Wednesday, November 21, 2012

End Of Season Quickly Approaching

Final Plant Protectant Application
 The most recent forecast calls for mild temperatures for the next two days followed by normal temperatures hovering just above freezing during the day time.  I hope everyone interested has time enjoy these last couple of warm days.  The golf course will remain open in its normal format.

NSCC maintenance staff has been busy these last few weeks preparing the course and facilities for the winter.  Susie Jushka, staff horticulturist, once again spent a considerable amount of time researching, ordering, and planting spring bulbs around the expansive clubhouse ornamental beds.  Much like a child waiting to unwrap a Christmas present, she too must wait until next spring to see the fruits of her labor realized.
Last Minute Irrigation Repair
 Other staff members have been busy preparing the course for winter.  Activities such as making our last application of plant protectants to guard against winter diseases, blowing out the irrigation system, winterizing the golf course bathrooms and pool building, and treating all ash trees against the Emerald Ash Borer are now complete.  Additionally, all golf course equipment has been stored inside as maintenance staff will begin the annual rite of winter service.

Irrigation System Winterization
 The golf course will remain open until frost enters the ground.  Once the ground becomes frozen, the greens and tees will be closed to all play.  The holes will be cut in the fairways and the tee markers will be moved to the rough in front of the tees.  Please check in with the pro shop for updates regarding course status.  I hope everyone enjoys a great Thanksgiving holiday.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The renovation to the first and eight holes are now complete.  The results are impressive and will serve to improve the playability, aesthetics, and maintenance.  Highlights include:
  • New bunkers and drainage.  All bunkers will now drain properly and not require pumping following rain events.
  • Consistent bunker sand.
  • Putting green contour changes to the eight green.
  • Expanded pond on the first hole.
  • Additional fairway bunker on the left side of the first hole.
  • Widened fairway landing area on the first hole.
  • Fairway addition through the green on the eighth hole.

    8 White Before
    8 White After
    1 White Before

    1 White After

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

8 White Putting Surface Modifications

One of the most critical yet overlooked pieces of the renovation to 8 White is the contour changes to the putting surface.  Like most greens at NSCC, the putting surface on 8 White existed as a relatively flat green.  While the green featured a small decline to the rear right and left, the majority of the putting surface offered little interest.  In designing the plan for the eighth green, Ron Forse, golf course architect, looked to enhance the existing contours by building up and expanding the rear of the green.  This new contour allows for more interesting putting, a better view from the tee, and an improved ability for the green to hold lower trajectory golf shots.

Ron Forse was on hand to oversee the changes that would ultimately occur on green.  After a long conversation regarding playability and construction methods, Ron carefully painted the area which would be changed.

During the process, careful measurements were taken with a digital level to guarantee that the contour would seamlessly match.
Once the designated area was ready for the project all sod was removed and carefully stacked so that it could be returned to the same location.  A special mix of soil was added to the exposed surface.  The soil was tested to verify that it retained physical properties that very closely resemble our existing soil profile.  This will eliminate the chance for turf failure at a later date due to the icompatiblity of the two soils.

After compacting the soil mix, the sod was carefully replaced and compacted by using a vibratory plate compactor and roller.  Prior to opening next May, the grounds and greens staff will continuously aerify, verticut, and roll the surface to make sure the green rolls as true as the rest of the greens at NSCC.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Renovation On 8 White Underway

8 White Drainage Swale and Bunker Shaping

8 White Left Greenside Bunker Roughed In

The renovation project on 8 White is now underway.  The golf course construction contractor, Country Golf Inc., arrived on Tuesday.  They began preliminary shaping work on the greenside bunkers on #8.  Course architect, Ron Forse, had previously sent detailed drawing of the project.  Jim Deemer, shaper for Country Golf, began grading the drainage swale and roughing in the bunkers around the greens on the eighth hole.  On Wednesday, Ron Forse will arrive to finalize and approve the shaping work, define the bunker edges, lay out the new tee's elevation and shape, and begin preliminary work on 1 White.  With dry weather, I hope to have the green complex on 8 White complete by the end of next weekend.

Preliminary Work 8 While Left Greenside Bunker

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fall Aerification Schedule

Fall provides Wisconsinites some of the best weather to play golf, a fact that is not lost on the golf course maintenance department at NSCC. Autumns in Wisconsin are typically dry with cooler temperatures and lower humidity. We have tailored our golf course maintenance practices to afford NSCC’s membership with the best golf course conditions possible. While the White Nine will close following Labor Day in order to complete the renovation projects on holes one and eight, the Blue and Red Nines will remain open. As is evidenced below in the aerification schedule, you will be able to enjoy perfect putting surfaces until late October.

• White Nine Putting Greens Septemeber 10th (following course closure)

• Blue/Red Nine Putting Greens October 22nd

• Practice Putting Green October 22nd

• Tees October 4th

• South Practice Tee (grass surface) September 24th *

*(the artificial surface and north grass tee will remain open until course closure)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fall Course Renovation Project Announcement

I am thrilled to report that the Board of Directors has approved moving forward with further improvements to the White Nine.  While we will not complete the White Nine project to its entirety in 2012 due to the current economic environment, we will move forward with improvements to both 1 and 8 White.   Highlights of the 1 White project include: new bunkering, fairway expansion, a green roll off area, and pond expansion.  Changes to 8 White include new bunkering, two new tees, and green expansion and contouring improvements.  Renderings of the project are shown below.  Click on either picture to view them in greater detail.
Start Date:                                 September 4th
Project Length:                 3-4 weeks

Architect Site Visits:         2

Golf Course Contractor:    Country Golf

1 White

8 White

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Rain At Last!

After the extended period of extreme drought over the last few months the rain that we received seemed almost surreal.  Golf course maintenance staff members beamed with smiles as we received 1.3" of rain over the last twenty-four hours.  The first rain of the season created a sense of confusion for first year employees as they were unprepared lacking rain gear and a proper course exit strategy, returning to the maintenance facility completely drenched.  For veteran employees, the highly anticipated rain meant a reprieve from weeks of daily hose dragging and hand watering in temperatures that have been consistently above 90 degrees, including 5 days above 100 degrees.  The relief to the turfgrass was evidenced by its increasingly green color.  The most satisfactory factor of the rain was the fact that the rain event was followed by cloudy skies and two days that will struggle to reach 80 degrees for a high.  These cooler temperatures will allow for turf recovery with minimal risk for turf scalding, suffocation, and disease.  Happy rain day!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dedication and Perseverence

Portable Sprinkler In Rough On 7 Red
   After little snowfall over the past winter, a dry spring, and only .36" inches of rain in June, the golf course remains extremely dry. While our automated irrigation system in normally sufficient in providing adequate moisture to the putting greens, tees, fairways, and selective rough areas, we are limited to irrigating areas that are located near sprinkler heads.  During periods of extreme drought, outlying rough areas receive no irrigation through our automated system.

Due to the dry conditions and warmer than normal temperatures, unirrigated portions of the golf course have turned dormant.  Dormant turf will recover with the onset of rain and cooler temperatures, however these areas are more susceptible to wear and tear from golf cart traffic and simply provide a less than desireable appearance.  Additionally, the trees located in these areas are placed under increased stress due to the lack of water. 

In order to assist these areas with recovery, NSCC dedicates one employee to placing portable sprinklers in these areas on a daily basis.  Our employee, Miguel, has remained dilligent over the last couple months by nurturing acres of rough through these challenging conditions.  Miguel's day consists of hauling around thirty 100' sections of 1" hose and 15 sprinklers around the golf course on a rotating basis.  Each morning Miguel begins at 5AM and finishes around 2:30 PM.  Without Miguel's dedication, the roughs would be crispy and dormant.  The picture below illustrates the importance of the portable sprinklers in the rough.  Don't hesitate to acknowledge Miguel's hard work if you see him on the course.

Contrast Between Irrigated and Unirrigated Rough

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why The Greener Greens

Turfgrass managers use an almost infinite number of tools at their disposal to protect and maintain their putting greens.  While aeration, sand topdressing, and properly used fungicides are examples of tools that are recognized by most golfers, less common tools are not as easily observed by golf course patrons.  The picture of the 9th putting green on the White Nine provides an example of one such practice.  If you look carefully, you will notice that the right half of the green is much darker in appearance than the left side of the green.  At the time the photograph was taken, only half of the green had been sprayed.  In addition to our usual application of fungicides, growth regulators, fertilizers, and bio stimulants, a turfgrass pigment was also added. 

We initially discovered the benefits associated with turf pigments when applying fungicides to fairways in the late fall to prevent snow mold.  The particular fungicide that was applied came pre-mixed with a turfgrass pigment.  We realized the benefits of the pigment in the early spring of the following year.  Due to the darker color of the fairway following the application of the pigment, the fairways greened up much earlier than normal.  We believe this occurred due to the warmer canopy temperature afforded by increased solar radiation adsorption due to the darker colored turf.  Often times, we will apply pigments early and late in the season to promote turfgrass growth.

Additionally we will apply products containing pigments or add pigments when spraying greens in the summer.  In summer time, the pigment acts as a sunscreen, shielding the turf from intense solar radiation.  Temporarily following the application, the putting surfaces take on a vibrant green color.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Technology and Turf-Moisture Management

Turf Guard Installation
 Many advances have been made in the turfgrass industry over the last decade that serve to improve turf conditions and operational efficiency.  New mowers, aerifiers, and sand delivery units are prominent examples of these type of improvements.  Sprayers equipped with GPS systems ensure proper pesticide delivery. More recently, siginificant advances have been made in the area of moisture management.  While this topic receives much attention in areas with a limited water supply, such as the Desert Southwest, it also applies to those of us in the Upper Midwest.  Even with our close proximity to the abundant resources afforded by the Great Lakes, precise irrigation is both good for the environment and turfgrass alike.

In today's climate of heightened environmental sensitivity, most everyone is aware of the need to preserve the earth's natural resources.  An increase in the global population has brought this issue to the forefront of today's environmental issues.  Professional turf managers most certainly understand this, but also understand the benefits derived from proper moisture management.  Conditions that allow for a proper balance of irrigation over time provide healthy turf and improved playability.  Excessive moisture creates an ideal environment for disease development and root loss due to a lack of oxygen in the root zone.  Unnecessary water also leads to undesirable playing conditions such as plugged lies and reduced ball roll.  Successful golf course superintendents realize the importance of proper moisture management and will currently employ advances in technology to best manage irrigation at their courses.The golf course maintenance staff currently at NSCC currently uses two pieces of technology to monitor soil moisture conditions on the golf course.
TDR main
TDR Field Scout 300

Last year, the golf course maintenance staff began using the FieldScout TDR 300 Soil Moisture Meter.  This portable meter is carried from green to green by a trained staff member.  During the summer month's data is gathered throughout the day.  The numbers obtained from the unit are checked against threshold numbers that have been previously established.  The threshold numbers identify the minimum water requirement for healthy turf.  If the turf falls below the threshold number, nightly irrigation or hand water will be scheduled.

Turf Gaurd
This year, the golf course maintenance staff will begin using a product called Turf Guard which is manufactured by the Toro corporation.  Turf Guard is a system of soil moisture meters that communicate with the central irrigation computer.  Last week, NSCC staff installed these stationary meters in the greens on 1 White and 7 White, along with the fairway on 1 White.  The sensors communicate via radio to receiver in the clubhouse.  The receiver then sends information over the internet to the central computer in the Superintendent's office in the maintenance facility.  The sensors monitor both soil temperature and moisture.  Accurate soil temperature measurements are critical when applying time sensitive herbicide, fungicide, and fertilizer applications.  Additionally, the sensors may be left out during the winter to monitor soil temperatures below snow cover.  As previously discussed, proper soil moisture management is critical for both healthy turf and improved course playability.  These meters provide real-time measurements that are accessible at any time from the central computer at NSCC, as well as remotely from my iPhone and iPad. If the Turf Guard sensors prove valuable, we will have the opportunity to expand to other locations through the golf course in the future.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fairway Sand Topdressing and Maintenance

Prior to 2008, fairway maintenance at NSCC had centered on core aerification which occurred on an annual basis. This process was beneficial to the turf at NSCC as it alleviated soil compaction, reduced thatch and allowed for proper water, oxygen, and nutrient exchange, but was often completed to the dismay of golfers due to the often muddy conditions for two to three weeks following the process.

In 2008, the Board of Directors approved a new three phase fairway management program that addressed these same goals, while at the same time eliminating the muddy conditions following core aerification by gradually improving the quality of the soil.  The process included:  solid tine aerification (no more cores/mud), aggressive vertical mowing, and sand topdressing. 

At about the same time as this process began, the economy suffered and club membership trended downward.  Tough decisions were made to reduce expenses throughout the club.  The expense of the sand proved to be too much and became a casualty as well.  The golf course maintenance staff has continued to aerify with solid tines and aggressively verticut since this time, but the lack of sand applications has caused the fairways to become thatchy and soft.  Excess thatch reduces playability and creates a moist environment that promotes an environment for disease development.

Why Sand?

The new fairway maintenance process serves to improve fairway conditions by modifying the underlying soil with the addition of sand. Just as the greens at NSCC were improved over the last 30 years by continual sand topdressing, we aspire to the same outcome on the fairways. We plan to apply roughly ¼ inch of sand per year on the fairways. At this rate, after ten years we will have accumulated a two inch sand base underneath the fairways allowing for improved turf health, better drainage, firmer fairways and improved golf cart accessibility following rain events.

In order to apply the desired amount of sand, the golf course maintenance staff has once again begun to apply sand to the fairways.  We will make three applications in the spring and three applications in the fall.  The first application on the White Nine will be completed by May 1st.  The Red and Blue Nines will be treated immediately following or as soon as the weather permits.

,Even thought the sand is swept into the turf canopy, the fairways will be somewhat sandy for a couple days.  As you play, you may notice that your ball picks up a small amount of sand.  This will occur until the turf grows through sand.  This inconvenience is small compared to the improved fairway conditions that will occur over the next couple of years.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Golf Season Begins With Course In Great Shape

The 2012 golf season officially begins this weekend with the onset of the first major of the year, the Masters. The golf course at NSCC has opened in wonderful conditions. A mild winter, with little ice and minimal sub-zero temperatures, has provided us with a damage free golf course. Additionally, extremely warm temperatures for extended periods of time in March have provided for an early spring green up. Currently turf conditions are 4-6 weeks ahead of schedule. That being said, the golf course maintenance staff has been very busy preparing the course for play and summer:

  • Putting Greens: The greens have been verticut and topdressed. Growth regulators have been applied to reduce annual bluegrass seedhead production. Mowing heights and fertility will be manage to allow for adequate recovery and growth.

  • Tees: The tees have been verticut and topdressed as well. We will place the tee markers toward the front of tees for a couple more weeks in order to preserve the primary hitting areas for the upcoming season.

  • Fairways: The fairways have come out of winter in the best shape that I have ever seen--they currently appear as though it is mid-June. Our equipment technician Jim is currently solid-tine aerifying all fairways. He has completed the White Nine and is currently working on the Red Nine. Once Jim completes this process, the golf course maintenance staff will begin verticutting fairways in preparation for our first sand topdressing application.

  • Pump Station Improvements: The pumps in the pumping station on the White Nine have been completely rebuilt and installed. The irrigation system was pressurized yesterday. The golf course maintenance staff will repair all leaking pipes and sprinkler heads in the coming weeks.

  • Stump Hole Repair: The warm weather and dry conditions have allowed the golf course maintenance staff to get an early jump on repairing the stump holes created following the removal of trees in the fall of 2011. While most holes were leveled off and seeded, the golf course maintenance staff sodded the largest stump holes located close to the fairways on 1 White and 3 White.

Take advantage of the warm temperatures this weekend and come out and play the course. Follow your round by watching the Masters in the clubhouse!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Irrigation System Maintenance and Improvements

A properly functioning irrigation system is vital to maintaining quality turf conditions throughout the season. The irrigation system is truly the life blood of the golf course during the hot summer months. Without a reliable system, turfgrass decline would be inevitable.

Understanding this, the NSCC Board of Directors approved two major deferred maintenance projects which will guarantee proper irrigation function for years to come.

The Board approved the following maintenance work to the pump station on 7 White:

  • Restore the support frame that holds all four pumps above the wet well.

  • Restore the 60HP pump to peak efficiency

  • Rebuild and add an additional stage to the 20HP in order to meet the higher pressure demand that our system now operates at

  • Service the 30HP pump and motor

The Board also approved the following upgrades to the irrigation control system since our current control system is no longer manufactured and now obsolete. In fact, some electronic repair parts are no longer available for purchase:

  • Replace the 27 on-course Network 800 controllers with 15 new Lynx controllers

  • Replace the 12 year-old central computer with a new computer and software

While these projects do not necessarily have the appeal of a renovation project, they are critical to course conditioning. All installation and repair work is currently underway. The new system will be up and running to begin the season.