Saturday, July 9, 2016

July 9, 2016

I am posting videos of last Tuesdays rain so that, hopefully, you'll understand why we go to cart paths only, even if the sun has come out and, on the surface, things look normal. What is unseen, is the saturated soils beneath the turf that a rain can cause. On Tuesday, the soil became so saturated that the rain could no longer infiltrate the soil, and for it to drain through and begin to dry, it took days just to get halfway drained.

11th green, looking up the fairway 

                                                                11th fairway

                                                     10th fairway and cartpath

When the soils become this saturated, roots can no longer breathe, and followed by the relentless heat and high humidity, roots bake in the soil moisture, compromising their health to the point that some areas of turf die off . Its the worst case scenario.

Cart traffic compacts soil in these conditions and creates an even worse, unrecoverable environment for the roots and turf - damage will show up in few days to a few weeks. So many players tell me that their carts don't cause any damage, but what you see on top of the surface is a very different story compared to the damage below, where the player usually never looks.

Bottom line is that these types of weather conditions by themselves create less than perfect turf , and with any more added stress, such as traffic, only make it worse.

(PS. Next time I will hold my phone sideways for videos!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm always learning!)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 30, 2016

Things happen. We are all human.

The other week we fertilized the tees and during the process the spreader came out of calibration, unnoticed at the time, but easily seen once the striping began showing on some of the tees days later.  After we became aware of the problem, we used a drop spreader to fertilize between the stripes. We used a rate less than the original so that we could do our best to match up, but it’s purely an estimate based on observation. I can’t for sure say how much fertilizer the tees originally received and didn’t receive, so it’s not a clear fix. And, being the first time I have dealt with this, it’s a new experience, so I don’t have a lot of practice with it – a good thing!

The bottom line is that the fertilizer won’t last forever, and in a little time, the striping will disappear.

Regarding the tees on 7, the areas that were in play throughout the winter and not covered are not healing in very well. It seems the Bermuda cannot take too much wear when it is dormant. This is something I will need to address – I may try another type of warm season grass, cover all the tees each winter, or just expect to sod the wear areas every spring. The reason we are using Bermuda on these tees is that the areas get no air circulation and too much heat in the summer months for cool season turf to survive. It’s better to have turf in summer when it counts, and only the Bermuda has given us consistent results in this respect.  

Overall, the course is coming into early summer very strong. Roots are good, there are no disease concerns right now, and we are pretty much on schedule with our preparations. The weather has been the real challenge – hot days, frost, snow, wind, rain, etc – what weather we have had, has always come unexpected!  So we have done our best to “thread” these needles and to keep up with things the best we can.

Thanks to all of you who have asked about my AK spots which are being treated with cryotherapy. So far so good, except for one area on my ear that is fighting back! The doctor said it’s pretty common to have a spot or two that requires a few repeat treatments. It surprised me that after I published the post, many area superintendents shared stories with me of their experiences with pre cancerous areas, and cancerous areas. Many of our members have also shared their personal stories dealing with this same medical condition. It seems to be somewhat common, so everyone needs to be checked.

One again, I thank everyone for their support and encouragement. We have a great course only because we have a great membership!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

February 23, 2016

As I sit here at my desk on a cloudy February morning, I catch myself thinking about two spots that are not on any of the greens, but are on my skin – one on my ear and the other on my wrist.

Last month my dermatologist diagnosed these as precancerous cells and froze both spots (cryotherapy). In a few more weeks I am scheduled to go back to the dermatologist to be rechecked. Hopefully this initial treatment has removed the cells, but if she has any reservations, she will have them biopsied, and we’ll go from there.

I get teased a lot because I don’t wear shorts or short sleeves very often, even on the hottest days. Most people ask how I can do that and my answer has always been that I am protecting myself from skin cancer – my mom had it and beat it, yet a cousin, at age 26, left behind a wife and two kids because it was found out too late.

Because I wear long sleeves all year long, I wasn’t expecting her to find a spot on my wrist. I am sure though, now that I think of it, that my sleeves inch up throughout the day so that my wrists don’t stay covered as much as I think they do. And too, sunlight penetrates fabric.  It all starts to makes sense.

One of the things I don’t do is wear a hat, so when the area on my ear began to feel rough, scabby, and a bit painful, I suspected that there could be something going on there.

 I don’t like hats. Hats of any kind have always been uncomfortable to me.  Even in the winter I will let my ears freeze before I put one on, and even then, I will take it off every few minutes. But now, I will have to find a way to change my mindset and deal with wearing a hat, or at the least, use a lot of sunscreen on my ears. It would be best to do both.

Having cryotherapy isn’t that uncommon – I know many people who have had this procedure, but this time, it is my wake-up call. Although I have always taken precautions, I will have to take the sun even more seriously now and wear a hat and use a lot more sunscreen, while continuing to wear long pants and long sleeves. You’ll be able to tease me a bit more, but that’s ok – to me it’s worth it.

I thought I would share this experience and what I am thinking because as cautious as I have been, it wasn’t quite enough. We may think that we are doing all the right things, but it still may not be enough. It’s best to get screened at least once a year, even for those of us who aren’t outside all day. And if anything seems suspicious, its best to get it looked at. Waiting too long, or ignoring it, is the worst thing anyone of us can do.

The best thing to do, is to take care of yourself.

Monday, December 21, 2015

December 21, 2015

Today marks the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year with only 9 hours and 32 minutes of daylight. With the warm temperatures that we have been experiencing I am not sure if a real winter will ever come, but just in case it does, we have been getting ready.

Over the past few weeks our staff has been doing their best to prep the course for the cold. Some of these preparations are:

Winterizing the irrigation system, or “blowing it out”. Using two air compressors we push the water out of the pipes and irrigation heads to prevent freeze damage. We also winterize the pump house, draining the pressure regulating valves, the system control cooling system, etc.

Needle –tining the greens which will help with surface drainage, air exchange, and will promote root growth while the soil temperatures remain above freezing.  

We applied a fungicide to the greens to suppress cold weather diseases which can be very hard to control. Most likely we will follow this up with another application in four to six weeks, depending on the weather and disease pressure.

A light topdressing was applied to the greens to help protect them from winter desiccation.

We filled divots on tees and fairways, adding seed that will break dormancy and germinate as soon as the temperatures warm up in the spring. We also completed dormant seeding to areas on a few fairways.

A specialized turf cover was put over the Bermuda grass driving range tee. The cover will add a few degrees of warmth.  A few degrees may not seem like much, but when you think about it, one degree is the difference between freezing and not freezing, so it can really matter.  As the days lengthen in the spring, the cover will create a difference of up to ten degrees or more. Overall, the cover will help moderate temperatures, protect the turf from winter desiccation, and help the turf green up weeks earlier than it would if it was not covered.

We finished verti- quaking the fairways, tees, and areas of the rough. This of course isn’t just for the winter, but loosening the soils does provide better drainage through the winter, lessens the chance for disease, and helps with root growth come spring.

For the same reason, we ran the verti-quake over the lower practice green. If we have time and weather permits, we may also do the few greens that have heavy soils and poor drainage.

There have been a few other preparations, such as readying the tunnel pumps, bringing in tee and green accessories, etc.

We feel that we have done the best we can to prepare the course for the winter and in doing so, have also gained a head start on this coming spring!

With the season almost over, we want to take this time to wish all our members a very safe, happy, and joyful Holiday Season! Thank you for giving us your support this year – our staff appreciates all of you!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

November 24, 2015

Frost occurs when temperatures approach 32 degrees, freezing the dew upon the plant surface and more importantly, the water that is present inside the plants’ cells. The expanding pressure of the freezing water inside the cell stretches the cell membrane, and subsequently the membrane loses all of its elasticity and resiliency that enable it to withstand outside forces such as foot traffic, etc.  In this state, the membrane cannot absorb impact or stretch and re-conform to pressure, so it breaks, causing the cell fluid to leak after thawing, killing the cell completely. If enough cells are affected, the whole turf plant will die, and if enough plants are affected, large areas of turf, whether it is greens, tees, fairways, or rough, can be killed.

An easy way to understand this phenomenon is to imagine a water balloon. The balloon skin is elastic, flexible, and can easily supply generous “give” to forces exerted upon it. But when the balloon is frozen, the skin is stretched by the expansion of water as it turns to ice, and it becomes thin, rigid, and brittle, unable to flex against outside pressures. Its only “give” is to break

By delaying play until the frost is gone and the temperatures moderate, we give time to allow the plant cells to thaw and the cell membranes to regain their original elastic qualities that enable them to withstand traffic.