Friday, March 1, 2013

Education Month, It's Never Easy and Visiting Hours!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Friday, March 1, 2013...where does the time go?!  Many years ago my grandfather told me you can never have too much education!  Considering his only two daughters were both school teachers (Mom is now retired but my Aunt still teaches) I guess the desire to learn and instruct runs in the family.  The staff and I spent a good deal of time last month attending numerous continuing education seminars.  I started everything off when I attended the GCSAA Education Conference & Golf Industry Show in San Diego February 4-8.  In addition to the normal eduaction sessions available I attended two specialized seminars.  One was called Greens Aerification and Water Management by the Numbers and the other Management of Fine Fescues for "Native" Rough Areas of Golf Courses.  Both classes were very informative and I learned some things we can apply to Carolina to make our current putting green management even better and also improve the performance of our natural/native areas. 
On February 20th I sent one of my assistants to Golf Irrigation Service School sponsored by Toro and their local distributor Smith Turf & Irrigation.  The one day seminar instructs attendees on electrical and controller troubleshooting, wiring and grounding issues, radio communications, central control system overview and hands-on sprinkler repairs.  They also provide an open discussion for any specific repair and troubleshooting issues that you may be experiencing on your own course.  This one day course is a great refresher and at least one member of my management staff has attended this seminar the past four years.  On February 21st the North-South Turfgrass Association sponsored a Carolinas GCSA Regional Seminar at Myers Park C.C.  Both assistants attended the two half-day seminars.  In the morning Dr. Dara Park from Clemson University lectured about the different effects poor quality water can have on turf and the turf environment when used for irrigation in her seminar Irrigation Water Quality.  I do test our irrigation water periodically and we immediately collected a sample for testing the next day.  In the afternoon they heard Dr. Bert McCarty from Clemson University give his presentation Managing Bermudagrass Golf Courses and Greens.  I asked them to attend this session as an opportunity to gather information with regards to bermudagrass putting green management.  This does not mean Carolina is converting or thinking about converting.  However, with many courses in North Carolina converting their bentgrass putting greens to the newer hybrid ultradwarf bermudgrasses it is important to stay abreast of current industry trends.
Superintendents and assistants aren't the only people who get to have all the fun going to school.  Equipment Manager JR Bailey just wrapped up two days of classes and seminars sponsored by Toro
JR Bailey
and Smith Turf & Irrigation.  On February 27th he attended Hydraulic/Electric Troubleshooting where he received a comprehensive review and evaluation of hydraulic and electrical systems and components commonly found in outdoor power equipment.  They discussed and demonstrated effective techniques, component identification, evaluation and testing.  The next day was Greensmasters where the new Greensmaster 3300 series and Flex 2100 mowers were on display (we use the Flex 2100 mowers to walk mow greens at Carolina and the 3300 series to mow tees and approaches).  Attendees got dirty as they went through maintenance, adjustment and test procedures of both units as well as their dual point adjustment cutting units.  I truly appreciate the opportunity to continue education and training not only for myself but my staff.  Our industry is constantly adapting and evolving and it is important to take the time to learn in order to not fall behind.
If you skipped down to this paragraph thinking you were missing the weather update, sorry.  February wrapped up with 3.63 inches total rain and we have received 12.23 inches precipitation over the past three months (note, the first three weeks of December were very dry thus that three month total is really within the past 10 weeks).  All of this rain has led to elevated ground water levels and saturated soil conditions.  This means it takes only a small amount of rain to puddle on the surface and create unplayable conditions.  Especially during the winter months when dormant turf and dormant trees are not taking up water and lower temperatures, shorter days and low sun angles greatly reduce evaporation rates.  This makes for a very challenging situation as we are trying to treat the golf course with preemergent herbicide.  Every year at this time we treat the bermudgrass (tees, fairways and roughs) with Ronstar, a preemergent herbicide to prevent crabgrass and goosegrass from invading our playing surfaces during the spring and summer.  The product is sprayed onto the leaf surfaces and then either irrigation or natural rainfall washes the chemical compound off the turf canopy and moves the product down below the thatch into the upper portion of the soil.  Here the chemical compound adheres to the soil and forms a barrier that prevents crabgrass and goosegrass from successfully germinating and establishing.  Our challenge is both getting the course to dry out enough to tolerate the traffic from the sprayer and apply the herbicide accurately without it being washed away as opposed to watered in considering the current state of our saturated soils.  Fortunately the cold weather is keeping soil temperatures lower than normal for this time of year so we still have a few more weeks before we have to play beat the clock.
This morning I witnessed some deer hoof prints on the 13th fairway.  I saw some tracks on the 10th hole a few days ago so I guess we have some visitors wandering around at night.  I actually saw two
Deer Tracks!
deer near my shop one weekend morning last month but was unable to capture their picture.  It never ceases to amaze me what a diverse population of wildlife we have on the golf course considering our urban location.
See you on the course,
Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

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