Thursday, June 13, 2013

Course Update

Happy first round of the US Open to everyone, that is if they get back on the course today.  Best wishes to the greens staff at Merion, they have had their hands full with over 6 inches of rain in the past 6 days before today's festivities.

Here at Longue Vue, it to has been a wet stretch since my last post.  Including today, we have received close to 3 inches of rain over the past week and half.  I guess we are making up for May.  Half of that accumulation came on the day/night prior to the first round of the Governor's Cup.

The staff and I worked hard at prepping the course that week and additional efforts were made on that Friday morning to get the course playable for the first matches.

This morning's storm blessed us with a quick .6 of rain in a little over a hour and half.  Leaving yet another morning dedicated to repairing bunkers and cleaning up debris.

Divot even gave a helping hand this morning
Now for updates:
Well being of Steve Poprocky:
Steve is doing well and has been transferred to rehabilitation at HealthSouth Harmarville.  Brooke and I went and visited him over the weekend and he is continuing to make progress in recovery.  He is getting in and out of the bed more and increasing his mobility on a daily basis.
A lot of emphasis has been placed on maintaining the rough over the past couple of weeks, we have dropped heights and bumped up mowing frequencies.  Of course Mother Nature has the final say, but we have been making it through the entire course 3 times the past two weeks which should really help with the growth over the weekends to keep it consistent.
It is important that the membership understands the labor intensity of this property, the areas around greens, tees and bunkers are push mowed due to the severity of the slopes.  We start this process each Monday and mow with 10 guys all day, however it still takes three days to complete the entire property due to the need of manpower for morning setup on days we are open to play.  With that being said, due to resources and budget, we are only able to get through these areas once a week.
The summer months are here and the heat is vastly approaching, the result will be a decrease in growth throughout the week allowing us to reduce mowing frequency and stress on the property.  I apologize for any inconvenience,  the rough is healthy and all efforts this spring have been spent to prepare the non-irrigated areas for the stressful months thus providing playable conditions  year round.
Annual Plantings:
We have finished all are plantings throughout the property this past week.
Annual Bluegrass Weevil:
You may have noticed a few areas of thinning turf in the clean-up passes of fairways and approaches, this is a result of the larvae of Annual Bluegrass Weevil (ABW) feeding on the roots of the Poa, it is not wet wilt.  The larvae arrives from the adult ABWs that overwinter in the woods and begin migrating to Poa surfaces as the temperature rises and burrow into the soil to lay their eggs. 

 If you look at the top section of the soil where I cut out a sample, hopefully you'll see little white specks, those are the larvae.
Treatments have been made to these areas and I will continue to monitor the property till we get to the end of June, when our insecticide application goes out for grubs.  Timing for applications is so important when it comes to attacking these critters.  The results of thinning, will recover and regain aesthetic appeal.  Once, the turf fully recovers, I will vent these areas with solid tine aeration to encourage root growth.
I look forward to seeing you on the course!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Finally a Update

I truly hope that this doesn't become a common theme and I have start off every post by apologizing for taking so long to update everyone on all the happenings on the course.  Needless to say the past few weeks have been busy both on the course and off.

The weather has had it's up and downs.  We have experience a wide range in temperature changes from days in the 50s to days in the upper 80s, including a few late season frosts.  A majority of time over the past few weeks have been used to keep up with mowing.  And yes the rough units do have blades on them, we are getting through rough twice a week and that includes a couple of loops around the fairways on Friday to clean it up for the weekend.  During the few hot spells, I've place a lot of emphasis on water management in training the staff on my techniques along with familiarizing myself with how far to push the envelop before using the irrigation system for night watering.  The techniques are paramount in the success of our property not only for plant health but for playability.  More importantly, firmer and well maintained water management is allowing us to handle rain events without impeding productivity from the staff and damage on the course from cart traffic. 

Here are some additional updates:

The well being of Steve Poprocky:

As many of you know from my email blast to the membership last week concerning the accident that occurred on the course on Monday May 20th.  One of my assistants, Steve Poprocky, who has been a fixture on this property for over 37 years, was involved in horrific accident while topdressing the 8th green that Monday morning resulting in multiple broken bones.  I'm happy to report as of my visit yesterday afternoon, Steve is doing much better.  I received a call from Steve yesterday afternoon, he asked if I was still coming today and if I wouldn't mind bringing him some watermelon.  Once I got to the hospital, he was out of his bed for the first time sitting in a chair watching the Memorial on the golf channel.

If progress continues, then Steve should be out of the hospital next week and will have to spend some time in a rehabilitation hospital for a couple of weeks to regain his strength from the injuries.  Steve asked me to tell everyone "Thanks for all the well wishes and cards".  I'll keep everyone posted in the weeks to come.

Annual Plantings:

Our shipment of annuals for this year came in last week and the staff has been hard at it with bringing the beds throughout the property to life.

Pre-emergent Application:

We conducted our pre-emergent herbicide application to the rough and fairways on Monday May 20th and finished on the day after Memorial Day.  This is one of the most important applications of the year to provide fertility for the stressful months in combination of reducing the weed population.  The product we used was Dimension, with the active ingredient of Dithiopyr.  Dimension creates a barrier in the soil profile that prevent weed seeds from entering and provides protection from any weeds from sprouting up.  The main focus is for the prevention of crabgrass but does help prevent many pesky broadleaves.  The combination of this application with Post-emergent sprays on the property will aid in all the clover and wild violet that stands out like a sore thumb.

Cart Traffic:

I knew this was going to be a challenge and we are already experiencing many worn areas throughout the property.  The key word to cart traffic is "scatter".  I'll explain this more following a few pictures of the wear throughout the course. 

This is a picture I took from 16 green, hopefully you can see the amount of carts that choose to drive down to the tee being used on the driving range compared to those that decided to park up top and walk down.
The result is a worn area of weaken turf from the constant traffic driving around the tee.
Constant traffic in one area (example being here left of the greenside bunker on #6) compacts and weakens the turf creating a poor growing environment and causing the turf to wilt (dry out faster).  Not to mention it is aesthetically unpleasing to the eye.
Back to the word "scatter".  I wanted to give a few tidbits and recommendations towards cart traffic as the summer months approach and we see more traffic on the course. 

  1. Respect the Par 3's:  All the par 3s on the property with the exception of #16 have cart paths from tee to green.  Carts should remain on the path at all times on par 3s as this is a common practice at most courses.  When playing #16, park your cart at the path for #17 tee or drive to the right of the green and circle around back using the existing path.  With how that hole is played by using the slope from left to right, it is important the we keep the turf to the left of the green in good health and I surely wouldn't want to prevent a ball from making it to the green because I have to rope that section off and the stake could stop or alter a ball's path.

    2.  Respect the Tees & Greens: One of the beauties of this property, is at least we do have cart paths at the tees and greens of pretty much all the holes.  Using these paths when starting or finishing a hole will keep these surrounds healthy and playable.  Remember it's not just you playing this course, the wear constantly being created effects everyone.

     3. Scatter at entry & exit of paths: When utilizing the paths, try to mix up your driving pattern when entering or exiting the path this will prevent compaction and turf loss.  Again, some of our paths are in play.

       4.  Use caution in turns:  Not only for safety, but turning to sharply or slamming on brakes can damage the turf.
Communication is important, not only from the staff but from the membership.  A conscious effort from all parties will go a long ways.  Remember it's the little things in life that have the biggest impact!
I hope everyone is excited for the summer months and I look forward to seeing you on the course!