08 December 2014

December Update

No news is good news, right?  After a brutal fight against the weather last year, it's nice to have a milder month of December this year.  We've even been able to allow carts out again due to dry conditions. 

All the greens are under the covers and the turf is in great shape. We've been out removing completely dead trees (mostly spruces), and hunting down the last of the leaves with our blowers and mulching equipment.

Last week we had a mole run halfway across #15 green underneath the cover. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do about it now. We crawled under there and inserted poison baits into the tunnel. Hopefully that will do the trick. 

The milder weather has allowed us to do some topdressing of our tees, as well. The sand will help firm and smooth the surface next season and help dilute thatch buildup. These are all good things!

Inside, we are beginning winter maintenance of all our equipment, doing inventory, and prioritizing what equipment needs to be replaced based on its hours and its role in maintaining the golf course. 

25 November 2014


Wondering how the golf course survived the wind storm on Monday?

To summarize: one tree fell down on #12 tee from the wooded area to the left.  A couple limbs came down, and a lot of small debris that will keep our team busy early next spring.

We were worried about losing our greens covers, which got their first real test of the elements.  Nothing a few hundred staples couldn't fix, as we added more to keep them from blowing off.  Reports around our area of SE Michigan indicate that some other courses lost their covers in this wind--but not us!

20 November 2014

The Winter After the #WorstWinterEver


Deep Tine - Greens are scheduled for deep tine aeration on Monday, October 13.  Will fill holes with sand.  Plan to aerate again prior to closing greens, this time leaving holes open to give water a place to go.  This will be done with a ProCore and 5/16” solid tines.

Improve Surface Drainage - Collars will be core aerated, and heavily rolled to lower them on all greens, thus improving surface drainage.  (Over time, the collars build up from frequent topdressing.)

Topdressing Program - Our regular light sand topdressing program of every 7-14 days will continue through November to match the growth of the plant.  Greens will be sanded heavily to protect the crown prior to close, but not “buried” with excess sand, since they will be covered.

Fungicide Program - Greens will be treated the first or second week of November with preventative snow mold fungicides.  Final spray of the year: 0.4-oz Heritage, 5.7-oz Daconil Action, 4-oz IP-233, and 0.1-oz Primo.

Dormant Fertilizer - A dormant, dark-colored fertilizer will be applied to greens prior to close.  This will create voids in the event that ice forms, and has the ability to melt ice from within.

Covers - All greens will be covered this year around Thanksgiving time.  After that, temporary greens will go into effect until the following spring. Important to remember covers protect against low temperatures, dessication, and provide early spring green-up.  They will not prevent winterkill from ice accumulation and don’t offer much protection against crown hydration injury.

Tree removals - Removing trees that cause excessive shade is essential, especially in the wintertime.  As long as these trees remain, a high winterkill potential will always exist.  Over time, the newly seeded  bentgrass will be overtaken by poa annua because bentgrass prefers full sunlight.

These trees negatively impact our greens in the winter:
#2 - Spruces behind green
#6 - Sick maple (1) behind green
#7 - (1) Silver maple front-left of green
#8 - All spruces/white pines behind green
#10 - (2) Sycamores right of green
#11 - Trees on hill behind green
#12 - Selectively remove pines behind green
#15 - Spruces behind green and dead pines at 16 Tee

Snow removal - Snow will be removed:
  • If ice is present for longer than 30 days
  • A warmup is expected in long-term forecast
  • During periods of crown hydration potential
  • If conditions warrant.  Snow will not be removed “just because."
An extreme winter last year meant extreme snow removal.  Record low
temperatures led to minimal, if any, ice melt in January and February.
Our issue last winter was with "ice encasement."  Ice formed in late December
after a brief warmup and rain, and persisted until March.  The poa annua beneath
the ice suffocated.  Covers will not guard against this type of winterkill.
The end result of ice encasement.  Poa annua greens can survive around 30 days
under ice, and at most 45 days.  Ice was on this green for 75 days.
Shade not only makes greens extremely susceptible to winterkill, but it
also extremely limits recovery potential in the spring.

04 November 2014

Big Guns

This year, due to a cooler summer and minimal use of our irrigation system, we felt we had diluted organic matter and silt accumulation enough through weekly topdressing that pulling cores this fall was unnecessary.  Plus with an unprecedented small crew size this year, the task would have been extremely difficult for us to accomplish.  

On a side note, we did core #12 (our poorest draining green) and #18 (went under the river in a flood this year).

Our Procedure (watch the video):
  • Apply heavy topdressing
  • Deep tine green to 12" depth
  • Solid tine over deep tine holes to 5" depth but tighter spacing
  • Sweep sand into holes
  • Blow sand into holes
  • Roll green to smooth
Hats off to our team for a great job this year!  As always, the weather was against us for greens aerification but we prevailed.  We always do.