Sunday, June 22, 2014

What's Happening, Summer Is Here, and The Best Ball Mark Repair Tool!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Sunday, June 22nd and a big day in American sports.  The final round of the U.S. Women's Open, down the road in Pinehurst, takes place today with American Michelle Wie tied for the lead after 54 holes with South Korean Amy Yang.  Also later today the United States soccer team will take on Portugal in World Cup group play.  Thanks to yesterday's stunning 2-2 draw between Ghana and Germany, the U.S. can secure a spot in the knockout rounds with a victory this evening... Go U.S.A.! 

Yesterday was the first "official" day of summer.  With temperatures in the 90's F the past six consecutive days, I don't believe summer waited for the solstice this year.  Earlier this week we began implementing some very important cultural practices on our bermudagrass turf.  You may recall back on May 29th I stated the following: "Over the next two months (mid-June through mid-August) we will be making every effort to cultivate healthy bermudagrass turf on the golf course.  We will be aerating, topdressing, fertilizing, verticutting, etc. on tees, collars, approaches, fairways and roughs in order to assist the turf in fully recovering from the ill effects of last winter and ready itself for another busy fall tournament season."

This past Monday and Tuesday saw us core aerate all tees, collars, and target greens.  We performed a solid tine aeration with sand topdressing in the fairways.  We began a shallow, solid tine aeration in the roughs.  

This coming Monday we will topdress tees, verticut and topdress all approaches and green surrounds, and continue with the aeration in the roughs.  Of course we will also continue our weekly summer treatments to our bentgrass greens.

Speaking of the greens, recently the club received a very thoughtful note from Charlotte resident Dr. Jim Pearson.  Jim is the reigning North Carolina Senior Amateur Champion and recently finished T14 in the North Carolina Amateur Championship contested here at Carolina just two weeks ago.  His note spoke very highly and appreciatively of the membership, the club, the tournament, and the golf course.  My favorite part was when he stated "the greens were as pure as any I have ever played".  Pretty strong statement.  Since the conclusion of the North Carolina Amateur regular member and guest play at Carolina has resumed, and after only two weeks I am disheartened at the number of ball marks!  

With summer here in full force it becomes more challenging to sustain the same level of surface firmness on our bentgrass putting surfaces we all enjoyed during the spring tournament season.  One of the greatest benefits to firm greens is the lack of, or reduced severity from ball marks (aka pitchmarks).  As little as two weeks ago you could hardly find a ball mark, and now our greens resemble something other than the #bestgreensintown.  Unrepaired ball marks take a long time to heal any time of year, but unfortunately during the hot, humid months of summer, when our bentgrass greens are under heat stress, unrepaired ball marks linger even longer.  Below are three photos I took this morning as I prepared the golf course for today's play.  The first photo is on the front of the third green and the other two are from the fourth green.

Ball Marks!

Not Sure How You Missed It!

If you think you have heard this before, you have.  HERE is a link to the blog in 2012 that addressed this issue.  Today I just want to ask you one simple question.  What is the best ball mark repair tool?  Below is a small sampling of the variety of tools at your disposal for the purpose of repairing ball marks, including the Pitch Pro which are available to you at no charge in the Golf Shop.


The answer... one that gets used properly and frequently.  It really doesn't matter if it's a single prong, double prong, made like a tuning fork, or even a golf tee.  It only takes about ten seconds to insert something around the perimeter of the mark, bring the edges together, and tamp smooth with either your foot or putter head.  If everyone would be diligent and repair their marks properly I dare say our greens will look, and more importantly putt, a heck of a lot smoother.  Members please say something to your guests.  Parents please say something to your children.  Kids please say something to your younger brothers and sisters. 

One of my Twitter friends, Benjamin Dollery, Greenkeeper at West Chiltington Golf Club in the U.K. recently penned an article on the topic of pitchmarks for Greenkeeper International (monthly publication of the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association).  HERE is a link to Ben's article.  The statistics he shares about the sheer volume of ball marks from a fairly typical day of golf can be eye opening.  My favorite part is when he says, "... we (meaning greenkeepers) are not the only stewards of the course and we all play a role in its presentation and standards."  My friends at BIGGA and in the U.K. are planning a "National Repair Your Pitchmark Day" on August 14th.  I say why wait, because anyone that ever enjoyed putting on smooth greens knows everyday is a day you should repair your ball marks!

Go Michelle Wie!  Go Team U.S.A.!  Repair your ball marks and keep your golf cars ONLY in the fairways!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS

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