable lie for many balls that come to rest through the green. As many golfers are playing longer irons or even fairway woods on the this long, uphill par 4, many balls do not come to rest on the putting surface and instead find their way beneath the spruce trees which are only four yards from the back of the green.

Rear of 9 White Following Removal

The problems associated with the shade of these trees are two fold. First, the trees inhibit morning sunlight which is essential for healthy turf development. Secondly, the shade created by the trees promotes an environment which is conducive for annual bluegrass growth (Poa annua) rather than creeping bentgrass. Poa annua is a weaker grass which is more susceptible to both winter damage and summer stress. Historically, in years when ice coverage is prevalent, 9 White has suffered significant turf loss.
Five large spruce trees have been removed from the rear of 9 White green. All five trees were located to the north of the cart path. The area containing multiple spruce trees to the south of the path remain, as they have little impact on the shade problems associated with the green. All of the trees removed were approved in the Forse Master Plan. When playing the hole from the fairway, the remaining trees will continue to provide a back drop for the hole while still deterring errant shots from the first hole on the Blue Nine.

9 White Before Removal

9 White Following Removal

Friday, November 12, 2010

Taking Advantage Of The Warm and Dry Weather

This week's beautiful weather afforded the golf course maintenance staff the opportunity to complete some very important fall projects on schedule. Warmer than normal day temperatures coupled with low winds provided us with perfect conditions to make our preventative snow mold fungicide applications. This application is essential in northern climates which see periods of prolonged snow cover. Multiple products are applied in order to protect the turf from two main pathogens. Each product yields its own mode of action to afford the plant the maximum amount of protection. Since the plants are still actively growing due to the warm weather, the turf is easily able to take in the material and translocate the products throughout the plant. All greens, tees, and fairways are now equipped to defend themselves from winter disease.

The warm weather has also provided the golf course maintenance staff to complete one final drainage project. One of the wettest areas on the golf course is the landing area on 7 White fairway. Topographically this is a difficult area to drain since the the fairway actually sits below the irrigation pond's level. There is also very little elevation change to the east of the fairway. Extensive drainage was added to this area in order to move water off of the fairway and into the native area to the west of the hole. This will both improve turf quality in this area, as well as playability.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

4 Blue Fairway Drainage Improvements

As the golf course maintenance staff tends to the tasks associated with preparing the course for winter, our attention once again focuses on improving drainage on the golf course. This year, we will install new drainage on the the 4th fairway of the Blue Nine. The existing drainage in this area no longer functioned properly. Tree roots and other debris had rendered the existing drain line useless. The golf course staff will add drainage through the low point of the fairway near the first fairway bunker and down the left side of the fairway. The water will exist the course to the tree line on the east side of the property. In addition to improving turf quality and playability, the fairway will be passable much more quickly following heavy rain events. The project will be completed by the weekend.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nursery Green Reestablishment

As you have played the White Nine, many of you have noticed the sizable nursery to the north of the sixth green. The 10,000 ft2 nursery is an important piece to our maintenance plan. The nursery was carefully constructed in 2007 to match the soil characteristics of the putting greens at NSCC. The matching soil properties serve to minimize transplant stress when repairing damaged greens or expanding greens or roll off areas during renovation. Additionally, the golf course maintenance staff utilized the nursery to replace fairway turf which was damaged due to excess water during the wet and hot summer of 2010. Each fall the golf course staff must do all we can to replace the sod that was harvested throughout the season. In order to accomplish this, we harvest the aerification cores from our putting greens. The cores are spread evenly throughout the desired area. Following the application of the cores, a light sand topdressing is applied to level the surface. The area is then seeded, rolled, fertilized, and watered to stimulate rapid growth and recovery. The end product is a variety of turf species which are essentially a clone of our existing greens. The mixture of creeping bentgrasses and annual bluegrasses mimic our putting surfaces making for a smooth transition should the turf be needed for repair or renovation work in the future. The background of the picture illustrates the established nursery, while the foreground depicts the portion of the nursery which has recently been repaired.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fall Fairway Maintenance

The fall season is a very busy time on the golf course at NSCC. Both golfers and golf course maintenance personnel attempt to squeeze as much as possible out of the beautiful days that autumn brings our way. Each fall, the golf course maintenance staff begins to prepare the course for the upcoming season. As golf course managers, we put into place many agronomic practices which afford the golf course the necessary inputs to recover from summer stresses, repair damaged soil conditions, and reduce the potential from turf loss and damage over the long Wisconsin winter. Each area of the golf course has a comprehensive plan which includes, but is not limited to nutrition (fertilizer), aerification, and pest control.

We are currently in the process of addressing these needs on all areas of the golf course, while at the same time performing the required maintenance practices for daily play. One of the most time consuming turf areas to manage are the golf course fairways. Other than the rough, the fairways are the largest surface area we manage, totalling more than 44 acres.
The most important aspect of fall fairway maintenance is fall aerification. Prior to 2008, all fairways were core aerified. This process involved removing soil cores, drying the cores, pulverizing the cores, dragging the fragmented cores back into the holes, and then blowing off the remaining debris. This process did a wonderful job of alleviating soil compaction and reducing the amount of thatch, the organic layer just below the turf canopy, but was messy and impeded play for a considerable amount of time following, especially during wet conditions.
In 2008, we modified our fairway aerification procedure to a solid tine process. This process works well, by allowing us to penetrate 4 inches deeper into the soil than we were able to. The solid tine approach also serves to lessen the negative affect aerification has on the overall golfing experience. The downside to the solid tine aerication is its inability to reduce thatch. Excess thatch may lead to multiple problems in the future which include increased disease prevalence, mower scalping, and overall weaker turf. In order to address these concerns, we have proactively implemented an aggressive fairway verticutting practice. The tractor-mounted vertical mower uses multiple cutting disks to slice into the turf and remove a considerable amount of the organic material. While the process itself is messy, it is relatively simple and easy to clean up. The picture above illustrates the process in action. Once the organic debris is brought to the surface, it is blown off and collected. The fairway is never taken out of play and our goal of reducing organic matter has been accomplished. In summary, instead of pulling solid, clay cores from our fairways, our aerification process is now two-fold. The fairways are punched with solid tines to alleviate soil compaction and verticut to remove organic matter, both processes present less disruption to play while meeting our agronomic goals.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

6 Blue Green Contour Changes Sneak Peak

Golf course architect, Ron Forse, was at NSCC on September 23 to direct the contour changes made to both 3 and 6 Blue putting greens. The changes on 3 Blue are subtle, basically reducing the severe slope on the rear left of the green. The changes lend themselves nicely to the overall master plan when it is implemented in the future. The changes on 6 Blue are considerably more dramatic and will have a significant impact on putting when the Blue Course opens again in the spring of 2011.

The picture above was taken from the rear of the green while looking back toward the fairway. The green was altered in 3 different locations. The elevation changes are similar to those on 2 and 5 White, which were completed last fall. I have attempted to highlight the affected areas by designating their perimeter with a red line. The yellow areas represent the fall lines associated with each location. As you can see, what was previously a relatively flat green which fell from the back to the front is now much more complex. Accuracy while hitting into the green will be of the utmost importance on this par four.

Golf Preservations, under Ron Forse's supervision, completed the project in conjunction with the internal drainage installation of the green. The labor intensive project involved stripping the sod, adding a custom blend of fill which closely matches our existing soil conditions, compacting the newly added soil, and replacing the sod in the exact location from which it was removed. The golf course maintenance staff is charged with growing in the turf to ensure that it will put smoothly upon opening in the spring.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Drainage Installation Underway On Blue 9 Greens

The drainage installation is well underway on the Blue Nine putting greens. This is the final phase of the overall green drainage program which began in 2008 on the Red Nine. The White Nine was completed last year. I have been extremely impressed by both the improved performance of the greens following the installation of the drainage as well as the excellent workmanship done by Golf Preservations. Samson Bailey, owner of Golf Preservations, has been on site for the installation of each green at NSCC.
The installation process is a time consuming and labor intensive endeavor. I have included a simplified version of the process through the following photographs.

First, the entire putting surface must be meticulously mapped with a laser level to account for all undulations and contours. Once this process is complete, the overall drainage template is designed for the green.

Once the drainage pattern is established, the actual trenches for the drain lines are cut. Prior to trenching, the sod is carefully removed and cataloged so that each individual sod piece will be placed in exactly the same location following the back filling of the trenches. This will allow the sod lines to blend into the rest of the green, rendering them unrecognizable upon completion of the project.
After the drain lines have been installed, the trenches must be filled in a resodded. The trenches are filled with a custom mix of sand which closely mimics our existing sand in our greens. This is critical as poorly chosen sand will not allow the greens to function properly. When back filling the trenches, Golf Preservations takes great pride to ensure that the material is sufficiently compacted within the trench to minimize settling. In order to accomplish this, the hand tamp and four different levels for each foot of back fill material added. Talk about manual labor!

The last step of the process involves replaces and tamping the sod. The photograph above was taken one day after the installation was complete. In only a couple 0f weeks the seams will be barely noticeable. Stay tuned, as next week I will detail why the drainage project is an essential part of our overall greens maintenance program at NSCC.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why Is The Practice Green Closed?

The golf course maintenance staff aerified the practice green on September 7th. While the putting greens performed well overall this season, even through the difficult weather of this past summer, the practice putting green was placed under excessive stress. Simply due to its nature, almost everyone who plays a round of golf first puts on the green, the practice green is placed under extreme traffic stress on an annual basis. High levels of traffic stress lead to soil compaction and turf thinning. In order to offset this damage, the golf course maintenance staff aerified the putting green prior to the aerification of the rest of the greens in regulation.

Following aerification, the practice green was also seeded. The intent of the seeding is to introduce more desirable creeping bentgrass into the putting surface, rather than the less desirable annual blue grass, or Poa annua. The variety a bentgrass chosen for the green exhibits a greater ability to withstand the traffic that this green absorbs. Introducing new seed into an established stand of turf is a time consuming and labor intensive process. Following aerification, all cores were collected and the holes were then filled with sand. After the holes were filled, the surface was then sliced in two directions, creating a 1/8" furrow. Following the creation of the furrows, the greens were seeded with the new bentgrass variety. The greens were then swept, incorporating the seed into both the aerification holes and furrows. Lastly, the putting green was fertilized by both granular and liquid fertilizers to encourage rapid recovery and seedling growth. The putting green will reopen for member use on September 24. We ask that all members refrain from walking on the green until this time. By eliminating all foot traffic, the seedlings will stand the best chance of survival, thereby providing an improved putting surface next season. The finished product is shown below.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Much Ado About Dew

While playing an early morning round of golf, you have probably noticed that the fairways are often lacking dew. This observation is not just a random occurrence, but rather a planned maintenance practice on the golf course. Of course dew reduction lends itself to dry feet and pant bottoms, but also plays an integral part of our disease management strategy at NSCC. Most people think of dew as only water condensation on the turf's leaves, similar to what one might find on their car in the early morning hours. While it is true that some of the moisture on the leaves of the turf is due to condensation, the rest of the moisture is secreted by the plant. This moisture is called guttation fluid.

Guttation fluid is a sugary substance which contains multiple organic and inorganic compounds. When guttation fluid is left on the turfgrass for extended periods, a moist environment is produced which, as research indicates, lends itself to fungal activity. During peak periods of disease pressure, the maintenance staff at NSCC will intentionally remove the dew by mowing in the early morning or by dragging a dew removal device over the fairways. You might think of this as a natural approach to both limit disease activity and reduce costs associated with fungicide applications. Of course, no system is without fault. Often times when dragging the fairways to remove the dew, divots which had been replaced can be removed from their intended location. As always, it is a day to day decision on whether to remove the dew or to allow the sunlight to burn it off.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fall 2010 Aerification Schedule

Please take some time to review the following aerification schedule and note that the time frame for putting green aerification has been altered slightly from previous years. The reasons for this change are twofold. First of all, this past summer's extreme heat, humidity, and moisture have taken their toll on the plants which comprise the putting surfaces at NSCC. Most importantly we will reduce the amount of organic material in our greens through core aerification. By aerifying earlier in the fall, we will also alleviate the affects of stress and encourage rapid turf recovery. Secondly, by "punching" the greens in late September rather than mid-October, we will take advantage of the warmer soil temperatures in the fall. These warmer soil temperatures coupled with moderate air temperatures should allow for quicker recovery and higher quality putting surfaces in the spring of 2011.

2010 Fall Aerification Schedule
  • Tees: September 7th
  • Practice Green: September 7th
  • South Practice Tee: September 13th
  • Red/White Greens: September 28th
  • Blue Greens: October following drainage installation

Please note that the grass surface of the South Practice Tee will be closed for the remainder of the 2010 golf season following aerification. The tee will require extensive seeding, and without ample recovery time, will not be ready for the 2011 season. The North Practice Tee grass surface and the South Practice Tee artificial surface will remain open for use.

Also, the practice putting green will be closed for two weeks following aerification. Following aerification, the golf course maintenance staff will be seeding a desirable bentgrass variety into the putting surface. We ask that all members refrain from walking on the putting surface until it reopens on September 24.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Rain, rain, go away! While it's true that a well timed rainfall or even thunderstorm can provide to much a drought-stricken golf course, too much rain can spell disaster for golf course turf. Since last week, NSCC has received over 6 inches of rain on top of an already wet year. To put this in perspective, the automated irrigation system has only been utilized 4 times since June, whereas in a normal year it is utilized, at least on a limited basis, almost nightly. What happens when to the grass when it rains too much?

  • Drowning. When grass receives too much water, the delicate balance between air and water in the soil is skewed. When water replaces the oxygen, the turfgrass roots begin to die back, and, in some cases, cause the plant to die.

  • Disease. Most turgrass disease thrive in hot and wet conditions. Even though we treat greens, tees, and fairways on a preventative basis with a variety of plant protectant products, already wet and weakened turfgrass becomes extremely susceptible to a variety of diseases which may result in death to turfgrass plants.

  • Drought Stress. Once the rain leaves and dry conditions resume, the turf plants, and especially their root systems, are left in a very vulnerable state. The root die-back, caused by saturated soils, reduces the length of the roots to an inch or less. This means that as soon the top inch of soil begins to dry out, the plants run the risk of dying due to lack of water.

The golf course maintenance staff has been extremely busy this very wet and warm summer. Not only do the bunkers need to be continually pumped and repaired, the turf requires extra attention as well. In order to minimize the adverse affects of excess water, the grounds and greens staff will remove excess water from the course via pumps and squeegees, make additional applications of plant protectant materials, and even utilize fans and blowers to promote drying to especially sensitive areas of the course. The most important thing that we, as turf managers, can do now is to take a cautious approach. Right now, fast greens and golf carts take a back seat to prudent and conservative management. Once the difficult stretch of weather ends, we will once again strive to provide fast greens and improved golfer accessibility to the course.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

4 Red Green Vandalism Repair Ongoing

As most of you are now aware, the 4th green on the Red Nine sustained a significant amount of damage due to vandalism on June 25. The putting surface was punctured multiple times with the flagstick, profanity was applied with spray paint, and a herbicide was also dumped on the turf. The golf course staff immediately repaired the puncture wounds and plugged out the spray painted profanity. Since the time of the incident, the golf course maintenance staff has been carefully assessing the condition of the portion of the green treated with herbicide. In order to minimize disruption to the putting surface, sodding was deemed to be the least desirable option to repair the damage. Unfortunately, the hot weather of June and July did not lend itself for turf recovery. Instead, the marginal areas of the putting surface continued to decline. On July 20th, the maintenance staff replaced the damaged portions of the green with sod from our nursery. Following the removal of the damaged turf, the grade was carefully leveled by hand and new sod was installed and watered. The finished product was then flattened by using a plate compactor. Even though the maintenance staff members completed the project with extreme care, the final product will provide a less than desirable putting surface for a time. Not only will the sod seams take time to fill, it is nearly impossible to mimic the subtleties of a putting surface to perfection. When you consider that the putting surfaces are mowed at less than 1/8 inch, some scalping is inevitable, even when the green is mowed at a slightly higher height. Please be sure to see the pro shop in order to play the green in a way that is consistent with the rules of golf.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Venting Putting Greens Completed

The golf course maintenance staff successfully "vented" all 29 putting greens on Tuesday, July 6. The practice of venting is a very labor-intensive practice of solid tine (no cores) aerification which is completed over the summer months causing only a minimal disruption to play. The golf course maintenance staff utilized 1/8" solid tines which were spaced on 2" centers and entered the ground to a 3" depth. This practice allows the greens to "breath" during the hot and humid summer months. The timing was perfect this year as we are currently in the midst of a streak of extremely hot and humid days. The holes created in the greens open up channels for improved air exchange, enabling the greens to perform as they were intended following the implementation of the practice. After the small holes were created by a self-propelled aerifier, the greens were immediately rolled to smooth any turfgrass tufting that occurred as a result of the practice. The greens were playable immediately following the venting procedure, and the small holes will be almost imperceptible by the weekend.

Friday, June 25, 2010

World Cup 2010

As an avid soccer fan, I have been anxiously awaiting the beginning of the FIFA World Cup 2010. Like myself, many members of the golf course maintenance staff share the same affinity for the game. Unfortunately, since the game are being played in South Africa, the game times conflict with our work schedule. In order to boost team moral, we were able to borrow the projector and screen from the clubhouse to show some of the games at the maintenance facility. The screen was set up in the shop and we captured the streaming video from the internet. Staff members were very appreciative of the opportunity to watch some football over their lunch break. My thanks go out to the clubhouse staff for lending the equipment to make this possible while they were not in use.

Golf Course Maintenance Staff In Action

The picture above captures the golf course maintenance staff in action on a beautiful day while preparing the course for Men's District play on June 22. For special events such as this, the entire maintenance staff is put into action in order to prepare the course prior to the event or tournament. Since Men's District is comprised of tee times, the maintenance staff prepares all holes in consecutive order to stay ahead of play. While taking this picture I could not be impressed by the amount of manpower required to prepare the golf course for play on a daily basis. Since the maintenance staff does its best to work behind the scenes in order to not adversely affect play, most golfers are not able to appreciate the scope of the golf course operation. At times, the organization of all the equipment and personnel can be a daunting task. This can be especially true at a 27 hole golf course where shotgun starts and multiple starting nines are the norm. This picture only represents a portion of the entire maintenance operations. Seen in this picture are tee mowers, fairway mowers, rough mowers, green mowers, approach mowers, and bunker rakes. Not seen are green rollers, course set-up personell, intermediate rough mowers, aerifiers, sprayers, sand topdressers, sweepers, and various other seasonal pieces of equipment. The successful completion of these tasks requires significant training, scheduling, and detail-oriented equipment and cutting unit maintenance. When these actions are coordinated successfully, a wonderfully maintained golf course is produced. I snapped the serene picture below while looking back to the fairway from 7 White green.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Crabgrass? No, Creeping Bentgrass.

By now, most NSCC members have had numerous opportunities to play the course, and have seen, first hand, the remarkable progress the fairways have made in their recovery from the damaged sustained over the winter. Even the fairways which were most severely damaged are only weeks away from mid-season form.

Without planning, hard work, and a warm spring, this rapid recovery would have been impossible. While the warm spring temperatures fostered a near perfect environment for seed germination and establishment, they also stimulated the undamaged turfgrass to grow more rapidly than usual. This scenario was very evident below the covers in the seeded areas. In most cases, less than 25% of the area below the covers contained viable turf. Since removal of the covers was difficult, normal maintenance practices such as mowing were not undertaken with normal regularity. The existing bentgrass grew to a length of inches rather than its normal mowing height of between 1/8" to 2/5". Since the natural growth habit of bentgrass is of a spreading nature, the grass returned to its natural state once regular mowing resumed and lower mowing heights were reintroduced. The visual effect of this plant strongly resembles what the layperson would consider crabgrass. The picture above illustrates this point. The long, stemmy plant is bentgrass which has gone natural, whereas the shorter turf is a combination of bentgrass and annual bluegrass in a more vertical mowing habit. This stemmy growth structure is a desirable trait for a fairway, tee, and green turf, as its "creeping" nature allows for it to rapidly fill in damage such as divots and ball marks.

Now that the fairway recovery is nearly complete and the turf is once again healthy, the golf course maintenance staff will once again resume its rigorous fairway maintenance schedule. Through repeated sweeping, verticutting, and mowing, the turf will return to a more vertical mowing habit, providing a tight lie and more visually appealing quality as you play.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spring Tee Aerification Underway

The 2010 spring core aerification of tees at NSCC is currently underway. All Blue Nine tees have been completed, as well as the Men's tees on the White Nine. The Red Nine tees will be completed, weather permitting, on Thursday 6/3. The remaining Ladie's tees on the White 9 will be completed on Friday 6/4.

All tees on the White and Red Nines will be completed as they have in the past. More specifically, the tees will be core aerified, collected, sand topdressed, swept, and fertilized. With continued warm weather, the tees should be nearly completely filled in by next week. This essential process allows us to maintain a consistent and quality teeing ground by reducing compaction and thatch, and increasing water and air infiltration. Upon the conclusion of the aerification process, the tees will be better suited to deal with warm and humid weather that will certainly appear throughout the summer months.

Since the Blue Nine tees have developed a more substantial thatch layer than their counterparts on the Red and White Nines, the NSCC golf course maintenance staff has taken a more agressive approach to counteract this problem. Not only are soft, spongy tees less desirable from a player's perspective, they may also lead to a number of agronomic problems such as mower scalping, increased susceptibility to fungal pathogens and drought stress.

Instead of simply following the normal aerification procedure of core removal/collection and topdressing, the NSCC included multiple vertical mowings to the procedure to help reduce the amount of thatch on the tees. In the case of the Blue Nine, the tees were verticut, then aerified. Instead of simply collecting the cores, the tees were again verticut an additional two times. The final two vertical mowings served two purposes. First the vertical mowing assisted in pulverizing the cores, freeing the sandy soil from the turf's thatch and roots. Additionally the vertical mowing created openings or channels for the sand to penetrate within the turf canopy to better dilute the thatch layer. Once the cores were pulverized, the organic debris was blown off of the teeing surfaces, sand was applied and swept in. In the short term, the tees may appear battered and bruised, however the benefits will be realized in firmer teeing surfaces and healthier turfgrass plants.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Blue Nine Opening Date: Wednesday, May 26

The Grounds and Greens Staff is pleased to announce that the Blue Nine will open for play Wednesday, May 26th. The combination of a warm spring temperatures and numerous hours of hard work by the golf course staff will allow us to open the Blue Nine a few days ahead of schedule. The putting surfaces are on par with the Red and White Nines in terms of speed and putting quality. The fairways have also recovered extremely well in most places. Sporadically located throughout the course you will notice small areas which will require some follow-up seeding to encourage continued recovery and growth. These areas will be circled in white and designated as Ground Under Repair. We ask that you please do not hit from these areas and take a free drop according to the rules of growth. Currently, the golf course maintenance staff is in the process of fine-tuning the Blue Nine, including extensive bunker repair and edging which is pictured above.

The pictures below display the fairways as they were during seeding, and the same location as it currently exists only six weeks following. The current rain and upcoming warm temperatures should stimulate ample growth, allowing us to once again provide pristine conditions just in time for summer.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

PAR4Research Auction Open

For anyone interested in playing some great course throughout the state, click on the logo above. Rounds of golf at many great golfing venues are available for auction. All proceeds will be donated for turfgrass research at UW-Madison. UW supplies golf course managers throughout the state with first class information that allows us to do our jobs in the most cost effective and environmentally manner possible. Enjoy and good luck.

Deep Tine Putting Green Aerification

"Why do you have to poke more holes in the greens right when they start to put well?" To say that any type of putting green aerification is detrimental to putting green quality is an understatement, however, this is a very near-sighted approach to viewing an entire putting green maintenance program. Golf course superintendents throughout the world utilize various forms of aerification to achieve a wide number of goals for their putting greens. Benefits of aerfication include, but are not limited to organic matter reduction, improved air and water infiltration, and compaction reduction. Without achieving a proper balance of the above mentioned components, putting greens will eventually fail. When developing a putting green maintenance program each golf course manager must develop a customized prescription to meet the needs of his or her golf course.
At NSCC, we will aerify the putting greens at least four times throughout the year. Fall core aerification is the most disruptive to play, requiring the greatest amount of time for turf recovery. Venting, or spiking, is almost imperceptibe immediately following and is utilized in the middle of hot and humid summers. The solid tine aerification which was completed on Monday helps to promote a healthy root system on the turfgrass plants as we prepare them to overcome summer stresses.

NSCC's greens are comprised of two layers. The top four inches of each putting green's soil profile is comprised of sand which has accumulated over the last twenty years of consistent sand topdressing. Unlike modern golf courses or courses with newly rebuilt greens, a soil layer which drains very poorly exists below the sand layer. In order to encourage a healthy root system, we must penetrate deep into this layer. Conventional core aerification does not allow us to aerify to this depth. On Monday, we used solid tines (3/8" diameter) that are ten inches long to penetrate into the underlying soil. Following tine insertion, the specialized aerifier kicks the tine backwards, fracturing the soil even more. The end result of the fracturing process is increased air space within the soil profile and compaction alleviation. This increase in air spaces allows for a healthier root system, even within the soil portion of the green profile. Without a healthy root system, the putting greens would not survive the inherent stresses that summer brings.

Following the solid tining, the putting greens were rolled, verticut in multiple directions, sand topdressed, swept, mowed, fertilized and watered. This time consuming processes will allow for quick recovery, making Monday's aerification unnoticeable in only a couple days. While putting green aerification is a short term inconvenience while playing, the long term benefits will pay off throughout the summer.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wet End to Another Busy Week

The end of a busy work week draws to a close with some much needed rain showers. Last week's cold nights, with lows in the mid to low 30's have really stunted the growth of most turf on the golf course. While the turf itself was not damaged by the frosty conditions, its growth rate decreased to almost nothing. Fortunately, the damaged areas of fairways did not see this same decrease in growth due to the covers. The covers have retained enough heat to allow the underlying turf to grow. The golf course maintenance staff spent over 100 labor hours removing the covers on the Red Nine and mowing the turf beneath. Due to the moisture from the weekend rains, the gradual rise in temperatures this week, and the accelerated rate of growth due to the maturation of the turf plants, I anticipate removing many of the covers from both the Red and White Nines. In some cases, the area of coverage may be reduced allowing the course to be played as normal. In other areas, such as 7 White, the turf has not sufficiently matured to allow for the removal of the covers. The golf course maintenance staff will continue to tweak and address the damaged areas to encourage rapid recovery. As is usually the case, some warm weather and timely rains will be our biggest asset as we look to full recovery in these areas.

In addition to mowing beneath the covers, the golf course maintenance staff continues with regularly scheduled spring maintenance. Adjusting and troubleshooting the irrigation system to ensure proper operation is critical for future turf health. The irrigation system was pressurized in late March, the earliest day in course history. Since that point, the golf course staff has been busy verifying that each sprinkler head is fully functional and operating properly. Sprinkler heads that are not turning on, not rotating, leaking, or have clogged nozzles will lead to inconsistent turf conditions in the summer. Additionally, an inefficient irrigation system leads to wasted water, a precious natural resource. The golf course maintenance staff spends many hours each spring fine tuning the system to ensure proper function and distribution uniformity.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stump Repair Behind 2 White

In continuing with the the implementation of the Ron Forse master plan, two large spruce trees were removed from behind 2 White green last winter. Following their removal, a large area without grass was exposed. Additionally, a small, artificial knoll remained between the areas where the two trees previously resided. In order to created a more naturalized look behind the green, the small mound was removed. The soil from hill was used to fill the other stump holes on the course. The golf course staff will regrade and sod the area on Wednesday.

Vertical Mowing Continues

The golf course maintenance staff continued with its aggressive greens maintenance this week by vertically mowing all putting surfaces. On Maintenance Monday, All 29 putting were greens were treated in this manner. Following the verticutting, all greens were topdressed with sand, swept, and then mowed. In early spring, we verticut at a depth of 1/4 inch, while later in the season we will raise the depth to 1/8 inch or less. This labor intensive process serves multiple purposes both helps to promote new growth while removing thatch and other decaying organic matter. Additionally, the small channels created by the machine allow for the topdressing sand to more readily enter the turf canopy. The combination of verticutting and sweeping stands the turfgrass leaves upright prior to mowing. The clean cut afforded by this process provides both smoother ball roll and a healthier stand of turf. This is already the second time this process has been completed in this warmer than usual spring.