Thursday, May 15, 2014


During rainy weeks like we are experiencing, the practices conducted on greens become a balancing act.  As many of you know, currently half of our native ("push-up") greens contain XGD drainage that was installed in 2011 and the other half have nothing with the exception of the 15th green, which contains an old terracotta style drainage system. 

I have been asked multiple questions by peers and members concerning the state of our greens and how I manage them following major rain events.  From an agronomic standpoint, I manage the greens very similar when it comes to fertility, chemical and water applications.  The only difference would be that I have to do site specific applications on the drain lines of the XGD putting surfaces because the sand based profile dries out and leaches faster than the native mix that our greens contain.

Daily maintenance practices is where the true balancing act occurs, let's paint two scenarios:
  1. Rain the previous afternoon or night before:  When setting foot on the property following a rain event, I have the normal routine of driving 7 backwards, this allows me to walk on a mixture of XGD and non-XGD greens (For the record, greens with XGD are 1,2,3,4,9,12,13,14 & 16) to decipher how saturated the putting surfaces are and what practice we can conduct that morning.  Typically following #1, I go to number 18 (which tends to be our wettest green, in my opinion) to ultimately make the decision and radio the assistants before starting the crew.  If we can mow, traditionally we mow all XGD greens first and then cycle back to mow the non-XGD greens in hopes of allowing additional dry time.  If I deem the non-XGD greens to saturated for a mower, then we skip mowing that morning all together. I think this is important in keeping the greens consistent for the golfer and from a playability standpoint.  Greens speeds would vary from hole to hole and day to day for the golfer if we were to just mow certain greens. 
  2. Rain expected that day or before being able to finish greens: If the forecast or radar indicates the possibility of significant rainfall on a morning prior to 10:00am, then we set the golf course up by mowing/rolling the non-XGD greens first and then cycle back through to finish up the remaining greens or I'll split the greens crew in half to mow non-XGD, with others starting 1 forward to stay ahead of play.
The above scenarios paint the picture when it comes to the playability difference between XGD and non-XGD greens from a daily setup.  Outside of mowing practices, there is a distinct difference in the firmness between the two on days following rain; in addition to multiple days during the drying out process.  Ultimately creating two distinctly different playing surfaces in how a shot is going to respond from the fairway or around the green.

A lot of information to process, I know....the good news is that the end is in sight!!  This coming October we will be installing XGD drainage into the remaining 9 greens.  Installation is slated to begin on 10/20.  Over the past year, I have traveled the course often during rain events and took pictures of the non-XGD greens along with other drainage concerns on the course.  These pictures will serve as an excellent reference when meeting with the contractor to lay out the drainage of each green.

Having visuals of surface runoff will allow us to design the proper layout to intercept water as it moves across the putting surface.
Additional drainage can be added in problematic lows that could be prone to thinning turf because of prolonged saturation or scald from those pesky afternoon thunderstorms during the heat of the summer.

Another benefit would be reducing winter damage, having drainage in lows that traditionally hold water will aid in the freezing and thawing cycles we experience following each snowfall.
Exciting times are in store at Longue Vue and on behalf of the Greens Department and Greens Committee, we thank the membership for their generosity in allowing us to conduct these game changing tasks.  We remain committed to making LVC the best it can be!
As always, I look forward to seeing you on the course....just leave the rain home with ya, ok!