Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Picture Worth At Least A Thousand Words

Quite simply, drainage is one of the most critical elements necessary to obtain quality turf conditions on a golf course. The picture above, taken of the 7 White fairway, highlights this point. The portion of fairway displayed in the picture is taken from the dog leg looking back to the tee. As most members can surely attest, this portion of the fairway is historically a wet area as it is a low-lying area that actually sits below the water level of the adjacent pond. Golf course maintenance team members would be quick to point out that this area is also a very difficult area to manage due to the problems associated with excess water.

During the colder months of the year, water regularly accumulates in this area during freeze-thaw cycles which occur throughout our Wisconsin winters. The concern over potential winter damage in this area is common due to ice formation which often times leads to significant turf loss. This area also proves difficult to manage during the summer, as excessive moisture leads to saturated root systems which lack sufficient oxygen and increased disease pressure.

Ultimately this are is addressed in the Golf Course Master Plan as presented by Ron Forse. Upon completion, this fairway area will be raised and significant subsurface drainage will be added. Since the time frame for the implementation of the Master Plan has been extended, the golf course maintenance staff added drainage to this area in the fall of 2010. The golf course maintenance staff utilized only our remaining inventory of supplies to complete as much drainage as possible without overextending our budget.

Following winter, one can easily see the benefits of the drainage to this area. The turf in the areas surrounding the drainage remains in good condition, while the areas of the fairway further from the drainage, the forefront of the picture, have suffered areas of damage due to ice accumulation. The golf course maintenance staff plans to revisit this area in the fall, adding additional drainage in areas where ice accumulated over the winter.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Even after being given the option of taking the rest of the afternoon off, a few dedicated staff members decided to stay and complete the tasks they were working on, even in the midst of what is hopefully winter's last hurrah. The golf course remains in good shape, even in the midst of conditions that more closely mirror those of early March. The wintry mix that we are currently experiencing poses no threat to the health of the turf. The biggest impact it has on our Spring planning. Cold and wet weather slows down the growth rate of the turf, lowers soil temperatures, and makes golf course access difficult. Once warm weather returns, or rather begins, the golf course staff will once again resume with our early season maintenance practices.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Putting Green Maintenance Begins

The warmer weather of last week was well received by both golfers and the maintenance staff alike. While many members were able to take advantage of the recent spring weather by playing a few rounds, the golf course staff initiated a couple of key practices in our intensive putting green maintenance program.

Days which are both dry and sunny lend themselves to the successful implementation of both vertical mowing and sand topdressing the putting surfaces. While these practices may be completed independent of one another, the completion of both practices in conjunction with one another serves improves the quatlity of the putting on a number of different fronts. The labor intensive process includes:

  • Vertical mowing in two directions at 1/8" deep and perpendicular to one another which removes thatch and other organic material

  • Removal of the debris created during this process

  • Sand topdressing

  • Sweeping the sand into the turf canopy

  • Mowing the greens following the sweeping process in order to ensure a smooth surface

The vertical mowing serves both to remove organic matter from the putting greens as well as to stimulate growth on the plants that have just begun to grow. The removal of organic matter ensures a firmer putting surface, while at the same time maintaining the proper water and air movement throughout the turf canopy. As you can see in the picture, a significant amount of material is removed during this process. On average an entire utility vehicle full of organic matter is generated per putting green. The new growth stimulated during this process allows the turf to more quickly cover any remaining aerification holes and other imperfections which may exist following winter.

Sand topdressing also helps to provide a firm and smooth putting surface, while at the same time further diluting the amount of organic matter in a putting green. When this light application of sand occurs immediately following vertical mowing, the sand readily fills the small grooves created by the vertical mowing and very easily penetrates the turf canopy.

Sweeping the greens forces the sand into the groves and also stands the turf upright. A final mowing following the sweep removes these long blades of grainy turf and provides a uniform height of cut and smoother ball roll.

When the weather cooperates, the golf course maintenance staff on Mondays which are golf course maintenance day. Since the course is closed until noon on Mondays, the golf course staff completes this process without disrupting play.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Golf Course To Open Saturday

Since the prolonged winter appears poised to leave the Milwaukee area, the golf course is slated to open on Saturday morning. Eighteen holes will be available for play as both the Red and White nines will open. While this week's wet weather has hindered the golf course maintenance staff's ability to get work done on the course, it certainly hasn't dampened our enthusiasm as we quickly approach the beginning to the 2011 season. I am very pleased to report the course is in great condition following the winter. Upon opening, you will notice the putting greens and tees are free from any areas of significant winter damage. The fairways also have weathered the winter extremely well. Only very small areas of damage exist. These areas, with some encouragement by the maintenance crew, should heal quickly upon the arrival of better growing conditions.

The golf course maintenance staff is in the process of preparing the course for our opening day on Saturday. Since the course is very wet and tender, the maintenance team must complete all work without the use of golf carts and utility vehicles. To date we have completed repair and raking of nearly half of the bunkers on the Red and White nines. All debris has been raked up on the golf course. The debris will be collected once the golf course is dry enough to support vehicular traffic.

Prior to Saturday, bunker rakes and tee accessories will be hauled out to the course. On Thursday, we plan to mow all putting greens for the first time of the year. While the first mowing is completed at a higher height, the affect of the procedure will provide smoother putting upon opening. Please remember that the turf has only begun to show signs of growth at this point. Take care to exercise great caution upon embarking on your first rounds of the year at NSCC. As always, take the time to replace divots and repair ballmarks. See you on the course!