Monday, February 27, 2012

More Tree Stuff, Lawn Care Tips and Vegas!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is February 27, 2012 and if you are here then either you were paying attention yesterday when I said check back or you found your way here by accident.  In the case of the latter, you may want to scroll down and read yesterday's post first (Trees, Cart Paths, Weed Control and New Greens Committee!) in order to better understand the context of today's post!  Either way, I am glad you are here!

I received several questions yesterday regarding the size and species of the trees we planted.  We planted a variety of oaks (White, Red, Schumard and Chestnut) as well as a few Red and Sugar maples.  The trees ranged in caliper size from 3.5 inches up to 6 inches with root balls 54 inches in size!  We also planted two larger oaks (8 inches in caliper size) with root balls measuring 80 inches!

General Manager Roger Wolfe is the perfect frame of reference with the two largest oaks!

The Telehandler transports the tree with ease!

Easing it into place under a watchful eye!

The large Schumard oak was planted along the left side of the tenth fairway directly replacing the large tulip poplar we lost last April (uprooted during severe storm).  The large Chestnut oak was planted to the right of the thirteenth fairway as a replacement for the large American beech which unfortunately did not survive the reconstruction of the golf course!

Yesterday I promised you some home lawn care tips.  I have always tried to answer any questions and give advice when solicited for my opinion but I thought today I would share some ideas that would be beneficial to all you DIY'ers (including yours truly).  The information below was reprinted with my permission...

Now is an excellent time to kill any winter annual weeds lingering in your lawn.  Winter annuals germinate in late fall and establish themselves rather quietly over the winter.  The most prevalent weed pressure right now is from henbit, chickweed, mouse-ear chickweed and common groundsel or ragwort.  The henbit can be recognized by a tall stem when rolled between your finger and thumb feels square in shape.  Chickweed and mouse-ear chickweed are low growing, compact winter annuals.  The mouse-ear variety has hairy leaves opposed to the larger common variety.  Common groundsel or ragwort is characterized by its tiny yellow flowers sitting atop a very upright, leafy stalk.  In the spring they will compete against your lawn for water and nutrients and then flower and produce seed before dying at the onset of hot weather.  If you have a bermudagrass lawn you can use RoundUp (glyphosate) to treat for winter weeds (carefully follow label directions for applications to dormant turf).  If your lawn is tall fescue you will need to use a product that kills weeds but is safe on desirable grass.  Ortho and Bayer Environmental Science both produce similar products that will get the job done.   

One thing I noticed this weekend while in my local home improvement store is both companies now market these products with the claim of controlling crabgrass.  Crabgrass is a summer annual grassy weed.  It germinates in the spring and competes against your lawn turf all summer before producing seed and dying at the onset of frost in the fall.  Neither of these products will have any effect on crabgrass now because no crabgrass is actively growing.  The products are a combination of three chemical compounds (2, 4-D, Dicamba and Quinclorac).  The 2, 4-D and Dicamba are chemicals that have been used for broadleaf weed control for years.  The Quinclorac component is a newer compound developed to kill crabgrass after it germinates.     

I wanted you to understand if you use either of these products now thinking you will not have any crabgrass in your lawn later this year you will be sadly mistaken.  You will still need to treat your lawn relatively soon with either a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent crabgrass from germinating or retreat with the same product later in the season when the crabgrass emerges.  Quinclorac works best on small, juvenile crabgrass plants.  It is important to also understand any product that prevents the germination and emergence of crabgrass will also prevent any desirable grass seed from doing the same.  Therefore, if you have areas in your lawn in need of reseeding this spring, you will not be able to treat those areas with a product marketed for crabgrass prevention.  I know, all this information seems a little overwhelming and is making you think twice about throwing away the flyer Chemlawn left on your mailbox last week.  The important thing is to take your time.  Ask questions when at your local home improvement store and you’re always welcome to send those questions to me if you wish.

I hope that helps!  Now I must wrap things up and finish tying up all loose ends because I am leaving tomorrow to attend the 2012 GCSAA Education Conference and Golf Industry Show in Las Vegas.  I will be attending accredited seminars and lectures on a variety of topics as well as viewing the largest collection of golf course maintenance needs on display at the GIS.  It was originally my intention to blog daily about the GIS but it is my understanding the Las Vegas Convention Visitors Bureau has a strict policy prohibiting the dissemination of information about the goings on in their city...something about what happens there stays...I don't know.  Anyway, I will be back next week!  Until then...

See you on the week

"Did I remember to enable the automated out-of-office reply on my email?"  "Come Solomon, Daddy needs to turn off the lights."

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Trees, Cart Paths, Weed Control and New Greens Committee!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is February 26, 2012.  Sorry it took so long to get this update posted but it took two weeks for my fingers to thaw from the final round of the Ross Retreat.  We spent most of last week planting trees.  You may recall I traveled to Liberty, North Carolina (home of Gilmore Plant & Bulb, Inc.) earlier this month to meet with Kris Spence (hand select the trees for planting as we begin implementation of the Master Tree Plan) and Kris was on site February 8th to select and mark the planting locations.  With trees arriving this past Monday (20th), Tuesday (21st) and Thursday (23rd) we actually started digging on Friday (17th) the week before in preparation...

Nathan Lance operates our 36" auger attachment with our Cat 277D to start the hole.

JR Bailey operates our backhoe attachment with our Kubota tractor to enlarge the hole to the proper size and depth.

The trees arrive.

Trees are off-loaded at the shop using a rented Telehandler (Cat TH580B).

Trees are planted with either the 277D or the Telehandler depending on the size.

We planted a total of 16 trees on the golf course this past week.  Ten trees were planted in the natural areas along the 1st, 9th, 10th,11th and 13th holes as landscape enhancements and six trees were planted as specific replacements for lost trees on the 10th, 13th and 14th holes.  Nineteen more trees are scheduled to be planted next week to establish a "tree nursery" for future transplanting.  The area selected for this nursery is to the right of the cart path along the 7th hole.

In other news, we recently completed our annual cart path edging (we edge the bermudagrass encroachment back every winter).  With several miles of asphalt cart paths the project usually lasts anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks depending on the number of workers assigned.  This sentence has no relevance to the cart path project but my high school English teacher would kill me if I wrote a paragraph with less than three sentences so this one is for Mrs. Wallace! 

Earlier this month we sprayed the golf course with glyphosate (chemical compound in RoundUp) to kill any lingering winter annual weeds (most notably poa annua).  Now we are treating with oxadiazon (chemical compound in Ronstar).  Oxadiazon is a pre-emergent herbicide that prevents the germination of crabgrass and goosegrass in our lush bermudagrass tees, fairways and roughs.  All this talk about weed control reminds me I should reprint last year's info for home lawn care.  I will upload it to the blog tomorrow so be sure and check back!

The Greens Committee for 2012 will be chaired by Stephen Woodard (  The committee also consists of repeat offenders (TIC) Brett Boner, Ed Oden and Maury Rapp.  They are joined by newcomers Jack Kirby (new to me) and David Miller along with Roger Wolfe (GM) and myself.  Our next scheduled meeting is Wednesday, March 14th and if you have any questions, comments or concerns about the golf course feel free to express those to either me or Stephen.  Thanks!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Winter Conditions and Flags, Topdressing and Trees, Alanis Morissette!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Thursday, February 9, 2012.  WCNC's Brad Panovich told me (and every other viewer watching the evening of February 1st) the Charlotte metro area had one day with high temperatures above 70 degrees during the months of December and January combined.  We had experienced 13 days with high temperatures of 60 degrees or more during that same time span and a whopping 52 days of the mercury rising to at least 50 degrees or more!  That's right, 52 out of a possible 62 days during December 2011 and January 2012 we had high temperatures reach at least 50 degrees.  Throw on top the combined rainfall during those two months (5.61 inches) and you realize why we have had a soggy golf course mostly this winter.

It seems from all the surveying I have done with my peers at other courses around the area it has been soggy everywhere!  All of my superintendent buddies have exclaimed how their courses are wetter this winter than most.  With the extremely soggy conditions in our region we have spent quite a bit of time restricting carts to the paths at all times.  Even flags (waivers for certain riders to access the fairways when normally closed) have been hard to come by this season!  One very important thing for all golf car operators to understand (flagged rider or not) is anytime access to the fairways is granted that does not translate to an open invitation to ride anywhere and everywhere at your discretion.  It is always imperative when riding the fairways to use common sense and avoid the lower lying and wet areas.  Sometimes when cart restrictions have been lifted the lower areas may still be marginal yet we are trying our best to accommodate you and allow you to ride the fairways for better pace of play.  We are counting on you to avoid damaging the golf course by using good judgement.  So thank you for your cooperation!

What's that "white stuff" on the fairways and approaches you ask.  It is sand topdressing.  We have been diligently applying light amounts of sand topdressing to problem areas (poor soil, etc.) on the course this entire winter.  This practice helps improve the existing soil profile of these areas as well as help firm the approaches fronting the putting surfaces.  We have also been making a concerted effort to topdress the areas exhibiting the highest amount of earthworm activity (higher than normal due to the warmer than normal winter conditions).  Although earthworms are beneficial organisms in the soil (nature's aerators) they can be problematic on the surface when their populations get too high.  The abrasiveness of the sand topdressing is unpleasant and forces them to relocate helping to redistribute the population to more manageable levels.

Back on February 1st I had the pleasure of meeting our architect Kris Spence along with Tom Gilmore at Gilmore Plant and Bulb, Inc. in Liberty, NC to select trees.  Last year the club contracted Kris to produce a Master Tree Plan for the golf course in response to the loss of trees experienced the past four years to construction, drought and storms.  The Greens Committee carefully reviewed the plan Kris submitted and elected to plant several of the proposed trees this year.  Yesterday Kris was on site to mark the actual planting locations for the trees we selected.  That concludes the tree update portion of this blog.  Check back for future updates once more progress is made.

As I wrap up this edition of The Greenkeeper I am eager to get home and pack my clubs for the Ross Retreat!  I am privileged to accompany so many of our esteemed members to the Pinecrest Inn for camaraderie and golf on some classic Donald Ross gems this weekend.  However, isn't it ironic we experience such a warmer than normal winter, plan a golf trip and the bottom falls out of the mercury (forecasted Sunday morning low of 23 degrees in Pinehurst).  Good grief!     

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent