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.