Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ventilating the Greens

With the frequent and above normal amounts of rain over the past seven weeks, saturated soil conditions are present throughout the course. And now, with very warm temperatures upon us, the combination can rapidly lead to turf root loss and diminished quality. In spite of numerous core aeration sessions over the years and nearly 5" of sand topdressing (from 20 years of work) providing a porous surface rootzone, with the excessive amount of rain we've had recently and internal drainage lines on only a few of our newer greens, we recently started a process of Greens Ventilation.This is really just an aerification process but without removing any material and using a special tine called a cross tine. No it's not a special tine that I came up with, I wish I had, it's a special tine that is available from a tine manufacturing company shaped like two intersecting double sided knives. We use our Toro Procore aerator and adjust the depth to approx. 3 inches, and the spacing to approx. 1 1/2" on center.
Rafa beginning Ventilation process

As the tines are inserted, a cross like cut is created and these cuts result in much more area affected and open to air movement into (providing oxygen) and gases out of, the rootzone soil. A great feature of this tine is that while it affects a nice amount of underground area, the surface is minimally disrupted. 
Green surface after "cross tine" ventilating, prior to rolling

Javier rolling 

After rolling the green following ventilating, ball roll is minimally, if at all, impacted, yet valuable benefits of oxygenation (aiding root system support) and rootzone soil drying (aiding surface firmness, and ball roll) are gained. This procedure may be repeated in the coming weeks if our current weather pattern of frequent rainfall continues.
 Putting surface after rolling...surface nearly closed but ventilation channels beneath remain

As soil temperatures rise in the summer months, root growth slows and even ceases. And of course, without roots, plants weaken and ultimately die. Moist and/or saturated rootzone soils warm and retain heat more than drier rootzone soils and so anything we can do to dry and cool the rootzone, and retain roots, is critically important. Ventilation certainly helps in this regard!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Stormy Kiltie Days

Last year it was a flood (we played only 13 holes on the second day), about 10 years ago it was a microburst felling 42 trees, there's been other years with strong storms and downed trees, there's been some years with very high temperatures, and this year Kiltie Days once again had quite unsettled weather. Fortunately we didn't get the flooding rains of last year (we had just .75 inches) and it wasn't until most of the days matches were complete, but we did have gale force winds (over 65 mph) and the aftermath left 3 trees, the tops of 2 more, and a huge mess of smaller branches and leaves littering the course. And, there's still many broken branches up in tree canopies, and probably more that we haven't seen yet (but will when they begin to wilt and turn off colored), that will all need to be pruned in the coming days.
 The subject of a long Friday night! (fore and aft the sand piles)

One of at least 5 causalities of the 65 mph winds

From the time the first storm on Friday passed (there was another overnight) until well into the dark hours of the night, our grounds staff sawed, hauled, blew, and raked the debris and had the course fairly well cleared. The overnight storm then brought down a bit more debris and so bright and early (well, not so bright...but definitely early!) Saturday morning, more blowing, raking, and mulching brought the course to a tidy condition once again. It was certainly a long week preparing for the event with multiple mowing and many other maintenance tasks before and during the practice round and throughout the event, and then addressing the wake of the storm, but I'm happy that this year's Kiltie Days proceeded with only minor disruption and that the rain totals were relatively low.  

It's been a different story over the past two months as the data below shows!

Over 5.5 inches more rain than normal for the past month and a half!

It's rained 15 of the last 22 days, and we've had 3 inches more than normal in May and 2.5 inches more than normal so far in June. Unfortunately more is expected tonight. I'm thinking this 5.5 inches extra rainfall to date, might just have something to do with the rough (and all areas) being very lush, and the fairway and green surfaces being softer and slower than usual! A little drought would be just fine about now!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Seven Weeks and Counting

It's been over two weeks since I last posted (which is indeed much longer than I like) but it seems like it's been so much longer with everything in full swing and many course activities in progress. Time sure flies and before we know it, Kiltie Days will pass, then it will be the 4th of July, then the Derby, and very shortly thereafter, The 108th Western Amateur Championship. A member asked me the other day "When will you start preparation's for the Western Am."? I though for a second and replied, "Well, actually we started preparing about eight months ago!"
At that time, October 09', we were modifying (rebuilding and adding) the fairway bunker complex on #18, expanding a few fairway areas to better incorporate bunkers into fairway contours, extending #17 tee, installing drainage in a few poorly drained fairway and rough areas, building the base for the new cart path (brick edge and crushed brick) at #12 Green / #13 Tee, and much more.
I told the member "eight months ago" but now that I've thought more about it, I probably could have said, "two years ago"!. It was then that we started the installation of the new irrigation system which, if it ever does get dry this year, will give us the ability to water only where needed, or where desired. For example, should the rough start to go dormant we can keep it well irrigated without adding any extra water to the fairways. We could also water the slopes and surrounds of the greens, without putting any water on the putting surfaces. Our goal as we approach the Western, should we get cooperation with the weather, would be to have fast and firm fairways, approaches, and greens and "healthy and challenging" roughs and green surrounds. Our new irrigation system features the ability to water each of these mentioned areas independent of the others. At this point I'm hoping that we get the chance to use it as opposed to the frequent rainfall we've experienced lately! This high moisture and high humidity recently has caused saturated and soft ground conditions and dense, lush and slow turf conditions.  I'm really looking forward to a break from this rain forest-like weather very soon!

Our projects this spring are progressing nicely and have included:
  • Repair of winter damaged fairway areas(several seedings and finally sodding using our "home-grown" sod and "harvested" sod from shifting the beginning of #7 fairway) is now very near completion. This damage was the worst I've seen in my 20 years at the club and it's repair has required nearly daily efforts for the past six weeks! It's nice to be about finished
  • Extension of #10 Tee and landscaping behind tee complete.
  • Grassing of buckthorn cleared area adjacent to #9 tees is complete and seedlings are emerging. We'll soon add some established native plants, Indian grass and Little Blue-stem grasses, to supplement seeded plants.
  • Cart Path at #12 Green/ #13 Tee now complete.
Otto and Javier near completion of winter damaged fairway repair - they've been at it for nearly six weeks now!
    A sample of winter damaged fairway turf being removed

    Tee #10 sod work - now complete, including planting ornamental grasses behind tee

    Tee #17 - extension now complete

     New cart path complete at #12 Green / #13 Tee

    Fine Fescue grass seedling emergence at #9 Tee

    Plenty to do in next few weeks:
    • Sod any bare spots such as cart traffic areas and tree stump holes.
    • Renovate cart path (add brick edge, soil separator fabric, and crushed brick) along side #9 tee.
    • Remove deteriorated asphalt on pathway from #11 tee  to #2 green, and replace with crushed brick.
    • Erect three new gazebos to replace deteriorated ones at #5, #12 and  at #15 tee / #16 green.
    • Replace some of overgrown shrubs at Half Way House.
    • Repair and sealcoat main parking lot and lower parking areas (by lower tennis courts) and perhaps paths adjacent to putting green, #1 tee, #10 tee, and near range tee.
    • Water-jet several tile lines exhibiting slower drainage.
    • Continue to attempt to "tame" the rough, and \conduct all routine daily tasks such as hole location changing, tee servicing, mowing (greens, tees, approaches, fairways, intermediate rough), bunker raking, range tee and chipping area overseeding and set-up, plant protectant applications as needed, and much, much more.
    I'll try to post more frequently on these projects, and other activities, as they progress.

     A few of the eight new residents at #9 pond -  Mallard Ducklings!
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