Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 29, 2010

It seems that every winter I am asked by some one sooner later, “is this snow good for the grass, or does it hurt it?”

And my answer is always the same, “it all depends...”

Snow cover, like any other weather event, can help or hurt, and there are an infinite number of variables that can tip it either way. Here are the basics:

A good snow cover insulates the turf from wind and cold air temperatures, so that the turf does not desiccate, or dry out too much. Being covered with snow, the turf and the soil get a “traffic” break too, which prevents winter wear damage. As the snow melts, the water seeps through the soil, facilitating gas exchange for oxygen to jump start the roots when the soil warms. Many times, the turf is healthier coming out of winter when it has had snow cover for at least some of the winter.

On the other hand, winter diseases can occur beneath the snow because of the moist environment at the turf /snow interface. And if ice should form and cover the turf for long periods of time (usually 3 weeks or more), especially on poa greens, gas exchange will stop altogether and turf can then smother and perish due to a lack of oxygen. You may remember this happening to greens in the Philadelphia area about fifteen years ago.

We do our best to prevent bad things from happening, such as keeping fertility low and doing a snow mold spray late in the fall to suppress disease. And if the snow stays too long, we will clear it off best we can.

Right now, I am not worried about the snow that we had early this’s been on the turf long enough to be good, but not there long enough to worry about.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

December 23, 2010

We'd like to wish all our members and guests a Greate Holiday Season, and best wishes for the New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

December 20, 2010

The winter solstice occurs tomorrow, Tuesday, December 21, at 11:28 pm EST. The solstice marks the moment that the earth’s northern hemisphere is tilted back it furthest point from the sun, and the southern hemisphere is tilted is furthest point closest to the sun, - it is the shortest day in the north and the longest day in the south!

Beginning at 11:29 pm EST, the days will start to lengthen here as the earth begins to tilt opposite, and we will begin the transition towards spring!

Prior to the solstice, there will be a lunar eclipse which will begin Tuesday morning at 2:41 am, and will last approximately 3.5 hours. This is a very rare event – that a lunar eclipse occurs on solstice day!

Although it may not seem that solstices and golf go together, they are very much intertwined, as all plant life is dependent upon day light length...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 11, 2010

Last Wednesday and Thursday Chris and I attended the New Jersey Turf Conference held in Atlantic City. We attended presentations on turf biology and disease, managing turf stresses, disease suppression and control, soils, and water management. The speakers included Dr. Bruce Clarke of Rutgers University, Dr. Peter Dernoeden of the University of Maryland and Dr. Bruce Martin of Clemson University. We also attended a seminar to get updated on pesticides and pesticide safety which was conducted by representatives of the NJDEP.

During breaks, Chris and I had plenty of opportunity to talk with other Superintendents and turf professionals about how we faced the weather challenges of last summer. We all talked about what worked and what didn’t. In the end, the consensus was that it was the hottest and toughest summer that any have seen, which wasn’t that much surprising…. But sharing our experiences with others was, and will always be, another way to learn.

As with any career, one can never learn enough, which is why Chris and I attend events such as this. Everything we learn gives us another tool to help you have the best conditions that we can offer.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 7, 2010

It’s early December and the weather has made a decided turn toward cold! Just like all of you with residential sprinkler systems, here at the golf course we also need to get the water out of our pipes before heavy freeze causes damage. Our process for blowing out the irrigation system is similar to yours or your landscaper’s, but on a much larger scale.
We begin the week before our rented air compressors arrive, and let the system “gravity drain” for a day or two. We open some of the higher elevated valves to let air in the pipes, which in turn lets water drain into some of the ponds around the course. When water is no longer flowing out of our pipes we close all of our valves, attach the compressors to the main pipe outside of the pump house, and begin pumping compressed air into the irrigation system. We re-open the pond fills and let the air push out as much water as possible. Next, starting closest to the pump house and working away from it, we open every hose connection and run every sprinkler until nothing but air exits.
We literally have miles of pipe to empty, and 800 or so sprinkler heads and quick coupling valves that need to be emptied. Though we only make use of the compressors for two or three days, it takes about a week to complete our blowout. The goal is not to get every drop of water out of the system, but to get enough out so that if a deep freeze occurs, the pipes and sprinklers will remain undamaged. We have a pretty good process going and rarely do we see damage caused by ice. The process can be tedious, but it saves us an awful lot of trouble when we recharge the system the following spring!

This article was contributed by Chris Lare, Assistant Superintendent.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November 23, 2010

One of the joys of the fall season, other than cooler temperatures, is witnessing the change of foliage on the golf course from green to yellow to orange and sometimes to red. Cooler temperatures are often accredited with this beautiful transformation, but another, more significant factor is at work here. The process by which trees shed their leaves is complex, but the reason for this occurrence can basically be attributed to shorter days, or reduced sunlight.
If you remember your high school biology, leaves are green because they contain chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a green pigment which helps plants carry out photosynthesis. As days become shorter and the amount of available sunlight decreases, trees no longer have the need to produce or keep so much chlorophyll in their leaves. When days get shorter trees use a hormone called ethylene to start withdrawing chlorophyll from their leaves. A second group of pigments, carotenoids, get left behind. Carotenoids are yellow pigments which are present year-round, but are usually hidden by chlorophyll. So, as chlorophyll is taken out of the leaves, they take on the yellowed appearance of carotenoids.
Not all leaves stop at yellow. Some turn orange, or even red. This additional coloring is the result of the presence of yet a third group of pigments called anthocyanins. This set of pigments serves a couple of purposes. First, while the tree is busy removing chlorophyll and other hormones and nutrients from its leaves, it is pretty vulnerable to damage from the sun. Anthocyanins act as a type of sunscreen, allowing the tree to get ready for winter without taking too much damage. Anthocyanins are more often found in trees that prefer colder climates, furthering the belief that they act as protection from the sun. It is also believed that yellow leaves attract aphids, so trees have adapted to prevent this attack by turning their leaves red.
So there you have it! A hormonal response to shorter days gives us one of the most spectacular natural events that occur. Enjoy it while it lasts, miss it while it’s gone, and rest easy knowing we’ll see it again!

This article is contributed by Chris Lare, Assistant Superintendent

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November 13, 2010

Did you ever wonder why I take the bales of straw used for fall clubhouse decorations and place them along the shores of our irrigation pond on #12?

Barley straw, as it decomposes, releases certain compounds that inhibit the growth of algae. It does not kill algae that is already present, but prevents new algae cells from forming, which is why its best to get it in the water before algae becomes an existing problem.

The breakdown of the straw also nourishes populations of “good” bacteria that help keep the water clean by eating up excess nutrients and pollutants.

Barley straw does not work in all instances – success depends on the pH of the water and the presence of dissolved oxygen. Luckily, our water pH is close to perfect, and we place the bales along the shores because the wave action there oxygenates the water.

They might look a bit out of place, but these bales help keep our irrigation water clean, and are a great alternative to risky aquatic herbicides which would negatively impact the turf that receives this water as irrigation.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November 7, 2010

As the weather continues to offer us cooler temperatures, frost delays become more common. Frost occurs when ice forms on the outside and inside of the turf plant. Ice on the outside is what we see, but the ice on the inside – frozen plant cells – is our worry. Pressure applied to frozen cells damages and breaks the cell membrane. Later, when the cell thaws, the cell fluids leak out, causing death of the cell. Unfortunately, in most cases, all the cells of the plant’s above ground parts are killed this way, and the plant cannot recover.

Sometimes it’s hard to be patient, especially when you’ve waited all week to get a round in, but it's one of those things that we cannot control or change. Maybe take the time during a delay to enjoy another cup of coffee, have breakfast, and talk with your friends…it might just make your day a bit better after all!

The USGA has a great animated explanation of frost delays in the link below.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

October 30, 2010

Here is a picture of the 6th rough where we tilled and seeded earlier this month...even after 30 years of doing this, I still get excited to see the grass come up!

Friday, October 15, 2010

October 15, 2010

On hole # 6, left of the tee to fairway rough, there is an area where the turf has continually struggled to grow. The soil has been seriously compacted, worn down, and has lost its structure due to years and years of traffic. Whatever topsoil that might have been in this area, is gone. And to make things worse, the area is bordered by trees which block sunlight, and whose roots compete for water and nutrients.

This area indeed has a few challenges! On Wednesday, we did all we could to face them!

The first thing we did was to spread topsoil over the area, and then add peat moss. We then spread slow releasing organic fertilizer and gypsum (for calcium). The last thing we added to our “mix” was a product that supplies micro nutrients, sulfur, potassium, and manganese. After all these were spread, we roto-tilled the area five times to mix it in and to relieve all that compaction. What we were not able to do was remove the trees!

After the area was raked out and leveled, we seeded it with a mix of grasses that best tolerate shade, poor soil, and to a degree, traffic. And finally, we roped it off so that the seedbed would not be damaged.

It was quite a lot of work!

Now we just need to keep it moist and nurture it to grow. I will post blog updates on how the area progresses, so please stay tuned!

Friday, October 8, 2010

October 8, 2010

The weather seems to be returning to a more normal pattern…the temperatures are becoming more in tune with historical averages rather than record breakers, and needed rain has returned. Perhaps the last two weeks have been somewhat frustrating to some of us with the rain storms, yet the rain alleviated the current short term drought conditions and delayed the NJ DEP from issuing statewide water restrictions.

We have been very busy reseeding the few areas in the rough where we lost some turf. We are using a mix of bluegrass and creeping fescue on these areas – bluegrass for wear and drought tolerance along with disease resistance, and fescue for drought tolerance. In some areas we add a bit of ryegrass for quick cover, expecting that the blue will out compete it by next summer. This is the same overseeding program that we’ve done in the rough over the past five years. We’ve had a lot of success with these varieties.

Over the next few weeks we will be applying herbicides in the rough to reduce weed populations! Fall is the best and most effective time for weed control due to the cool growing conditions! We will also begin rough aeration too.

One other project that we are in the process of completing is planting a privacy screen of arborvitaes along the northeast side of the 13th tee.

So we are busy – using the fall to prepare for next spring…

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September 22, 2010

The Fall Solstice is now less than a day away, yet the warm and dry weather continues. This weather pattern is forecast to continue with higher than normal temperatures and little rainfall.

Looking back over the summer, there were… 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43,44 days over 90 degrees since April!

And the record highs that were set so far this year:
- March 19…73 degrees
- April 6…88 degrees
- April 7… 91 degrees
- May 2…88 degrees
- June 20…95 degrees
- June 25…99 degrees
- July 5…99 degrees
- July 6 …102 degrees
- July 7…98 degrees
- July 24…99 degrees
- July 25…99 degrees
- August 5…96 degrees
- August 29…98 degrees
- August 31…99 degrees

April, June, and July of 2010 respectively were the warmest single months ever recorded.
There was less than 6 inches of rain combined June through August.
On September 8, 2010 the NJ DEP declared a drought watch.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September 21, 2010

It has been less than two weeks since we aerated the greens and fairways. With the nice weather that we are having, and after-aeration care, the greens and fairways are almost completely healed. Next week we will be back to lower mowing heights and grooming!

During the aeration, we overseeded all the tees with a bentgrass variety mix, and are happy to say that the seed is coming up strong! The overseeding was done to increase the bent population of the tee boxes, which will help reduce the time it takes for divot healing, as the bent will grow over.

With the return of moderate weather, we are picking back up activities to improve the course. Presently, we are preparing the area left of 13 tee to plant a screen of arborvitaes to seclude the tee from neighborhood yards.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September 15, 2010

You’ve probably noticed that there are a great number of monarch butterflies in the air throughout the course, and many more on flowering plants and shrubs resting or taking in nectar.

This is the start of the monarch’s fall migration to Mexico where they will “hibernate” for the winter. It’s hard to imagine that such a light and fragile insect has the bird like abilities to navigate these long distances and survive. The monarch is the only butterfly to do this.

Next spring, the monarchs will make their way back north in successive generations.

Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed plants which is the only plant the monarch caterpillar feeds on. There are “toxins” in the milkweed plant that make the caterpillar bad tasting to predators, so most birds, etc leave it well enough alone. To help the monarch along and increase its populations, we let milkweed plants grow where they do not interfere with play. One area is at the top of the 15-16 tunnel banks nearest 15 green.

This is another example of how Greate Bay does all it to can help wildlife.

Friday, September 10, 2010

September 10, 2010

A few weeks ago, on Saturday, August 14th, I attended the Eagle Scout presentation and ceremony for Chris Waniak of Somers Point, a member the area’s local BSA Troop 55.

In May of 2009, Chris did his Eagle Scout Community Service project here at Greate Bay, erecting nesting boxes and nesting tubes for mason bees, and placing them throughout the golf course. I helped Chris with the planning and implementation of this project as part of our certification project with Audubon International. Together we made a great team.

I am proud of Chris for achieving the honor of Eagle Scout. I know that he will continue to achieve and make a difference in this world throughout his lifetime.

Congratulations Chris – you deserve it!

Related notes:

Chris is the son of James Waniak, who is not a stranger to golf! Jim was an Assistant Superintendent of Linwood CC and later became the Golf Course Superintendent of B.L. England. Jim is now in charge of the fields for the Atlantic City school system.

Heidi Hibbs, Chef Norm Hibb’s wife, has been very active throughout the years with BSA Troop 55. Both sons of Norm and Hiedi achieved Eagle Scout as members of BSA Troop 55.

Friday, September 3, 2010

September 3, 2010

We practice aeration to restore and/or improve growing conditions for the turf, which makes all the sense in the world. A doctor needs to perform surgery at times to save a life, and although we are not doctors, we do the same on soils to preserve the life of turfgrass.

This picture of 8 approach is a great example of the benefits of aeration. Take a look and you will see that the grass that survived in this patch is in a recognizable pattern…an aeration pattern. In the aeration holes there was oxygen, loose soil for deep rooting, little thatch, no compaction….thats why it survived.

On Monday, September 6th, we will begin green and fairway aeration, hoping to be finished Wednesday. If you have a few minutes, come on out and watch – I will be happy to explain the process and show you the whats and whys of aeration!

Friday, August 27, 2010

August 27, 2010

Underneath the golf course is buried a few miles of pipe and many more miles of wire which make up the skeletal structure of the irrigation system. Every so often, a pipe cracks or a fitting breaks and we scramble to repair it. It’s a big part of what we do. If the water isn’t working, we cannot irrigate.

These past weeks we have had three leaks – one on ten, one on the driving range, and another on #9 green bank. To give everyone an idea of the scope of these repairs, I am posting the following pictures showing the process of repairing the leak we had on ten last week.

The 6" tee split simply due to fatigue, as this one is at least 25 years old.

Here the area has been dug out and the excess water draining from the pipe is being pumped out.

Silvio and Edgar, after building a replacement tee section, carefully re-fit it where the original break was cut out.

After the blue couplers are tightened and the pvc couplers glued, the leak is fixed and the water turned back on! Refilling the excavation is next.

From start to finish, this break took approximately five hours to repair, followed by a 12 hour cure time for the glue to properly set before we were able to put it back in service!

Friday, August 20, 2010

August 20, 2010

On Wednesday, August 18, we received 1.75” of rain – it is the only significant rainfall that we’ve had for over 7 weeks. The day before, a thunderstorm just missed us. At the exact same time on Tuesday that we were busy syringing our greens and tees under a hot, sunny sky, 3” of rain was falling from lightning sliced clouds at Linwood CC, only a few miles away!

Wednesday’s rain was a good rain though. It was a soaking ran that came down slowly enough to soak into the soil and percolate deep into the root zone. It was just what we needed and I could not have asked for anything better to come from the skies…

Friday, August 13, 2010

August 14, 2010

There are more things than heat and drought and subsequent disease that stress turf. One of the other stresses (of many) is trees.

Shade caused by trees filters out light that the turf needs for photosynthesis. With less that an adequate ability to produce sugars, the turf plant can never become healthy or vigorous.

Trees also block air movement which creates stale, humid “air pockets”. Stagnant, humid air is a perfect environment for turf diseases. This is the reason we have fans on the 7th tees.

The unseen problem of trees is their roots. Trees have miles of surface roots that lie just beneath the soil surface and compete with the turf for water and nutrients. Every few years we bring in a specially designed machine to “prune” these roots along the fairway edges, tees, and greens.

Between these machine prunings, we sometimes have to do some areas manually. We use sharp edged flat shovels and push them down as deep as we can through these surface roots along the edges of greens and tees where we notice tree root competition.

We did this manual pruning the other day along the outside edges of 11 approach, 11 green, and 14 green. This pruning will help the approach and these greens to strengthen up.

When it is so dry like it has been, trees can cause a lot of turf damage – their root systems are so much bigger than the turf root systems, and so they can easily out compete turf roots for the soil water.

In this photo of the back of 10 tee, the turf is weak, thinned and then bare due to the tree root competition.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 11, 2010

There is an art to “hand watering” – knowing where the water is needed and having a feel for how much to give…too much or too little water can have negative effects on the turf, and in most cases poor watering will cause the turf to decline and die.

Being so important to get the right amount of water, we use many different nozzles for different applications. Some of these nozzles are (left to right):
- The large round nozzle is called a “rose” nozzle, and it produces a pattern much like a gentle shower. This type is used to water landscape areas, sod, and to water in fertilizers, etc.
- The small yellow nozzle produces a fine mist, and we use it to syringe greens, etc, where we only need a mist to lower the surface temperatures.
- The tall red nozzle and the blue nozzle beside it are “fire nozzles”. They produce a thick, pressurized water stream that can reach up to 25’. These are used to water large turf areas such as roughs, mounds, and sometimes fairways. These nozzles can also be dialed down to produce a shower like the rose nozzle, and be used for flowers etc. It is a very versatile nozzle and we use it more than any other.
- The short red and blue nozzles are used on greens where a mist is not enough, yet a full stream is too much! These nozzles produce medium to large droplet water sprays, and are best suited to hitting dry areas on greens and tees.
- The brass “slit top” nozzle is also a spray type, that puts down a heavy pattern and is used for dry areas in the fairways and rough.
- The last example in this picture is a proportional system with a fire nozzle and it is used to apply wetting agents where ever needed.

If you look closely, you will see many of these different nozzles being used on different parts of the course – watering is not a “one size fits all”!

Last, but not the least, the nozzle I use the most myself is my thumb! Its hard to hold back 120 psi with my thumb, but its worth it – I can make a mist or a full stream and everything in between in milliseconds! Technology is great, but every once in a while the old fashioned way works just as well!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August 4, 2010

According to the National Weather Service, July 2010 here was the hottest July on record. (June 2010 was the warmest June on record) The NWS is predicting the same trend of record heat for August.

We are not alone in this heat – many other parts of the Northern Hemisphere across the globe are experiencing the same. We can point to a Bermuda High off the coast as our cause for heat here in the Mid Atlantic, but it does not explain the warmer temperatures for the rest of the world! Is it global warming? I really don’t know and it is way too political to get a clear answer– but I do know that we have experienced record rainfall, record snow fall, and now record heat in less than a year's time.

And all this makes growing grass – especially fine turf – a greater challenge. We have had to shift our practices accordingly to avoid adding any additional stress on the turf – we mow as early in the day as we can, hand water and syringe (we spent over 500 man / woman hours on this in July!), we've shortened our fungicide spray intervals, reduced our fertility so the turf does not get “overspent”, etc. We have also rested a few areas to reduce wear and tear and stresses, such as the 11th fairway, etc. Over all, these practices are helping us to get through this challenging weather.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28, 2010

Our weather is definitely the hot topic these days, so I thought we would focus on our water management practices a little more. Some of the tools we utilize to keep the course adequately watered are wetting agents. Wetting agents are soap-like substances that decrease water tension and allow water molecules to “spread out”. If you want to see it in action, try this quick experiment. Cut a square of waxed paper. Using a spoon or dropper (if you have one handy), make two separate, but small “piles” of water. Add a drop of dish soap to one of the water piles. This puddle should immediately flatten and spread in all directions. By adding soap, you have decreased the surface tension of the water and allowed it to adhere to a surface it didn’t like. I recommend using waxed paper because the waxy coating closely reflects the conditions of dry, sandy soils. Soils actually develop a wax-like surface that won’t allow water to penetrate the soil, or to infiltrate it very deeply.
There are three different forces which act on water and affect the way it behaves. The first is gravity, which pulls water down into the soil. The second is cohesion, which allows water molecules to band together and form larger drops. The third is adhesion, or water’s ability to stick to other surfaces. Adhesion is the one we’re most interested in altering. If we can decrease the surface tension of a drop of water and increase its’ ability to adhere, then we can water more efficiently, as well as make that water stick around a while longer.
It would seem to be a pretty simple principle to follow, but not all wetting agents are created equal. Some have longer-lasting effects, while others have the potential to burn if they are not watered in right away. Not all of them can be mixed with fertilizers or other chemicals (this is especially important to us). Wetting agent designers use many different compounds to achieve the desired results, so each wetting agent has a unique set of characteristics. In addition to their composition, these substances are available in different forms: liquid, granular, and water-soluble tablets. At Greate Bay, we use several types of wetting agents, depending on where and when we are applying them. When making the decision to apply wetting agents we have to consider our watering schedule, fertilizer applications, fungicide sprays, weather conditions (current and future), the amount of time that has passed since our last application, and many other factors.
Wetting agents are an important part of our water management program, helping us to use less water more efficiently, and increasing the amount of water that makes it to the plants roots.

(This post was contributed by Chris Lare, Assistant Superintendent.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

July 8, 2010

I really wish that were another topic to write about other than this week’s weather – but it is the story.

Last month was the warmest June on record since records have been kept, which goes back 136 years. Fifteen days in June were 90 degrees or higher.

July continues the trend with record highs. We even hit the 100 degree mark, which made 90 degrees seem like a cold front! At the same time we have been without any precipitation of any consequence – a few sparse tenth’s of an inch since early June.

Lately you have seen most of our staff carrying and using hoses to water dry areas, and to syringe greens. Watering is adding water to the root zone, while syringing is applying a fine mist to cool the temperature of the turf. You probably have also seen the fairway heads come on and quickly “march” down the fairways. This is a syringe, but on a much bigger scale. We time the heads to make approximately one revolution – applying only enough water to cool the radius of turf surrounding them. What we are trying accomplish with all this is to control the temperature of the turf through out the course, and get water to the roots only in the areas where it’s needed.

The short term forecast is for a return of temperatures in the 80’s! I don’t think that any of us will be unhappy about that!!!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

July 2, 2010

Thank You!

I very much want to thank all of our members and guests for taking such great care of the golf course. It seems that everyone is replacing divots, or filling them with sand from the bottles. Every time during the day when I check the course, I see very few unattended divots.

This is huge!

Besides not having your best shot of the day roll into a crater for an impossible shot, the amount of repaired divots has enabled the staff to do other tasks, like hand water, and keep the course in the shape its in!

Again, I just want to thank all of you! Your efforts to take care of the course are not going unnoticed!!!!!! And I appreciate it so much. You guys are Greate!!!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 29, 2010

How hot do our greens get?

One of things we do to manage turf stress is to measure temperatures at the greens surface and know how hot the turf gets. Like any other living organism, turf reacts to temperature, and if it gets too hot for too long, it can die, even if there is enough water in the soil. Our greens turf which mostly poa annua, is especially sensitive to extreme heat, and has to be closely monitored throughout the summer to keep it from overheating.

So we take temperatures so that we know when and how much to syringe our greens. Syringing is not watering. Syringing is misting the green with a fine spray. The water droplets land on the leaf blades and as they begin to evaporate, heat is pulled from the plant and released into the air. This process decreases the temperature of the turf, minimizing effects of heat stress.

Yesterday, at 11:30 am, the temperatures on the7th and 10th greens were 114 degrees f and climbing. Knowing that it was still early in the day and the afternoon forecast was for increasing temperatures, we sent three persons to syringe. As is our procedure, they moved backward through the course, and this day, made three complete circuits. Syringing held down the temperatures of the plants to about 100 degrees, which is very tolerable. Had we not syringed, the surface temperatures would probably have reached 120 degrees or more, causing considerable stress and turf decline.

Syringing is very important to the health of our greens. When you see our staff syringing greens, please know that they are working very hard to get the greens through the day so that they will be in the same great shape tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June 23, 2010

You may have seen the aerators out on the greens this week!

We are doing what is termed “venting the greens”. This is a process where we use tines that are one quarter inch in diameter, and four inches long, to punch needle sized holes into the green.

We do this procedure approximately every four to six weeks to open up the greens. Over the course of this time period, the greens become sealed at the surface from the traffic of play, mowing, rolling, etc. When this occurs, water cannot easily penetrate to the root zone, and the gases that build up in the soil cannot escape or be replaced with fresh air. The result is dying roots, and that leads to turf loss and green failure.

These tiny holes that barely can be seen, and do not affect ball roll, reverse this condition, allowing the soil to breathe and drink again, and sustaining a much better environment for the turf grass roots.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June 19, 2010

I thought that I'd share some pictures of the staff preparing the course for the 2010 Member Guest Tournament! Here goes!

Our mechanic, Don is probably the most important person in our department. It is his art and skill that keeps the equipment running, enabling us to care for the course. Here Don has a fairway mower on the lift, checking height of cut and adjusting the reels.

In this picture, Edgar paints the Greate Bay logo on the 1st tee.

It takes a lot of teamwork and communication behind the scenes to make things work so well! Bucky and I and our staffs are in constant communication, coordinating, and setting up the course.

The "little things" are the "biggest things"! Paying attention to detail is important! Here before the sunrise John gets ready to fill divots and check the greens for any unhealed ball marks.

Another detail is hand raking the green side bunkers. Here Denia rakes the bunker on 10.

On Saturday we triple cut the greens to increase the speed. Here four persons - Baldemero, Isabella, Edgar, and Max - converge on the 18th green to get it finished before play. Once again,its a lot of good teamwork that gets everything done!

After the greens are cut, they are rolled. Here Isidro rolls the 13th green.

Assistant Chris Lare paints the cup on #1 green. Weeks before the tournament, Bucky and Chris determine pin locations, and Chris supervises the staff so that these areas are "saved" for the tournament.

Chris uses a USGA stimpmeter to determine the consistency of the greens.

As soon as we can after the days last tee time, we begin mowing the tees, approaches, collars and fairways to prepare them for the next days play!

The fairway traps are also raked in the evening. Doing all this work in the evening allows the crew to concentrate wholly on preparing the greens in the morning.

Once again, its the "little things" that are the "big things". Here Isabella cools down a hot spot in the 5th rough. In the evening, three persons went hole by hole with hoses to care for the wilt, rather than turning on heads and softening up the course.

Although Ryan is not on our turf staff, he is part of our whole staff. I am always impressed with how he cares for the details...

I hope everyone had a GREATE Member / Guest Tournament! I know that our staff had a GREATE time preparing the course for everyone!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 16, 2010

This coming Friday and Saturday is our annual Member- Guest Tournament, which we have been preparing for now for the past four weeks. To peak the course for any event takes a lot of planning, preparation, and timing. It’s not just a matter of ratcheting things up for a day or two.

Weeks ago we lowered the fairway heights and began a daily mowing program to tighten them up. You’ve most likely have seen Pedro mowing every day.

We have also taken down other heights as well, and this includes the greens. For weeks we have adjusted greens heights lower, a 1000th of an inch at a time, so that the turf doesn’t stress out. We have also top dressed the greens to smooth them out, and changed up our irrigation, spray and fertilizer programs to ease this height transition. We’ve done the same with and for the tees.

We’ve been going at it for some time now. It’s not easy to peak a course. And unfortunately, these peaks are not wholly sustainable due to the stress that is put on the turf. Kept under these extra low height conditions for an extended length of time, the turf will begin to thin and disease out, as its physical and biological limits will have been passed. As you can tell, it takes weeks of prep just to keep it alive under these conditions for just a few days!

I wish everyone who is playing in our Member- Guest good luck and great golfing for the weekend! “Tear it up!”

Friday, June 11, 2010

A few “off the wall” things….

Looking around I see a lot of nature here at the course, and so I thought today I would share a few of my observations with you.

In the area of the 16th green lives a blue jay. Almost everyday I see him perched on the controller that sits to the left of the green, surveying the green bank for an insect meal. When a bug catches his eye he hops down and sorts through the grass for it. Take a look for him next time you play the 16th – you will most likely see him.

Behind the 6th green the honey suckle vine is in full bloom. Besides a pleasant aroma, the flower also has a great taste. Pull the white flower off the vine and nibble on the end that was attached to the vine – tastes like sugar….

Every so often I will share more nature with you. After all, we are a certified Audubon Sanctuary, which means that we are both golfers and environmental stewards.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 9, 2010

Today we “jumped” out ahead of play to give the greens some needed, special attention!

We performed a touching verti-cut on the greens and followed that with a light sand topdressing, which we gently bushed in. Last to come was the sprayer with a small amount of soluble fertilizer. Normally we would water all this in, but with the rain on its way, we decided to be patient and let Mother Nature be our helper.

The verti-cut is a set of reels with vertical cutting units that slice through the canopy, cutting runners and laid over grass leaves. Doing this consistently helps prevent “grain” and trains the turf to grow straight up. It also opens up the canopy to accept the topdressing.

The topdressing dilutes the thatch, which firms the greens for putting and doubles this positive by helping us with disease control. The sand also fills voids, such as un- repaired ball marks, etc., so that the green in a sense, is resurfaced…almost what the Zamboni does to the hockey ice.

And the fertilizer helps give the turf just enough energy to get through it all!

Weather and play permitting, we try to maintain this program consistently, repeating it every two weeks. I translates into attaining better and better conditions!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

June 5, 2010

This week we planted 42 Dark American Arborvitaes along the fence behind the 16th tee. We did this to create privacy, and block out the sounds and sights of traffic rushing down Route 9. This will surely help your golfing experience on this tee!