Friday, October 5, 2012

Dottie Pepper, Soggy, Collars, Special Guest and More Drainage!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Friday, October 5, 2012 and I am wondering if anyone is still reeling from the Ryder Cup loss this past weekend?  I mean, we had it right there in the palms of our hands.  For two days our American lads were kicking butt and you felt there was no way we could lose...then Ian Poulter happened!  Much has been written or said about the 10-6 deficit the Europeans faced and overcame to win the Ryder Cup 141/2 to 131/2 on Sunday but the reality is they were behind Saturday afternoon 10-4 with two matches on the course!  Ian Poulter and his partner, Rory McIlroy were trailing in the fourth and final match of the day and Ian Poulter put the entire European team on his back and birdied 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18!  By winning their match and the point this propelled the European team to only a four point deficit and paving the way for the Sunday schellacking of the good guys!  What can you say but "Well played Euros" as they totally outplayed our boys on the final day!  Here's looking to 2014!  You thought I was going to reference Dottie's infamous words from 2007, "Chokin' freakin' dogs" here didn't you?

Things have been a little soggy here at Carolina of late.  A squall line of storms passed over the course late last Friday (September 28th) evening dropping 0.75" rain.  We then had rain off and on Saturday and received more rain Monday and even had a short downpour this past Tuesday.  During this time the conditions were mostly cloudy and humid with little wind and thus the course became surprisingly wetter than expected.  Yesterday was the first day we were able to permit golf car traffic on certain fairways and it was also the first day we were able to mow short cut turf.  Thankfully, the sun made its way out yesterday afternoon and with the 10 day forecast looking cool but pleasant ideal golfing conditions are not too far away!  On the bright side, the rain was very beneficial to the putting surfaces in assisting with aeration recovery.  The putting surfaces are growing rapidly at this time evidenced by the amount of clippings in the mower buckets each morning.  We are approximately 80-90% healed after only 10 days and it will be just a couple more till we achieve complete healing then you will begin to see an increase in ball roll and putting speed.

Some of you have been wondering about the collars since the greens were aerated and asking questions.  The discoloration you see is the byproduct of the collar region being aerated.  I decided to aerate the collar, despite the late date on the calendar for bermudagrass because the compaction in that region threatened the overall health and winter survivability of the turf.  You should have seen the aerator jumping when we made the pass around the collars (an indicator of soil compaction severity) compared to the sand based putting surfaces.  Anyway, I am confident the collars will heal completely over the next several weeks (it will take a little longer for bermudagrass turf to grow and fill in this time of year).  We will begin topdressing treatments to the collars next week with green sand.  This will help both mask the discoloration but also draw a little extra heat from the sun.  We are making other modifications to our agronomic programs this fall and winter in an effort to minimize and eliminate problems with turf health in the collar region next spring.  I will blog more about those efforts at a later date.

This past Tuesday, October 2nd I treated the Greens Committee to a visit from a very special guest...Mr. John Szklinski, Golf Course Superintendent, Charlotte Country Club.  I invited John to spend the better part of the day with me before meeting with the committee in the early afternoon.  You may recall it was about this time last year when we (Carolina Golf Club) made the decision to abandon fine fescue alone in our natural/native grass areas and switched to a seed mixture containing fine fescues and other warm season native grasses (bluestem, blue grama and side oats grama).  John has been establishing and maintaining Charlotte Country Club's natural/native areas from this seed mixture since 2007 so I thought it would be beneficial to have him evaluate our progress, make suggestions and answer any questions or concerns shared by the committee.  John had never seen Carolina and was immediately impressed with the "views and vistas" present on the property as we toured the course together upon his arrival.  We later gathered in my office to compare and contrast our respective staff sizes, budgets and resource allocations.  After a brief lunch off site we returned and met with the Greens Committee.

John Szklinski speaking with Greens Committee
After a brief discussion period we all headed onto the course together to take a closer look at some of our natural/native areas.
The Committee looks on as John talks about Native Grasses
John explained to the committee about micro-climates and their effect on fine fescue establishment versus the other native grasses in the mixture.  He talked about soil composition and structure and shared with us the compost he uses to modify the areas at Charlotte CC where the soil is poor.  I was sincerely thankful for John to take the time away from his facility to come and lend me a hand.  He was most informative and provided insight into some other tweaks and modifications we could easily adopt to get the most out of our natural/native areas.  Besides, it is not every day you get the opportunity to have your course inspected by a superintendent that once hosted the United States Open (John was the superintendent of Southern Hills C.C. in Tulsa, OK when they hosted the 2001 U.S. Open won by Retief Goosen).  I appreciate John's willingness to share information with me and help Carolina Golf Club achieve her desires!

Despite the rain, Golf Course Services, Inc. continue to work on the drainage project.  Although they were unable to work this past Monday because of the rain, on Tuesday they managed to start and complete a small improvement on the right side of number 5 (in the bottom of the landing area in the rough).  Due to my time spent with Mr. Szklinski and the Greens Committee that day I do not have pictures for you.  Since then they have been tackling number 7 again and the progress is a little slower when the area is saturated.

It's a soggy job!

JD Downey surveys the situation.
Although things have been slower this week due to the conditions they have still managed to nearly complete the seventh hole (possibly complete it today).  Next week they will be working on numbers 2, 6 and 10 to wrap up the course improvement project.  I will keep you posted.  Until next time...

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

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