Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Drain Cleaning

In August when the large storm drainage pond was being built we noticed that the large 12” tile that drains from #12 fairway to #16 tee was partially clogged with sediment.  This obviously has a negative effect on getting water off of the property after heavy rainfall and in some cases was cause for golf course closures.  Now that the large storm drainage pond was installed the greens and grounds committee decided to hire Speedy Clean to come in and clean out our large drainage arteries that help drain the course.

This past Friday Speedy Clean came out and cleaned the large 12” tile connected to our new storm drainage pond.  A lot of gravel, sediment and tree roots where removed.  The process took much of the day; however we had some time to also clean out some tile near #16 fairway and clean out two 8” tiles that drain #11 fairway.  This will go a long way toward enhancing our capability to drain the course in a more efficient manner, which ultimately will mean less downtime and more golf for our members!

The next couple of weeks we will stay on the drainage theme and try to wrap up some smaller but very important drainage projects.  This week we hope finish up #16 fairway and touch up some areas on #18 approach. Before winter sets in we are hoping to drain #14 tee, #14 fairway and adding a smile drain on #2 green/collar.  Hopefully the snow stays away for a few more weeks so we can get these projects completed.

We are looking forward to seeing many of you out to play your final rounds of the 2014 season! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sod Nursery and Fall Work

Sod Nursery

Sod Nursery
The sod nursery down by the maintenance facility is growing in nicely. We have very good to excellent coverage throughout the greens portion of the nursery.  We have been mowing it about twice a week and have upped our fertility to aid in getting greater turf density.
The outer portion of the nursery was disturbed with construction of the new storm drainage pond and driveway.   Because it is late in the season we will not have an opportunity to seed or work on this area until next spring.  The area that is not yet seeded is designated for Kentucky bluegrass sod for roughs.  

Fall Work
Now that leaves are starting to fall we have a lot of work to keep the course clean.  Over the next several weeks our blowers and rough mowers will be out in full force.  Our process consists of blowing leaving into rows and mulching them with our rough mowers.  Expect more noise than usual as we try to keep the course as clean as possible.

Between mowing and keeping the course clean we are still planning on doing some more drainage work this fall. 

1.       #18 approach is completed,  look at the before and after pictures. Both pictures where taken after heavy rain events, the picture on the left was taken in 2010 and the picture on the right was taken earlier this week after almost 3" of rain. As you can see we have made a lot of progress!



2.    #16 fairway: In the next week we plan on draining the low area in the fairway about 100 yards from the green.

3.       #2 smile drain:  Install smile drain in the collar near #2 green to help get water off some poorly draining areas.  Because of the close proximity to the green we will start this work once the course closes for the season.

4.       #14 ladies tee: Install drainage near the ladies.

5.       #14 fairway: Install drainage in the rough and fairway approximately 150-200 yards from the green.
At some point in the near future we are going to have the main drainage artery that goes from #12 fairway to #16 tee cleaned out.  While the storm drainage pond was being installed we noticed that the 12” main drainage tile was partially clogged.  Speedy Clean is scheduled to come out and clean this out which will have a positive effect on storm water removal in the future.

November is a busy month between the shorter days and preparing the course for closing.  Although it’s been colder lately the golf course is still in good shape and the greens playing very nicely for this time of year.  We hope to see you out on the course in the near future!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

#18 Drainage

This past week we have been working on draining the approach on hole #18.  If you remember, #18 approach is habitually wet from runoff in the parking lot area.  We had drainage in #18 approach but because of the large volume of water we had to add some more to help get it from ponding.

We added several new tiles lines and manipulated the pitch so that we could achieve more surface drainage helping to move water quicker.   Also we added a large holding area just off of the parking lot so that water does not run across the fairway and back up the tile that is currently in #18 approach. 

On August 20th and 21st we received several inches of rain.  Although there was some water in the approach it was gone within an hour after the rain had stopped.  In the past standing water would have been present for days not hours.

We are looking to do small drainage projects like this in the upcoming weeks.  Next on our list is #16 fairway, which we hope to start sometime in the near future.  The golf course continues to be in good shape so come on out and enjoy the last couple months of the golf season.

The picture above is of an area that was stripped, graded for surface drainage and new tile lines installed.

The above picture is of the finished product once the tile was installed, surface regraded, drainage grates set, sod laid and new sod topdressed with sand for smoothness.

The above picture is of an area of the approach near the green that bubbled up due to a crushed tile line.  New drainage was added and new sod laid.

 This final picture is of #18 approach near the green, which was stripped, leveled and sodded.

Friday, September 5, 2014

What to Expect

The past couple of weeks have brought warmer, rainier and more humid weather.   With this change in weather we have a shift in the playability of the golf course.  As you may have noticed with your lawns at home, grass is growing at an unbelievable rate.  You can expect slower, softer greens and longer rough.  

This time of season we have a smaller staff to complete work on the course.  Please understand that some areas of the golf course might have some longer than normal rough.  The high humidity and good growing weather have slowed the greens down considerably from what you are used too.  Please take note and adjust accordingly.

With that being said the course is very green and beautiful please come out and enjoy it … when it’s not raining.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Successes and Needed Improvements

Storm Water Project
No standing water on #12 fwy
after 2.50" of rain!
With a majority of the storm pond project completed and the heavy rain the past week we are able to assess how well our holding pond is working.  On August 16th we received 1.25” of rain and on August 18th we received 2.50” of rain, both times we had little if any standing water.  Normally the storm on August 18th would have meant golf course closure for a day.  Other than a little water in #4 fairway there was not the massive flooding that previously caused golf course closures.    Also #11 fairway did not get the ponding effect that we previously experienced because our tile system was able to handle both #12 fairway thru #16 tee and #11 fairway at the same time.   Even though the new holding pond is only a couple of weeks old it has already saved 1 day of golf!
Water moisture meter and firmness meter
The past couple of weeks we have been experimenting with our new water moisture meter and firmness meter.   These items will really help us keep greens “dialed” in so that we achieve the right moisture and firmness.   Our regime will focus on keep good plant health while making greens firm but receptive to well struck iron shots.

New meters

 Due to the wet period we have experienced and how new these meters are to us we are still experimenting with the data so that we can hone in how we want our turf to perform.  The rest of the season will be a good test so we can go into 2015 with a good idea of how we can interpret the data to achieve optimal playing conditions on a more consistent basis.   
Needed improvements
Drainage woes …
Now that we have our storm drainage under control, it’s time to focus on other areas of the course so we can improve both turf health and playability.  I still believe that our #1 area for improvement on the course is adding drainage to many areas of the course. I have broken down the areas that need drainage to improve turf quality and playability:
1.       Greens- #4, #6, #11, #13, #16 and #17 greens need to be addressed.  The excessive rain and high humidity showed that these putting surfaces need some attention.  Keep in mind 2013 and 2014 have been very mild weather wise, hence turf on these greens looks very good.  If we get years of hot, humid and rainy weather these greens will underperform.  Turf loss in seasons of hot, humid and rainy weather should be expected if we do not correct the problem.  Some minor turf thinning was observed last week on #13, #16 and #17 due to excessive water and the inability of the water to escape.  Although turf still looks good and most members may not notice what I observed, the question should be asked: What if we had extended periods of severe weather like in 2010, 2011, and 2012? Would these greens still be as good as they are now? The answer is no they would not and we should expect less than stellar conditions.

Thinning turf on #16 green.
Taken 8/25/14

2.       Collars and Approaches- Overall collars are in the best shape they have been in 5 years.  Collars and approaches are closely related to greens because of their close proximity to each other.  So improving drainage in collars/approaches also has positive impact on drainage on greens and vise versa.  Collars like #2, #4, #10 #11, #13, #14, #16, #17, and #18 could all use some smile drainage to catch water.   Collars and the approaches hold the most water because our greens slope from back to front.  This means excess water runs off into the approach and collar area making them softer and susceptible to all kinds of maladies.  Firmer, healthier turf in the approach is desired to help shots hit short run onto the putting surface plus with added drainage we will see less of the worn out turf that can persist in the summer months of July and August.
#2 collar holds water.
3.       Fairway and Rough- #4, #14 and #16 fairways all have small areas that need some drainage to improve turf quality.  Old USGA reports confirm that these areas have been problematic for over 25 years. Also the area in front of #14 tee and east of #6 green hold excessive amounts of water and should be looked at for future drainage.
#16 fairway swale
The golf course has been in stellar shape all season however it is my job and that of the greens & grounds committee to look at problems so we can continually improve our product.  By fixing our drainage issues we have more consistency in our presentation, turf health, and playability.  Right now the areas I outlined for drainage are at the mercy of Mother Nature.  Remember she is not always kind . . .

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Storm Water Retention Pond Update

A lot of progress has been made by the town of Clayton in the past couple of weeks with the construction of a large retention pond near the maintenance facility.  Because the town is redoing the road on Ridgeway Dr. water will get onto the golf course quicker and with more volume than in the past.   So to subdue many of the past drainage issues plus prevent any further problems, a large retention pond was needed to hold storm runoff in the 40 acres southeast of the golf course.  Storm water in the pond will then run into the underground drain tiling system we currently have on the golf course.  This will not prevent every storm from causing the course to flood but it will greatly reduce the amount of golf course closures we have in the future.  In the past a large river from #12 fairway to #16 tee prevented us from opening the golf course during large rain falls.  This also backed up our tiling system so that #11 fairway held water and created a large pond at the bottom of the range across #11 fairway and over to the maintenance facility.  In my 5 years at Ridgeway we have had to cancel a number of large events and good golfing days simply because of this storm drainage problem.  This retention pond project should fix many of those issues.

Another issue we discovered was that the 12” tile that runs underneath the course from #12 fairway all the way #16 tee is partially clogged.  We are currently looking at getting a company in to unclog this tile line.  This is important because this tile is the main artery to drain water during massive rain events.   Unclogging this tile line plus the addition of a large retention pond will really go a long way in stopping golf course closures in the future. 

The above picture taken from east of #12 fairway near the out of bounds and is really the only disruption on the golf course itself.   This is where a large manhole sits and ties in the retention pond water with our existing tile underneath the golf course.

This picture is of the spill way area were water would actually run out onto the golf course if the rain got heavy enough.   As deep as this pond is (~8 feet) and by unclogging our existing tile system this should happen very infrequently. 

This picture is taken looking east toward Ridgeway Dr. just off of hole #12.  As you can see the pond is deep so that it can hold a large amount of water.

This is the large drain at the bottom of the pond where collected storm water begins to go underground over to #12 manhole from the first picture that was taken.

This picture was taken looking northwest standing on Ridgeway Dr.  This picture does not do justice to how deep the pond really is…

And lastly this picture is of the new driveway for the maintenance facility which was moved to make room for the pond.  The new entrance is 80 yards farther east past the other side of the new sod nursery and then turns and runs parallel to #11.   

The town has a few loose ends to tie up before this project is complete. 

  1. Grass the pond, pond banks, area left of #12 fairway, and the ditch along Ridgeway Dr.
  2. Blacktop the new maintenance road.
  3. Pick up and remove some small soil piles along the nursery
  4. Add some shrubs and trees near the new maintenance road so it is less visible from #11.

Stay tuned for more updates on this project and all other golf course maintenance activities. 


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Overhanging Branches

This week we are going to be cutting down a number of the overhanging branches and widow makers on the property. A number of silver maples on the property have large overhanging limbs that interfere with shots that are hit from the fairway.  Most notably #4, 9, 11, and 18 have large limbs that hang down over the fairways.   Also we have a number of hanging branches (AKA widow makers) that need to be removed for aesthetic and safety reasons.

We rented a large lift to assist in being able to accomplish this task safely and efficiently.  Please understand that we will have some branches laying on or near the fairways.  Equipment may also be in the way but should only affect your round on 1 hole.  This task will take several days and may need to be finished at a later date. 

Thanks and sorry for any inconvenience while we finish this task.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Storm Drainage Project

This week the Town of Clayton started a storm drainage project on Ridgeway property near the maintenance facility.  The goal of the project is to build a large holding pond to collect water before it reaches the golf course.  This pond will slowly drain into existing drainage on the property.  The pond will be located out of play well left of #12 fairway near the maintenance facility.  Also a new driveway will be built on the far west end of the new nursery.

This is good news because it will result in less golf course closures after heavy rains than in the past. In the past the course closed due to a large flowing river running across hole #'s: 12, 2, 3, 4, 7, and 15.  These areas would become impassable by foot or with a vehicle.  The new pond will not solve all of the flooding problems but will add days to your golfing calendar.  Also because the Town is taking care of this project there is no cost to Ridgeway.   

There will be minimal interference as it relates to your golfing experience in the coming weeks.  Wednesday on #12 they dug a hole to reset the manhole that was there previously and quickly added fill.  Also some minor work may be done south of #11 fairway to facilitate construction of the new driveway.   That should be the only interference to the golf course itself, most of the work will take place near the maintenance facility well out of play.  However do expect some noise of construction equipment while playing #11 and #12. 

We will keep you informed on the status of this important project in the days and weeks to come.  Enjoy the beautiful weather that is in our near future.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Firmness: An update

This year we have made a consensus effort to monitor firmness on the golf course.  A golf course that is either too firm or too soft has its own set of problems.  Soft conditions promote weak rooted plants, numerous ball marks, bumpy greens and Poa annua invasion. Too firm of conditions make stopping a ball impossible and can take away from the enjoyment of the game.  

Our goal has been to promote healthy turf that is firm but not so firm that balls fly off the back of greens.  So far in 2014 mother nature has prevented us from getting the golf course too firm.  Being half way through the golf season it is still  good to look back at what has gone right and what things we need to improve upon.  

So far the putting surfaces have been in really good condition despite the heavy rains.  Although soft, greens have remained smooth and a reasonable speed.  Root structure and depth is still very good throughout.  

The biggest issue we have had this season is getting approaches to firm up so balls that are hit short run onto the putting surface.  Greens and approaches do not dry down the same simply due to the fact that greens at Ridgeway tilt severely from back to front.  After rain events water surface drains into the approaches making them wetter than greens.  Because of this they hold more water than our putting surfaces.  So far we have had inconsistency from approach to green due to this drainage fact.   

So what can we do to have approach firmness mirror that of the greens?

  1. Install smile drains.  Smile drains are sections of drain tile that would be installed at the low areas of the green/collar catching water as it leaves the putting surface.  Because it follows the green edge it often looks like a smiley face.  Smile drains offer a host of great benefits to both the green and approach.  Also depending on how they are done they can sometimes be utilized to get water off of greens in winter months. By adding smile drains we would cut down the amount of water that gets to our approaches thus firming them up.
  2. Sand, sand and more sand.  We have been topdressing our approaches however we have anywhere from ¾”-1 ¼” of sand in our approach profile, whereas greens have almost 4” of sand near its surface. By adding sand to approaches they will react more like a green.
  3. Aeration and verticutting.  This will remove thatch which acts as a sponge and stops balls from bouncing.
  4. Rolling.  Due to the wet conditions we have done very little approach rolling which would firm up the surface.
  5. Monitor using moisture meters and firmness meters. We have purchased and will be receiving these devices which will allow us to check daily both the water moisture levels and firmness levels.  Using bluetooth technology we can log our information so we can best use the data to benefit the golfer and turf health.

So far member feedback this season has been very positive however we still need to look to improve so we can provide a better product day in and day out. Our goal is to make fairways and approaches firmer than greens.  So far this season that has not occurred.  By following the 5 steps laid out we can make playability more consistent and make the game more enjoyable.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Nursery Project

As you are aware last fall we started a large sod nursery project near the maintenance facility just left of #11 fairway.  The greens portion of the nursery has grown in nicely and with some mowing and extra fertilization should be filled in by late summer early fall.  This section was prepped and seeded first and had a head start over the outside perimeter.  The outside perimeter was seeded later and with very little germination the area became susceptible to erosion with the heavy spring rains. 

Good germination...
Greens portion of nursery.
Eroded area...
Needs more work!

To this point very little has been done about the outside perimeter of the nursery.  One reason is the weather continues to bring heavy rain.  Any effort to fix the outside perimeter would have again been destroyed from heavy rains causing even more erosion.  Although portions of the nursery are behind schedule I am glad that little effort was done to repair certain areas because it would have meant money down the drain. 

The next couple of weeks we will renew our effort to fix, repair, and reseed the outside perimeter of the sod nursery. Also we will be vigorously working on getting the good part of the nursery to fill in so that we have a good greens nursery going into fall.

This is an outstanding addition to our department and a great investment for the future of Ridgeway.  All we need is a little more sweat equity and some luck from mother nature to finally make this project a success.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Its weed season

Broadleaf Weeds

As you venture onto the course this week you will notice dandelions and clover are out in full force.  Under normal conditions we would have already sprayed; however, the cold and wet weather has pushed back our spraying of broadleaf weeds.  Spraying broadleaf weeds in spring is an exact science. We use this website http://www.gddtracker.net/ to figure out what time is best for spraying weeds.  If we spray too early we miss a lot of broadleafs and we would have to reapply herbicide later on which would cost more money.

As you can see, by looking at the website, this next week is going to be prime time for spraying broadleaf weeds.  I anticipate with the nice weather ahead we will be able to spray the entire course in order to kill off what weeds are there presently.  Along with that, we will be spraying the natural areas of the golf course for broadleaf and grassy weeds.  Even though some of the areas on the golf course have a few weeds, we have gotten less and less as the years go by.

Clubhouse Landscape Project

Although we just started the clubhouse landscape project Sunday night, we have gotten a lot of work done already.  Monday's rain did not help; yet we still hope to complete the project within the next week.

We will keep you updated on the project and more in the coming days.  Come out and enjoy the nice weather ahead!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

April Showers

The old saying, "April showers bring May flowers" has so far been the story of this spring. This April at Ridgeway we received almost 10" of rainfall along with 4" of snow. The course is still wet and needs some time dry out. Some warm temperatures and sun would be much appreciated.

The last blog post talked about some potential winterkill issues with some colder nights in mid-April. The good news is we had no signs of any issues as a result of that cold stretch. The turf overall is in great shape for this time of year and has only minor damage coming out of winter. #9 and #17 greens have a few areas of minor winterkill that should not impact play and with warm weather should be back to full strength. Also some small fairway low areas have some winterkill but already appear to be healing in nicely. Warmer temperatures will be our greatest asset to getting these areas to recover.

Spring is an important time to prepare the golf course for the peak season ahead. We use this time to lay the foundation of what will be a great season. Aeration and topdressing are two processes that we utilize this time of year to prepare the course for the rigors of summertime.  One step in that summertime preparation is deep-needle tining or more commonly referred too as forking . We like to fork greens several times a season. This process is minimally invasive and has almost zero impact on the playability of the golf course. Forking is great for improving soil oxygen, roots, water infiltration and helps relieve compaction. Since we started forking greens 4-6 times a year, our greens health has improved greatly, not to mention our bentgrass populations have skyrocketed. Like I said earlier, the majority of our aeration and topdressing this spring will have very little impact on play but will have a large impact come summer in terms of healthy turf and smooth playing surfaces.

The month of May will be a busy month for the greens and grounds’ considering it was very wet in April. Here are a few items we will working on:

·         Building and installing new landscape beds between 1 tee/ 18 green.

·         Drainage in front of #14 tee.

·         Spray for broadleaf weeds.

·         Spray pre-emergent herbicide on fairways.

·         Repair and seed walks.

·         Topdressing of tees, greens and approaches.

·         Fix and repair the end of cart paths with crushed asphalt.

·         Prune trees with deadwood and overhanging branches.

·         Irrigation repair and maintenance.

·         Keep up with mowing the course which is difficult at this time of year because of how fast grass tends to grow with warm temperatures and soil that is moist.

That's a lot on our plate and is only a portion of what we need to accomplish in such a short time. We hope the weather is friendlier for accomplishing the work that we need to get done. With how well the course came out of winter and some elbow grease in the next month, 2014 looks to be a great year!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Poa: A Golf Courses Greatest Liability.

In the game of golf turf management, mother nature always has the upper hand.  She is the judge, jury and executioner.  So far our turf has looked very good coming out of winter.  Up to this point both bentgrass and Poa seem to be doing well and have broken dormancy. We have mowed all of our fine turf areas and at this point things appear to be going along nicely ... until this past weekend.

Taken 4-14-14
Taken 4-13-14

Winter kill scenarios like crown hydration are problematic at this time of year particularly when you have Poa plants that break dormancy, start growing and start taking in water.  Any situation where you have Poa plants breaking dormancy, wet weather, followed by cold weather you have a recipe for crown hydration. Crown hydration in plants is similar to taking a sledge hammer to a glass window,  cell membranes in Poa plants burst similar to breaking glass and cause death of that plant. The next couple nights are expected to be very cold.  Tonight in particular lows are supposed to reach the upper teens.  After receiving 5"+ of rain the ground is way past field capacity and the Poa plants are full of water.  This could lead to some crown hydration which means death of some Poa plants.

What can we do about protecting Poa plants at this point?

Nothing.  Our only saving grace is if the snow stays and acts as a blanket to protect it from the cold air. Or it does not get as cold as the forecast is predicting.

Low areas and poorly draining areas with Poa are at risk for crown hydration.  And greens with large amounts of Poa are at risk.  For example #14 green is 95+% bentgrass and has virtually no risk of damage while #4 green has ~50% Poa with some poor drainage characteristics is at high risk.

What can we do in the future to protect against this type of injury?

PROMOTE BENTGRASS!! If we have damage occur it will be on weak Poa, not on bentgrass.  We have made great strides in promoting bent over Poa, that being said we still have some greens and some areas with significant amount of Poa.  Also improving drainage especially surface drainage will go a long way in keeping turf drier which will ultimately help curb winter kill and summer stress.

Remember that Poa annua is a golf courses greatest liability in this climate. It is by nature weak and succumbs to winter and summer stress.  99% of winter injury occurs on Poa and a large majority of  summer injury occurs on Poa.  Poa requires more water, fertilizer and pesticides to stay alive.  It becomes bumpy and uneven which can impede smooth consistent ball roll on greens.

I know that I talk a lot about Poa on this blog and that is because of all of the liability issues it presents as a turf manager. But keep this in mind during the summer months, when the golf course is a little firm or you see some brown areas from lack of water, or you see some trees that have been removed, remember this blog post about how Poa as a golf courses greatest liability.  Remember that a soft, overly green golf course is an unhealthy golf course full of liability.  With all of the winter kill issues, summer stress issues, playability issues,  and large cost involved in maintaining Poa, would you invest in it long term? 

Here are some great articles about winterkill and crown hydration:




Thursday, April 3, 2014

What's New for 2014

Course Update

Currently we little snow left on the course but still need some much needed warm weather to remove the several feet of frost from the property.  With rain then snow in our forecast, its going to be awhile before we open unless the weather makes a drastic change.  Keep in mind the average opening date at Ridgeway is around April 7th-12th taking into account 40+ years of history.

What's New for 2014

With the season nearing I thought I would take this time to announce what's new for the 2014 season.  During the offseason, the greens and grounds committee takes a look at what items or practices it wants improve for the next year. This season is no different as we have some great and exciting things we want to unveil. 

  • The last couple of seasons we have looked at ways to incorporate some new landscape/perennial flower areas to the golf course.  We removed a majority of the numerous small beds in preparation of adding larger less numerous beds, located in high impact areas of the course.  Starting this spring we will be adding several landscape additions to the property that will be located in these parts of the course:
    • Landscape beds near the clubhouse between #1 tee and #18 green.
    • Below the deck by the clubhouse.
    • Between the wildflower and natural area on #13 across from #13 tee. Now that the natural area on #13 is reaching maturity we are adding this bed with the hopes of making this area the most beautiful on the course.
  • We have received a lot of feedback regarding greens firmness vs. approach/fairway firmness.  This season our goal is make fairways and approaches firmer than that of our greens.  This will allow balls to roll up onto the putting surface.  Another aspect of this maintenance change is to closely monitor greens firmness so that well executed shots hold the green better than in past couple of seasons.  Several factors will play into our watering decisions in 2014: playability, aesthetics, firmness, and plant health will play a role in how we water.
  •  This season we will be leasing a large PTO driven detacher that will help keep our fairways in great condition.  Thatch is a problem for turf because it impedes water movement, shallows roots, and makes a great home for pests like insects/fungi. We anticipate dethatching fairways this spring.
  • In 2014 we are also going to be rolling fairways and approaches so that we improve ball roll without sacrificing aesthetics.  This goes back to earlier in this post about firmer fairways and approaches. The side benefit to rolling our fairways and approaches is improved turf health and less disease pressure.
  • Collars and perimeters around greens are some of the toughest areas to maintain on a golf course.  This season we have a multi-faceted approach to dealing with these areas so they are healthy and vibrant as the rest of the course. 
We are excited for the 2014 golf season to start.  The new changes are nice additions to our ever evolving maintenance regimen.

The greens and grounds crew hopes to see you out golfing very soon!

Please check this blog and our twitter feed @RidgewayCCTurf for continuing updates as the season nears...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Winter of 2014: The good, the bad and the ugly!

The past few months the local news has been focusing on the harsh winter of 2014.  To date, 2014 is already the coldest winter on record (for the Green Bay area) and with snow totals that keep piling up it may end up as the snowiest.  This has many members wondering what this weather means for Ridgeway and the spring just ahead.  While the outlook is uncertain at this point I will try to help you understand the possible scenarios that lay ahead.

#11 on 3/17/14

The Good

One good sign this winter is the deep frost which so far has kept the turf dormant.  The turfgrass plants had ample time to harden off before the heavy snows came in mid-December which means they became "conditioned" for the winter ahead. 

Another good sign was the relative lack of ice on the property.   In past seasons ice has been present for extended periods of time throughout winter.  Ice can cause damage to turf if it is present for extended periods but ice damage does not appear to be a problem this winter.

Finally our bentgrass populations have greatly increased in the past 3 seasons which ultimately means less winterkill.  Poa annua is a very weak plant that struggles to survive harsh winter conditions. Bentgrass on the other hand is very tolerant of cold weather, ice and large fluctuations in temperature.  For instance, our winter kill last season would have been catastrophic if we had the Poa populations prior to 2011.  Poa is a huge liability and is the reason we are trying to reduce its population at Ridgeway.  If damage does occur, it will pale in comparison to past seasons.

The Bad

Winter is not over and winterkill scenarios are more likely in the remaining weeks.  With all of the snow and deep frost, water will soon engulf the property.  Melting snow will cause water to pool up in areas which can be bad if we get large fluctuations in temperature.  Crown hydration can occur when warm weather and melting snow/water cause Poa to break dormancy.  If Poa breaks dormancy any extreme drop in temperatures can cause death to occur.

With long harsh winters most of the turfgrass plants carbohydrate reserves are depleted and Poa plants are very weak.  University studies have shown that Poa's cold hardiness can be 20 degrees F at the end of winter.  So any extended drop in temperature to exposed Poa can cause damage.

We will monitor the melt but there is little we can do other than make sure drainage grates on the property are clear so water can move effectively.

The Ugly

The ugly truth is no superintendent can predict how a golf course will survive coming out of winters like 2014's. So far we have some good signs but unfortunately winter is not over and how the course melts may ultimately determine its fate.  We cannot predict the weather or change it, so in the end all we can do is deal with its consequences. 

One thing I can say is the progress we have made promoting bentgrass is something that will help minimize the amount of damage that "may" occur.  Poa is our greatest liability at Ridgeway and keeping it to a minimum is important so that winterkill scenarios are kept to a minimum.  If our greens, tees and fairways were 100% bentgrass there would be no reason for concern of winterkill at this point.  That being said we still have some Poa and because of that we have a liability that hinges solely on the weather at this point.

Lets hope for nice steady melt and a speedy start to the 2014 golf season!
Taken 2/21/14 from #12 green

Friday, February 14, 2014

Winter Maintenance

Inevitably I am asked every winter, “What is there to do at the golf course during the winter months?”  Simply put, a lot!


During the winter we bring all of our ball washers, benches, garbage receptacles, cups, flagsticks, and range tee dividers inside so they can painted.  All of the tee and green supplies get broken down, prepped, primed, painted and reassembled. Items like our range tee dividers get sanded, cleaned and receive several coats of stain/sealer. 
Equipment Repair and Maintenance

Ridgeway has close to a million dollars worth of equipment in the maintenance department and it is our job to preserve your investment.  One of the steps we take in preserving Ridgeway’s investment is preventative maintenance.  Throughout the offseason all of our preventative maintenance gets done on our equipment which includes:  oil changes, new filters, new bearings, hydraulic hoses, etc. are a few of the items that get replaced during the offseason.
A majority of our cutting units consist of reels and bedknives, both get taken apart and ground so that they are sharp once the season begins.  Each reel and bedknife is examined for age to see if any replacements are necessary.  Its takes months not days to look at every single piece of equipment and do the work necessary to have it working correctly when we need it perform at its best.  


We look into our central control computer which runs our irrigation to see if we can improve how our system runs. Every sprinkler can be tweaked to meet the demands of its particular environment. We can make adjustments if need be or reconfigure the system so we get the most out our watering.

House Cleaning
A majority of the work done this offseason is completed inside, because of that; we shuffle equipment around to make our work easier.  Once we get our painting and equipment maintenance done we clean/ organize our shop the way we would like it for the golf season.   

During this cleaning process we take inventory of irrigation parts, chemicals, fertilizer, tools, and supplies so that we know what we need once the hectic golf season starts. 
Tree Management

This season the greens and grounds committee has selected a few trees that had issues with the following:

1.       Dead or dying. A few of these trees on the property where completely dead.  Many of these where elms or ash which had succumb to disease.  The committee had concerns with safety because of falling limbs.

2.       Loss of form.  Many ash trees on the property where planted so closely together that they started to lose branches, or die off slowly.  Because these trees are weak, wind storms have made many of these trees hazards to the golfer and from an aesthetic point of view, ugly!

3.       Overcrowding. In few instances trees that are crowding other larger specimen trees were removed to allow for the longevity and vitality of our most prized trees.

This season’s tree removal is very small but a nice improvement.  It’s nice to see healthy trees that are allowed to now reach their full potential.
Along with a few tree removals we have also concentrated on removing overhanging limbs on the property. This will allow for greater playability and make mowing rough less dangerous for our employees. 

As you can see there is plenty of work that needs to be completed in the cold Wisconsin winters.  So much so that we have to make sure we stay on schedule so that it gets completed before our season begins.  So far we are ahead of schedule and we can’t wait for the 2014 golf season to begin!!