Friday, December 9, 2011

Trees, Brown Patch and More "Snow"!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Friday, December 9, 2011 and we are enjoying another beautiful afternoon at Carolina Golf Club!  Yesterday I met with the Greens Committee and I wanted to bring you up to date on our discussion as well as point out a couple of other items.  We (CGC) have been working with our architect Kris Spence on a Master Tree Plan for the past few weeks.  A tree plan is a document that provides guidance in selection of both specimen and placement of future tree plantings as well as guidance with any potential future tree removal.  Some of you recall we lost numerous trees the first two years following the restoration of the golf course due to stress from construction as well as drought.  This year we lost several more due to intense thunderstorm damage (lightning and/or high winds).  We contacted Kris to get his thoughts on replacing the lost trees and yesterday we met to review and discuss his plan.  At this time that is where we are... in the discussion stage of the plan and I will share more with you when there is more to share :)

I was asked the other day about some odd, irregular shaped, discolored patches appearing in the bermudagrass turf.  They are occurring most notably in the approach of hole number 9 and the beginning of the fairway of hole number 14.

This is Rhizoctonia Blight or Brown Patch on bermudagrass turf.  This is a foliar blight disease of turfgrass caused by the fungus Rhizoctonia solani.  The fungus occurs naturally in the soil and when the environmental conditions are ideal (continuous cool, damp weather) an outbreak may occur.  I should note continuous cool, damp weather is the ideal conditions for an outbreak to occur and affect warm-season turfgrasses such as bermudagrass.  Brown Patch is caused by warm, humid weather on cool-season turf (yes, this is the same disease affecting your tall fescue lawns every summer).  It is uncommon for Brown Patch to have long term deleterious effects on bermudagrass and with colder, drier weather on the way I suspect we won't be seeing it much longer.  However, it isn't everyday you can see something that mainly exists in the back pages of text books and to an agronomist like's kind of cool.

Last time I talked about the covers on selected bunker faces and the reasons why.  I also mentioned we would be covering a few selected tee boxes.  We accomplished that task earlier this week and thus the appearance of more snow exists (especially as you drive into the club). 

I was asked recently if I intended to remove or "peel" the covers back from the bunker faces if the weather became "really nice".  There are no plans to remove the covers from the bunker faces until the end of winter mainly because a ball striking the bunker face will come to rest in the bunker just as it would if the ball encountered the uncovered dormant turf canopy.  In other words, there is nothing to be gained by removing the cover from the bunker faces from the standpoint of playability.  The tees however are a different story.  As you can see in the photo above, provisions have been made with temporary teeing grounds however that space is limited.  I am sure Mother Nature will provide exceptional weather at times over the next three months and when the conditions permit we will "peel" the covers back and allow play from the proper teeing grounds.  In the mean time, please remember these turf blankets have been installed to protect the course and help provide the best playing conditions during the growing season.  Thank you in advance for your understanding!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

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