Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Green Changes in July

With the Invitational tucked away nicely in June, we have made changes to our greens practices for the month of July and into August which contribute to a much healthier plant and hopefully no turf loss during this very stressful period.  These changes are to protect our plants from potential devastating damage that could take the rest of the season to heal and greatly effect your experience at the club.  The lack of fans for air circulation throughout the course and no drainage in our greens creates issues during the heat of summer and I act accordingly to protect our most valuable resource.    

After the 4th of July weekend, we raised our mowing height .005 thousandths of an inch which is slightly taller than the thickness of a strand of hair which averages about .004 thousandths of an inch.  We have been given some great growing weather over the last few weeks but we are still on guard against the potential for damage.  Higher temperatures and saturated conditions are our biggest fear but the stress that being mowed, stepped on, sun baked, and every nasty disease known to turf is looking for its first opportunity to spring an invasion and spread its kind!  Besides the increase in height, below are a few other things we do to insure we get through the summer season without damage.

We have been able to top dress our greens a couple of times during this period but do use a little less sand. I resist the temptation to brush or groom the grass during higher temperatures.  Tearing and or scratching the leaf blades can lead to damage and the plant is forced into injury management which diverts needed resources away from breathing, perspiring and food production which are essential for a plant to live.

Our greens were opened up in late June in preparation for hot weather with a needle tine venting.  We plan to hydroject the greens on Monday which should open them up and allow for gas exchange and improve water penetration and evacuation if necessary.  Milder nights have allowed for our root systems to be in pretty good condition for this time of year which is a good thing for plant health.

If we get sustained days of heat such as 7-10 days in a row well over 90, we would change our mowing practices to every other day and roll on the other days which keeps the greens rolling consistently.  Cutting the plant is injurious and it reacts to heal itself just as if it were damaged.  Resources move from life supporting to damage control.

We also use Plant Growth Regulators(PGR) which slow the growth of the plant and will assist in ball roll and reduces the amount of energy required by the plant to survive.  Our goal is to not exhaust all the resources that the plant has stored in its cells before conditions change enough for it to provide energy to function. Exhaustion does not cause illness or disease but can open one's system up for attack.  Fungus and bacteria are laying in waiting to over run a turf plant's ability to resist invasion and also over run good organisms in the soil.  Can I here an amen from the Doctor's reading this blog!

Water resources are managed as closely as possible with hand watering being used to supplement the extra needs of the plant.  Excessive water applications overnight lead to soft conditions so we monitor our conditions regularly.  I utilize a moisture meter which has 3" probes and give us an average of soil moisture in the green.  Wet and soft conditions can increase the potential for mower damage, excessive wear, larger ball marks and outbreaks of disease.  It can also lead to turf that is more lush and susceptible to incidence of disease.

We also fertilize a little less and increase sea weed extracts and other elements to improve plant health.  Sea weed improves stress tolerance within the plant during heat stress events.  We also reduce our overall fertilizer applications because a majority of fertilizer is derived from salt.  Excessive salt within the plant attracts moisture making it not available for the plant to utilize.  The plant wilts and can die.  Also, excessive salt in the soil can clog or slow water from entering into a root.  Use of organic fertilizers due to their lower salt index is helpful during the summer stress season.

All season we manage mechanical damage by using solid rollers on our mowers instead of grooved rollers which can create wear damage on circling mowing(clean up cut).  The grooved rollers do give a tighter cut but the extra pressing does damage cells.

If the weather continues to stay mild, we will be able to change our cultural practices to a less protective manner and get a little more aggressive.  We can decrease our mowing height by that one hair width which will give you the greens in the late summer and fall that you have come to expect here at Glen Echo.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Long range tee closed Tuesday/Wednesday July 22-23

The long range tee will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday this week for construction.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may create.  Please use the short range for practicing.

Asphalt work completed

Fontana Paving was out yesterday to patch a couple of small areas on the course. Next to 3 green and at the bottom of 4 near the red tee.  106 feet of asphalt was pulled up, rock placed down and 3" of asphalt laid. We have these areas roped off for a couple of extra days.  The areas are roped off to keep cart and equipment traffic away from these spots.  Remaining funds from the bunker project paid for this work. The area on 3 was damaged during construction of the bunkers.  We still must do some dirt work and grade changes around these two areas.

Asphalt removed and rock being laid in place near 3 green.

Asphalt  being finished up before rolling.


#4 Finished

Monday, July 21, 2014

Golf Course Update

A number of things are happening on the golf course so below is your update.  I've done this in video format with a little music so enjoy the update.  This took a few hours to complete but will be much quicker in the future as I become more familiar with the set up.  I hope you've enjoyed the weather as much as we have on the grounds staff.  We are beginning to dry a little around the edges but we have been able to hold our water costs well below budget over the first two months of summer which is a good thing.  Of course that can change in just a few weeks if the rain stops.

I do need to mention a equipment hydraulic leak which many of you might have noticed if you've played over the last few days. Our surround mower which cuts our rough around our greens had a leak in a rear hose.  The operator went around 6,8,9 and 14 green before he saw the leak.  My hope is that since this is in mostly taller turf, we will have some damage but mostly just leaf die back and no suffocation type damage where the crown of the plant is saturated with oil.  The lines were probably less than an inch wide initially but did expand when he began to make some 3 point turns which caused more additional fluid to drop to the turf.  I would expect the heat over the next few days to bring the damage out more. If necessary, we will cut out any major loss of turf.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Effectiveness and necessity for tree root pruning

We have not completed all tree root pruning on the course but the areas which have been given this treatment are showing good results.
A decision was made many years ago to place a tree whose ultimate height could be 70-90' tall only 30' behind the green on #11.  The top picture shows the location of the tree and its proximity to the green.  The bottom picture shows the root pruning line that was completed less than 3 months ago.  The line was cut between the tree base and the green.  It does not take a turf professional's eye to see the vast improvement in plant health and vitality.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Great progress on Long Range Tee Today!

The staff made some good progress on the range tee today.  They were able to get 99.9% of the sod removed. Still have just a little bit along the creek side of the tee to trim away.  I fertilized the tee after they left to encourage the Bermuda to grow again and then we will spray it a second time with our mixture of killing material.

Hand removing material near sprinkler heads.

Tee is almost clear.

Pushing in piles and then pushing piles into loader and to the dump truck.

Course Report July 7th Long Range Tee Work Beginning

Long range tee work is beginning in earnest today with the removal of the first herbicide sprayed turf.
Check out the video below.

Tom pushing dead material into loader which places material in the dump truck for removal.  This is the edges of the tee in the tall grass where we intend to widen the tee on the edges and front.