The Lakes Blog

Maintenance Update September 12

Maintenance Update September 12

Update on Goals for the 2017 Season

Faster Greens

Our greens have been consistently firmer and faster than last year. We did loose some speed late July and early August. We had to react to a negative effect that our growth regulator was having on the turf in the heat. The result was some increased turf growth to strengthen the plants and the extra growth slightly slowed the speed down. We have since got back on track, learned a few things, and greens are consistently 9 ½ to 10 ½ feet on a regular basis.

Growth drives everything. Too much growth and the surfaces are soft and slow. Too little growth and the surfaces will thin and turn to dirt. Our management of the putting surfaces is constantly walking the line between too much growth and too little, trying to find that perfect balance.

Bunkers

We are still hand raking the greenside bunkers. We are planning on starting to edge the fairway bunkers this fall. We do not have enough staff to rake bunkers everyday. We are asking players to rake any bunkers they play out of and not assume they will be raked the next morning. This will greatly improve the day to day play of the bunkers.

Proactive Fungicide Applications

We are staying on schedule with our applications and the greens are healthy. We have some dollar spot disease on some collars and in some fairway sections. We are not budgeted to treat fairways for dollar spot (~$6000), however we do have some partial jugs left over and we can spot treat the bad areas. To put it in perspective we have 27 acres of fairway and we can treat approximately 4 acres. The 4 acres is enough to get the bulk of the problem spots. The only issue is the winter chemical may not be as effective because the fungus population in the fairways will not have been knocked back mid-season. Our plan to minimize our risk as much as possible is to do the same as last fall and split the winter application into two separate applications. Rather than spray once at a 120 ml rate we will split it into two applications of 60 ml and 60 ml. This allows the first application to knock the fungus populations back and the second will protect the plant for the winter.

Annual Bluegrass Control

 

We have continued to spot spray all greens and collars with annual bluegrass control. This can be labour intensive but it is our best defence to keep this less desirable grass variety out of our greens. We have a very clean stand of bentgrass and we want to keep it that way. We also mix a small amount of chemical control every two weeks. This will kill any small seedlings before they get established.

Other

  • We have made a conscious effort to let the carts out as much as possible this season. We feel that our aeration program for fairways is paying off. This week we had 25mm or rain Sunday through Monday, 20mm of rain Monday through Tuesday and we were able to let carts out 90 degrees from the path Wednesday morning.
  • The new tee markers are completed and out on the course.
  • We have edged all the catch basins on the course in an effort to handle any fall rainstorms that are becoming more common.
  • We were able to vent (solid tine) the greens three times throughout the season. This was part of our reduced thatch management plan.
  • We will finish slicing fairways and then core aerate any fairways we didn’t do last fall due to focusing our efforts on flood repair.
  • We will begin core aerating tees in the next few weeks. We will start on the pro decks, then the double diamond deck and work our way to the in play decks last.
  • We will not be aerating greens, with a larger hole, until after we close the golf course for the season.
  • The golf course edges (tree lines and fescue) are growing in. After we close we are going to bush hog all the fescue in an effort to push nature back. Next spring we can also get a good handle on the weeds when they are small plants.
  • We are exploring different ways in which we can maintain the practice facility. Having to stretch labour always seems to find the practice range at the end of the list for maintenance and easy to skip. We are going to aerate the struggling spots on the driving range and try to establish a hardier variety of turf in that area. The reality is that no turf has much of a chance of survival under three months of ice. However, we will do all we can to get it to survive. We ordered new orange and red flags so you can tell the difference between the two. We repainted the little flags on the yardage sign so you can tell the difference between them as well. We added a chalk board to the yardage sign so we can write the plus or minus yardage to reflect where the ropes are located in relation to the flags. Hopefully this will make the actual yardage from the teeing area to the flags more accurate.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Blackburn,

Golf Course Superintendent

Superintendent Notes

Did you ever find yourself on the course enjoying a round of golf and comment to your playing partners about how great the pace of the greens are. Some enjoy the moment and some wonder why the greens can’t be like this everyday?
There are a large number of variables that affect turfgrass growth and in turn affect putting green speed. What is able to be achieved at one time of the year may be impossible at another time of year.
The biggest affect on turf health and playability is the weather. Air and soil temperatures have a tremendous affect on turfgrass growth rates. Moisture and humidity do as well. Rain or irrigation events combined with fertilizer applications can cause a spike in turf growth. This effect can be magnified under warm conditions, with the result being increased surface resistance and reduced ball roll. Similarly, hot humid conditions cause turfgrass leaves to retain moisture and remain fat, and this may also result in reduced green speed. Dry, windy conditions can cause the plant to wilt, which can reduce surface resistance and increase green speed. Putting green speed will vary from day to day simply as a result of weather influences and the seasonal changes turf undergoes.
Many maintenance practices affect green speed. Mowing and rolling increase putting green speed. Topdressing, which is required to dilute organic matter, may initially reduce the speed but after a few days the smoothing effect of the sand application will increase the speed. The same is true for brushing. We have an out front brush for our greens mower. The brush, stands the grass plants up before they enter the cutting units. This operation removes any grain and ensures the greens putt true, but can slow green speed down for a day or two before stimulating an increase.
Many other factors affect turfgrass growth. Growing environments, soil conditions, application of growth regulators, applications of plant protectants and applications of fertilizer play a huge role. Anything that affects turf growth will in turn affect green speed. In the Turfcare Department we are constantly juggling these maintenance practices with the weather to maximize playability and maintain consistency the best we can. Despite the science, training, equipment and experience it is impossible to maintain consistent putting green speed everyday of the season.
The question is why would you want it to be the same everyday? Adjusting your game to the set up and the course at hand is what the game of golf is all about. The golf course is a living thing and it changes everyday. Being outside in nature is what draws people to the game. Varying how the course plays through set up and how one has to adjust one’s game based on playing conditions is what makes the game interesting and challenging. So next time you think about green speed maybe think a little about all the pieces that put that puzzle together.
        We are heading into fall, which is arguably the best time of year for golf. It is also the time of year for turf maintenance practices. We will be continuing to aerate fairways this fall. Please be patient with the Turfcare staff and allow them to clear an area before you play into it. This fairway aerating has been a huge help in greatly minimizing the amount of days we have to be cart path only, so please be patient.
Matt Blackburn
Golf Course Superintendent
*references from “Why Can’t Green Speeds Remain Constant”, USGA Course Care, June 17, 2016.

August Course Report

Course Report

August 2017

The course is drying out even with irrigation. We need a good day of steady rain. We still have water in the pond but we are being cautious of how we use it. We are doing lots of hand watering to make sure the water gets directly where it is needed. The greens moisture has been perfect, keeping them firm but still receptive.

We were seeing a negative effect, in the heat, from the growth regulator we use to slow the growth of the turf. This is a major tool in maintaining high green speeds. We had to pull this product from our program during the hot weather and high humidity in mid to late July. We also had to give the greens a little push with some fertilizer to aide in recovering from the damage. I’m sure nobody probably noticed the damage but we are pushing the greens pretty hard and therefore we are watching them very close. This push in growth caused a drop in green speed compared to June and early July. However, the greens were still putting over nine feet on the stimpmeter. The greens at this year’s Nova Scotia Amateur were reading just over nine feet.

We seemed to have turned the corner and the greens are back up to their normal speed. The high heat seems to have passed and the greens were in great condition for the Club Championships. With rain in the forecast this week all the turf may get a bit of a breather. If you notice brown spots in the fairways please make and effort not to drive through them. In the heat the carts will further damage the turf.

We are in the process of constructing new tee markers. We have been working at them on and off when we get time between our daily tasks.

We are very pleased with the participation in the divot filling program. With a small staff and lots to do it has been a huge help having golfers filling their divots with the sand bottles.

I had to return to the club one evening last week to put out a smouldering fire in the woods. This was most likely cause by an arrant cigarette butt. If you are smoking on the course please be cautious of where your cigarette butts end up. Last week could have easily turned into a bad situation.

There is still lots of golf left, so enjoy the amazing stretch of weather and get out and enjoy the course!

Matt Blackburn

Golf Course Superintendent

Maintenance Update

Maintenance Update July 25th

Update on Goals for the 2017 Season

Faster Greens
Our greens have been consistently firmer and faster than last year. We are rolling more, mowing and rolling in combination more and we are mowing at a lower height than at any point last year.

Bunkers
We have finished redistributing sand in the greenside bunkers. We have finished edging the greenside bunkers. We are still hand raking the greenside bunkers.

Proactive Fungicide Applications
We are staying on schedule with our applications and the greens are healthy.

Annual Bluegrass Control
We have applied both applications of annual bluegrass control to the fairways. We have one application on the tees and the second one is going on this week. All greens and collars have been spot sprayed. These are the yellowish spots on the greens.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Blackburn,
Golf Course Superintendent

Maintenance Update

As we head into the heart of the summer the course continues to be in great shape. With this comes added traffic on the course. Please remember to properly repair you ball mark and one other. This will help us as we strive to provide firm, smooth and consistent greens. Also remember that when we get some hot spots on the fairways it helps to stay off of these areas with carts. If it’s brown, go around.

On a disappointing note, we are still having an issue with large divots on the collars and the greens. This is not proper golf etiquette. Please respect the course so we can continue to keep the course’s play ability high quality.

Thank You

Take advantage of the summer and enjoy the course.

Tee it high and let it fly!

Maintenance Update

I hope everyone has been able to get out and enjoy the course by now. The weather has been a challenge but it looks like things are starting to turn around and summer may finally be here.

            The course is in great shape, however we are still striving to make our product even better. In this area we ask for your help on a couple of issues. We would like to have the carts enter the fairways at 90 degrees from the path. This means after you hit your tee shot follow the cart path until you are even with your ball and then enter the fairway. It would be helpful if after you hit your second shot you returned to the path, but we realize that it is not always practical depending on where you have hit your ball. This allows us to remove a lot of the pegs that are at the beginning of the fairway. It results in a cleaner look, more productivity from the guys mowing not having to move pegs, less fertilizer applications to keep these wear areas healthy and it spreads out the traffic entering the fairway. With this practice we are also making every effort to let the carts enter the fairways unless it is extremely wet.

            We would also ask that you repair your ball mark and one other on the greens. A great golf shot is not complete until you fix your ball mark.

            We have had great participation with our sand bottle program. We are constantly adding more bottles to the program to do our best to make sure there are always fresh bottles available. This has really made a difference with the fairway divots and has lightened the load for us and allowed us to finish them quickly and move on to other things, so thank you!

            This year we will again strive for firm and fast conditions on the greens, approaches and fairways. This will always result in some browned out turf, but remember that brown is just a color. Always ask what the turf plays like not how it looks.

           Weather permitting we will begin our annual bluegrass control on the fairways this week. We have already started this on greens and tees. Annual bluegrass is the type of grass that was lost two winters ago at many other courses. We will continue to control it to keep the purest stand of bentgrass that we can. Having a pure stand of bentgrass puts us in the best position heading into winter. You may see this grass when you play starting to yellow out on greens, tees and hopefully soon on fairways.

            As always, if you have any issues feel free to contact me for an explanation or clarification, 574-0220

 

Tee it high and let it fly!

 Matt Blackburn

Golf Course Superintendent