Wednesday, April 29, 2015

For The Hundredth Time!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Wednesday, April 29th and according to this is my 100th post!  When I began putting all the information together for this update a few days ago, I didn't realize it would be such a momentous occasion.  That is not to say there is any added pressure, but nobody really wants to reach the century mark blogging about frost delays or ball marks.  No, for an occasion worthy of the Roman Numeral C we need a topic that is a real "hot button issue".  We need dead turf!

Rt Side #1 Fairway
Rt Side #1 Fairway (Opposite View)

Rt Side #10 Fairway
Rt Side #10 Fairway (Opposite View)

Left Side #18 Fairway
Left Side #18 Fairway (Opposite View)

There, that should do it.  These areas and a few others are quite indicative of bermudagrass on the heels of a cold winter.  You may recall I posted earlier this year about how the 2014-2015 winter was actually colder than 2013-2014, and how February 2015 was the coldest since 1978.  If not I've linked it HERE for your convenience, but suffice to say courses throughout our region are dealing with this natural phenomenon.  Recently I talked with my counterpart at Hendersonville Country Club, Craig DeJong.  We discussed fairways, winterkill, ring of death, and ferrous sulfate applications to name a few.  I saw Craig's blog post from Sunday and thought he did an excellent job defining the numerous possible causes of winterkill along with the need to give Mother Nature a little more time to definitively determine what will and will not make it.  With Craig's permission I am sharing his blog HERE for those interested.

I know ultimately what is really on everyone's mind isn't so much why, but rather you want to know what is the plan going forward.  There are tournaments coming up on the calendar and you want to know what to expect.  I can tell you we have been doing what we can where we can, and I am still waiting patiently where I need to.  You see not all affected areas are caused by the same reasons as some are shade issues, traffic issues, and wet issues.  The wet areas became engrossed with algae following the eight consecutive days of rain earlier this month.  We ended up spraying those areas to kill the algae and then verticutting them to break up and remove the algae.
Now the turf in these areas can breathe and with a little warmer weather they should fill-in to everyone's satisfaction.

The areas impacted by high traffic and shade I am still waiting for Mother Nature to turn on the heat.  We need to see what happens in these areas once we finally experience consistent weather conducive for bermudagrass growth because there are signs of life.

Signs of Life?
New Leaves Emerging
Call me optimistic but with new leaves emerging we will be better served in the long run if we give what can make it time to make it.  Yes we will need to replace portions of these areas with new turf in the form of sod, but we will replace a lot less a month from now than if we start today.  The good news is we allocated funds in the maintenance budget for winter related turf loss and adequate funds are still available even after the sod work performed earlier this month on the collars.

Speaking of the collars the new turf has taken root and today we topdressed these areas with the same sand we use for patching divots on the range tee (yesterday they were fertilized with an organic fertilizer).  This topdressing will help blend the seams and permit us to mow the turf in the smooth manner required for turf adjacent to putting surfaces.    
Going forward I plan to speak with the Greens Committee during our regularly scheduled meeting next week about the possibility of taking steps to alleviate some of the shade causing culprits.  Tree removal can be a difficult subject on golf courses, but with two consecutive harsh winters and shade negatively impacting fairway turf survival, maybe it's time we more closely examine the situation.  Otherwise it is safe to say we will probably revisit this topic again next year in some capacity.  By the way, did I mention the greens are perfect right now.  At least we've got that going for us.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Road Closed, Turf 411, and Behind the Curtain!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Tuesday, April 7th and one of the absolute best weeks of the year for golf lovers is finally here.  Yes, I'm talking about The Masters!  I don't know about you but after watching the Drive, Chip, and Putt finals at Augusta National the other morning, I am ready for a pimento cheese sandwich and the Back-9 on Sunday... Yes Sir!

Over the past two weeks an unfortunate turf malady has reared its ugly head at Carolina Golf Club.  Although a true, technical name for this affliction does not exist, my superintendent peers and I have dubbed this the "ring of death" (ROD).  
For those of you uninterested in why the road is closed here is all you need to know.  Some bermudagrass turf adjacent to the putting greens did not survive and is being replaced with new sod as we speak.  Over the the next few days if you should encounter a small army working around the putting surface of the golf hole you are playing, please pick up and proceed to the next hole. Weather permitting we should wrap up all necessary work late Thursday and "detours" will no longer be necessary.
Front of 10 Green
Front Right of 17 Green

Front of 1 Green
For those of you with a more vested interest in what has been going on here is the "Turf 411".  I first noticed the signs of the ROD when walking the course on March 25th.  I was performing a routine inspection of the putting surfaces to gauge their aeration recovery compared to previous years.  I immediately reached out to Greens Committee Chairman, Stephen Woodard and explained the need to call in Bill Anderson, CGCS.  Mr. Anderson is now the regional agronomist for the Carolinas Golf Association after spending 40 years as the Director of Golf and Grounds Agronomy at Carmel Country Club.  Bill's consult took place Monday, March 30th and we toured the course together and he provided assistance and guidance (sometimes it is good to have "another set of eyes" on a problem).  I then met with the Greens Committee on Wednesday, April 1st.  Joining us for that meeting was Head Golf Professional, Knox Martin and General Manager, Roger Wolfe.  After much discussion with regards to our options and close examination of our upcoming golf schedule (Masters Shootout, OMEGA, Guest Day, Member-Guest, etc.) the decision was made to replace the damaged turf ASAP in order to give the new turf time to establish prior to the start of a busy spring.

In order to avoid issues with weak or still partially dormant bermudagrass sod we reached out to a provider located farther south (Pike Creek Turf in Adel, Georgia).  Also, the committee agreed to allow me to reach out to our friends at Golf Course Services, Inc. for their assistance with this project.  With our bermudagrass turf ready for mowing, our seasonal staff just arriving and in need of training, it was imperative we get additional help in order to complete this project in the small window of opportunity provided.  
Removing Damaged Turf No. 1
No. 1 Ready For New Turf

No. 1 New Turf Installed
With just a little rolling to smooth out the new turf and some topdressing sand to blend the seams these areas will be good as new in a short time!  I am marking these areas as Ground Under Repair and the Golf Shop and I are asking you to take mandatory relief until the turf is sufficiently rooted down.  Also, when accessing the putting surfaces please step across or tread lightly in the immediate interim as new sod requires more water which can lead to soft conditions.  I am happy to report things are progressing nicely and by week's end we should all be able to focus our attention on the outcome of a little tournament just down the road from here.

Speaking of The Masters, I ran across an interesting link the other day.  Andy Stanger, Head Greenskeeper of Headingley Golf Club in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England served an internship at Augusta National Golf Club beginning in the fall of 2008 continuing through the 2009 Masters.  I don't know if the information Andy has shared divulges any "protected trade secrets" but it is definitely a revealing glimpse behind the curtain.  If you've ever watched The Masters and wondered how do they manage to obtain perfection every single year, maybe this will help you gain some perspective.  CLICK HERE! 

All for now, enjoy The Masters and come enjoy the course as spring looks like it is finally here to stay!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS