Thursday, March 13, 2014

Course Projects, Greens Aeration, and The CGA!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Thursday, March 13th and Old Man Winter is making his presence felt once more.  The cold, blustery conditions today are definitely a far cry from the 78 F and 77 F high temperatures enjoyed Tuesday and Wednesday in the Queen City.  Of course, March always has been the most erratic in this region as we transition from winter to spring.  Large temperature swings are not uncommon as March usually feels more like a roller coaster than a slow, gradual warm-up.  Enough about the weather for now, last time I promised some information about course conditions and agronomic practices, and later I will wrap up with thoughts on spring.

In the past few weeks my staff has been busy carrying out several projects geared to improve course conditions as spring weather arrives.  First, all the bermudagrass turf was treated with pre-emergent herbicide (Ronstar Flo) for the prevention of crabgrass and goosegrass.  We do this annually to prevent these two annual, grassy weeds from invading our tees, fairways, and roughs. We will also be treating all of the natural/native areas with a combination of two pre-emergent herbicides (Gallery and Barricade) to prevent annual grassy and broad leaf weeds.  The natural/native area application is scheduled for next week.

Another project that has recently kept us busy is compacting the newly installed bunker sand.  The sand was compacted at the time it was originally installed, and we have received over 15 inches rain dating back to December 1st, but I noticed golf balls are still encountering plugged lies in these refurbished bunkers.  It is important to note plugged lies are quite common in new sand until enough time elapses for proper settling to occur.  We are using our vibratory plate-tamp to work through the bunkers again in an effort to reduce/minimize the likelihood of plugged lies occurring.  As of today my staff has compacted the sand on holes 1-9, 14-18, and the two practice bunkers, so we are close to wrapping up this project.

Last week I had a small crew make their way around the property trimming and removing low hanging branches from numerous hardwood trees.  This was done to promote greater sunlight penetration to the turf below.  If doing this simultaneously promotes your chance at an easier recovery should your golf ball come to rest behind one of these specimens, just consider yourself fortunate!

The big ticket item on the upcoming agenda is of course greens aeration.  We are scheduled to aerate the putting surfaces this coming Monday and Tuesday (March 17-18).  The golf course will be closed BOTH days to permit me and my staff adequate time to perform this important agronomic task, essential to the long term health and performance of our beloved putting greens.  Right now the early forecasts for Monday are a little "iffy" so please check with the golf shop early next week for course availability should we carry over into Wednesday.  I do not see that being necessary at this time (at least not for holes 1-18), but things could change between now and then. 

Of course before we tear them up it is time for the annual Carolina Cup!  This Saturday and Sunday kicks off our member tournament season with the first official event of 2014.  Best of luck to those two-man teams participating this year.  Have fun!

In some other news, preparations for the 54th North Carolina Amateur Championship, to be contested at Carolina Golf Club June 5-8, are underway!  Early last week we met with Andy Priest, Director of Tournament and Internet Operations from the Carolinas Golf Association to discus many details regarding the event.

The CGA is very excited to bring their second oldest championship to Carolina and me and my staff are honored to prepare the golf course on your behalf!  Speaking of the CGA, we also met last week with Michael Dann, Director of Handicapping and Course Rating to measure the new tees and discuss their impact to the course ratings.  Michael is working on the formulas and will be in contact with Head Professional Jeff Peck soon.

Finally, I told you I would share my early thoughts on when spring might arrive.  After one of the coldest winters to affect the entire U.S. in decades, my sources tell me do not expect a rapid warm-up.  Having said that, spring will eventually arrive here and I am hoping we will be able to treat the golf course before the end of this month to enhance bermudagrass green-up.  For those of you in the know, you may recall we did not make our annual Iron Sulfate applications on our tees and fairways until April 1st last year (CLICK HERE), so if we are able to successfully treat the golf course before the end of March after a winter like this year's, I would say we are fortunate.  Just like you, me and my staff are ready for winter to be over, ready for spring to arrive, ready to see some green grass, and ready for some golf!

See you on the course, 

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

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