Thursday, January 23, 2020

Dynamic Viscosity!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Thursday, January 23rd and our fourth consecutive morning with temperatures below freezing.  Prior to this cold snap's arrival we had endured 29 consecutive days with above average temperatures dating back to before Christmas.  In fact, our Bermudagrass tees and fairways began to show signs of waking from their annual winter's slumber.  Yes, the color you see and enjoy is natural, nothing has been applied.
Brad Panovich, WCNC
We are also in the midst of our driest stretch this winter (since Dec 1) with only 0.14" rainfall in the past eight days.  Unfortunately our area is forecast to receive more than one inch of rain starting sometime late tomorrow.  Also, we have already received 9.46 inches rainfall this winter (since Dec 1) which is well above average.  The record winter rainfall total is 19.46 inches set just last year (Dec '18-Feb '19).

It has rained 119.03 inches on Carolina Golf Club since Jan 1, 2018!  And that total is approximately equivalent to three years average rainfall, but in just two.  I tell you this only to give you a greater perspective and understanding to the unusually wet conditions of late.  For those curious the most recent wet winter prior to last year was four years ago (Dec '15-Feb '16) when we received 15.48 inches.

Needless to say, during periods of extreme wet weather we receive comments about drainage.  And the information I'm sharing is not meant as an excuse, the committee and I are always evaluating the golf course, playing conditions and our resources to determine the best ways to improve and enhance your experience.  I'm merely trying to help you better understand the context of why things are softer and slow to dry this year and last.

The golf course is built on native Piedmont clay soil and is mostly surface drained, that was a strong suit of Donald J. Ross.  We added a modest network of inlets and below ground drains during the restoration, and have added and modified that network over the years.  We've also sand topdressed fairways the past five years in an effort to modify the soil profile and improve water infiltration.  

In the summer months Bermudagrass is actively growing and takes up plant available water through the roots.  Long days and warm temperatures help promote evaporation.  In the winter months the turf is dormant (hibernating) and the short days and colder temperatures greatly reduce the rate of evaporation.  But there is also another phenomenon that negatively impacts the removal of water from our clay soils - viscosity.  

Viscosity is a fluid's resistance to flow and everyone understands liquids such as motor oil, molasses and honey are much thicker and have a greater viscosity than water (the higher the viscosity value the more resistance to flow).  But viscosity is not static, and temperature alters the viscosity of liquids, including water where flow is reduced in colder temperatures.
Chart Courtesy of Cale Bigelow, Ph.D.

Another question I've been fielding lately is why the wet area on No. 8 fairway seems to defy gravity and is on the slope.  For starters it doesn't help the area in question is shaded (see pic below), but that's not all.  In the book Practical Drainage for Golf, Sportsturf and Horticulture by Keith McIntyre and Bent Jakobsen, Chapter Four, The Capillary and Lateral Movement of Water in Soils provides two key factors.  First, the lateral movement of water in soils is extremely slow.  Second, the downward force of gravity on water is reduced once it reaches where the slope begins to flatten.  The slower rate of lateral movement then causes the water to back up and we encounter the phenomenon that seems to defy our logic.
Wet Area Marked by Small Stakes

Hopefully this update gives you a better understanding of how the changing seasons impact our daily conditions, and lately the seasons have been a little extreme.  In the meantime you can help by exhibiting caution and avoid the lower lying and wetter areas with your traffic.  All traffic compacts wet soils and the increase in compaction slows even more the internal movement of water.  We will continue to examine the needs of the course and make improvements when and where possible, and I encourage you to reach out to me and/or members of the Green Committee with your questions and comments.  All feedback is helpful. 

That's all for now.  Next week I'll be at the annual Golf Industry Show where I'll be co-teaching a seminar on Monday and participating in a panel discussion on Tuesday.  Looking forward to networking and collaborating with my peers, and catching up with Matt Claunch!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Serve Pro, Links Gems, and DJR!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Tuesday, January 7th and I thought I would share a few interesting finds as we close out the first week of 2020.  Wow, can you really believe it's 2020!  That means we are less than a decade away from CGC's Centennial in 2029!  But I digress.

I certainly hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season with their families, friends and loved ones!  As much as we enjoy some time away from the course with those nearest and dearest to us, I always look forward to the new year and seeing the team reunited.  Everyone is refreshed and ready to get after whatever is necessary to make Carolina Golf Club the best it can be.

Yesterday was our first Maintenance Monday of the new year and we wasted no time in prepping the greens for the expected rains today.  A quick vent with needle tines followed with a roll left the surfaces smooth yet ready for more precipitation.  
Before Roll
Smooth Roll
After Roll

Speaking of precipitation, if anyone was wondering our rainfall total for 2019 was 57.20 inches.  Just 1.40 shy of the 58.60 inches that fell in 2018.  That's nearly three FEET above average for the two-year span!

With that much excess water it was a good thing the team installed an interceptor drain near the walk-on/walk-off area of the Blue and Black teeing areas on Hole 6.  Our aim here is to capture the ground water before it surfaces at the toe of the slope and transport it to an existing subsurface pipe making for improved traction and appearance. 

The team really came together on this project, most likely working hard to shed a few new pounds gained over the holidays. ;) I was extremely proud of their efforts and attention to detail.

You can see from the photo in the above tweet how the drain runs parallel to the Blue Tee before wrapping in front.  We attached our new drain to an existing pipe behind the left, greenside bunker on No. 7.  Here's a couple more photos of the project as the team buttoned things up!

Almost Done

Like it Never Even Happened

In other news, those of you on the social media channels Twitter and/or Instagram may know of Links Gems.  Jon Cavalier is a lawyer by day, or maybe by night as he takes amazing golf course photos by day!  He's based out of Philadelphia and travels the country sharing photos of some of the best golf courses ever designed.  

Anyway, Jon was recently a guest at Carolina Golf Club and had some nice things to say about our beloved Donald J. Ross design.  Hope you enjoy!
It was nice of Jon to utilize Black and White considering our mostly dormant appearance, made for some rather interesting looks.  My understanding is his Instagram page receives even more traffic, you can find links to both on his website linked above.

Segueing into a little more about Donald J. Ross, I posted this yesterday evening taken from Keith Cutten's book, The Evolution of Golf Course Design

"Seamlessly into the existing terrain" I believe accurately sums what Kris Spence was able to recapture during our restoration a little over a decade ago.  In the business we commonly refer to this as "tie-ins" and I think this is what separates Kris, his team, and the team from Golf Course Services from others, they nail the tie-ins.  

Anyway, that's all for now.  Welcome to 2020 and a new golf handicap as the World Handicap System goes into effect.  Here's hoping we all manage to shave a stroke or two this year!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG