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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2014 in review

2014

Another odd season slow to start then cool moist conditions persisted
Water use was very minimal 36% below our 11 year average
(all 36 holes = 17.8 million gallons used this year 27.5 million is our 11 year average) 

The addition of a walk behind Field and Brush mower made a big difference in our management of some key natural areas on the course.  Look for that to continue.

Green expansion started last fall on the remaining 5 Langford green (4,5,7,10,13). As with the other expansions in progress these areas will remain at approach height until density increases and a transition in turf varieties occurs. 

Several greens damaged (16/17-GW) from snowmold were a challenge to recover because of the early cool temps but once temperatures rose, recovery was rapid.  We were able to keep those greens open for play but with obvious limited pins and 'recovery' playing conditions until mid-August.  We were very lucky to only have those two areas damaged with the length of the 2013-2014 winter; most course did not fair so well last spring. 
An additional adjustment was made this fall to our fungicide program on those two greens because it has become an annual issue to some degree on both those surfaces. 

UW once again is running a very extensive snowmold fungicide trial on our 11th fairway of the Heritage course.  A great deal of information was learned last season from our site and they are excited that we continue to host them. 

The door shut hard and early this November with a 3 foot snow storm. 
Being weather hounds we knew this was coming and I had the guys kick it into hyper-drive.  Working around wind, leaves, rain and freezing temperatures my spraying and winter prep program went on every available moment when condition were proper including several nights of spraying.  October and the first week of November was a complete blur but the large task of proper winterization was a success. 

The early snow did eliminate the entire late season project list that I wanted to complete but that is life in Mqt.  

Winter conditions right now look fine as the majority of the snow crunched and settled during the last two warm ups.  I have found ice on several greens that did not have deep snow pack on them before the two above freezing event occurred.  Winter monitoring will continue. 

Looking for an early spring next year

Both courses continue to shine and benefit from our long term sustainable management programs. 
The Grounds Focus is always on the game of golf and prioritized to our Greens-Approaches-Fairways-Tees and playability of those areas as they relate to the game. 
Rising costs without rising budget funds continues to be a challenge and we continue to stretch for more efficiency within our operation but as time goes on they become more difficult to achieve because we are so dialed in. 

A big thanks to my staff again this season, they rock!

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Grinding

The grind is on in the shop.  
By spring all the reels will be ready to go with a factory finish.  
Set up is critical to get the perfect grind.  Measurements within a thousandths of an inch are critical to get the results I demand.  
Our number one defense against disease and number one component to plant health is a sharp mower blade.  Clean cuts to the turf blades is critical and that can only be achieved when using sharp equipment.  
Plant health in 2015 starts now
Never a dull moment at MGC 

I had a brake rotor literally snap in two on the plow truck.  I managed to get in back to the shop lowering the plow to slow down.  

After lots of heat, pounding and PB-blaster I got the rest of the old rotor off and the new parts installed.  

Back in business.  
My favorite activities during the season on the course is our cultural control program.  I have been doing these tasks on golf courses every couple of weeks for 20 years now yet I still get excited.  I think it must be that fact that I know how important it is to a quality playing surface to complete these jobs properly that gets me so fired up.  
Topdressing applied every 3-weeks following a vertical mowing or spiking of the surface.  

Sand on the surface after spreading

Upside down plug on the Heritage course shows the drastic modification that is happening to the surface as the sand layer increases in depth.  This is a very wet plug cut after a night of rain.  The 4 inch sand cap is much dryer and firmer than the lower saturated native soil below it.  Without topdressing this green would be saturated and unplayable.  

The sand cap we are creating increases in depth around a 0.3"-0.4" a season.  This plug is from the edge of the putting green next to the clubhouse.

A core from the 13th green on Greywalls.  These greens were constructed with a 16" root zone of pure sand.  Sand topdressing must take place to dilute the accumulation of thatch and keep the surface firm for premium ball roll.  The darker surface on this plug is an area filled with sand and roots.  If topdressing did not occur consistently and effectively this surface would be soft and bumpy with disease issues and poor playability.  We topdress at a rate to meet the growth of the bentgrass plants on the surface.  

Having a sand cap on the greens from consistent topdressing, controlling plant growth by not over fertilizing and vertical mowing allows use to reduce the quantity of traditional core aerification on the greens.  Instead we can utilize a solid tine program using small tines (as seen above) that does not effect ball roll.  We still core (pull plugs) on some areas that have addition traffic or fairy ring fungal growth; but these areas are minimal.

A picture of a nice deep vertical mowing after cleanup.  Vertical mowing must take place on the Greywalls fairways starting ASAP as organic matter accumation is at a level requiring management.  A machine needs to be purchased that can complete the task efficiently.  

Vertical mowing on the Tees

Brushing the approach turf after vertical mowing helps create a more upward growth to the plants and reduce grain.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Denmark

In September I had the opportunity to travel to Denmark and Sweden with my wife as she presented her research at an international conference.  
I took the time to educate myself on local turfgrass management while my wife was busy.  
Denmark has strict regulation on inputs allowed on golf courses as compared to our country; because of these strict regulations there is obvious blemishes.  These flaws in surface life would be considered unexceptable at many clubs found in the US yet the playability was wonderful with no negative effect on the game of golf.  
After studying these conditions and playing on them with local golf enthusiasts I now have an even stronger negative opinion of the 'perfection' image some believe this great game must achieve.  
As long as Natural flaws do not negatively impact the game of golf they should not be managed to extinction.  Weeds scattered with in the fairways turf has no impact on playability and only add texture to the surface.  Dry patches add length to a golf shot and a point of reference while locating a shot.  Those two areas in general are over managed in our country and that does nothing but drive up the expense of the game.  A lot can be learned by traveling over seas and playing golf on a course that is managed as intended; at one with Mother Nature.  
Castle on the Sea

One of the courses that I had the opportunity to play with some local folks. 
 
Everyone walks in Denmark.  Golf is a physical activity and a form of great exercise.  Even old men and women walk the course while playing; our country needs a big wake up call in this area.  
The courses have compressed air blow off stations next to the parking lots so players can clean off after early morning rounds or on damp days.  

Practice areas are all built utilizing artificial mats to reduce wear and maintenance of a practice centers.  Each golfer actually carries their own rubber tees in their golf bags to use on the artificial mats.  When I asked about this I was told by an elderly man "Why would I want to pay someone to fill thousands of divots a day on the practice area when mats are available."
Case and point taken :)

Even the Royal Copenhagen Golf Club had nothing but artificial mats as a practice option.  This double decker facility can be used rain or shine.  

Raining this day so all practice was being completed on the lower level.  

Fine fescue was the predominate species of turfgrass planted on the entire golf courses I was playing.  Fairways, Tees, Rough and even the greens were fine fescue; although the green did have creeping bentgrass within the mix.  
A clover patch is seen above growing in the fairway, it does not impact playability. 
 
Dandelions also grow within the fairway turf of Denmark.  

Poa annua can be found in the low areas of the fairways that stay wet when compared to the rest of the surface.  

A low valley filled with Poa annua growth.

Fine fescue growing wonderfully under low input conditions.  

A great day to play a round fog followed by drizzle.  

An old field stone fence row erected hundreds of years ago could not be moved while building the course because it once belonged to the King.  The fence is now a part of the course and becomes a hazard to avoid on several holes.  

The old fence row again, it is a very interesting design element.  

Fine turf again found in a very minimal input growing environment.  

Minimalist design and minimalist management at its finest .  

Take-all patch was on fire on many of the green surfaces but it did not negatively effect ball roll when compared to the roll on the rest of the putting surface; which was not fast but it was very firm and true.  

Some extreme turfgrass management taking place at the gardens of Frederiksborg Castle.  These extreme geometric banks have been hand cut for hundreds of years.  

Triplexed putting surfaces with lots of movement and interest made for a very enjoyable rounds .  The speed did not matter because the firm surfaces rolled true and consistent from green to green.  

Sink holes

Sink holes have been forming on the Greywalls property in areas that were stump burial grounds during construction.  These two areas are around the two forward tees on 11 and the hill side to the left of 18 green.  
At some point in the near future we will have to get a bull dozer in to drive on these areas and settle them back down.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Winter traffic

It feels and looks like mid-winter but indeed the 14/15 winter is still young.  Our turfgrass has a long road ahead before spring and for sensitive areas like greens and tees to survive, all winter recreation traffic must be eliminated from their surface.  
Activities like snow shoeing, skiing and snow biking are heart healthy winter activities that I encourage everyone to partake in but please do not traverse over the roped off greens or within 20 yards of the staked tees.  
The MGC property is almost 350 acres and the greens/tees only take up about 10 acres or 2% of that area leaving plenty of acreage to enjoy.  Winter traffic on these sensitive areas packs the snow and that packed snow turns into ice esp. on warmer days.  The longer the ice sits on the 1/8" plants the more likely it is to cause winter kill; which negatively impacts the course performance in the spring.  
Get out and enjoy winter but please avoid greens/tees while doing so.  Spread the word.
Traffic on 5 green
Traffic on 5 green
Traffic on 6 green
Traffic on 6 green
New additional ropes and ribbon added to 5 green

Ice build up on 5 green