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

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