Monday, August 29, 2016

Weekly Schedule for August 29-September 4, 2016

Weather and unforeseen conditions can/will change the schedule.

-Aerification of greens, tees and practice tees
-Spot seeding of greens and tees
-Underbrush removal at #11 green
-Removal of dead trees to the left of #6 green
-Removal of limbs affecting ball flight from #7 tees

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Water Supply for Irrigation System

On top of record breaking heat and humidity this summer we are also experiencing a shortage of water for our irrigation system. The water level in our irrigation lake is quite low. It is very noticeable when playing holes #1 and #2. Especially interesting is the "shelf" closest to #1 green. It's my understanding that this was going to be the original location of #1 green. When it was decided to move the location of the green the soil was not removed. Here's a picture from 2011 when the water was pumped out of the pond for irrigation repairs.

This "shelf" causes major algae growth because of the low levels of water above it which increases the amount of sunlight reaching the soil. More importantly, it takes up approximately 600,000 gallons of usable water.  According to a survey done in 2011 there is 1.2 million gallons of usable water in the lake. Since the intake pipe for the pump station sits above the lake floor we do not consider the first few feet of water as usable for irrigation as only the water above the intake pipe can be sucked in to the pumps. Currently we have about 4 nights of water in the pond if our wells are not working.

The pond is fed from four wells as seen on this map.

Originally the wells labeled #2 and #15 were built and well #4 was a test well that was not in use. During the creek project of 2011 well #14 was added. Due to it's close location to the well on #15 it did not increase our water supply but does allow faster uptake of water from the aquifer that is below both these wells. Later in 2011 a water shortage occurred and the decision was made to add a pump to well #4 and use that as an additional water source. An unexpected result of this was the drying up of well #2 which was the main well for our irrigation supply. Since well #4 is smaller in diameter than the other wells it actually produces less water so there has been a net loss in overall water supply for the irrigation system. I am unsure if stopping the use of well #4 would eventually lead to well #2 be viable again. It may be something that has to be done for several years which we cannot do right now.

We are currently working with a geologist to determine what options we have for gaining sufficient water for our irrigation needs. Dredging the pond and removing the "shelf" is one option. This would give us 1- 2 additional nights of water storage and improve the quality of the water in the pond. The other option is to dig an additional well or multiple wells. Also, installing monitoring devices on existing wells would help us to make sure the use of these wells is as efficient as possible.  Doing so would also extend the viability of these wells for a longer time.

Until we get some nice soaking rain the golf course may turn brown in certain areas. Greens and tees after aerification next week will be a priority for watering. Let's hope for rain and cooler weather soon! For now enjoy the extra distance off the tee from the firm playing surfaces.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Upcoming Aerification

Hopefully everyone has read the notice about our upcoming aerification. If not, it can be found here: Upcoming Aerification A change we are going to do this year which will improve both the turf health and the playability of the green's surface immediately after topdressing is how we work the topdressing sand into the greens.

The standard method that we have used to work topdressing sand into the holes is to take a golf cart and pull a broom behind it while driving on the green.

We have also taken our debris blowers and pulled them behind golf carts to work sand into the holes on the greens. While successful in working the sand into the holes, it does cause extra stress to the turf from the carts driving on the surface of the greens.

In order to accomplish aerification without stressing the turf we have come up with another method to work the sand into the holes. Assistant Superintendent Matt Smith has used an attachment to a walk behind blower at previous golf courses he has worked at. It is called a Green Sweep and was developed by the superintendent at Milwaukee Country Club. After doing some research this product looks like it will produce a better sand distribution into the holes, deliver less stress to the turf, and allow better playability of the greens after aerification and topdressing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Weekly Schedule for August 22-28, 2016

Weather and unforeseen conditions can/will change the schedule.

-Mow bunker surrounds
-Remove underbrush around #11 green
-Prepare equipment for next week's aerification of greens and tees
-Trim around irrigation heads

Thursday, August 18, 2016

August 18, 2016 Morning Update

We have finally broken our streak with 7 days of temperatures reaching over 90 degrees with heat indexes over 100 degrees and night time temps above 70 degrees. The 0.5 inches of rain that fell overnight will help the fairways, tees and roughs and allow our wells some more time to recharge so we may fill our irrigation pond. As long as the weather does not turn hot and humid the rain will not hurt the greens.

Have had some questions about how we water greens under hot and humid conditions. This is very different than when we water under dry and hot weather.

Here is a picture of a staff member checking the soil moisture with a moisture meter and marking dry areas with flags.

This ensures only the needed areas are getting water. A previous post described syringing to cool off greens (Syringing Greens). There has been scientific evidence since the 1980's showing that this method of watering greens has a cooling effect of less than two minutes. Doing this in areas with little to no air movement does not allow the plant to naturally cool itself.

One more point to discuss, and one that I am guilty of doing myself, is comparing one course to another. I am in contact with many local superintendents discussing conditions and all our having turf stress. Greens with little air movement and shade are the worse. However, there are many, many variables to golf courses even across the street from one another. Soil, trees, design, budget, equipment, rounds of golf played, etc lead to too many factors that do not allow a correct comparison to be made. I am available to discuss course conditions and ask that this blog be used as an updated source of information for the members.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August 16, 2016 Update @ 12:00 pm

The excessive heat warning from the past 5 days has been extended until today. Notice in this map how the humidity is higher here then points South which is why we are under a warning and other areas a less severe advisory.

We are using our debris blowers on greens to improve air movement. The worst areas continue to remain wet, even without irrigation. This is due to lack of sun and air movement causing the soil to heat the roots. Wilt, especially bentgrass, recovers well when water is applied. While we do see some wilting in fairways, mainly from rocks being near the surface, the greens are seeing what is called Summer Bentgrass Decline. An article describing this can be found here: Summer Bentgrass Decline

At this time we have turned off the wells that go into our irrigation pond to allow them some time to recharge. Tomorrow morning we will re-check them to see if they are again putting out sufficient enough levels of water to fill the pond. This does not effect our handwatering efforts but does reduce the amount of watering in the evenings on fairways, tees and roughs.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Weekly Schedule for August 15-21, 2016

Weather and unforeseen conditions can/will change the schedule.

-Solid tine weak areas on greens
-Trim irrigation heads
-Push mow tee and green surrounds
-Hand pick weeds on tees and fairways

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Effects of Morning Shade on Turf

Great example of what happens to the turf with morning shade. Courtesy of research from the University of Arkansas.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Update-Friday, August 12, 2016 @ 5:30 pm

This white paper put out by the Virginia Tech Turf Team gives a good explanation of what is happening with the weather right now. The portions on "Shade and Air Movement" and "Traffic Stress" are particularly pertinent to us here at Fieldstone. I feel confident that our programs to eliminate diseases and pests in a preventative manner were successful.  Lots of shade, lack of air movement and traffic stress on certain greens are the primary causes of turf stress here at Fieldstone.

Virginia Tech-Summer Stress on Greens

It bears repeating that greens with good sunlight and air movement are in better shape than those without. #3 is a great example of what tree removal and adding a fan does to improve turf health. Next week we will have an electrician price out the cost to add more fans on additional greens. #11 is the one with the highest priority for a fan with several others also needing them.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Update on #4 Fairway, #6 Green and #11 Green

#4 Fairway

This morning we double groomed areas on #4 fairway. These areas are where we saw some yellowing from the herbicide that was applied. The bentgrass is green and growing underneath, but to promote additional growth we groomed these areas to remove old plant tissue and allow sunlight to enter the canopy of the turf. Additional amounts of nitrogen fertilizer will be applied on a light and frequent basis to promote recovery.

#6 Green

Assistant Superitendent Matt Smith, with a small group of staff, removed approximately half of the back left corner on #6 green. 12 inches of sand rootzone was removed, drainage moved and topsoil added.

The sandy area was seeded to bentgrass and will become the collar. Where there is topsoil, Turf Type Tall Fescue was planted for rough.

#11 Green and Fairway

As can be seen from this picture there is lots of good germination happening along the outside of the green.

Also on Monday, Matt and crew dug out a portion of the fairway just below the right hand side fairway bunker and replaced the rocky soil with topsoil, then seeded with creeping bentgrass.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Weekly Schedule for August 8-14, 2016

Weather and unforeseen conditions can/will change the schedule.

-On Monday we are needle tining and dusting greens. We will also be applying a wetting agent and a third fungicide application to greens for Fairy Ring control.
-Bring the back left portion of #6 green in several feet. Half now, half after the the first portion is established.
-Remove rocks and put topsoil in area just below right side fairway bunker on #11, then reseed.
-Remove rocks and put topsoil in #15 green surrounds, then reseed.
-Aerify and add amendments to #4 fairway.
-Aerify and seed intermediates where weeds were.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Weeds and Green #6

During the last week of July we received 3 inches of rain. An issue that has occurred due to the precipitation is the premature breakdown of our preemergent herbicides for grassy weeds such as crab and goosegrass.

To combat this we are going out with post-emergent herbicides. Blanking the entire golf course with these products is both inefficient and expensive. Therefore we spot spray just the weeds as much as we can. However, spot spraying can sometimes deliver a little too much product and causes the desired turfgrass species around the weeds to temporarily discolor and look like this.

We are applying liquid fertilizer to fairways on Monday which should speed up recovery of the desired turf species. Areas in the rough where this has occurred will grow out of the discoloration as well.

The work done to the back left corner of green #6 last Fall did not fair like we wanted (Blog Post Oct. 1, 2015). So on Monday we are going to remove the 12 inches of sand and replace with topsoil and grass to our rough turf which is Turf Type Tall Fescue. This will shrink the green by 4 feet at the widest point in that area. We will do this in two stages so there is access to the green at all times. In the future we will have traffic control in this area all year instead of only in the summer. Part of this will be having cart parking rotated between it's current location next to the stairs and behind the green next to the courtesy cart.

So why the turf loss there? #6 green is in a poor location to grow turf as there is little air movement and insufficient sunlight. For those who have been at Fieldstone a long time, please remember that the trees have grown significantly since the course's inception and are now blocking even more light and air movement as they grow taller.

Another factor, and the one I believe is the main cause of turf loss here is foot traffic. Fieldstone was built to accommodate about half the amount of rounds we now receive. This extra traffic through such a small opening to the green is the leading cause of poor conditions in this particular area.

Besides managing traffic on a year round basis in this area, I will request at least two DryJect application on collars next year (DryJect Blog Post 7.6.12). We have found an amendment to inject called Ecolite (Ecolite) which has been working better for us than the Profile product we used previously. Am also looking to purchase rollers for our mowers that cut the clean-up pass along the edge of the greens. The rollers come in pieces instead of being solid. Here's a picture of a standard roller:

While the mower is turning to cut along the outside edge of the green one side of the roller is moving at a slower speed causing additional stress to the turf. A roller built in three pieces will allow the portion of the roller on the outside to turn at a proper speed. This is in no way a silver bullet but any improvement to keep the turf healthy will show benefits.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Weekly Schedule for August 1-7, 2016

Weather and unforeseen conditions can/will change the schedule.

-Aerify, amend and seed the following areas on Monday: back of #10 green, right side of #11 green and collar of #13 green.
-Light topdress and brush of greens on Monday
-Pre-emergent herbicide application on fairways
-Post-emergent herbicide application where needed