Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Root Pruning

Dew Pattern Indicating Insufficient Moisture Due To Competition With Tree Roots
In addition to removing leaves and preparing the course for the winter, the golf course maintenance staff has been busy completing other punch list projects before the ground freezes.  One such project was root pruning all trees located within ten yards from the perimeter of the fairways.  While time consuming, the benefits of this process will be realized next summer with healthier fairway turf, more consistent fairway moisture, and a reduction in labor intensive hand watering.  By use of the vibratory plow attachment on our trencher, we were able to sever all roots to a depth of ten inches.  As witnessed by the photo above, these fibrous roots wreak havoc on the turf during the stressful summer months as they are able to outcompete the turfgrass for moisture.  It will take about two years before the roots regenerate and this process must be completed again.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

2 Blue Pond Restoration

2 Blue Pond With Restored Edge and Beach Bunker Removed
Even though no major renovation plans took place this fall,the golf course maintenance staff has completed an extensive pond edge repair projecton 2 Blue.  As many of you have surelynoticed, the integrity of the pond edge had declined over the last few years,exposing the irrigation piping and posing a safety issue to both members andemployees.  In order to repair theroughly three hundred feet of pond bank, the talented members of the maintenancestaff utilized an excavator to reshape and soften the edge.   At the same time the pond edge was beingprepared, other staff members worked to further improve the hole.  The narrow point of the fairway was expandedby roughly three yards to disperse cart traffic and improve playability.  Additionally, the beach bunker on the greenside of the pond was removed according to the Forse plan.  The elimination of this bunker will easemaintenance associated with sand washing into the pond and improve playabilityby eliminating a long bunker shot for those who have punched out through thefairway and into the bunker.  Prior toregrassing the edge of the pond, the entire edge was lined with wire mesh toprevent muskrat damage and plastic mesh to reduce future erosion.  The entire project was completed in-house bythe golf course maintenance staff and serves to improve the hole for futureyears.

Prior To Restoration
Bank Excavation and Grading

Grading and Beach Bunker Removal

Beach Bunker Removal

Muskrat and Erosion Prevention Installation

Sod Installation and Fairway Expansion

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fairway Topdressing Success

NSCC's fairway topdressing program is a critical piece to the overall management of our fairway turf.  The program began in 2008 and was discontinued from 2009-2011 during the economic downturn for budgetary reasons.  The application of sand, when partnered with solid-tine aerification and aggressive vertical mowing, will greatly improve the playability of the fairways.  While the traditionally used core aerifcation allowed us to manage the thatch level of the fairways and alleviate compaction, it did nothing to improve soil conditions.

Since NSCC rests on poorly drained, heavy clay soils, managing turfgrass moisture is very challenging.  As most members can attest, the fairways are very soft when wet allowing for minimal ball roll and increased disease pressure.  When the fairways become dry, they have the consistency of a terracotta pot.  Managing a high quality playing surface under these extremes can be nearly possible at times.

Fairway topdressing allows us to modify the underlying soil profile through the introduction of sand.  As the sand accumulates over the years, the fairways will become increasingly firm with improved drainage.  Golfers will easily recognize the improved ball roll, consistent lies, and increased cart usage following rain events.  The reduction of thatch and improved drainage will reduce disease pressure, allow us to better manage moisture, and provide a higher quality playing surface to the membership.

Consistency and patience are the key to a successful fairway topdressing program.  In its first full year, the program has accumulated over .25" of sand on all the fairways.  At this rate, the fairways will be growing on two inches of sand in seven more years.  Due to the duration of time needed to reach this goal, most golfers will not notice an immediate change, but each year the playability of the fairways will continue to improve.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Course Conditions and Opening

The snow has finally melted and the rains have finally subsided--at least temporarily.  An unusually long winter has taken hold of the Upper Midwest.  Masters weekend, the unofficial start of the golf season, is upon us.  Unfortunately, we remain locked in a miserable weather pattern.  Due to the lack of sun and warm temperatures, the golf course remains locked in a winter-like state.  In fact, soil temperatures have yet to reach 35 degrees Fahrenheit on the golf course.

It goes without saying that the lack of spring weather has delayed the opening of the golf course, especially in contrast to the extremely early opening of 2012, but how much longer do we have to wait?  Rest assured that the golf course maintenance staff monitors conditions on daily basis.  Each year we keep what is in the best interest of the golf course turfgrass in mind when determining when it is appropriate to open.  It appears that the over five inches of rain that we received this past week has ushered the frost from the ground, clearing another necessary hurdle prior to opening.  Conversely the abundance of rain has also left the course in a very soggy and fragile state. 

We typically like to see the turfgrass plants actively growing prior to opening so that they are able to withstand the damage that occurs due to the traffic of daily play.  Usually this means that we have mowed the putting surfaces at least one time.  Since the frost has just left the ground, soil temperatures will now more easily increase with the onset of some sunny days. 

The golf course maintenance staff is ready and excited to open the course for the 2013 golf season.  As usual we will open the course when we are certain that walking traffic will not have a detrimental affect on the turf.  Given the upcoming forecast, more cold and wet weather, I believe that it is unlikely that we open prior to next weekend (4/20).  Should conditions allow, we are prepared to open earlier.  Unfortunately, another week of cold and dreary may delay opening even further.  We appreciate your understanding and patience in this manner and look forward to providing you with a wonderfully conditioned course in the upcoming year.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

NSCC Recognized In National Publication

Moisture meters have become a true asset to managing the turfgrass at NSCC, a fact that I have referenced in past blog posts.  The most recent issue of Golf Course Industry magazine highlights the benefits of using moisture meters at various courses.  I had the opportunity to speak with the author of the article and he has included a number of quotes which speak to the importance of the use of these tools.  Click here to read the article.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Potential Impact From 60 Degrees and Rain In Late January

The best possible scenario for healthy turfgrass in spring is a "normal" winter that includes ample snow cover to insulate the underlying turf.  In recent years it seems as though our "normal" winter no longer includes extended periods of snow cover and cold temperatures.  In its place we have experienced a wide range of temperature fluctuations and a variety of precipiation, both in terms of type and quantity.  What does this new "normal" winter mean for turfgrass at North Shore Country Club.

Any turfgrass manager's greatest fear during the winter months is prolonged ice coverage.  While some ice formation is normal, even during our old "normal" winters, heavy rain events followed by extremely cold temperatures provide the greatest opportunity for winter damage.  Gas exchange is severely limited underneath thick ice coverage that persists for months on end.  Even during the winter months, gas exchange is critical for turfgrass survival.  Without proper gas exchange, the turfgrass may suffocate and die.  In 2010 this type of ice formation led to severe damage across many fairways at NSCC.  Much debate exists within the industry as to whether physically removing ice is beneficial to the turf or if it actually promotes more damage.  Since annual bluegrass is more susceptible to damaged from prolonged ice cover, NSCC's golf course maintenance staff takes a very proactive approach to removing ice from the putting surface during the winter.

Fortunately we have endured our current winter without any periods of prolonged ice coverage.  Instead we have had extended periods of little or no snow coverage and varying temperatures.  Recently we received nearly once inch of rain followed by a rapid decline in temperature.  This scenario can often be problematic.  When temperatures reach unseasonable highs, the grass plants, annual bluegrass in particular, begin to break their dormancy.  Upon breaking dormancy, the turf takes in the available water around it.  As temperatures plummet to the single digits, the water may freeze causing damage or death to the turfgrass plants.  In order to prevent such damage from occurring, the golf course maintenance staff made every effort to remove as much water as possible from the putting surface and low-lying fairway areas.  This practice became more difficult as the rain eventually turned to snow.  Five dedicated maintenance staff employees spent the day in the rain, sleet, and snow removing as much water as possible from NSCC's playing surfaces.