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!



Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 1, 2010

Some of you may already know that I am an amateur beekeeper with a few honey bee hives at home. The other day, one of my hives swarmed – simply put, that’s when half the bees stay in their hive with a new queen, and the other half takes off with the old queen to find a new home. Between leaving the original hive and finding a new home, the swarm will rest on objects like branches, fences, house eves, etc. While the main swarm and the queen rest, scout bees are out looking for a new home which could be a hollow in a tree or any type of place that gives them protection and room to make comb. Swarming is nature’s way to make new colonies, and keep the world populated with these valuable pollinators.

When swarming, bees are not at all aggressive, as they try not to deplete their energies because they will need those to establish a new home which takes all their effort. A swarm may look a bit discomforting but its not. If you do see a swarm, do not panic or get out the bug and wasp spray. Just leave them alone- they will fly off to a new home usually in a day or two, if not in a few hours. The other thing to do is to call a bee keeper who will take the swarm and put it into a hive. You can find a “swarm collector” at the following web site:

The reason that I put this on this blog is that a golf course (and a yard) is a place we might come across a swarm. I have seen honey bees in our flowers so I know there is at least one colony in the area (honey bees will travel a few miles for pollen and nectar). If you do see a swarm on the course, let me know. If you find one in your yard, please call a bee keeper. Whatever you do, please don’t kill a honey bee, as their numbers are dwindling due to diseases and an undiscovered causal agent that causes colony collapse disorder.

By the way, I caught the swarm that had left my hive. The bees collected on a pine tree branch about 15’ up, so I got out the ladder, grabbed a hive box, and went up there and shook the bees off the branch and into the hive. The swarm is doing well, making comb and bringing back pollen. And when they bring pollen back to the hive, it is a sign that the bees are out there pollinating flowers and most likely, pollinating the crops that will feed you! If you’d like to see the video of the swarm I caught, and the full story, visit http://seventeenfarms.blogspot.com/