26 March 2015

Course Update 3-26-15

All the covers are off the greens now, and we like what we see. Debris cleanup should be finished this week.  Next week we will shift focus to the finer details and beginning work on the greens. 

We still have some frost in the ground, so we need a little more time before we are able to get you back out there.  The greens are extremely soft right now, so it will be a few more days before we can get on them ourselves and do some work. 

We have Friday, April 3 targeted as our official opening date with carts and all 18 greens open.  Weather permitting of course. 

25 March 2015

The Moment of Truth

We began taking covers off Tuesday, and so far the news is good.  Very good.  I'm happy to report that through 10 holes, we are damage free except from a few bumps and bruises from our snow removal equipment.  We still have #11-18 to go but we are not expecting any surprises.

Cover removal is a complicated process and it takes time to do it right.  We prefer the covers to be dry when rolling them up, and they need to go back into the bags they came in because storage space is limited.  Today the covers will be wet because of rain, so we are gunning for Thursday and Friday to remove the rest of them.

This weekend's temperatures don't look good for golf, so we are holding off doing anything to the greens this week.  Next week we are likely to mow and roll for the first time, weather permitting.  We should have you back out here soon.  For now, enjoy a few pictures from yesterday as we removed covers.

The cover coming off #2 green.

Big difference in covered vs. uncovered turf on #3 green!

#5 is glowing in the distance compared to its surroundings.

Easy to see the different varieties of grasses this time of year.  The darker grass is the bentgrass, and the lighter colored grass is the annual bluegrass (poa annua).

#8 green looking good.  Still some snow in the bunker.

23 March 2015

Closer by the Day...

We are feeling good about how the golf course came through the winter.

Spring is here, but today it feels a lot more like winter.  We have three of our seasonal staff back continuing our annual debris pickup.  Lots of sore backs, but it feels good to be outside and back at it.  We may even begin to remove greens covers this week once we get through a couple more cold nights.  Removing the covers is a labor intensive process and it will take several days to complete.

Tentatively we are looking at reopening the golf course on Friday, April 3.  As you know, there is nothing we can do about the weather, and our reopening is entirely contingent on it.  This date may be sooner or later.  We are optimistic that it will be sooner, but stay close to the blog in the coming days to be the first to know.

17 March 2015

Equal Parts Hard Work and Luck

Time for the million dollar question: how did the greens come through the winter?

We won't be able to fully answer this question until the covers are actually removed from the greens, but all early indications point to us having healthy greens this spring.  Since the snow melted, we have been army-crawling beneath the covers and doing visual inspections.  We have also taken samples into our shop to force them to break dormancy to see what we got.  We are optimistic and like what we see so far.
Taking sample plugs from greens is a great way for us to anticipate damage to a green, if any.  Based solely on looks alone, the plugs were a little scary when first removed from the greens and taken into our maintenance facility.  But after 8 days in the windowsill, it was obvious the sample areas were going to be just fine.
If there was ever a year to cover our greens, this was the year.  The low temperatures in January and February, along with a lack of snow cover until after the Super Bowl, would have been tough on exposed poa annua greens.  The covers also protected our greens from mechanical injury from our snowblower and squeegees, and there was certainly a lot of that in January and March.
Removing snow from #9 in March in anticipation of warmer temperatures.  Removing snow reduces the potential amount of meltwater on the green.
The covers will remain on the greens until we are sure the last of the cold nights are behind us.  Right now, our turf is insulated from the cold temperatures beneath the covers.  If we remove them too soon, a night in the low 20's or teens will send our greens backwards instead of forwards.  We are looking for a stable forecast without cold nights, and when we have it, the covers will come off and the greens will be back open for business.  

Covers will remain in place until Monday at the earliest.

Last week, conditions were ripe for crown hydration injury.  We spent long days here ensuring that no water remained on the greens during the melt.  This water, if allowed to freeze and thaw, would have the potential to cause a lot of damage to our greens, with or without the covers.  In the past, we have seen crown hydration injury on covered greens.  Fortunately, it appears we made it through this critical period virtually unscathed.

Squeegees and vacuums are used to remove water from the greens so it doesn't freeze overnight.
Walking the property yesterday, we did notice some low-lying areas of fairways that appear to have been damaged by ice.  We know we had ice this winter: it came from a rain event on January 3rd, and a few fairways had spots where ice had lingered for 60+ days.  That same ice was also on all of our greens, but thanks to our snowblow and squeegee efforts this winter, our team was able to remove the ice in late January.  While we won't know for certain until the covers are pulled, we do believe this effort prevented damage on our greens.

We expected to see a little damage in the fairways in low-lying areas.  Ice sat in this spot for over 60 days, more than enough time to kill the poa annua.  Areas like this will recover quickly in the spring when soil temperatures warm up.
This was not an "easy winter" by any stretch for us.  Conditions for another rough winter were definitely there this year.  It took equal parts hard work, planning, and admittedly, luck to help get us through another record-breaking winter in Southeast Michigan.

The turf underneath our greens covers is looking really good, as seen here on #2 green.  We can't wait to get you back on them, as soon as the weather allows.

11 March 2015

Melt Down!

We are working hard to clear greens to facilitate a melt this week. With temps flirting with 50 degrees each day, we are beginning to see more and more turf and less snow. We are concerned about melting snow that re freezes at night. This can cause crown hydration injury to our poa annua greens, despite having the covers.  We have had a couple areas on greens freeze overnight, and have taken samples to see if any injury will result from the fluctuating temperatures.

It hasn't been easy clearing the greens. A typical green may take us 1 hour or so to clear, but due to the snow depth and weight, that same green is now taking us 3-4 hours to clear. So we are working in shifts and clearing 3 greens per day. We are hopeful to have all the greens clear of snow, melt water, and ice by the end of the week.

The depth and weight of the snow has made the task of clearing greens extremely difficult this year.
Once the greens are cleared, it doesn't take long to melt down!