Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 29, 2014

We want to ask you to not use any type of bug repellent while standing on any turf, whether it is a green, tee, fairway, or rough.

Most aerosols, including bug repellent sprays, contain unnamed ingredients that are not safe for turf – besides DEET, one popular brand also contains ethanol/ alcohol 50-60%, propane 1-5%, isobutane 1-5%, butane 1-5%, N-N-diethyl-meta-toluamide 25-25%, and water 3-7%.  I am no chemist, nor do I pretend to be, but these extra ingredients, except for the little bit of water, are what “burns” the turf, and in some cases, thins or kills it.

On a cool, overcast day, the ingredients might do very little damage, but on a hot sunny day, the damage can be quite extensive.

The accompanying picture is of the 7th green. Someone used the repellent on Sunday and we found this Monday morning. Sunday was sunny, dry, and hot, and as you can tell by the amount of over spray and the area involved, quite a lot of repellent was used. I am concerned about how this area will “come back”, or more to the point, how much turf we might lose and the length of time it will take the surviving turf to recover.

Friday, May 16, 2014

May 16, 2014

Francis, Irene, Mary, and Ellen are back to work after spending a cold, but relaxing, winter being spoiled at home. This year the girls will concentrate their duties on thinning out the brambles in the natural area that borders holes 8, 9, and 10. Our intention has been, and still is, to keep this area natural without the use of pesticides as part of our efforts to provide wildlife habitat under the guidelines of the Audubon Sanctuary program. Over the years the area has become over grown.

We ask that you not tease or bother the girls, and especially, do not feed them, as it is a falsehood that they can eat anything. There are many plants and human foods that are poisonous to them. Before putting them in any area, I survey it for poisonous plants first, and I have found areas they cannot go. Please don’t throw beer cans in their area thinking that they will eat it, because they won’t! Its interesting how many appear in their fenced area.

The best way to enjoy the goats is to simply watch them; they are very interesting animals – they will rise up on their hind legs and push down brush so they can easily eat it, play with each other, chew up thorns, make little dirt beds and take naps, etc. If you do want to pet one or meet them, give me a call or find me and I will do my best to introduce you to them. They are very friendly, and each one has an individual personality, just like dogs.

If your ball should land in the pen, please take a drop. We can replace your ball later. If the pen affects your shot, treat it as a temporary movable obstruction and take relief in line of sight, but not nearer to the hole.

Just an interesting note...Francis weighed 45 lbs when she began work here and now tops 160 lbs! I can hardly believe I once lifted her into the truck...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 6, 2014

The drill and fill machine close up.

 We finished up the drill and fill today. It is a time consuming and labor intensive project.

Two machines, fitted with10” drills, drill into the green, bringing up the native soil. Sand is then poured into the hole. The sand must be carried by the staff from the truck to the machines, bucket by bucket to keep the hoppers filled. For the 18 greens, we used approximately 90 tons of sand, which translates to somewhere over 9,500 buckets filled, carried to the machines, and tipped into the hoppers. It takes a lot of work. And its non stop.

After the green is drilled and filled, it is rolled and then cleaned up with our core harvester. As soon as it is cleaned, we graden the green to a 3/8th depth, and once again, the core harvester cleans the green. The green is then dragged, or matted, blown off, and dragged one last time. From start to finish, an average sized green takes two hours to complete.

Drill and Fill is different from standard aeration. This process is done to create sand channels in the greens and help change the soil profile deeper into the green than what a standard aeration can. The sand creates pore space, aids in drainage, helps keep the green firmer, and helps reduce compaction. Since this process does not necessarily remove thatch, we follow with the graden, which does. 

Filling the machines.
Graden on left and clean up on the right.
The final drag.

After the drag, and ready to heal!

Monday, March 31, 2014

March 31, 2014

Although the snow seems to create much more popular news stories than does the rain, coupled together the amount of precipitation is beginning to add up. Last week alone, including the snow on the 25th and this weekends rain on the 29th and 30th, we received  3” and change. Since December, we have received 4” of precipitation above the normal for this quarter period. The wet weather pattern that began last spring of 2013 is continuing. Not that a drought would be the answer, but a drying period would be welcome.

The third green, 10am Saturday morning, March 29, 2014

 These storms, both rain and snow, have altered many of our spring plans. Although we were able to aerate the tees, it took us another two weeks to topdress them, sneaking it in a few tees at a time between storms. Fairway aeration was originally scheduled for March 11th and 12th, rescheduled for March 25th and 26th , and now has been rescheduled a third time to April 2nd and 3rd.  Spreading the organic Ocean-gro product has similarly been rescheduled a number of times. Those are but a few examples. I am confident though that we will catch up, as we always seem to find a way.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March 18, 2014

I am not going to complain about this years winter or yesterday's is what it is and I cant change it.

I have been asked if this winter is good or bad and the answer is yes and no.

Yes because:
-         We received plenty of moisture
-          There was a lot of “frost heave” to break up and naturally aerate the top few inches of the soil profile 
-         Without much winter play, the turf did not get a lot of wear and tear
-         The snow cover insulated the turf from winds and desiccation
-         Most likely, the record cold temperatures reduced fungi and insect populations. Although this affects both the bad and good guys, it would seem that they will be in a more manageable balance come spring.

No because:
-         We didn’t have many golf days
-         The turf may take a bit longer to green up this spring because of the low soil temperatures
-         There remains a chance that with cool, wet weather, snow mold may become a problem in the next few weeks
-         We will be a few weeks behind schedule when the weather does “break”, and will need to adjust to the late start

We need to remember that grasses have been around for millions of years and have survived pretty much everything that can happen. We will make it through this too.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November 2, 2013

Last Tuesday, October 26, we were visited by entomologists Dr. Albrecht Koppenhofer and his post doctoral research associate, Olga Kostromytska, from Rutgers University. The purpose of the visit was to collect adult annual bluegrass weevils (ABW)  to be used in a study to determine the degree of insecticidal resistance to products that are traditionally used to control their populations.

The annual bluegrass weevil, which feeds primarily on poa annua, is the most destructive insect that we battle with throughout the year. In the spring the adults emerge from their overwintering sites ( from under debris, leaves, dropped pine needles, etc) and migrate across the rough to greens, tee, and fairways where they lay their first generation eggs inside the sheath of its preferred host,  short cut poa annua. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the plant before tunneling out and entering the soil to pupate. This egg laying, feeding and tunneling in the poa plant kills the plant. In the soil they cause no damage, but become adults that will repeat this process. Over the year, up until October, there are multiple overlapping generations, before the adults head back to tree lines to overwinter. 

For each stage of its life cycle, a different insecticide must be used – a contact for the roaming adults, a systemic type for feeding larvae, and a soluble contact that can be watered into the soil to affect the pupae. That is complicated enough, yet what makes control even more difficult is that these weevils have been evolving to be resistant to many of these insecticides to the point that the products offer little if any control. In the end, the weevils are becoming harder to control and populations are growing, and damage is increasing. At courses with a long history of ABW, resistance is a serious problem. At the same time, the annual bluegrass weevil, which once was a threat mostly only to New England, is now evolving to thrive in the warmer temperatures of the Mid - Atlantic States and south.

At Greate Bay, we began seeing damage just four years ago. I suspect there is a degree of insecticide resistance because each year it has become harder and harder to control the ABW populations here. This year was especially tough. Two years ago we only needed to treat a few areas on the course, and were able to decrease the adult population enough so that subsequent applications were not necessary. Last year though, we needed to treat the entire course and then on certain fairways and most greens we had to follow up again with as many as three subsequent treatments. As late as early October, we were still noticing light damage on the greens, collars, and on some fairways. This sustaining population of ABW might be an indication that the insecticides we use are decreasing in efficacy, due to resistance

Dr. Koppenhofer had contacted the NJ Superintendent’s Association looking for courses that would allow him and his team to collect weevils for a study to determine resistance population levels throughout NJ and surrounding areas. Within a week after volunteering Greate Bay as a collection site, we had set up a date for his visit.

Sampling was simple. The researchers dug out small, 6-8” diameter pieces of sod, about an inch deep, in suspected overwintering sites along the tree lines of hole #7. The sod was placed in five gallon buckets of warm water and a paper towel was laid on the water as a raft for the weevils to hang onto as they floated up wards through the water. The weevils were then collected from the paper towel rafts and put in containers for their trip back to Rutgers. In all, they were hoping to collect at least 1,500 adults, which they did.

Our weevils, along with the ones from other courses taking part in Dr. Koppenhofer’s study, will be tested with various insecticides normally used to control them, and the degree of resistance, if any, will be determined. From this study, alternative treatments and/ or insecticide rotations may be recommended to decrease resistance so that in the future, we will be able to better control the ABW. 

Dr. Koppenhofer collecting weevils on #7

Annual Bluegrass Weevil

Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 30, 2013

We accomplished quite a lot during the month of September!

Labor day week we performed a deep vertical cut with our graden machines on the greens which we immediately followed with aeration and topdressing. These cultural practices remove thatch, stimulate the growth of the bent grasses, help amend the soil, relieve compaction, resurface the greens, and overall improve the health of the greens.

At the same time, we aerated the fairways and also performed a deep verticut to the approaches – these practices remove thatch, aerate the soil, and help to relieve some of the compaction that has taken place throughout the year. As soon as we dragged and cleaned up, we drop seeded bent grass seed into the open holes, and followed that with our slice seeder. As I write this, I am very happy with the results so far – we have had pretty good germination and I am seeing plenty of seedlings.

We resodded the 7th black, blue, and white tees with Patriot bermuda grass (the same variety that we used on the driving range a few years back). The 7th tee is one of the hardest areas on the course to grow turf – it’s surrounded on three sides, left and back with trees, and to the right with the halfway house. It gets very little air movement and the trapped air heats up, making it the warmest spot on the course by at least 5-10 degrees.( Incidentally, the 13th tee is the second warmest area.) Because bermuda can take the heat, we think its the best choice for this area. The green and yellow tees had been sodded with Riviera bermuda grass three seasons ago, and have out performed the traditional grasses such as bent grass that had been used previously. If the bermuda doesn’t work, the chainsaws will work!

We have overseeded some of the rough areas that have worn thin due to cart traffic and lack of irrigation. Some of the areas include the left of 8 fairway, areas between 1 and 2 fairways, the areas surrounding the 7th green tee, and areas along the left of the sixth hole.

Although not in play, we overseeded the wedding garden lawn too!

Last week we did a second aeration of the tees and this coming week we will topdress them and slice in more bentgrass.

All these efforts will translate to better and improved conditions over time.