Thursday, August 27, 2015

Golf Course Update

We are a little over two weeks removed from Aerification and I wanted to take a second to update everyone on the progress of recovery and state of the golf course.  First, let me throw some numbers out there for ya:

  • On July 14th, I posted that we received rain on 22 of the past 37 days up to that point.  We then proceeded to have 3 rain events over the following week leading us to July 21.

  • Since July 21st, we have had 34 out of 37 days with out rain.  Yep, that's right, just 3 rain events equaling a little over an inch spaced out over almost 5 weeks.

Simply put, we have gone from one extreme to another.  Here is a update on the conditions of each playing surface:


All putting surfaces are continuing to slowly recover following Aerification despite the environmental factors that we have been dealt.  This recent cool spell has allowed drastic improvements in the dinged up areas on collars and localized bent spots on a handful of greens.  We have started to spoon feed these surfaces via chemical applications to aid in the filling of holes.  A supplemental granular application will be given this coming Monday to help expedite the process.

We have been mowing daily over the past week and have begun to lower heights, as the heights lower in combination with small doses of food, the holes will begin to fill.  I know we all want the putting conditions that we have grown accustom to, but it is important that everyone realizes the delay in progress is a direct result of  the conditions that we are facing.  I have stated before that Poa is not a big fan of the heat, you throw in a drought and the stresses of aerifying in with that and you have a bad recipe.  City water used with our irrigation isn't going to provide the same beneficial nutrients that Mother Nature can provide, in the meantime we just have to be a little patient and they will be back in a matter of no time.


Tees have a night and day difference since my last post.  The fertility used with Aerification in conjunction with the cool week we are experiencing has brought most tees back to a full recovery.  The tees that experienced damage from the process have also showed signs of improvement as the voids have slowly decreased over the past week.  There are a few areas that need to repaired (example being #10 upper tee, #11 and #18 blue/white) and we will start that process on this coming Monday.


Both surfaces continue to be our strong point as of date in my opinion (largely because of the aerificaiton process on Greens and Tees).  Just a few drain-lines and localized dry spots continue to plaque a few areas.  Overall appearance and playability is up to my standards and I hope your enjoy the extra roll as well!


 Ahh, the problem child.  I touched on the aesthetic and health issues with our rough in the upcoming September newsletter.  The rough has multiple factors leading to its appearance and playability during these stressful periods.  Irrigation is the biggest factor, with the layout of our system, a majority of rough doesn't have coverage during nightly waters and some areas are hit with fairway or approach heads (which we don't want to overwater).  Soil structure and the hodge-podge of species also contribute.  The soil is extremely compacted, rocky, poorly drained and acidic...all factors that contribute to lack of rooting.  The hodge-podge of species requires a variety of inputs for plant health such as water and nutrients.  Both of these factors are being addressed over time with applications, cultural practices and introduction of hardier plant species.  Finally, cart traffic.  A lot of the worn, thin areas of rough are a direct result of cart traffic while entering and exiting cart paths or in areas that receive concentrated flow without cart paths.  The only remedy would be to encourage "Scatter" while using carts.  Try to avoid the discolored thin areas of rough during your next round and keep carts on paths at all times. 

Overall, I think we are pretty fortunate with the state of the course after the past two and half months of environmental challenges.  It goes to show that plant health can prepare you for whatever Mother Nature throws your way, although I would like to have a sit down with her and give her a piece of my mind.  Outside of executing the right practices to exhibit plant health, the staff from top to bottom continues to go the extra mile and the result is showing throughout the property.

I'm excited with this place going into the next month of events and bringing the 2015 season to the close.  A little rain wouldn't hurt my feelings, but it has been great seeing so many out enjoying the golf course! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Aerification Recovery Update

We are a week removed from aerifying greens and recovery is well on it's way despite the challenging weather over the past weekend.  The morning storms that went through the area on Tuesday helped beat the sand down and allowed for the first cut that afternoon.  Now, three cuts later...greens are returning to our normal standards.  We still need some help form Mother Nature though, cooler temperatures and a timely rain will greatly influence the recovery period.  Greens will continue to be cut on a daily basis, heights will be dropped throughout the next couple of weeks as weather dictates to regain speeds and playability that we are all accustom too.

Unfortunately,  the one drawback of aerifying in August is the challenge created with so much stress to the plant during environmental stresses of drought and high temperatures while conducting the beneficial process.  We did experience a few scars on tees and greens as a result.  The newly sodded collars from this past spring experienced the brunt of damage due to lack of rooting to handle the process.  These are localized areas that have been seeded and will be babied over the next couple of weeks while returning to normal. 

A couple of random bent spots on greens were suffocated under the sand content post topdressing.  A lot of green tissue remains in these spots and with some cooler temps and TLC from the management team, they to will recover with the rest of the putting surfaces.  Pockets on tees experienced the same repercussions from the combination of sand and heat and again practices will be conducted to return them to full health.

It truly is a balancing act to limit turf damage during the strenuous task of Aerification regardless of the timing of year.  After multiple Aerifications in my career, including many during the dog days of summer in the south, my hat is off and couldn't be prouder of the staff and especially the assistants in how they responded over the past week.  Communication was top notch and everyone worked together to limit the amount of damage to the point that I fully expect all to bounce back during the short recovery period over the next couple of weeks.  Aerification, such a long term benefit with so many short term ill effects.

As always, thank you for your continued support and cooperation.  I'm looking forward to a successful remainder of the season and a golf course that continues to speak for itself!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Aerification: Day 3 Recap

Another successful day as our bi-annual process of aerification is beginning to come to an end.  Yesterday, emphasis was placed on finishing tees and starting to prep the course by mowing rough before play resumes on Saturday morning.  Daily attention was given to greens as well, below is a quick recap of yesterday's events:


We put our third broom on greens yesterday afternoon followed by an fertility application to help in recovery.  Warmer temperatures and warmer soils are already showing the quick recovery process during this time of year.

This photo was taken of #11 after I drug it in on Tuesday afternoon.
Two days later on Thursday afternoon, you can already see more green as the sand is being worked into the canopy and and we are well on our way to recovery.
Mark and Max followed yesterday's broom crew to apply an organic fertilizer to help speed up the process and provide some stored nutrients during the stressful period of weeks to come during environmental stresses and self-inflicted stresses as I begin to return them to our standards with heights and speeds.
Max finished up topdressing the tees on 1-7 in the morning.  Then Matt and Justin lead a crew in the afternoon while amending tees to drag and work the sand into the canopy.  As mentioned yesterday, we went extremely aggressive on tees to remove as much thatch as possible and in return incorporate sand to fill the voids and improve the firmness of each teeing ground.
Picture of the Staff working the sand into #4 tees
Oddly enough, the tees are smallest area of playing surface on the property but are also the most time consuming when it comes to the process of aerification.  Maneuverability due to size and surrounding slopes pose challenging in staying consistent with rates of sand and effect the ability to use mechanical means to work the sand in, end result is that a lot of work on tees is done by hand.
Today, we continue prepping the course for play tomorrow.  All the pushmowing and rough mowing will be completed after lunch.  We will prep bunkers since they haven't been touched all week.  We will have a crew follow a roller (used to smooth out the imperfections created from the aerification process) on greens with an additional broom.  This morning, we put a cut on fairways and Max/Matt did a heavier than normal light rate of topdressing on approaches.  Since, we were unable to do any cultural practice on approaches, we will likely repeat this process on Monday.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Aerification: Day Two Recap

Day two of aerification is in the books and momentum is staying on track although we experienced a few changes to the gameplan.  Oddly enough, after what seemed to be 40 days and 40 nights of rain, everyone is aware that we have settled into a significant dry period. 

As mentioned, one of the most important processes during the practice of aerification is replenishing the profile with sand to improve the soil structure for drainage, porosity and etc.  In addition to the agronomic benefits, filling the holes that were created while removing cores protects the plant from temporary environmental stresses.  No humidity, wind, and existing dry conditions are a perfect recipe for wilt and turf loss during the process of aerficiation due to the timing from start to finish.  Exposed holes will allow the playing surface to dry out at a alarming rate. 

These factors in addition to budgetary concerns, forced me to call an audible yesterday morning.  To reduce the timing of exposed holes during the 3 step process of poking, cleaning, and topdressing, we put all of our focus on tees and will be holding off on approaches this summer.  To simplify, the larger the area poked, the longer the time to clean.

Approaches will receive some attention with a heavier than normal light topdress (our in season rate) rate on Friday, but no holes will be poked.  Below is a recap on tees and other tasks from Day Two.

We followed pretty much the  same protocol with greens by using a 5/8 inch tine on a 2 inch spacing while pulling at 2.5 inch depth on tees.

The objective is to reduce the thatch layer to not only improve plant health but also improve the firmness of the respected playing surfaces.  With 5 different sets of tees, a variety of play is experienced on each surface, thus effecting the thatch content.  Looking at the picture above, we consistently have a bout a 1/2 inch of thatch (area above pen), which isn't that bad.  The key and our goal is the area below the pen, incorporating more sand (lighter color) and dark content (thatch, organic material, etc.) will improve drainage, porosity and most importantly "firmness".

The cleanup process follows by blowing, dragging and removing all the plugs.

Next, we applied topdressing sand to fill the holes.
In addition, to working on tees throughout the day.  We put our first broom on greens in two different directions to work the sand into the canopy and fill any lingering holes.
Once each green is completed, irrigation is used to cool down the surface following the abrasion of broom the sand across the plant and provides the additional benefit of working the sand into the profile.

The Divs cooling down while hanging out with Dad during the afternoon.
All in All, a successful day!  All tees and driving targets were poked and cleaned.  Just 1-7 remained for topdressing.  Today we shift gears and put focus on getting course back playable for the weekend with mowing rough and pushmowing.  We finished up topdressing tees this morning and during the afternoon we will drag the sand in on the tees and put our second double broom on the greens.  The assistants have been busy starting the amending process with tees this morning and greens will take place this afternoon following the broom crew.
Check in tomorrow for another update!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Aerification: Day One Recap

After a great stretch of weather for golf, it's perfect timing to give the place a much needed break with aerification following some big events that showcased the property with the PA State Senior Am and Diebold matches.

If you are a regular of the blog, I shouldn't have to go over the benefits of aerification.  In a nutshell, this process is beneficial to plant health by relieving compaction and improving porosity for oxygen and water infiltration for root growth.

With that being said, here is a quick recap from Day One of Aerification:

We started on greens just before sunrise, by pulling a 5/8 inch core on 1 1/2 spacing at a depth of 3 inches.

The clean-up process was quick and successful, as we finished all greens just before dark.  Job well done by the staff, 4 acres poked and cleaned in one full day.

As each green was completed, we started the process of applying topdressing sand to fill the holes and improve the soil profile to aid in drainage, porosity and playability.  Just 5 greens remain today.

With the cooler weather, we went aggressive and applied over 92 tons of sand spaced out throughout the property.  The most since I've been here.

The final step, was to work the sand into the holes and canopy with our drag mat.
Overall, a very successful day one of Aerification.  Today, we move to tees and approaches.  Check in tomorrow for status updates and a outline of the process.  As always, thank you for your continued support and cooperation during a integral practice towards the golf course's health!