As the dust settles from our fall aerification, I wanted to take a few minutes to recap the happenings of the week. Though we may not have completed as much as we wanted, we still had a very successful week and the end is in sight. Rain on Wednesday cut us short, and was something lingering in our minds throughout the entire process. We had to stop punching holes by noon on Wednesday to even stand a chance to finish cleanup.
Unfortunately, as rain got near it started a bit earlier than we had hoped. This left plugs remaining on 5,6,7,8, and 16 fairways and potential mud to clean up on 8 acres of fairway turf. The team came together to hand shovel all of 16 fairway while the rain poured down and called it a day shortly after. Luckily some dry air was around over the next 36 hours to give us the ability to finish cleaning fairways. Holes 9,10,11,12,13,and 14 remain to be completed but should finish out pretty quickly as weather allows. We will try to complete the process with as minimal impact on golf as possible.
16 of our 20 greens were completed on Tuesday with the final 4 being finished early Wednesday. After greens were punched and cleaned, a heavy application of sand was put down and then brushed into all holes. Our goal is to fill every hole entirely to aid in smoothing the greens back up as quick as possible. Leading up to aerification week, we made 2 special fertility applications to spark growth leading into the week and will follow up with another application this week. Greens have been rolled 5 times after aerification and a few more times before we mow. We hope to mow greens by the middle of this week.
Tees will be completed as an ongoing project throughout the fall. It will be easier to maintain and control our mess while having minimal impact on golf. Tees will get a traditional core aerification and we hope to add a dethatching process into the mix as well. This will help remove the “puffy” feeling below your feet on tees.
One last exciting thing to keep our week interesting was a mainline blowout at #1 forward tee. Overnight Tuesday, an 8″ mainline cracked and blew apart resulting in loss of the system until repairs were made. As we finished aerification on Wednesday, we began exploring only to find that the pipe had been resting on concrete for the past 25 years and finally had enough stress to fracture. While this is not entirely uncommon, the timing could not have been any worse. Our good friends at Leibold Irrigation were able to supply us with parts from a project they are working on in Medina and the repair was complete by the end of the week.
I have attached a few pictures of the processes and will continue to update you as the season finishes.
Special thanks to Ray, Ryan, Jim, and Charlie for lending a helping hand through fall aerification!
Heat and humidity have come back with a vengeance but our team is battling through. Please drink plenty of fluids when out and don’t forget to take a break in the AC if you’re feeling over heated. Our guys have been handling the heat well but these are the instructions we pass out daily in this type of weather pattern.
Best of luck to all involved in the PGA championship this week, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to manage bentgrass in St. Louis! You may have seen some early coverage showing fans and other strategies in place to help keep turf cool but as the week progresses it will be very challenging to provide championship conditions.
I posted a short bulletin from the Mid-Atlantic region GCSA a little while back and recently ran across another one with a similar tone, except this one was from Dr. Miller from the University of Missouri and was titled “This Season Unprecedentedly Sucks.” The article can be found by following this link – Missouri Turf Article.
While we have not had quite the extremes as what they have been dealt in Missouri, we are not far off and all regions are singing the same tune. Being on defense and being mindful of our mowing and watering procedures helps us to survive and advance but after two years of major disruption and moving/growing in of turf some of the evidence of our renovation is hard to hide. Some of the most unsightly items are crabgrass and goosegrass which have started to blow up in roughs and fine turf alike. These grassy weeds can be very challenging to control especially when pre-emergent herbicides are not able to be used early in the year.
Wait… Why couldn’t we use pre-emergent herbicides???
Last year we started a large scale overseeding and rough transition application where we aerified and seeded all primary rough areas. Though the seedlings were able to germinate in the fall and survive the winter, they were not ready to withstand a strong pre-emergent herbicide application like what would be used to control our grassy weeds. Most of our in play rough areas will be able to be treated next year and the years to follow.
And what about the fairways, tees, collars??? We were also in the process of growing in a lot of these areas and unable to apply preventative.
Why can’t we spray the young seedlings??? Pre-emergent herbicides act as a barrier just below the soil surface and would not allow new seedlings to germinate or allow existing seedlings to mature as they would not be able to fill out laterally.
A major contributing factor to the amount of crabgrass we see is the amount of dirtwork that was completed during the project. During each phase of construction we were challenged with growing in sod or seed behind the contractors. When they strip sod of an area, move it to the side and then re-lay that same grass we have introduced additional weed seeds. Crabgrass and Goosegrass are prolific seed producers and when the sod was cut and laid on the outskirts of the course or in weedy areas we contaminate our stand with additional weed seeds. In addition to incorporating new seed from different areas by transplanting sod, we also bring old seeds to the surface when disturbing soil. After sod is laid or seed is planted, the disturbed weed seed also germinates and starts to fill any voids or weak areas.
We have had representatives from all of the major chemical companies out to the course this year to look at our progress in the fescue areas, one common statement from each of the reps was “crab and goose grass is a bumper crop this year.” A “bumper crop” is a term used in agriculture to describe a crop with an unexpectedly high yield, and this year all turf facilities are experiencing troubles with these noxious weeds.
Why is this year so bad??? The weather pattern has played a huge role in turf managers challenge to control crab and goose grass. Early wet patterns made it very challenging for managers to get pre-emergent applications out, and those that were able to had difficulty managing the amount of water behind application which can cause lower efficacy. After the pre-emergent window we entered a hot wet spell which caused thinning of turf and early germination of crab/goose grass. Following the hot wet spell with thinning turf comes the normal hot/humid conditions where crab/goose grass thrive and are able to become dominant.
Luckily these grasses can’t withstand cold conditions and will die with the first frost, but that doesn’t look to be any time soon.
So.. what are we doing about it?!?? Our approach is multi-faceted and dependent on the area in question.
Around greens and collars, we are simply pulling it out while also trying to encourage growth of the desired grasses.
Gabe pulling crab & Goose grass
Upclose, trying to leave as much turf behind as possible
Sam on the next hole, same process
After they are complete, a small void remains.
Bentgrass germination, seed planted last monday.
The process started with slit seeding into the weak collar areas and was followed by fertilizer and wetting agent applications to help with seed germination. Now that we are a few days away from seeing out little babies emerge, we are pulling unwanted grasses from the collars so that the new grass can creep in and take over. This will also help with the transition of collars to greens height grass.
In areas on fairways and tees that have started to show a lot of weed infestation we are applying a herbicide combination that will slowly melt back the unwanted species and allow the bentgrass to fill the void. We have also started a seeding process into these areas to encourage bentgrass takeover rather than poa annua. In the roughs, we are able to use a more common herbicide that will help to control the crab/goose grass but will still need to be cautious of high temperatures as these products come with a risk of phytotoxicity.
The picture above is outside our shop near the construction staging areas and is a great representation of how quickly crab and goose grass can take over an area void of turf. The areas heavily infested were stripped and used around the course during the construction and seeded early spring. Due to competition and poor germination, the primary grasses observed are crab and goose grass, we will remedy this issue but a fall seeding application will make it much easier to develop the desired stand of turf.
We are in the process of making the weeds go away, and will work to prevent them more in the future as our turf stands will be able to withstand the proper applications.
With some showers in the area, I figured it would be a good time to send an update with what has been going on out on the property. Today we have received an inch of rain already and more on the way this evening, the course is pretty saturated but a slow soaking rain can be a good thing from time to time. Today’s rain will give us the ability to keep the irrigation system at rest and save some water and energy by not running the pump station. Any saved hours with our old pump station is a win in my eyes.
Last week we were hit a stretch of bad luck at the pump station and our Jockey pump failed causing us to shut down the system and pull the pump for inspection. We are waiting to hear back from Mid-Ohio Electric, our service company, to determine exactly what happened. Below are a few pictures we captured during the removal process.
Our pump station is unique in that it sits so high above the river. This means that our wet well, or pit in which water is pulled from, is extremely deep in comparison to the average system. While most wet wells are 10-12 feet deep, ours is actually 30 feet deep! With overhead power lines and trees acting as obstacles, we are not able to pull the entire pump in one pick but rather take the pump column apart in 5ft sections and continue down the line. The last 12 feet are removed as one section and all loaded onto a truck to take back to the shop.
I include this picture of a vertical turbine pump to help explain the actual components as it was a challenging concept for me to understand at first. The pump motor, located at the top, is an electric A.C. motor that spins the shaft at high RPM’s. Impellers are attached at the base of the shaft and move water into and through the diffuser bowl where it gains pressure to move water through the column and out of the discharge head.
We are still able to operate the system but it is not currently running at full capacity. The biggest thing this means to a golfer in the meantime is that you may see irrigation cycles ending in the early morning when it typically would finish overnight.
Enough about pumps, what about the turf? We have made it through a difficult stretch of weather but are not in the clear yet. Early heat, humidity and high rain totals mean that roots have been compromised and caution should be used through the remainder of the summer stress months. I am happy to report that of the ugly spots around the course, all are self inflicted wounds that will heal quickly and provide better results in the future. We have been trying to re-work our agronomic procedures and applications to target growth regulation of both wanted and unwanted plants. The most invasive weed in the world is Poa annua (weed defined = a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants), and we have a lot of it on our bentgrass playing surfaces. While this is a long hard battle, we have decided that there is no better time to start than now, and no better time to be aggressive than the present. We have heavily regulated our fairways and you have likely noticed just a few spots that seem “dead.” While they are not dead, they are very hurt and if we back off the pedal they will rebound quickly with more poa.
Our process has been to use a growth regulator that is more aggressive in its regulation of poa annua than it is of bentgrass, in turn this will allow the bent to creep over and help fill the area. In much of our turf this is happening without any obvious visual evidence but some spots have much more poa than others and look worse overall. Some of the areas that come to mind are on 1 approach, 2 fairway, 2 approach, 4 approach, 6 approach, 7 approach, and many of the bentgrass bunker tie-ins. As these areas continue to decline in appearance, we will (or have already) incorporate seed and fertilizer to speed the recovery process.
Yesterday we began our seeding process and hope to have some evidence of new grass in the next 5-7 days. We used our Mataway walk behind seeder and will apply a wetting agent and fertilizer to assist with germination. Throughout the remainder of the week we will continue this process and hit any of our heavily poa infested areas across all fairways and approaches.
Another major area of attention for us in the coming weeks is in the fescue areas. We have started our applications to remove all unwanted grass and weed species and encourage only the fine fescue. Soon I will post strictly about this process and our plans moving forward. At this time I am very pleased with our results so far and have already started to see the transformation in areas that have had their application.
And remember, though we love to talk about it our job is not always all about the grass. A few staff members had the fun experience of being the demo team for the old hitting wall at tennis. We will soon determine what will be in its place but the deteriorating wall was becoming a safety concern and we were asked to remove it.
Thanks for following along and keep an eye out for the next post!
One of my recent emails from the golf course superintendents association had this article attached and I felt it was a good one to pass along. While the mid-Atlantic region has been walloped lately with storms the weather pattern was very similar in the Midwest just a few short weeks before. We have been faced with some of the same difficult decisions and scenarios and have made it through relatively well. It will still pose a challenge for the remainder of the season but we feel that we are in a pretty healthy spot at the moment.
Lovely weather over the past week and a half has helped the course dry out and firm up. Turf is holding in well under traffic and heat but beginning to show a little stress.
While trying to maintain the course at its driest potential we rely on the irrigation system to help us catch back up with a base moisture and touch up any hot spots as needed. This is why you may see us in the morning or even afternoon running around with a hose or select head here and there. We try not to “syringe” turf, an application of light amounts of water used to help cool the surface, but rather add the water necessary for the plant to survive. Syringing greens and fairways is a large topic of debate among my colleagues and each side has a valid point. From my past experience, I have found that letting the grass adapt to the environmental conditions will help us in the long run.
A little bit of stress is a good thing. But, when can it go to far?
Simply answered, when we can’t apply the water necessary to keep the plants alive. Pump house and irrigation troubles plague our property.
Tuesday night we had a great green committee meeting where I reluctantly reported to the members that we have had very few irrigation issues year to date. I made that comment in fear of potential bad luck (I’m really not a superstitious person either!) and Wednesday night bad luck struck. Weather has been perfect for drying turf and throughout the day Wednesday we realized we would have to run the system again overnight to help us get to the potential rain chances Saturday. This irrigation cycle would have given us the ability to regain a base moisture overnight, stay firm through the day and touch up hot spots as needed.
Unfortunately for us, the system failed. One of our 3 pumps failed and the others were not able to keep up with the demand of the system causing everything to turn off to prevent any damage. Yesterday, myself, Joey and Zach spent time troubleshooting and cleaning the wet well pits to minimize chances of sucking up any river debris that could do more harm to the pump station. We suspect that silt or shale clogged the pump that went down. Next week we will have a company out to the course with a crane to pull our Jockey pump from the station and inspect/repair any damage. We hope to be back to full capacity very soon but in the meantime will be able to water with a bit less capacity.
The course will be bouncy! It will show some stress but it will recovery quickly. Drought stress is much easier to recover from than disease or excess water stress, some of the bigger issues we have faced in the past. The biggest concern across the course is the amount of Poa annua (annual bluegrass) we have. Poa is a very shallow rooted plant and not able to withstand the environmental stresses of central Ohio summers very well. We manage to encourage bentgrass growth, not Poa, because the bentgrass can withstand the stresses much better.
So what am I saying…? If some of the Poa does not bounce back immediately, that’s ok too! We want the bentgrass to encroach and take over these areas. This spring we started different growth regulator programs to encourage this exact movement. The summer heat will help the bent to out compete the poa and our water management techniques are also encouraging the same. In any thin areas, we plan to add seed so that we can have a more consistent stand of Bent.
In the meantime, enjoy the bounce and roll of our dry golf course! We have got this under control and will continue to battle through the dog days of summer.
I have decided to add a few pictures of what some of this stress may look like. Over the next few days you will likely notice some brown or purple tire tracks in fairways. This damage is similar to frost damage as the leaf blades were so dry when the carts travel across they actually break the plant cells and cause a browning of the turf. The active growing point of the plant is still alive and healthy, so it will push new leaf growth and we will ultimately mow the brown portions off in the next 1 or 2 mowings.
Thanks for following along. See you on the course soon!
Thought this would be a good time to explain a little bit about what’s been happening over the past few days. Obviously rain, and a lot of it. Over the past 3 evenings we have received a total of 3.95″. Luckily the July average is 4.2″ so there must not be much left 😉…
Tuesday night started us off with a bang, 1.7″ of rain in 30 minutes. As Tim Boyer put it, the waves on the putting green were big enough to surf. We had some repairs to make in the morning but for the most part, we wondered where the water went. It came down so fast that it all ran off, filled the lows, and made it to the drains.
Then Wednesday afternoon we watched the storms roll past the course, thinking we finally caught the break. Eventually one built, and when it hit it came in with some force. This storm only brought an additional .6″ of rain but it didn’t run off as quickly. It finally capped the course and forced us to shut down carts.
Thursday morning we were hopeful that the conditions would allow for carts by early afternoon but the humidity and overall saturation did not allow. By mid afternoon I began to think, we may have a shot to get carts out Friday morning… no more rain. Thursday afternoon as I wrapped up some office work and got ready to head back out on the course, my phone went off. Who was it, only my weather app alerting me that yet another storm was on the way. This one hurt. The first cell that landed on property dropped another .75″ only to be followed by a more powerful .9″ storm. The additional 1.65″ of rain last night set us back again. This time even further than the last two.
The heavy rains and severe storms are so localized that you may not even see the rain at your house… even in bexley. Below are a few interesting screenshots I have taken of the radar over the past few days.Not many places seeing the rain other than CCC in this photo from a few nights ago. Even my house in the gps target sat dry and made me wonder…
The two pictures above are from last night. They show that at 5:40, nothing on the radar indicating an issue at the course. Yet, by 5:56 we are in the heart of a red cell and probably a half inch of rain already dropped.
This morning it showed. Bunkers took a hit on the chin. The faces we have been working to flash and pack in, all needed touch up work. Some bunkers still sat full of water due to full drains surrounding the course. Pumps have been running to clear water from 6&17 since 6 am and we are finally getting back to normal. The bunker on the front left of #1 green has been completely re-worked 3 times this week. Below are a few pictures.
The biggest let down of the day was the inability to mow greens first thing this morning. It is a very difficult decision, and one that I hate making. But days like today patience is our best friend. By waiting a few hours to mow greens and let them dry down, we save ourself the potential to scalp and/or mechanically stress the turf. In turn this gives us the ability to provide a more consistent and perfect playing surface throughout a larger portion of the season. We are out now getting greens mowed to help save speed and keep a better surface through the weekend. Sorry for the inconvenience!I hope you are able to enjoy the nice weather this weekend with a round of golf at CCC.
Happy Independence Day. Hopefully you have been able to avoid the rains and stay dry for all of your 4th parties!
Last night we received 1.7″ of rain. A substantial amount that would typically shut down carts for at least the day. Fortunately we did not have to cancel carts today, why? Mainly because the weather over the past 48 hours has been pretty good drying weather for the course. The mid 90’s temps along with some wind and dropping humidity gave us the ability to begin to dry down the property. Last night it started to show, FINALLY! Right when we thought we dodged all the storms, it let loose.
Another sheeting rain storm has prevented us from finishing the tasks we would like to complete and put all efforts on course repair and storm cleanup. Heavy rains set us back, EVERY TIME. Today we had plans to flymow bunker banks, mow rough, mow greens, mow tees, and complete a few odd jobs before kicking out early for the holiday. Now the plans have changed, we will be able to mow greens and cut cups but all other efforts will be placed on storm repair and cleanup.
Due to the quick rainfall we had one major washout on the front left bunker at #1 green. The team quickly repaired that this morning and continued on through the front nine. We will rake bunkers fully for play today, then flymow and rake again tomorrow. We also have to place a large effort on cartpath cleanup following major storms. With the chip seal application on our surfaces and the small amount of extra chip on top, the sheeting water moves some of the gravel and our team is out making paths passable and smooth for the day. As the paths age, this excess will not be an issue but for the first year we will continue the battle. We also lost a large portion of a cottonwood on #1 Tee at the Par 3 course, a cleanup that will add a few hours to the day.
Ill touch back on here soon with an update, see you on the course!
– J.R. Lynn, GCS
Below is a picture of #1 left greenside bunker at first sight this morning.and also a picture of the fallen cottonwood limb at the par 3, almost an entire tree!