Friday, November 1, 2013

Transitional Period

The end of the golfing year brings a transitional period where the focus moves from surface preparation to gearing up for the winter ahead.  In many cases shoot growth of grass plants has stopped and mowing is not necessary.   Focus now lies in preparing for the upcoming winter months.  Here are many of the items that must or have been completed going into the offseason:

·         Mow native areas.  These areas must be mowed once a season preferably in the fall to help reduce weed populations.  It is also nice to thin out the native areas so that they do not become too thick. Burning also works but can negatively affect the fescue grasses which are the desired turf species in these native areas.  The choice to mow over burning is a better option to preserve the turf species that we desire. 
·        Irrigation winterization.  The entire irrigation system must be winterized and the water blown out of the lines so that it does not damage the piping system.  This task will take place November 11th and 12th.
·         Fall fertilization.  Shortly after plants stop growing is a great way to enhance root growth and strengthen the plants for the upcoming winter.  Because the shoots of the plants have stopped all of the nutrients are stored and used up in the roots which enhance overall plant health.
·         Snow mold.  A fungicide application to fairways, tees, approaches and greens for snow mold takes place shortly before the first deep freeze or snowfall.  All of these areas are sprayed to prevent snow mold.  This takes a coordinated effort because of the amount of leaves, shortness of the day, and air temperatures affect how and when the application will take place.
·         Sand topdressing.  As in previous years we will again be sand topdressing our tees, approaches and greens before winter to protect the crown of the plant from the harsh winter ahead.  This is also a great way to incorporate sand into our profile without affecting play since the course will be closed for several months.
·         Deep-tine aeration.  In conjunction with sand topdressing we also deep-tine our putting surfaces right after we close the golf course for the season. We have done this the past 3 seasons and our outstanding root profile is testament to how well this process works.  The side benefit is these deep 9-10” channels give water a place to hide during winter thaw cycles.  Water in these channels is better than pooling up on our putting surfaces, which can cause all kinds of winter kill issues like crown hydration and ice damage.
·         Leaf removal.  Most of the trees at Ridgeway lose their leaves late in the fall which means a majority of the leaf blowing and mulching will be done in November. 

The end of the season also means colder morning temperatures and frost delays. Please be reminded that frost delays are necessary to protect turf from injury.  On days when frost occurs, you can expect play to be delayed at least until 10 AM.   This past week the earliest anyone was able to tee off after frost was 9:30.  Just a reminder when scheduling tee times this late in the season.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Busy Times

It always seems fall is one of the busiest times for the greens and grounds department. The fall of 2013 is no exception as we have been very busy attending to small projects and areas of the course that need tender loving care.

Range Closure
The south half of the driving range tee is closed for the remainder of the 2013 golf season. The north portion of the range tee will stay open in the mean time.   The reason for the closure of one half is so that we can grow-in the south half of the range tee before winter.  Once the course opens in the Spring of 2014 we will flip and hit off the south portion and close the north portion. 

One of the problems with the range tee in the past is that it fills in nicely but the ground underneath is unstable making the ground explode after a shot.  In order to curtail this problem we are going to be using a more organic divot mixture (60% sand 20% topsoil and 10% peat) which will give us a few more advantages: i.) increase germination ii.) give us better water holding capacity which is more desirable in this instance iii.) provide more stability in the soil structure so that it holds together better.

Today we are heavily over seeding, fertilizing and topdressing with the new “organic” divot mixture.

Heavy topdressing with seed
New divot mix!


Approach Aeration

Starting Sunday night we started core aerating our collars and approaches.  We core aerated from the last fairway sprinkler head up to the putting surface and around the collar.  It is a multi-step process which has went very smoothly so far.  Later this week we will be topdressing the approaches again to make sure all of the holes are filled.  You can expect collars/approaches to be heavily sanded for the next week until the area heals in and sand works its way into the turf canopy.

One of the goals going forward is to make our approaches play like our putting surfaces.  We want to achieve the same firmness from approach to green.  This will ensure a shot landing on the approach can reach the green.  So far in the past couple of seasons we have been able to add about 1” of topdressing sand to the surface of our approaches.  We will continue to strive to provide more consistency from approach through the green. 

Tony aerating #11 app.
Finished product.

Sod Nursery

As I have mentioned before the surface of the nursery is seeded.  After 8 days, we started to see seedlings emerge from the sandy surface.  By the start of next week we will be looking at giving the nursery its first mow.  The bluegrass and fairway portion are almost ready to be seeded and will be completed by the end of the week.  

8 days after seeding


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sod Nursery Project

Last Thursday we completed the greens portion of the sod nursery over by the maintenance facility. There are many steps and hard work that go into building a sod nursery. Here are some of the steps we have been working on in the past couple of weeks.
  1. Leveled the sub grade with a bulldozer.
  2. Removed large rocks.
  3. Installed irrigation to the nursery which consisted of 600+ feet of pipe, several sprinklers, electrical wire and fittings to hold everything in place.
  4. Added 3-4” of sandy loam mixture over the sub grade to the greens portion of the sod nursery. Presently our greens on the course have 3-4” of sand in the upper portion of its profile, we replicated that scenario on our nursery by adding this mix so that it matches perfectly with the greens on the golf course.
  5. We compacted the sand and leveled it smooth.
  6. Next we seeded the surface with an improved variety of bentgrass and added a starter fertilizer.
  7. After seeding we used our sand pro rake with its knobby tires to make small dimples in the sand. This allows for a good place for the seed to germinate because these little dimples hold water and do not allow the seed to blow away or run off.
  8. Over seeded the area again with an improved variety of bentgrass.
  9. We covered the surface with our permeable greens covers to incubate the seedbed in cooler weather.
  10. We have been watering the nursery light and frequently since seeding and covering the surface.
There is still some work to do before we seed the fairway and rough portion of the nursery. We have to level the surface and in some areas remove some small rock before we seed this portion of the nursery. Once completed we will have 13,000 square feet of greens sod, 7,000 square feet of collar/fairway sod and approximately 3,000 square feet of rough sod.  We hope to see some germination in the next month.

Thanks to all who played in the fall fling and supported this great long term investment!

Stay tuned for updates and pictures of this project.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Course Update 08/29/13

The big story the last couple of weeks has been the heat and humidity.  Overall the golf course has handled the heat very well.  The greens and tees are in very good shape.  The fairways are a little stressed particularly on holes and in areas where large trees are depriving fairway turf of much needed water.  We have been watering a lot however, we have to be careful to avoid disease (which tends to thrive on leaf wetness) and soaking low areas that are not drying out in this humidity.  Once the heat subsides and humidity normalizes the fairways will look much better.

We have been working on some smaller projects and have a couple of updates:
Deep-Needle Tine Update

The greens have healed in nicely from the deep needle-tining that took place on Monday.  The greens are smooth and very few tine holes are visible.   I will update the blog showing the root development within these channels in the upcoming weeks.

 Core aeration of trenches
Tuesday morning we core aerated greens where trenches are located on #4, #9, #12, and #17.  We cored aerated these areas to help level and blend in the sod and plugs.  After we removed the cores we sand topdressed, brushed out the excess sand and over seeded.  These areas are small but we will try to keep the hole locations on these greens far enough away so that it has minimal impact on play.

A couple days after deep-tining and no holes!
Core aerated area on #9 green
Sod nursery
This week we have be working near the maintenance facility on the new sod nursery.  Last week the area was rough shaped and the past few days we have been diligently working on fine shaping the sub grade.   The important thing is to remove as many large rocks as possible and smooth out the surface.  To best achieve this we are using a Harley rake to perfect the sub grade.

Early next week we will be installing the irrigation for the nursery.  And next Thursday and Friday we will be adding 90% sand and 10% soil mix to the top 3” to achieve the same soil structure as what is currently on our putting surfaces.   Once the 90/10 mix is leveled  we will be ready for seeding and growing the nursery.

Chris leveling the nursery.

Cart Path Expansion
Last week we added some crushed asphalt to #5/13 tee area.  This area receives a lot of cart traffic and felt it was a good area to expand.   5/13 cart path and the newly added cart path on #13 green need to be leveled, tamped and then seal coated.  We had some issues with our vibratory tamper and are looking to correct 5/13 tee to make it as presentable as #13 green cart path.

Have a great holiday weekend!  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Deep needle-tine aeration

Today we will be deep needle-tining our putting surfaces.  This process is one that we do several times a season, the last of which was in mid-May. It uses long solid tines to poke small holes into the soil.  This process is not core aeration where lots of soil is removed and picked up.  Deep needle tine aeration is minimally invasive and has very little impact on play when compared with tradition core aeration or standard deep-tining.  Heal in time after core aeration and standard deep-tine aeration is anywhere from 10-14 days whereas deep needle-tining is healed within a couple days.  

As far as playability goes the greens will be a bit slower and may be a little bumpy early in the week.  As the week progresses, the bumpiness will subside although some small holes may still be visible.   

It is important to understand that there are many types of aeration and that all of them are critically important for having healthy turf on golf courses.   We utilize all types of aeration at Ridgeway but use deep needle-tining as our preferred method on greens.  The reason we chose this method more often than others is because we are able to do it 5-7 times a season without impacting the playability of our putting surfaces.  Since going to deep needle-tining we have seen our roots double in length and increase in mass.  This has translated in healthier more robust turf for the long term.

For an explanation of the different aeration methods here is an article that may help:

If you have any questions about aeration or any questions about the course in general feel free to email me anytime. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It’s been awhile!

My lack of posting the past few weeks is not for a lack of activity on the golf course, quite the opposite, as we have been very busy nickel and diming little projects on the course.  Here is an update on some of the items we have tackled in the past few weeks:
  • We added drainage to the wet area behind #13 green.  So far after a couple of storms the area drains perfectly.
  • Added cart park area near the new drainage on #13, enhancing the overall function and aesthetics of the cart path.
  • Added sod to numerous bare areas i.e. Area near #12 ladies tee.
  • Removed stone and under brush near the parking lot landscaping and added mulch.
  • Added copper sulfate and biological controls to lessen the amount of algae in the pond on #5.
  • Removed pesky weeds in #13 native area.
  • Removed suckers and low hanging branches on the course which includes the two large suckers near the pond on #13.
  • Aerated newly sodded areas and raised the height of cut.  We did not fill in the holes with sand to allow for less scalping in these areas.
In the upcoming weeks we will be busy with a number of other items:
  • Pruning dead and hanging wood from trees on the course. Also pruning overhanging branches on holes like #4, #11 and #18.
  • Fill in soil around the new septic mound and planting native grasses which will hide the electrical boxes and other components.
  • Fix a few of the faulty irrigation heads on the course.
  • Prune areas around cart paths i.e. #14 green to #15 tee box.
  • Core aerate, topdress and seed trench areas on August 26th. Because these areas are small they should have little effect on play.
  • Deep-needle tine and topdress all putting surfaces on August 26th.
  • Paint the trellis by the range tee.
  • Work on the new sod nursery by the maintenance facility.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Must see TV!

This short segment was aired on the golf channel last week.  It is a great piece about conservation by using less water and increasing the amount natural areas on golf courses.  In the 21st century, with an excess of golf courses and fewer golfers this proactive approach can have a great impact on golf course finances going forward.  The combination of environmental stewardship and fiscal responsibility is something we can all get behind.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Wind damage

Last night a powerful storm littered the course with small sticks and large branches.  We will be diligently working to get the course cleaned up today.  It will be noisy on the course with the sound of blowers and chainsaws.  Please be patient while we cleanup the course. Thanks!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bunker Sand & Verticutting

Bunker Sand

This past week we added some sand to many of our bunkers.  A number of bunkers have become much to hard and sand was needed to make them more playable.  Sand exits bunkers many different ways from players hitting shots, through drain tiles located underneath bunkers and from wind blowing sand out of bunkers.  We added sand to the chipping bunker, #1, #6, #7, #8, #11, and #17.  Earlier in the season we added sand to #2 greenside bunkers and the front bunkers on #13.

Keep in mind that this new sand will be soft until it ages. Sand gets a firmer once we have a few rain storms to settle and pack the sand into place. Expect a few plugged lies in the meantime.


Verticutting is essentially de-thatching or vertical mowing.  This week we verticut tees and greens in two directions.  Because our greens are now predominately bentgrass we will have to verticut more often in order to make the putting surfaces smoother.  Bentgrass has a prostrate growing habit which can influence leaf resistance causing the greens to putt slower.  By verticutting we remove excess tissue and stand the bentgrass up to make a smoother putting surface.

Here are some benefits of verticutting:
  • Removal of thatch.
  • Increase green speed
  • Encourage grass to stand up straighter, making for a smoother putting surface.
  • Improve effectiveness of  sand topdressing
  • Increase sunlight exposure to roots
The first picture is of a green after being verticut 2x, mowed and then rolled.  As you can see it has no evidence that anything was done.  This is because there is very little thatch in our greens.  This process on greens was done to improve ball roll and smoothness. The plant will look more upright and many of the long strands of grass will be cut resulting in better putting surfaces.

The second picture is of a tee that was verticut 2x, mowed and topdressed.   You will notice some browning and thinning of the overall turf stand.  Our tees unlike greens have too much thatch and we removed a good amount this week, hence the browning/thinning.  Thatch is detrimental to turf because it harbors disease, insects, impedes root development, restricts air movement within the soil and bridges rain water/ irrigation from reaching the soil causing localized try spots. 

When playing the next couple of days you will NOT notice the greens putting any differently in fact they might putt better.  Tees however will look brown and thin in some spots because we thinned out excess thatch in some areas.  This is not a bad thing but a very good thing. Thanks.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Progress Report

With the warmer soil temperatures the greens are healing in from the take-all patch nicely.  They are not perfect yet however they really healed in a lot last week. We will apply another granular fertilizer application to quicken the healing process with the upcoming warm weather.  Greens 6 and 10 may be a bit slower in the short term to allow for proper healing.  All other fine turf areas are in almost excellent shape but for a few winter kill areas near approaches.

Small projects that got accomplished last week:

·         Most if not all bare areas in rough and green run offs got slit seeded and painted as ground under repair. This also includes the chipping green, and target greens on the range which will be receiving their first mow this week.

·         Large depressions right of #14 fairway got topped off with black soil and seed.  The area is roped off and painted as ground under repair.

·         Small potholes off of #1 green by the cart path got sodded or seeded depending on the circumstances.

·         Area behind #4 green got fresh soil and seed.  The cart path was also repaired.

·         End of cart paths received new mulch and/or repaired to make them look more presentable.

·          Rest of the flowers got planted on the course.

·           Cut back some of the longer grass areas to reduce impact on play

This week’s to-do:

·         Repair #12 cart path.

·         Move #3 sprinkler in the green.

·         Fertilization of greens and tee surfaces.

·         Sand to the worst bunkers some include chipping, 6, 7, etc.

·         Daily maintenance to keep up with plenty of moisture and warm temperatures.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Golf Course Update

Getting to the golf course this morning was a shocker as 3+" of rain fell last night!! Obviously the course is closed to carts until further notice.  This morning we are diverting our attention to picking up downed tree branches and getting our bunkers to a playable state.  Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Take-all patch

Cold wet springs mean golf course superintendents must be on the lookout for take-all patch.  Take-all patch is a pathogen that attacks the roots of bentgrass plants when soil temperatures are between 40-60 degrees.  This spring has had a prolonged period of soil temperatures in this range making it ideal for the pathogen’s virulence.  It loves soil that is basic in nature with pH above 7.  Some preventative chemical measures must be made both in the fall and spring so that this disease does not severely compromise the root system of the plants.  Also using acidifying fertilizers and Manganese seem to help as well.

 Last fall and this spring we have made several applications to subdue this disease however it is present on many of our putting surfaces most notably 6 and 10.  The plant does not really die or get stressed from the disease more than it does from shortened root structure.  It is imperative that we lightly hand water throughout the day to improve the quality of these areas.  Sometimes even in times of wetter weather we must water. I understand this is not optimal for play in the middle of the afternoon however in order to keep these areas from dying it is a must.  Your cooperation is much appreciated while we try to improve these areas.

Consulting with many plant pathologists there was nothing that could have been done differently and all we can do now is lightly hand water infected areas.  Needle tining to enhance the root structure is also a sound practice that can be used in the diseases aftermath.  In my experience once soil temperatures raise consistently above 65 degrees many areas recover quickly.  I will keep you updated in the weeks to come on the progress of these areas. Thanks for your patience!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Greens Topdressing

One of the more important cultural practices we employ here at Ridgeway is topdressing.  Topdressing has many benefits as I've mentioned before so lets quickly go over what makes this practice so important:
  1. Dilute thatch and organic matter both of which make for unhealthy putting surfaces.
  2. Smooth the surface for a better ball roll.
  3. Better drainage.
  4. Produces a firmer surface.
  5. Protects the crown of the plant.
  6. Allows for tighter cut with out scalping.
Usually we topdress very lightly so that it can be watered in and not be noticed by golfers.  This past Monday we topdressed greens with a generous coat of sand and drug the surface with a large mechanical drag mat.  The decision to go heavier than normal was based on a couple of factors: 
  1. Last two summers we have topdressed very little due too heat and humidity. By topdressing heavily this week it sets us up better for the summer in case we cannot do our normal topdressing regimen. 
  2. In order to heal in some of our winterkill areas this spring we fertilized greens more than normal which can lead to an increase in thatch.  In order to dilute thatch, a heavier topdressing was needed as a corrective measure.
  3. The combination of topdressing and dragging the sand into the turf canopy has stood the turf upright making for a better cut with our mowers.  This allows for a better cut and a faster, smoother putting surface.
  4. The forecast of constant rain this week also played a factor because the sand could be watered naturally into the canopy.
I have said this before and I do not believe it is hyperbole, but the best putting surfaces are those which have the most consistent topdressing programs.  This is not one maintenance program that can be ignored or forgotten.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Natural Areas

This past winter the greens and grounds committee has decided to add a few more native or un-mowed areas to the golf course.  These newly selected areas are located around #2 tee, #8-18 tee, between #9-11 and between #4-6.  The committee took care in the placement of these areas so that they are not where people will have to look endlessly for golf balls.  This was by no means done to make the course more difficult.  
Native, natural or un-mowed areas provide a great list of benefits.
  1. These native areas add texture to the course and give it a nice contrast from the tightly mowed areas. 
  2. These areas also enhance wildlife that can be seen on the course.  Already many bluebirds and swallows have called Ridgeway home.
  3. Money is saved by not having to mow these areas,  both labor and fuel costs are saved by not having to mow extra acreage.
  4. By not having to allocate time and money to the native areas it can be used elsewhere. More time and effort can be spent on minor details etc.
  5. Once these areas mature in late summer they look beautiful with browns and reds that are a sharp contrast with the green of the rest of the course.
In order to make these areas presentable we need your help.  Please do not drive through the native areas.  If we drive through the long grass it will not be able to reach its potential. I have roped off or put markers defining the edges of the long grass however we do not have enough signage to do all of  them so just use good judgment when nearing these areas. Thanks!
Here is an article that may shed some light on the subject of native areas.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Merion Maintenance

I was reading Golf Course Industry magazine the other day when I ran across this article about Merion Golf Club in Philadelphia.  Merion is going to be hosting the US Open in a few weeks and  I found it interesting because many of the practices employed at Merion are very similar to Ridgeway.   It is nice to see other courses that utilize our approach. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

#2 and # 13 opening

Today we opened #2 and #13 greens for play.  They have recovered nicely but are cut a little longer than the rest of the putting surfaces so expect these to be a little slower.  Try to minimize your foot traffic by only walking in areas of the greens that are necessary to putt your ball.  Thanks for your patience and have a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sod Nursery

The greens and grounds committee is committed to the long term well being of the golf course.  One of the glaring deficiencies is the lack of a sod nursery.   A good sod nursery pays for itself because it is an insurance policy against situations like winterkill, vandalism, and summer stress.  Also sod nurseries are beneficial for projects because you do not need to pay for sod from an outside source. 

Starting today we are starting work on a sod nursery near the maintenance facility in the two vacant lots on Ridgeway Drive.  We are getting over 200 loads of fill and will be leveling the area with a large bulldozer.  Once the leveling phase is finished we will install irrigation, add proper amendments (mainly sand), and seed.  This project will not interfere with the golf course other than some noise on #11.  This is a great long term investment that will pay us back in the future. 

Stay tuned in the upcoming months for progress of this project!

Deep needle-tining

Doug needle-tining #12 green

Yesterday we started the process of deep needle-tining our putting surfaces.  We utilize this process to relieve compaction and to help drive roots deeper.  Roots do not live in soil they live in air and by deep needle-tining we are able to elongate our root system.  Since using our deep tine machine more frequently we have seen deeper roots which translate into healthier turf.  At present our roots are 8-10" deep and in some cases 10+".  This spring however I have noticed a denser root mass at 10" than in past seasons. It is just a reminder of how valuable this practice has become and how far we have come in the past few seasons.

We deep needle-tined our greens two directions, rolled and then lightly topdressed the surface.  Overall the surface is very playable with the small holes still visible.  Watching people putt yesterday I did not notice any hopping or compromised ball roll and by the end of the week the holes should close themselves.  Enjoy the nice weather this week!

Justin topdressing #8 green

Finished product

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Collar Sod

One of the hardest hit areas from winterkill this year was our collars.  This is typically the case since it has the largest concentration of Poa.  The collar is an area that receives lots of traffic from mowers, rollers, and golfers.  In my experience it takes a long time for these areas to recover by seed and what little grass that does come back, is our weak friend Poa annua.  So because of slow heal in time and the fact that these areas are bigger in size we have decided to sod out collars to bentgrass.

Thursday and Friday we laid bentgrass sod on #5, 10, 11, 14, 16 and 17 collars.  These areas are ground under repair until further notice.  Remember that you may drop to the nearest point of relief no nearer the hole.  Please use a golf club to retrieve your ball if it lands on some sod and do not walk or hit a ball from a newly sodded area. Thanks!


Saturday, May 4, 2013


This past week we pregerminated some bentgrass seed.  Pregermination is the process of getting seed to germinate before you put it into the ground.  There are many different ways to accomplish this, one method is to put the seed into a burlap sack and dunk it into water with a fish tank aerator so that the seed does not rot.  You then replace with clean water every 12 hours  and after 3-5 days you are now ready to use the seed.  Another method is simply putting bentgrass seed into some wet sand and put it into a warm room.  After several warm days in my office the seed is ready to be planted.  There are many other ways to pregerminate seed, we used both methods above for pregerminating.

Keep in mind that bentgrass takes 10-25 days to germiante in IDEAL conditions.  Early spring and cold soil temperatures are not IDEAL for germination of bentgrass.  Because peak golf season is just around the corner we used pregermination to speed up the recovery process on our putting surfaces. 

As you play in the coming days you will notice small amounts of green sand in areas of the greens that expericanced winterkill.  In order to use the pregerminated seed we had to use green sand as our carrier.  Pregerminated seed is very fragile and needs a carrier like sand to minimize mortality.  Here are the steps in the seeding process:

                Step 1: Mix pregerminated seed with green sand and put into buckets.

                Step 2: Poke small holes into the winterkill areas with a hand spiker.

                Step 3: Take green sand and pregerminated bentgrass mixture and spread it over the small holes left by the hand spiker.

                Step 4: Level the green sand and bentgrass mixture with a leveling tool called a levelawn.

                Step 5: Roll the putting surface to achieve seed to soil contact.

                Step 6: Apply light and frequent watering in the days to come.

Most of our winterkill areas are very small and we will try to move the hole locations to areas away from the winterkill so that we minimize disturbance on the newly seeded areas.  The areas that have green sand are smooth and should  not be much of a disturbance.  We are sorry for the incovnience but this will help get our greens healed in sooner, despite the late spring.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May 1st Golf Course Update


The condition of the golf course continues to improve with warm temperatures and sunshine. This past weekend we saw some germination of seed on #2 and #13 green.  Last fall we slit seeded our putting surfaces 2 directions and that practice is paying off as seed is filling in dead areas of poa.  We will continue to add seed to thin areas of our putting surfaces to enhance recovery.
Soil temperatures are one of the most important factors in speeding up recovery.  Because of the late cold spring, soil temperatures remain cool.  To increase soil temperatures, we topdressed all of our greens with black sand to heat the surfaces to increase the likelihood of germination and during cooler periods we cover  the greens on #2 and #13 to use it as a blanket.  These tactics work at getting recovery to happen despite the cold spring we have been experiencing.

To increase density of our putting surfaces we have fertilized with ammonium sulfate which has a nice green color. I bring this up because many have asked why the putting surfaces are so green.

Storm Damage
As you are all aware 3 weeks ago an ice storm did a fair amount of damage to trees on the course. Monday we finally finished with clean-up of the downed branches.  Once the ground hardens up we will get a boom truck to cut and remove severely damaged branches that are too far up to cut from the ground. 

What’s Next
Right now our main focus shifts from storm cleanup to getting the putting surfaces up to peak season playability.  Along with that we are fixing and repairing low areas and depressions on the course.  Very shortly we will be charging up the irrigation system and fixing any immediate problems.  Also we will be going through each sprinkler head and make the proper adjustments.

Long-term our focus will be the drainage behind #13 green and fixing water seepage on #6 fairway.

Green Edge
In spring it can be difficult to tell the putting surface from the collar.  To alleviate this problem we have painted blue dots every 8 feet defining the green edge.  I hope this helps the golfer determine whether or not they are on the green.  It also helps our crew so they can get a crisp clean-up cut on our putting surfaces.

Sod Lines
Many have asked what the sod lines are on greens.  Some thought they might be newly added drain lines, they are not.  Last fall we cut out low areas of greens with a 2” sod cutter to improve water movement during the winter months.  Before we opened the course this spring we put the sod pieces back into place.  Just as in the XGD drainage project, these sod pieces will take a couple weeks to blend in and get an established root system.  We did not add any drainage to these putting surfaces; although they could all use some that is best left to the XGD professionals.

Please keep checking the blog for weekly updates.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Golf Course Opening

The golf course will open Friday, April 26th, at noon walking only.  Please watch for further updates on golf car availability. 

Overall considering the winter that we experienced the course faired very well.  Tees are in outstanding shape and fairways are very good with the exception of a few small low areas which already seem to be healing in.  Generally speaking, greens fared well with the exception of a few that have more Poa annua.  Poa is a very weak plant that weakens or dies in severe winters and summers.  #2 and #13 green have more poa than the other putting surfaces so for the time being we will be playing temporary greens on those two holes.  Keep in mind the amount of winter kill on these two greens is very minor compared with what we experienced in 2011.  In order to prepare those two surfaces for peak season it is in everybody’s best interest to play them as temporaries for the time being.  3 seasons ago our greens were predominately annual poa (80% +) and if that was still the case the amount of winterkill right now would be devastating.  Because we promote for bentgrass our injury to fine turf is much less than it could have been considering that Poa used to be the majority of our greens. We will continue to promote for bentgrass so that we can avoid situations of winterkill and summer stress in the future.  Remember temporary greens are just that, temporary. 
  On cooler days and nights we will keep #2 and #13 covered with tarps to incubate and keep them warm.  This will encourage growth and recovery by keeping the soil warm on cooler days.  Before we covered the greens we punched very shallow holes, overseeded with bentgrass and then lightly topdressed the surface.  We then drug the greens lightly and rolled them to get good seed to soil contact.  Soil temperatures will dictate how quickly these two greens recover.  Hopefully the weather warms up soon so these can greens can recover quickly. 
This link below written recently in the USGA regional updates section explains our process perfectly.

Below are two pictures from #2 green.  The left picture is an area of the green that is all bentgrass.  The right picture is an area that is a mixture of bentgrass and poa.  Notice how well the bentgrass looks compared with the poa.  Bentgrass is a much heartier and sustainable species which is why we manage to increase its populations here at Ridgeway Country Club.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Range Opening

The driving range is now open! The range tee needs some recovery time so we will be open to mats only until further notice. The putting green is also open.  Please stay off of the chipping green and approach because it needs some time to recover from last year’s drought stress. Thanks.

Check for constant updates this week.

Monday, April 15, 2013

More of the same

Last week’s weather was more of the same, unseasonably cold weather along with lots of precipitation. The nasty weather has not allowed the golf course to dry out however, Friday and Saturday we were able to get all of the downed branches cut up and put into piles.  Because the course is wet we will not be able to pick up a majority of piles for fear of rutting up turf.  Instead we will focus our efforts on getting piles located near carts paths.  Hopefully some warmer weather and less precipitation will allow us to finish clean-up from the storm. 

Due to colder weather it is still difficult to determine whether some of our Poa annua has died.  It does appear some fairway low spots and areas in collars have some minor winter kill. With all of the wet weather we are still cautious for winter kill to occur if nighttime temperatures get too cold. On greens a majority of the damaged Poa annua looks like it will recover quickly once consistent warm temperatures reach us … whenever that might be! 

With the unstable nature of the weather it is still too early to tell when we might open the golf course.  Stay tuned to this blog for more updates.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ice Storm!

Last night’s storm has left considerable damage to the course.  So far, the course is littered with large branches that broke from the 2” of ice.  The course is extremely water logged at this point and very dangerous due to falling branches.  Once the ice melts we can better assess the damage and start cleaning up the mess, which looking at the forecast might be a couple of days.  Stay tuned for more updates.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Finally ...

#18 fairway taken 4-7-13
No snow!
#12 fairway taken 4-7-13
Still some snow on north
facing slopes.
Slowly but surely snow is melting and winter is coming to an end.  I have observed a lot of progress in the past couple of days; however we still have a ways to go before opening.  The frost is down about a foot but should lessen the next couple of days with warmer nighttime temperatures.  The course is extremely water logged and once the frost is gone we should see some improvement.   Friday the course was covered in 50-60% snow but today we are at 10-20%. 

As far as winter kill is concerned, it is still too early to tell if any damage has occurred on the course.   Some Poa annua has greened up and some has remained very bronze in color.  To say whether or not we have any damage is premature at this point.  Once we have some consistent warm daytime temperatures combined with above freezing nighttime temperatures we can begin to assess what if any damage is on the course. 

#8 green taken 4-7-13
A pure stand of bentgrass!

#12 green taken 4-7-13
Poa that has greened up since
earlier in the week

Bentgrass populations are a lot higher on our golf course today than it was just 2 or 3 years ago.  Any damage that MAY have occurred will pale in comparison with 2011.  It is very evident that our fine turf areas are primarily bentgrass and that will be a great equalizer going forward.  It is a testament to our program and the benefits to managing for bentgrass.

Green collars, low areas in fairways, and some isolated greens (i.e. #13) are areas of the course most likely to experience winter kill simply because it has the most Poa annua.  If any areas have winterkill we will move immediately to correct the problem and take the appropriate actions.

Stay tuned for updates…. the 2013 season is getting close!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mowing Frequency

Bentgrass management is one topic that I discuss on this blog frequently.  I do this because it is important to the short and long-term goals of our greens and grounds department.  As stated many times before, there are many facets that go into managing for bentgrass.  Mowing less frequently is one of the many programs that help us reach our goals as a greens and grounds department.

Mowing frequency on our fine turf areas is one practice that varies greatly with that of other courses.  Typically in the past we mowed 6-7 times a week on greens, 3-4 times on tees, and 3-4 times on fairway turf.  Also we rolled greens 2-4 times a week in addition to our mowing regimen.  In 2012, we utilized a different approach by mowing greens ONLY 4 times a week and rolling them 7 days a week.  We will continue to use this model in the future and adding this practice to tees, fairways and approaches.


Why this change? 
The main reason for this change has to do with enhancing bentgrass over Poa annua.  Mowing is a very injurious process to bentgrass, whereas, Poa thrives under situations where constant mowing is the norm.  By reducing the amount we mow we decrease the probability of bentgrass injury.  Having healthy bentgrass is critical to winning the battle over Poa annua.   

Another byproduct of mowing less and rolling more is being more sustainable.  Mowing requires more people and more man hours to complete.  Rolling requires just one person and can be done for 1/3 the cost when swapped for mowing.  Reduction in man hours and the amount of gas used means savings for the maintenance of the golf course.  

Does less mowing impact the speed of our putting surfaces?
No, last season we were able to maintain the speed of the greens between 10-12 on the stimpmeter consistently.  In 2012 during some weeks of the peak season we mowed less than 4 days a week because the green speed was over 11 and we did not want to make some greens unfair.  Rolling is a great tool that we use to preserve plant health, increase bentgrass populations and keep our greens consistent on a daily basis.

Decreased mowing frequency has many benefits as I have stated above and in 2013, we look to continue this practice on greens while adding it to fairways, tees, and approaches.  So far it is one of many changes that have greatly improved the quality of Ridgeway’s fine turf areas.  

We are anxiously waiting for the start of 2013 season.  With the golf season closing in, this blog will be updated more frequently to keep you informed on golf course conditions …. Stay tuned!