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.