Friday, April 5, 2013

The Rolling Stones, Divot Management and Irish Luck!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Friday, April 5, 2013 and what a difference a week makes.  This time last week the trees were bare and the course was dormant brown.  Now the trees are either blooming or beginning to produce leaves depending on species and the bermudagrass is beginning to wake from one of the longest winter hibernation periods in decades.  A colleague of mine told me this morning he heard a report this was the 3rd coldest winter on record for our area.  Of course the rapid breaking of dormancy by the bermudagrass this week was assisted thanks to some perfect timing and near perfect conditions.  You may recall during the warm March experienced last year we treated our tees and fairways with Iron Sulfate in order to darken the turf canopy (paint it black).  The darkened surface absorbs the energy from the sun and raises the soil temperatures, which in turn aids the process of bermudagrass green-up (kind of like the effect you feel on your back when wearing a black or navy shirt on a sunny day).  Anyway, the process works best when the turf canopy is wet (the near 0.75" rain that fell over Easter weekend produced the right moisture conditions) and abundant sunshine is available (Monday seemed like the first sunny day in ages). 
We sprayed all the fairways this past Monday.  This picture taken on the 5th hole looking back towards the tees shows the effect in the early stages as depicted by the irregular spray pattern along the fairway/rough margin.  The level of darkening has increased each day this week.
#5 Fairway
We sprayed all the tees this past Tuesday and again the picture below depicts the effect along the edge of treated vs. untreated.  You can also clearly see a significant amount of green leaf blades in just a short period of time.
#5 Back Tee
We received over an inch of rain last night so once again we enter into a weekend with golf car restrictions but the forecasted temperatures for Saturday and Sunday (65 and 71 degrees respectively) along with some sunny skies should continue to produce mass greening of the short cut turf on the course.  These temperatures are also a welcome change for the recovery of our bentgrass putting surfaces.  It has now been 2 1/2 weeks since aeration and the cold conditions kept the grass in check and prevented healing in a timely fashion.  Our mowing this morning was the first where we collected more grass than sand in the buckets so we have turned the corner and I expect rapid healing between now and next weekend!
Although the driving range tee appears to be the greenest place on the property when viewed from the back of the clubhouse (it too was treated with iron sulfate this week) up close you can see it needs a little more time before we unleash everyone.  I have discussed the matter with both the Greens Committee and the Golf Professional Staff and we will open the grass tee line on Thursday, April 11th (coincidentally day one of the Masters).  I want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding this year as we have all endured a longer than normal winter for a change.  I also want to take this opportunity to share a photo with you that depicts the proper way to use the range with respect to taking divots.
The Preferred Method!
If we can all utilize the range tee with the divot pattern depicted above we will have the best conditioned range tee in the city!  This method maximizes the use of the entire tee surface and also grows in faster.  So think long, narrow strips!
Finally, last time I mentioned I would share more information on the new seasonal staff so I would like to introduce them to you.  These guys come to us from Hidden Creek Contractors, Inc. in Bakersville, NC (the same service provider we have used since 2010). 
Hard Working Lads!

From left to right we have Roman, Anatolie, Viorel, Ion, Paul and Fionnbharr.  Roman, Anatolie, Viorel and Ion are from Moldova while Paul and Finn are from Ireland.  Finn is a very experienced golf course employee having worked for nearly five years at a course back home in his native land.  These guys have been working extremely hard for nearly three weeks and I am most pleased not only with their efforts and work ethic but also their pleasant demeanor and personalities!  Earlier this week they spent close to three days reworking every bunker on the course to ensure proper sand depth, firmness and smoothness to the bunker floors.  I managed to play Wednesday afternoon and unfortunately found myself in multiple greenside and fairway bunkers.  Although this was hazardous (pun intended) to my score it provided the opportunity to test their work and I found the bunkers to be fantastic (firm and smooth with proper depth to play the shot required).  Next week they will be trained to walk mow greens and as the growing season fast approaches so does their responsibilities and duties.  These guys are all far from home but in good spirits so please let them know you appreciate their being here to help me provide you with the best playing conditions in Charlotte!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

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