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.