Thursday, February 4, 2016

Golf Course Winter Update

So far we have had a mild winter, and if Punxsutawney Phil's prediction is right we are in for an early spring.

In the fall Golf Course Superintendent's prepare their courses for the winter months. Various activities are performed like aeration, fertilization, topdressing and preventative fungicide applications for snow mold diseases are applied. At Metamora all of the above activities are performed, but we also raise our mowing heights on greens and mow everything less heading into winter. This is done to insure the plants can produce and store as many carbohydrates as possible.

I have had several opportunities throughout the winter to inspect turf conditions and I haven't seen anything to be concerned with. There were a couple of instances where ice had formed on the putting and fairway surfaces, but it wasn't there long enough to cause any harm. When ice forms, a clock so to speak starts, and we keep track of the days turf is under ice. This winter that clock has restarted a couple of times including now. For more information on ice damage view past posts under the winter labels. Below I have included several photos of what I have seen inspecting the course and everything so far has been positive.

Ice sheet formed on green
Snow removed to reveal no ice
Ice sheet melting creating porous ice

As mentioned, ice did form as seen in the left photo, but through melt, ice sheet turned into a porous breathable ice as seen in middle picture. In the third photo more snow came, but after removing snow no new ice formed.

Exposed green and no problems
Renovated bunkers are draining well
No signs of snow molds

These photos should help explain what I have seen so far throughout this winter and why I don't feel any problems have occurred. The extended forecast is promising with a few cold days followed by warmer days. I feel the threat of ice damage is behind us, but a threat to Annual Bluegrass (Poa annua) can still occur in the form of crown hydration. This typically occurs late winter or early spring, but if these weather patterns and temperatures stay consistent that will not be a threat either.

Thanks for reading and please check back in the coming weeks for further updates. We will see everyone on the golf course soon.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Michigan Turfgrass Foundation's Annual Turfgrass Conference

The Michigan Turf Foundation's Annual Conference was held on the campus of Michigan State University January 5th through January 7th. I had the opportunity to join hundreds of turgrass professionals and listen to speakers discuss strategies on renovations, tree management, bentgrass promotion, pest control and many other great topics. These types of conferences are very beneficial to our clubs and their golf course superintendents. It's always nice to converse with fellow superintendents and share ideas on making our golf courses better through our experiences. I would like to thank Metamora for allowing me to go to this conference every year, it is definitely worth it.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Practice green drainage

With the outstanding December weather thus far, we have added some drainage to the practice putting green. Every spring and during heavy rain events the practice putting green collects water. Eventually it will drain, but it doesn't drain fast enough. We added a drain line to expedite the drainage process. Below are a few photos of the project.

Path marked for drainage
Sod removed from green and rough

Drain line added and buried
Sod installed and project completed

Happy Holidays from Metamora Golf and Country Club's maintenance department.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Metamora's bunker renovation step by step.

I mentioned in the previous post what the bunker renovation process entails. In this post I will explain in greater detail the entire process. Below is a step by step list of what goes into Metamora's bunker renovation with pictures for you to enjoy.

The first step is to remove the old sand and few feet of turf that surrounds the bunker. The turf removed from the perimeter helps us define the size and shape of the bunkers. As bunkers age they typically get smaller, in our case some of the bunkers are close to 25 years old.

Old sand and grass being removed
 sand piled up for removal

The next step is to remove the old drain tile and bedding material like pea stone or gravel. Once that is completed, the bunker floor is re-graded.

Old drain system being removed
The bunker floor being re-graded

During the re-grading process sometimes you find surprises.

A huge rock right under the surface

The third step is creating the new shape and style. As mentioned bunkers shrink over time due to sand build up. When smaller bunkers are preferred, but there is a sand build up that you don't want to or can't remove, burlap bags filled with topsoil make a great alternative. These bags can be stacked and molded. Using sand as a wall is not a good choice as it doesn't create a firm foundation to keep sand inside the bunker and doesn't hold up well to traffic from golfers and especially mowing equipment.

Sand build up in front of bunker
Burlap bags filled with screened topsoil

Once the bunker floor is graded, new drain lines are dug. Every bunker may have different drainage patterns. This depends on the size and shape of the bunker. In many cases new exit drain lines have to be installed. This is due to the new drainage system being installed much deeper than the original system.

New drain line trenches
Drain line trenches

Once the dirt from the drainage trenches is raked out or picked up, instillation of the new drainage system is installed. The new system, I am very excited about. This drain tile is spiral corrugated inside and out, fitting screw on and this pipe is bedded in sand. This system has been very easy to install and given how much rain we have received so far this fall it is working great.

ADS Turf flow fine perforated drain tile
Drain tile getting back filled with sand
Closer look at tile being bedded in sand

After the drain system is installed and trenches are back filled with sand to the bunker floor, we begin laying down sod. The sod inside the bunker is being used as a liner. This grass will be killed with round-up in the spring and new bunker sand will be installed on top of it. The sod's organic matter or thatch is what is used inside the bunker. The thatch which is composed of cellulose and lignin becomes a barrier between the native soil and the new bunker sand. The cellulose portion of thatch will decompose where the lignin portion will stay around for a long time. I have talked with several people that have used this method and they all feel it has worked well for them.

Finished bunker with drain lines exposed
Finished bunker

The last step in the renovation process is obviously the addition of the bunker sand. The sand the club is opted for is a major upgrade from the current sand. This sand is much lighter in color, almost white. The sand is coming from Best Sands out of Ohio. Below is a sample of this particular sand.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Bunker Renovation

Our bunker renovation has started and we are all excited to see this happening. Renovating bunkers is a lot of work, but well worth the effort.

I get asked a lot of questions regarding our bunkers. Here are some answers to some of the questions.

Why don't you just add more sand? The current sand is contaminated with silt and gravel. Silt is the biggest reason the bunkers don't drain well. Adding new sand wouldn't do a lot in this case because proper drainage is our biggest concern.

Can you just take the old sand out and put in new? Unfortunately the silt has worked its way down to the drain tile and has clogged up the perforations in the tile. In some cases socked drain tile was used and the sock is clogged up with silt. The existing tile was also shallow has been nicked with the bunker machine and silted sand has entered the tile.

What does the bunker renovation entail? Our bunkers are getting completely overhauled. As mentioned before the old sand is removed. We also strip about 3-4 feet of grass around the bunker, this helps define the original size and shape. This grass will be discarded because it's inconsistent and replaced with new sod. The old drainage system is removed and also discarded. After altering the shape, the sub floor is re-worked to create a floor that is flat, free of rocks and slopes slightly to future drain lines. The next step and the most important step is a new drainage system is installed. Adequate drainage on the entire golf course is important, but in bunkers it's critical. As we replace the grass that was removed around the edge with sod, we will also be lining the entire bunker with sod. I have talked with several people that have done this and it's inexpensive and very effective.

The New Drainage system
The new drainage system is unique, the pipe size is smaller than the old system but more drain tile is added. There are several things I like about this drain tile. The holes are a lot smaller than the old conventional drain tile. Unlike the old perforated tile that was back filled with pea stone, this particular tile is actually back filled with sand and is installed deeper than the old system. I really like this because it eliminates the risk of pea stone contaminating the sand. Another benefit of this type of system is the sand can easily be removed and replaced if needed and the tile itself is much easier to work on. The new drain tile has spiral corrugations inside and out and fittings screw on snug to keep sand out. Also with a spiral interior water flows through it faster which is very important in bunker drainage.

The video link below will help explain why a bunker renovation is necessary

USGA Bunker Video