Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 31, 2011

#5 with debris and downed trees to the left of the fairway

When I toured the course after Hurricane Irene, I first counted our blessings that the storm could have been a lot worse, and secondly, the twenty three trees that the storm blew down. It was the back end of the storm on Sunday afternoon that brought very powerful south west winds and uprooted most of the downed trees. Fortunately, none came down on any greens, tees, equipment, buildings, or irrigation satellites.

Along with the downed trees and tons of debris, Irene’s heavy rains washed out bunkers and cart paths, which will take a lot of work to restore.

On Monday we began cleaning up. Our first priority was remove / take down leaning trees and broken branches left hanging in trees. We brought in Yoos Tree service to take down what we were not equipped to do, and for the rest of the week they and our staff will be working together to get everything chipped up. With the added help of staff from the bag drop and clubhouse, we began cleaning out the bunkers and re grading the main cart paths on Tuesday. We are also working to get back on our regular mowing and maintenance schedules, and also to prepare for Memorial Day weekend and next weeks aeration!

We do have our work cut out for us....

#2 greenside bunker completely washed out

Downed pine on #11

Oak on #13

Masses of downed branches on #14

One of the many uprooted trees on #1

Chipping up trees on #1

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25, 2011

Thought that I would share an experience that is new to me – flower blooms on an elephant ear plant!

I have been growing elephant ears for over ten years now and I have never had one bloom – I didn’t even know they bloomed!

I called a few of my expert gardening friends to ask if they had ever seen an elephant ear in bloom and they all said “no”, including a friend and grower who has been in the greenhouse/ flower business for over 25 years.

I did a little research and found it isn’t uncommon for elephant ears to bloom, but because these are tropical plants that need heat, blooms are rarer further north than south.  Perhaps the excessive record heat that we had late June and throughout July was the trigger...

Friday, August 19, 2011

August 19, 2011

On Wednesday we stripped the white tees on 9 and 13, and the 7 black, blue, white, and yellow  tees and sodded them with “low- cut” Kentucky bluegrass.

Last June, Dave Oatis, the USGA agronomist for the Mid- Atlantic region, walked the course with Chris, Bucky, Gary, Joel, and I. At that time Mr. Oatis recommended that if we ever had the opportunity to sod any tees, low cut Kentucky bluegrass was proving successful and that we might want to give it a try. Mr. Oatis and other USGA agronomists have observed that the low cut varieties have been showing better recovery and wear tolerance than the traditional bent grasses on many regional golf courses.

We will be re-opening these tees once the sod roots, and from that point on we will be evaluating it for ourselves.  We also encourage you, our members, to share with us your thoughts and opinions of the low cut blue grass (and the bermuda) compared to playing off the bentgrass tees. 

Roll of low cut blue

The finished 13th white tee

Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11, 2011

Earlier this week, we sodded the 7th yellow and silver tees with Bermuda grass as a trial. Bermuda loves the heat so we think it will perform well in this teeing area. The former drawback of using Bermuda turf in this area was a lack of cold tolerant varieties that could survive cold winters. Over the past decade hybrids were developed through selective breeding, and quite a few cold tolerant varieties of Bermuda grass are now available.

The Bermuda variety that we chose is called Riviera. It is grown by Tuckahoe Turf  Farms of Hammonton in their Estell Manor fields, approximately 15 miles away from here. They have grown this variety there successfully for over four years without winter loss. Other golf courses in our area have been experimenting with this same Bermuda variety on tees, fairways, and driving range tees with good results. It is also the same turf used at Lincoln Financial Field for the Eagles. Knowing that other superintendents have had success with Riviera, and that it can handle the wear and tear of professional football, I am optimistic that it will prove itself here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

August 6, 2011

A little more than a week ago we fertilized the tees. Due to application errors combined with daytime temperatures climbing higher than was forecast, many of the tees were damaged. We watered and flushed to no avail.

Some of the damaged turf will re grow but too much is lost to fill in satisfactorily. We continue to syringe the tees and apply natural growth hormones to the tees to encourage as much re growth as possible. Paralleling this program we are aerating, overseeding, and lightly topdressing the tees, with the most damaged taking first priority. I am confident that these programs, along with late season deep tine aerification, etc, will make the tees stronger in the long run.

The tees have always presented more challenges to our staff than most other playing areas. Within any tee complex we deal with a wide variety of soils and grasses, water needs, compaction, shade, tree roots, wear, and localized micro environments that can be very harsh. For example, on 4 we range from a very heavy soil that holds water to a sandy mix that is droughty. The former receives irrigation once a week while the latter needs irrigation daily along with afternoon hand watering. On seven, which is a closed pocket, we use fans, but still the temperature will rise 10 to 15 degrees higher than the open areas of the course, placing way too much stress on the turf. Remember the picture of icing down the turf that I recently posted? That was the 7th tee. Every tee complex has different, and similar, challenges.

That’s not to say that the fertilizer application is not to blame – it is. But it explains why any error on a tee will not be forgiving.

Our intent now is to establish an acceptable stand of turf as quickly as possible through aerification, overseeding, and topdressing. After establishment and maturity, I plan to aerify and deep –tine aerify the tees on a more regular basis, and topdress them with a sand/ peat topdressing material, embarking upon a long term soil modification program. At the same time, we will be testing a few different seeding mixes and turf types to see what does best in our soils and micro climates.

In all, we will do our best to make this into an opportunity to do better.