Friday, May 17, 2013

Odds and Ends, Interns, No Wheels and What They're Saying!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Friday, May 17th and finally we have some bermudagrass growing weather!  Funny I say that now considering earlier this week we had morning low temperatures of 41 and 44 degrees respectively Monday and Tuesday.  Temperatures that low this time of year will zap the color right out of bermudagrass (especially the roughs) and like clockwork we were looking peakid by Wednesday.  I swear this has been the strangest spring... it has been so weird I took a photograph of some brown patch in the approach of number 18... in May!

Brown Patch
This is only the second time in my career I have seen this turf disease affect bermudagrass in the month of May (the other was 2002 at my previous golf course in southern Maryland).  Some of you regular readers may recognize this foliar blight from a post back on December 9, 2011 where I mentioned how the fungus, Rhizoctonia solani occurs naturally in the soil and only affects warm-season grasses during times of continuous cool, damp weather (hence a post with pictures in December).  It is also the same fungus that affects your tall fescue lawns every summer as warm, humid conditions are what this fungus needs to affect your cool-season turfs.  With conditions ideal for bermudagrass growth and development moving in to our region I suspect this will be a distant memory.

Freshly Mowed
Interns Applying Sand
Earlier this week we applied a light amount of sand topdressing to the putting surfaces in our continued efforts to manage our organic levels. Light topdressing on a frequent basis works into and below the turf canopy and helps dilute the thatch and organic layers keeping them at acceptable levels. The topdressing also keeps the surface smooth and firm making for perfect putting conditions. Here are some photos I took the other morning of the 18th green as we made the applications.

Our two turfgrass student interns made the applications using small push spreaders calibrated for the right amount.  We followed that with a quick two-minute irrigation cycle to help move the sand down into the turf canopy and then the green was ready for play.

Watering It In
Ready for Play
In other news, have you ever wondered how we mow the turf growing on the sides of the bunkers.  I mean, some of the bunkers have some really steep slopes.  To be honest it is one of the most labor intensive tasks on our course and our seasonal staff from Hidden Creek perform it weekly throughout the growing season.  We use machines commonly called hover mowers or fly mowers.  These mowers do not have wheels but are designed to float on a cushion of air which allows them to be moved from side-to-side without too much difficulty yet their weight and the steepness of the slopes along with the force of gravity make this job a real muscle builder.  Here are a few photos from this week's mowing.

You may not be able to tell the difference from this photo but the two mowers are different in color.  We mow the outside of the bunkers to match the height of cut of the primary rough.  We mow the steeper inside bunker faces lower in an effort to prevent golf balls from remaining on the bunker face.


The process becomes more challenging and time consuming during the summer months when the bermudagrass grows more vigorously.  We even apply growth regulating compounds to the bunker faces in efforts to assist with the challenge of this task.

Blowing Clippings
As you can see from the photos we use two guys flymowing the bunker faces and two guys flymowing the outer portions surrounding the bunkers.  Two more team members follow blowing the grass clippings from the bunkers and raking out the footprints.  It is a time consuming process for 6 guys to maintain the grass surrounding our 77 bunkers and 2 practice bunkers (close to 60 man hours weekly) so if you have the chance please let them know you appreciate their efforts.

As I wrap up this edition I wanted to share with you a few things I found on Twitter shortly after the PGA qualifying tournaments.  It seems we are well thought of and a few individuals decided to share their thoughts with the rest of the digital world.  Now I am not a Twitter follower but I believe each of these tweets are good things.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent