Monday, August 19, 2013

Discovery Channel, Several Thousand Words and Short Circuit!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Monday, August 19th and just when you thought it was safe to go back in the wait Shark Week was two weeks ago...just when you thought firm and fast was back...the strange year gets stranger.  Last time, I mentioned the possibility of an announcer's jinx when I blogged about the lack of high temperatures so far this year and sure enough we did endure our longest heat wave of the season (August 9th - 13th) along with a prolonged dry period of nearly 3 weeks from late July into mid-August.  During this stretch we monitored the putting greens closely as this occurred while we hosted the second round of this year's Charlotte City Amateur Championship.  Also during this time the remainder of the course began to blossom once again into a lean, mean, fighting machine...with gnarly rough.  Prior to Saturday morning the golf course was firm and fast for the first time since late May/early June... before we all moved to Seattle for the rest of summer.  Anyway, easy come easy go I guess as over two inches of rain has fallen on Carolina Golf Club since, I am not complaining.

Mondays we typically mow everything associated with the driving range and practice facility (i.e., driving range tee, target greens, short game fairway, driving range landing area (a.k.a. range floor) and all rough).  We also mow all tees, fairways and approaches on the golf course along with as much rough as possible in a full day.  Today we managed only to mow the driving range tee along with some rough (here and there) as all other areas were saturated from the steady rains over the past two plus days...not to mention we endured two significant rain periods today. 

Fear not, with a full crew and a day to ourselves I managed to think of something productive for the guys...verticutting greens!  Actually, we did this last year as my post from August 22, 2012 Here's What Happened and Why, What to Expect and More Entomology! explains.  You see, one of the ways we assist bentgrass during the summer months and alleviate stress is by raising the mowing heights but we also change the rollers on the mowers from grooved to smooth.

Smooth Front Roller
Grooved Front Roller


Grooved rollers help to stand the turf more upright and allow for a closer, tighter cut (important when mowing at heights less than 130/1000ths of an inch) however they are extremely abrasive (especially on mounds and turns) during the hot, humid months of summer when the turf grows less vigorously and thus can be damaging.  Smooth rollers actually elongate the leaf blade slightly before the reel cuts and abrasion is greatly reduced on sensitive areas.  It is important to note the abrasion experienced with grooved rollers is tolerable to almost negligible during the fall and spring when bentgrass grows most vigorously.  After mowing with smooth rollers for the past 10 weeks (we typically switch rollers around the small aeration following Memorial Day) the turf is more prostrate in growth habit and thus verticutting helps to stand the turf back up and allow for closer mowing once again.
Verticutting Blades

Yes, you read that right...with closer mowing comes tighter surfaces and tighter surfaces leads to smoother, faster putting greens.  Anyway, today's weather prolonged the verticutting process and prohibited the topdressing mentioned in last year's post but we will topdress in the next day or two when Mother Nature cooperates.  We did manage to follow up today's verticutting with a mowing using the grooved rollers reinstalled on our walk mowers.  We removed lots of grass and organic debris allowing the turf more room to breathe and creating space for topdressing sand to migrate to once applied.  This whole process is just one more agronomic function we perform annually to create the best greens in Charlotte.

Sean Bigg Verticuts with "Johnny 5"
A Closer Look

Daniel Dygowski mowing #15
James Dennett mowing #7

What a Difference!

A little info about some of the folks mentioned above.  Sean Bigg used to work for Kris Spence many years ago at Greensboro Country Club.  Daniel Dygowski is a turf student at CPCC and was one of two summer interns this year along with Jeremy Smith.  James Dennett is an intern from England here through November.  Johnny 5 is what we affectionately call our oldest triplex mower...can you tell?

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent


  1. This stuff is money. I can't imagine other clubs in Charlotte (or anywhere else) get this kind of insight into what's goin' on with their golf course. Thanks for doin' this, Matthew Wharton. You are the Bruce Wayne of golf course superintendents' Batman.