To bring everyone up to speed on the course, in my opinion we are well ahead of the game going into the bulk of the season. The greens have recovered nicely from the minimal winter damage that we experienced. The collars/new intermediate cuts around greens are continuing to mature and establish roots. Most all fairway voids from the ryegrass eradication program have filled with the exception of #11 fairway by the bunker (where I've had roped off for the last couple of weeks). Although, playability of #5 green has drastically improved following the renovation, the rooting is still lacking and measures will be taken to improve it's integrity throughout the season (see below).
I have been asked a lot of questions concerning the discoloration in the fairways over the last couple of weeks. (See photo)
Multiple factors have contributed to the yellowing of the Poa population within our fairways and trust me when I first state that this is solely an cosmetic issue and by no means are we experiencing issues in the fairways from a plant health standpoint outside of the Poa being stressed, which I want. Let me explain.
- You have often heard me refer to the Spring flush, well with the flush comes and increase in the need to mow while maintaining the heights and conditions that we wish to achieve on a daily basis. Thus, this spring I have bumped up our normal rates of growth regulation to reduce the amount of traffic and stress resulting from mowing. These higher rates are contributing to the off color on the Poa population.
- Traditionally the Poa begins to discolor during the periods of higher temperatures and limited rainfall during the summer months, we experienced these same type conditions throughout May with stretches of mid to upper 80s and very little rainfall. Great for golf but not great for keeping Poa happy.
- Finally, the Poa content in our fairways is something I would like to address. Let's face it, we will never completely eliminate Poa in Western Pa...but reducing the population will improve playability, disease pressure and water input. This season we are starting a new growth regulator program to suppress to the Poa while encouraging the bent (darker green color turf in picture above) to move laterally . With this program, I am going to have to find the proper balance of fertility to offset the discoloration.
As mentioned in my opening paragraph, our main focus of the day was addressing #5 green and the newly sodded areas from the Fall/Winter projects including the collars and newly built tees. The first week of June is the only week for the remainder of the summer till Aeration in August that we didn't have any events, so we apologize for the short term inconvenience but hope that you understand the long term importance towards survival as the summer months approach.
If you remember, we were unable to pull a core during our Spring aerification back in the first of April because of the lack of rooting caused the sod to pull and heave throughout the putting surface on #5. Therefore, yesterday we used a smaller tine and pulled a core on the entire putting surface followed by our traditional Aeration regime of amending, topdressing, rolling and ferting. Pulling a core helped relieve the sod layer that formed from the project and will provide channels to promote root growth.
We used a 3/8 inch tine on 1.5 inch spacing
Followed by a healthy dose of topdressing
A drag mat was then used to work the sand into the holes
Finally, we rolled the green to smooth out the imperfections created during the process and applied our soil amendments including fertilizer
With the weather forecast (if we ever see the sun), I would expect the first cut over the weekend and a full recovery and back to normal speeds within 10-14 days.
The same size tine was used to remove a core on all the remaining collars and the new tees on #3,#5 and #17 to reduce the sod layer and again improve rooting. I have chosen not to topdress these surfaces, mainly from a time standpoint and with the everyday maintenance/traffic the holes will quickly close. Below are some pictures of the process.
Additional Cultural Practices:
On Monday, we also started our bi-weekly summer ritual of venting the putting surfaces. Venting helps relieve compaction along with creating channels to promote root growth and water infiltration during the stressful months ahead.
We poked at a 3 inch depth on 2 inch spacing
A light topdress was then applied to protect the plant from diseases such as anthracnose and improve playability for ball roll and firmness.
The Finished Product
In addition to addressing the greens, we groomed and applied our first topdressing application to the approaches. The approaches have been a major point of emphasis for the Greens Department this year as we trying to improve their playability. Aggressive grooming along with regular maintenance practices has allowed us to achieve lower mowing heights, improve firmness and tightness of the areas leading into our greens. These practices will allow you different options around the green from chipping to putting.
As you can tell, Monday was much like the beginning of the year thus far and busy! All positives in continuing to improve and provide the best possible experience for you the member and your guest. I understand that these types of practices causes headaches for the short-term (like #5) but it is all the little things that are helping us take the next step. Thanks for your support and cooperation.
Till next time, I look forward to seeing you on the course!
Fairways and Dreams,
Josh A. Saunders and The Greens Staff