Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Tree Removal on Hole 10

Some of you have noticed we have removed quite a few trees around the 10th green in the past year. This was not just a random selection just to cut down trees. The trees were chosen with careful consideration and strategy. The reason was to give the 10th green much needed morning sunlight, more air circulation and to promote Creeping Bentgrass. Morning sunlight is the most critical sunlight to golf course putting surfaces. During the shoulder seasons when frost delays are common, tree removal will allow you to get on the course a bit sooner too. With the help of an app on my iPhone, this app allowed me to view the path of the sun at any time. The pictures below will help explain this.

Trees shading the green in the morning hours

Sun path with trees
Some trees removed providing some sun
Sun path with trees removed

How it looks now

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Nematodes: a Real and Invisible Threat

Nematodes are worm like micro-organisms that live in the soil; some even spend a large portion of their life cycle inside plant roots. There are many species that are beneficial, but there are many that are harmful. These non-beneficial types are called plant parasitic Nematodes. Plant parasitic Nematodes feed on turf grass roots, and they can expose weakened plants and more susceptible plants to other problems (including diseases). To my knowledge, Nematodes haven't gotten much professional consideration in Michigan; nonetheless, due to several factors, Nematologists feel the population is on the rise. Some experts believe the mild winters we have had in recent years have caused the population to increase; others argue that certain preventative chemicals used on golf courses years ago had a direct effect on Nematode proliferation. Another factor: the more topdressing golf courses are doing (Nematodes thrive in sand), the more these "critters" increase.

In light of these findings I decided to test all of the greens on the property to get a baseline of the amount and types of Nematodes we have so that each winter I can identify which populations are declining or rising.  Plus: before jumping to the decision to treat, it is important to get some baseline information so we have something to compare to year in year out; also, there are a couple of products available to control Nematodes, so it's important to have some objective data and criteria to narrow down our choices. Unfortunately, the Nematode threat is real, but so is the research which we can use to combat the threat.  I will keep you informed if any action is required. Below are a couple of pictures of a plant parasitic Nematode known as a Ring Nematode.

Viewed at 100X
Viewed at 400X

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Course update

In the past couple of weeks we have been working on the bunkers. We have filled in #7 and #8 bunkers with sand and #6 will be filled in tomorrow. Work on #9 is next and we are hoping to have tile and sand installed by Wednesday. We will be working on #2, #3, #5 and #18 in the next couple of weeks and we will have all the greenside bunkers done.  Also, we will be working on the fairway bunkers throughout the season because of all the additional drainage we are adding to the greenside bunkers which is taking more time than we anticipated. Below is a picture of the drainage pattern on #7. We have had to add a lot of additional drainage, in some cases, close to 75% more.

Thankfully, the greens have completely healed from aeration. There remains a bit of sand on the greens here and there, but, with these cooler temperatures, this is to be expected as the grass isn't growing as fast. Some of you may have noticed that the greens feel firmer and they're receiving shots well without leaving large ball marks. The reason for this is due to the amount of sand we put on the greens during aeration. The sand  was critical to making sure all the holes (from aerating) were filled. Below is a photo which shows the holes created by the aerator and how they have been filled with the sand.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bunker Renovation and Course Update.

The bunker renovation project is moving along. We have filled several bunkers with sand and we continue to move forward. We purchased the sand from Ruby Specialty Sands based in Port Huron MI. We have had to do several additional things in order to make this renovation successful; we've added additional drain lines and increased the size of the bunkers in order to access the existing drainage. With bunkers shrinking in size over time we have found that a lot of the drain tile is under the grass and old sand. This week we are hoping to get several more bunkers ready. We have currently filled the greenside bunkers on holes #1, #4, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16 and #17. The greensside bunkers on hole #2 are going to be turned into grass bunkers and we hope to have those sodded by next weekend. E and M Golf construction was brought in to help us with hole #13 as those particular bunkers had several drainage issues. E and M is going to continue helping us with holes 6, 7 and 8. Below are some pictures of this work.

Also, we have aerated all of the greens. The aeration process is something that nobody likes (including the ground staff). However, I am happy to report that we are done pulling cores on greens. Last fall we used a 5/8" solid tine and we found that this type of aeration had many additional benefits compared to core aeration. With proven research and soil samples to support this type of aeration we have found that healing is much quicker than core aeration, and you do not need an army of employees to clean up all the cores. The one thing we have noticed with this type of aeration is that a lot more sand is required to fill the holes (and getting the holes filled is extremely important). I have also added some photos of this type of aeration; the last two photos are what the greens look like a couple of days later.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bunker Renovation Update

The bunker renovation project begins! Unfortunately, the untimely rains have made the work challenging. This weekend, we continued our efforts and we've accomplished a lot. The greenside bunkers on #10, #11, #12 and #14, #15 and #16 are ready for drainage, and sand can now be installed. We are anticipating our first delivery of sand on the property shortly, so we hope to have the remaining green side bunkers on the back side done to the point where new drainage can be installed. Here are a few pictures of the project.

Right hand bunker on 14 ready for tile and sand
Temporary trench dug to divert water away from bunker
Old drain trenches cleaned out ready for new drainage

#12 bunker ready for drainage

10 right side bunker old drain tile removed