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!