Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Last fall before we closed the golf course down for winter, we deep-tined our putting surfaces.  We went with 7/8" tines that went down about 10-11".  The main reason we did this was to avoid water ponding on our greens over winter.  The picture below will indicate we have another side benefit from last fall's deep-tine procedure, deep elongated roots.  The last couple of weeks we have noticed roots like the one in the picture coming out of the deep-tine holes.  This will have long lasting benefits as it is a great indicator of plant health. 

Next week we will again be deep-tining our putting surfaces.  No need to worry about playability since the tines will be much smaller and will have almost no impact on play.  But it will have a HUGE impact on increased root depth.  Look at it this way ... roots live in air not in soil.  Our soils here at Ridgeway are a heavy clay mixture, which makes it hard for roots to find away to go deeper because the pores (air spaces) are so condensed.  Our putting greens have about 3" of sand topdressing on top of a heavy clay subsurface layer. By poking holes down 8-12" we allow easier access for roots to grow deeper.  With that we also have many side benefits of less compaction, better water infiltration, and better gas exchange. Deep-tining is something we will do on a regular basis and I think you will like the results.

This is a picture of our cup-cutter.
Notice the long white roots hanging out the bottom!
The roots in the deep-tine holes are about 9-10" deep.
All the more reason this has to become a staple in our management program

Bentgrass vs. Poa: There is a difference!

Each year golf course superintendents in the northern United States wage a war between bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) and annual bluegrass (Poa annua).   Regardless how little or how much of each you have, a concerted effort is made to minimize Poa annua.  Poa annua is a weed and can cause a lot of headaches for golf course superintendents and members alike!  At Ridgeway Country Club we have about 80% Poa to 20% bentgrass putting surfaces. Here are the reasons for minimizing Poa annua on golf courses:
1.       Winterkill:  Poa annua is susceptible to all kinds of winterkill. Types of winterkill include: prolonged periods of ice, crown hydration, desiccation, snow mold, and direct temperature kill. Bentgrasses are far less susceptible to winterkill than Poa.  Because bentgrass is less susceptible to winterkill this is why one golf course’s greens succumb to winterkill and the course across the street does not.  If you have bentgrass, your chances of winterkill are much, much lower.  
2.       Heat stress:  Poa does not perform well under warm/hot conditions.  Heavy rainfall and humidity make the problem worse.  This is particularly a problem on greens that do not have adequate surface and subsurface drainage.  Also heavily shaded greens are more susceptible to massive turf loss during warm conditions (#13 green at Ridgeway).   Bentgrass is at its competitive advantage in summer when it thrives better than does Poa.
3.       Seed heads:  Poa has a competitive advantage over bentgrass because it is a prolific seeder.  This allows for the regeneration of Poa once it dies.  This comes at a cost in playability in the spring when the plant seed heads cause the greens to be very bumpy.  Proper chemical controls on greens are needed to prevent this to provide adequate putting quality.   Bentgrass does not seed out in fine turf areas hence it does not cause problems in playability with seed heads.  
4.       Pesticides:  Poa is a grass that requires a lot of pesticides because of the amount of diseases and insects that can cause damage to the plant.  This is particularly true during times of summer heat and stress.  Bentgrass is much better in this regard, requiring less pesticide input.
5.       Fertility:  Poa is much more reliant on fertilizer than bentgrass.  This again makes Poa a more unsustainable grass when compared to bentgrasses.
6.       Water:  Poa is a weed and a weak rooted plant.  It requires ample water to stay alive.  Good bentgrass surfaces require much less water and provide a much more sustainable playing surface.
7.       Color: Poa has a lime green color as opposed to a rich darker blue-green color of bentgrass.
8.       Consistency:  With all of the problems above, consistency with greens that are largely Poa is a problem.  When we have drier moderate temperatures Poa greens seem great, then with heat and rain they make for a very poor surface.  Our greens are a perfect example of this scenario.  When the weather is good our greens are great, when we get winterkill, summer stress from heavy rain and heat our greens are not as good.  These two scenarios call for a BIG variance in playability.  Bentgrass tends to have more consistency because it is not affected as much by all of the factors mentioned above.  Keep in mind weather is not the only factor at play.  Drainage both surface and subsurface plays an important role in evacuating water as efficiently as possible.  Shade prevents turfgrass plants from photosynthesizing effectively thus plants are not able to store carbohydrate reserves.  Plants overall are weaker and susceptible to diseases, turf thinning, slow recovery, winter and summer stress.
As you can see there are a lot of reasons to dislike Poa and it really presents some interesting challenges for both superintendent and golfer.  So far this spring the greens have been very nice however let’s not forget last year’s winterkill and some of the summer problems we have experienced on these Poa greens.
The Ridgeway maintenance staff is committed to providing for the LONG TERM health of Ridgeway and its playing surfaces.  We are committed to improving both surface and subsurface drainage on the golf course.  We are also committed to making the proper tree removals to improve turf health quality and playability. 
Lastly we are committed to turning the tide from Poa to bentgrass.  We will do so by favoring what bentgrass thrives in, which is turf that is not reliant on overwatering, over fertilization, and the excess use of pesticides.  The combination of sun, surface drainage, subsurface drainage, chemical practices and cultural practices will allow us to increase our bentgrass population.  Once we have a predominate stand of bentgrass we will no longer be held hostage by events that are out of our control like the weather.  Keep in mind this process is slow and many pieces will have to take place to make it happen, which is why projects like XGD drainage and greens re contouring are important pieces of the puzzle.   Once the greens are bentgrass we will be able to maintain, instead of keep alive . . . at that point we will have won the battle of bentgrass vs. Poa.

Bentgrass is the purplish green.
Poa is the lime green.
This stand is predominatly bentgrass.
Taken from #2 green.

Bentgrass is the purplish green
Poa is the lime green.
This stand is predominatly Poa.
Taken from #2 green.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Prindle's Pub Landscaping Improvement Plan

Below is a landscape design for prindle's pub (AKA 5&13 building). Schmalz Custom Landscaping did the design and we will begin work this Saturday during member help day. Keep in mind this project is being done in phases so we stay within budget, minimize course disruption, and ensure that staff can focus on providing country club quality playing surfaces. When all said and done this will be a nice addition to the property and should really give this area of the golf course some aesthetic beauty!

Double click the picture above to get a larger version for better viewing.

April 10th Progress Report

Although its been cooler the past week progress is still being made on the course. We picked off a few items from our to-do list. Here are some of the things we accomplished last week.

  • Finished #18 fairway. The irrigation was repaired, areas leveled, and the rest of the sod was laid on the fairway. Sod was also laid behind the green. Keep in mind we will keep play and foot traffic off of this area for the remainder of the month.

  • Prepped more areas for seed and sod particularly right of #18, behind #15 green, between #1-9 and right of #11 fairway.

  • Seeded, fertilized and mulched most of the courses bare areas. The exception being between 2-12, 5, and 13.

  • Sodded bare areas around #2 green including the approach.

  • Mowed all areas of the course including rough!

In coming weeks are focus is to tidy up 2-12, 5, and 13. Other items we will be focusing on are irrigation sprinkler head repair, spraying weeds on the property, draining #13 wet area behind the green, and fixing prioritized list of depressions/low spots.

So far everything is going smoothly and soon it will be peak golfing season. Let's hope the warm weather returns soon!

Divot Sand

Last week we bought these wooden boxes to give the members more opportunity to get sand for filling divots. The wooden boxes are located on #1 and #10 tee.

Sand can also be found in these green barrels in the shelter's on #4, #7 and hidden in the landscaping around 5/13 building. When refilling your containers please do not use the par 3 divot boxes, these are for par 3's only. Thanks.

Monday, April 2, 2012

#18 approach

It looks like we will be able to finish #18 approach this week. All of the drainage is in, most of the sod laid and we have to make some repairs to the irrigation and we will be finished. Right now we have the entire area roped off. No one is supposed to drive or walk in the bentgrass sod areas until further notice. Their is a drop zone in the fairway and a ball retriever to pick up your ball if it lands on the sod. You may walk in the bluegrass sod along side the fairway but please refrain from taking any shots off of it at this time.