The rapidly changing weather patterns this week could be some cause for concern, but we will have to wait and see.  We have received 0.80 inches of rain in the last 24 hours and currently it is over 50 degrees.  All of the great snow I posted about earlier has melted away and only the large piles of snow remain.  0.80 inches of rain is not a lot, but combine that with the snow that was on the ground and consider that the ground is still frozen and you are left with a lot of water on the surface.  I was out walking around today and there is a significant amount of water on the surface.  The pond on 17 has overflowed its banks and is running onto the 16th fairway.  With the temperatures that are predicted from tonight through Sunday, all the water that is on the surface will freeze.  There are some situations where this could cause problems.  If some of the water that is available now is taken up by the plant, then freezes as a result of the temperatures tonight, this could cause the cells in the plant to burst and kill the plant.  Right now the turf is hardened off well and we did not have warm enough temperatures (for long enough) to cause the plant to take up moisture.  Also, when this extra water on the surface freezes it will cause a layer of ice to form.  Turfgrass can survive for a period of time under ice.  Last winter we had an extended period of ice cover in many areas (Winter on the Course-Ice Cover) and only one area resulted in the death of grass (Seen Around the Course - this link also shows how much more susceptible annual bluegrass is ice cover).  We don't expect any damage from this, but we will not know until after the weather moves through.
The snow that was on the course earlier this week provided excellent conditions for cross country skiing and snowshoeing.  However, much of it has melted away with the light rains and warmer weather we have had this week. Here are a few pictures from my walk around earlier this week.

The fence along Chicago Avenue was damaged a few weeks ago when slick road conditions resulted in a car sliding off the road and into the fence.  Part of the damage included 2 of the new arborvitaes that were planted along the fence.  One of them has been broke at the base and will need to be replaced.  The other arborvitae has been displaced but remains in tact.  After the ground thaws in the spring we hope to be able to set it back upright without any further problems.

Congratulations to Pete and Kari who are just down the road at Benedictine University for being awarded with the Sports Turf Managers Association Field of the Year honors for their baseball and softball fields!  Pete Charcut is the Benedictine University Grounds Manager and Kari Allen, CSFM is the Sports Fields Manager.

Benedictine's athletic fields are the best in the country, STMA says

2010 STMA Field of the Year Award winners named

A great short article from the USGA outlines the basics of putting green health.

The Putting Green Performance Pyramid
The Green Department has now set up a Twitter account that we will slowly begin to utilize.  Our name on Twitter is "nccgreens" if you want to follow us.  The link at the top of the blog's home page will take you to our account on Twitter also.
Many of the members have already taken advantage of the snow on the course for their winter activities.  The course is available in the winter time for sledding and cross country skiing.  Of course we do have one request-please avoid traffic on the greens.

Our coyotes has been enjoying the empty course.  We have seen them several times this winter.
Before the snow came we were able to make more progress on the cart path near the 8th green and 9th tee.  The area was fully excavated and the soil was piled in the dump.

Here is a picture of the base layer of stone being added.  Though I don't have a picture, the addition of this layer of stone was completed.

We will not do any further work on this path until spring.  At that time we will pack done the base layer and add the red gravel to the top.
Early this past summer the potential dangers that lightning possess for trees became obvious when we lost a tree on the left side of 2 fairway. Previous posts:

     Losing a Tree
     Some Aftermath from the Rain

Last week lightning protection was installed on a few trees on the course.  These trees were part of an ongoing effort to install protection on what the club has identified as key trees on the course.  These key trees are considered prominent features of the course.  There are several trees throughout the course that have now been completed.

The lightning protection on a tree involves routing cables from the top down the trunk and into the ground surrounding the tree.

The cable are buried in the ground in a line extending away from the tree.  The tree in these pictures is the Elm left of the 13th fairway.
Today we began the installation of a cart path left of the 8th green.  This path will allow us more opportunity to direct carts through the area and keep the turf in better condition during the summer.

We have started by excavating about 6 inches of soil.  After the soil is removed, a stone base layer will be put down and compacted.  We will wait until spring to add the red gravel to the top and finish the path.

We have received our first snow of the year.  It was not a significant amount, and it did not stick around after it stopped snowing.

This winter we will have turf covers on the putting green and on a portion of the driving range tee.  Turf covers can be used to help prevent winter injury, and keep soil temperatures a little higher which allows for more rapid green-up in the spring.  These are plastic covers that consist of holes to allow for water and air movement through the cover.  Their greatest benefit for us comes when they create a greenhouse effect over the turf to trap heat and keep the soil temperatures higher.  The increased soil temperatures will allow for more growth earlier in the spring.

We covered the putting green to continue to aid in the recovery of the areas that were sodded and overseeded earlier this year.

The covers were put on the driving range tee to help with the divot recovery.  We do not anticipate these covers will allow us to open the tee sooner.  However, when we do open the tee next spring, we hope to have more of the divots healed from this year.
The irrigation system winterization was completed with no problems this year.  More detailed information about the system winterization can be found on last year's post about the same topic: Winterizing the Irrigation System.

Here are more pictures of the drainage work at the bottom of 2 fairway.

This drain in the 4th fairway is located around the drainage basin near the green.  This area is rarely able to sufficiently dry.  Aside from being located around a drainage basin, it is also shaded.  Being near the green causes this area to be in play regularly.  Our hope is that the extra drainage will catch the surface water as it runs towards the drainage basin and move it underground quicker.

A project we worked on throughout the fall involved raising areas in the fairways and roughs where drainage lines and irrigation lines had settled since the project.  These spots created a bumpy ride in the carts and could have resulted in an unwelcome lie in the fairways.  This project will likely continue in the spring as well.

More of the drainage that has been completed was done in the 4th fairway in the valley beyond the fairway bunkers.  This area did hold water for a while longer after rains.  It was not a larger amount of water, because of that, a smaller drain was used.  Here are some pictures of the progress.

Our most anticipated drainage project this fall was at the bottom of 2 fairway.  In the spring this area is regularly roped off and again after rain events through the season.  Because the area remains wet at times, we may be forced to skip mowing it.  This also made for very poor playing conditions in a prominent spot on the hole.

This area is also the final stop for flood waters that collect in the floodway after large rains.  The only way to ensure the flood waters drain rapidly is to keep the existing drain clean.  The drain we installed in the fairway will help with the surface water that remains in the low area after rain events or the major flood waters retreat.

Our fall fertilizer applications have all been completed.  As we normally do, a bulk truck applied the fertilizer in the fairways and the roughs.  It is very convenient to have this done.  The bulk totes of fertilizer were dropped off first thing in the morning. The truck arrived about 2 hours later and began fertilizing.

Here is the link to the post about fall fertilization last year: Fertilization Finale

Here are the reasons for the fall fertilization application copied from last year's post:

"The late fall application is an important application for the health of the turf through the winter months, as well as green-up when the cold temperatures break in the spring time. The timing of the application is the most important aspect of this application. The goal is to spread the fertilizer after the grass has stopped growing, and the last mowing; but, before the ground begins to freeze. Though the leaves above ground have stopped growing for the year, the roots will continue to be active until the ground becomes frozen. This means the roots will be able to take in the nutrients from the fertilizer application, and instead of utilizing the energy for growing leaves, it will us the energy to grow roots and store nutrients. These stored nutrients become important when the turf starts to grow again in the spring. The stored energy allows the turf to green up sooner in the spring, and begin to grow out of the winter dormancy quicker."
Nov. 5, 2010 Scouting Report
It's November Already: Illinois is dry, Irrigation turned off, Lows are 20-something, Tim says ASA-CSSA-SSSA, and Nick's new word is Favicons. 

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle -
Cold! Monday through Wednesday on Sunshine Course was plain cold. I was not exactly feeling it - I found myself sleeping on the Queen Mary while attending a meeting in California. Tim's emails of weather data showed me 27, 24 and 25 were recorded as lows those 3 days in Lemont, Ill. I quickly realized our first round of consistently cold temperatures had come to pass in Chicago. My dismal two finger count of hard frosts for October (lows below 30 degrees) was over. In quick sucession I put up three more fingers on the QM as we turned another page. You see, the second-to-the-last-month-of-the-year had begun. Meanwhile in California, their cool looking weatherman on TV were saying "...95 degrees today." I couldn't help but think Long Beach turf managers were handwatering that day while in the freezing 'North' irrigation is necessarily OFF. 

Without a heavy jacket, feeling a little guilty, I would board a little red bus each morning to attend the International Crop Science meeting. Much of my time was spent looking at posters related to turf science - go figure. "Freezing Tolerance..." in the title caught my eye more than once. I thought of the 300 x 18 golf greens in Chicago that had better be hardening off at a cellular level by accumulation of sugars and salts. Recent winters had been harsh and plants, (Poa annua here) were going to need that antifreeze. Winter 2010-2011 is on deck. Cold? 

Click here to view the complete Nov. 5, 2010 Scouting Report. 

This weekend we are to prepare for THE big warm-up?

Derek Settle, PhD 
Director of Turfgrass Program 
Chicago District Golf Association 
11855 Archer Ave 
Lemont, IL 60439
After the wet spring we had, several drainage projects were put into the plans for this fall.  The first project completed was the smallest.  This project is on the left side of 12 fairway.

Drainage was completed here before when a catch basin was installed to collect water from the rough before it made it to the fairway.  After big rains we notice that water from the fairway would run toward the catch basin of the edge of the fairway then turn back to towards the middle of the fairway and run another 40 yards to a drain in the fairway.  All we needed to do to collect that water was lower the grade at the edge of the fairway to get the water to run into the rough to the basin, and prevent it from moving back into the fairway.

The project involved stripping away the sod and digging out some of the grade and rolling the sod back out.

The sod rolled back into place.
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