Monday, March 30, 2015

Aerification Update #2

After a weekend that brought night temps in the teens and a all time record low temperature as a high on Saturday, we have to be wondering if Spring will ever get here.  With the forecasted rain tonight and into tomorrow; aerification has yet again been placed on hold.  However, the mid week warm-up and forecasted dry days could be our saving grace.

If we can avoid a major rain event leading into tomorrow, I am optimistic with how all the XGD greens have been responding and hope that we can get a head start tomorrow afternoon.  If all the pieces fall into place, we should be able to complete the entire process by Thursday evening prior to the next wave of rain on Friday. 

I realize that this upcoming weekend is a holiday and apologize for the inconvenience.  The extended forecast is calling for rain leading into the weekend and multiple days next week.  Therefore, I feel that this is our best window to push the envelope while staying focused on getting ready for the season and opening events.

We will remain on temporaries throughout the aerification process.  However, once each green is poked, cleaned, amended and topdressed, we will move the hole location back onto the putting surface. 

Please stay tuned to the blog and twitter for updates.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Aerification Update

The combination of the dusting of snow on Friday and cold night temperatures over the weekend has caused multiple greens to re-freeze; thus preventing us from starting aerification today.  In fact, greens will likely not thaw out till after the mid week warm-up and forecasted rain due to the cooler night temperatures across the region over the next couple of days.  The extended forecast remains a question mark as temperatures are expected to drop come Friday; calling for day time temps in the mid to low 40s with nights dropping into the low 20s throughout the weekend. 

I apologize for the inconvenience and trust me, I am chomping at the bit to start prepping for the season just as much as you are ready to start venturing to the course.  Multiple factors go into pulling the trigger on spring aerification;
  1. Is the forecast favorable for completion:  This time of year, the process of aerification on greens takes multiple days due to staff numbers and the timing of getting started on each given day.   Frost is common this time of year,  night temps can create a frost that prevents us from getting started till mid morning thus reducing the hours of daylight and prolonging the process.  Having those two factors weighing on your mind, you then have to think about rain.  Is there rain forecasted within that window that can set you even further back because of the effects on clean-up, reducing the uniformity of core depths and prevention of topdressing.
  2. Are the greens ready for the stress:  "Well they have aerified, how come we haven't?"  This is a common question for this time of year and I understand everyone's curiosity.  I think there are two factors that have to be considered when answering that question.  First, every course has its own unique environment that may allow them to poke holes. The elevation of our property makes our environment unique and creates different conditions.  We may have experienced longer snow cover or cooler temperatures compared to our neighbors and other courses in the region preventing us from getting started or being ready.  The other factor may have the biggest influence, I ask myself the question of "Am I causing more harm than good?' every year around this time.  I have to make the decision on what's best for our property.  Aerification causes stress on any surface regardless of the time of year, therefore I like to see some signs of life in the greens while monitoring soil temperatures, plant growth and the extended forecast to show that the greens are starting to wake up from the harsh winter conditions.  Why self inflict stress to our most valuable asset if they aren't ready?
  3. Will the extended forecast aid in recovery:  As mentioned, aerification during this time of year can be stressful and you have to make sure that the forecast is favorable not to prolong recovery are create problems towards the future.  A steady increase in both day and night temperatures would indicate a continued increase in soil temperatures.  The rise in soil temperature stimulates plant activity and in return stimulates root growth and recovery following the aerification process.  The concern would be a prolonged drop in temperatures or extreme changes in combination with moisture events.  The holes created from aerification create channels to promote root growth along with other beneficial factors.  These channels can also create exposure to environmental conditions during the recovery process;  moisture in combination with freezing temperatures can heighten the risk of winter injury, reduce root growth and influence recovery time.  To simplify, a stress plant in combination with freezing and thawing could set us back going into the start of the season.
As you can see it is a balancing act and the biggest factor of them all may simply be patience.  We can never control Mother Nature and we can never control the conditions post winter.  We can however make decisions that are best for the golf course both in the present and towards the future.  Stay tuned for updates on conditions towards aerification.  Till then, think warmth and think spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Course Update

The recent warm-up has everyone thinking of spring and me wanting to forget the second half of winter.  February went down as the 2nd coldest month in Pittsburgh history, blessing us with periods of snow, ice and frigid temperatures.  The start of March brought an all-time record low followed by a weekend storm that dumped close to an inch of rain that changed over to inches of snow.  Last week's warmer temperatures allowed the snow to melt and time to access the golf course. 

The challenge was that day temps were aiding in the melting process but the cold nights was causing in standing water to freeze thus posing the chance of crown hydration on the greens from the freezing and thawing process.  With the greens being frozen, the water that accumulated from melting could only rely on surface runoff and manpower (staff with squeegees).

example of surface drainage on #2
Layers of ice discovered during the melt
The good news is that very limited winter injury has been discovered on the putting surfaces throughout the winter.  Samples were brought into the office last Thursday to monitor the recovery process of these spots in an controlled environment.  All samples within a week have shown new growth pushing through the injured canopy, which is encouraging as warmer temperatures are around the corner.  On Monday, we applied a light topdress of black to sand to serve as a reflector with the sun to aid in warming up the profile and jump starting plant growth as conditions become more favorable.
I'm planning on a second application over the weekend with the forecast as we prepare to aerify next week.  Overnight frost may hinder production but with the expected rain during the later part of the week, we are going to give it our best to complete greens with our limited staff numbers.  Like aerifications of past, we will be pulling a 5/8 inch core on 1.5 half spacing on all greens.  Following clean-up, we will apply our soil amendments to improve the soil profile and then finish up with a healthy dose of topdressing sand.  Check in next week for updates.
One repercussion of the recent weather patterns and state of the greens is that I have decided to place temporaries for the next couple of weeks to allow the greens to recover from the winter stress along with Aerification.  I apologize for any inconvenience, but decision was made towards ensuring that our greens will be ready to go for the start of the season that is just a couple of weeks away!
#3 Tee Tree Removal:
In conjunction with the construction project on the back tee of #3 last fall, the encroaching limbs of the two oaks framing the tee was addressed last week.
In addition to the limbing of the oaks by the tee, the two larger oaks that were located in the gulley were also removed to improve sight lines and shot angles for playing the hole.