No April Fools Joke!  Thursday, April 1st, the course will be ready!  Carts will be available, the driving range and chipping green will be open, and the halfway house will be open.  The abnormally warm weather has been good to the course.  The soil temperatures are rising quickly, and the grass is beginning to grow.  The partial crew we have had this week have gotten lots done, but still have more to do.

The spring flowers have arrived and are in place for the Easter weekend.


We have started our first round through the bunkers this year.  This job normally takes a few days to ready the bunkers after the winter neglect.  This job involves cleaning out the debris that has entered the bunker, then removing any soil that has settled at the bottom of the bunker.  After the contamination is removed, the sand is replaced from any washouts, then raked.

The course supplies are back on the course.  The benches, trash cans, ball washers and tee markers are back at home on the tees.  And, signs and target posts are back out.

Wednesday we made an application of gypsum to the fairways.  If you are out on the fairways this week, the white material on the fairways is the gypsum.



This material will break up quickly and shouldn't be very noticeable after a mowing.  The white streaks in the fairway are from the dust from this products.




Gypsum is calcium sulfate, and we use it to supplement our soil which is a little deficient in calcium.

The signs of summer are beginning to show at the Green Department this week.  About 2/3's of the crew started back today, and the balance of the crew will be back next Monday.  As usual on Mondays, we took advantage of the closed day to get some major jobs done.  We spiked and topdressed the greens, mowed the tees for the first time, removed the awning from the front of the clubhouse, began preparing the flower beds for the spring flower (which should be coming this week) and refilled the irrigation system.


Torres ran the aerator with needle tines across the greens today in an effort to help the soil dry and exchange some air after being saturated for so long.  Following Torres we topdressed and dragged the sand in with a brush.


The tees were mowed for the first time today and removing the old growth revealed lots of green grass underneath.  With the forecasted temperatures this week, look for the course to be much greener by next week.



Recharging the irrigation system was completed today with minimal problems.  Look for a post later in the week that will talk more about this.  We do not anticipate needing water soon, but it is ready to go when we need it.
The March 26 Turf Scouting Report from the CDGA is posted.  It includes more info on winter turf damage around the Chicago area.
The brick work on the columns was finished on Friday of last week and the work on the chimney at the clubhouse was done this week.  A sealer has applied to prevent water from damaging the brick again.

After several months, the greens are now back in play.  When deciding to open the greens in the spring, we wait for them to dry out enough from the winter thaws to better handle the traffic, and we want some green to return to the grass.

The first thing we do to the greens to prepare them for opening is mark the green margins with white dots.  After several months of no mowing there is much less distinction between the collar height and the green height.  We have a board cut the to width of the collar that we use as a guide from the bluegrass to determine where the edge of the green needs to be.  This is done several times through the summer also, but usually only is a few problem areas.  We will keep these white dots visible for a few weeks until the edge becomes more prominent.


The next step is to roll the greens.  When the moisture freezes in the soil it expands, just like anywhere else.  This causes the soil to be very soft after the intial thaw.  Running a roller over the greens settles the soil to prevent foot prints from showing on the greens.


Once the greens are rolled, they are ready to be mowed.  The first few mowings will be at a higher height than what we mow during the season.  With the soft soils in the spring, and the tall grass for the winter growth, it is possible to clip the grass too short if we mowed at the height we do in season.  As the soil settles and the grass begins to grow more rapidly, we will change to the height accordingly.

The prairie burn of the ESA's was completed on Tuesday.  The weather cooperated and the contractor, Tallgrass Restoration, Inc. was able to complete the area in front of 11 tee and the two mounds to the right of hole 10.  These areas will be black over the next few weeks until new growth begins to sprout.  This practice is recommended every two to three years.


And, a new picture for the title to get ready for the summer!
The newest Turf Scouting Report (March19) from Derek Settle at the CDGA is posted on the right column.

Today we started the process of opening the greens.  They will be open sometime this week.  Check back for the exact day.

Most of the areas that will be burned were completed today.  There was an unfavorable wind today that did not allow for the completion of the burn on the ESA in front of 11 tee, and the two areas south of hole 10.  The areas are black and will remain in that condition for a few weeks when new growth will begin to show.

These areas are burned as part of the managment of the ESA's required by the county.  Burning these areas removes the dead material from the previous year and allows more light to reach the surface and allow for new growth in the coming spring.

We hire a contractor, Tallgrass Restoration, to perform the burn for us.  They go through the necessary process of acquiring a burn permit, notifying residents and contacting the Naperville Fire Department before the burn can be done.  They also give recommendations on further management while they are on the property.


The burning is done by spreading the flame with flammables in sections across an area of the ESA. We had two of our employees with backpack sprayers of water to extinguish any stray flames that creep out of the ESA's.  The areas completed today included the ESA in front of 17 tee and around 17 pond, around 14 pond and in front of 18 tee.






The remaining areas will be done as the weather permits.
video
The prairie burn we do for our ESA's will be taking place today at 10:30am.  This was scheduled to be done in the fall, however the wet fall weather prevented it from taking place.  If you are coming to the course to enjoy the weather today, beware of the smoke.
Over the next few days there will be a crew working at the front entrance gate.  They will be repairing some deteriorating brick in the columns at the front entrance by cutting out damaged joints and bricks.  They will reused the bricks that are still good and replace the broken ones.  They will also be grinding back the mortar over the entire column and adding new to give a uniform apperance.



The columns had cracked in several spots as a result of water seeping into the mortar joints and brick over time.  Once water entered the joints, the freeze and thaw cycles cracked the bricks and mortar.  This allowed more water to enter which exacerbated the problem.  Once the repairs have been made, the columns will have a sealer applied to them to delay any future problems.

There is a spot on the chimney of the clubhouse that will receive the same treatment when the columns have been completed.
The most recent turf scouting report(March 12) from Derek Settle at the CDGA has been posted on the right.  Derek gives an update of the winter damage that has occured throughout the Chicagoland area as well as weather patterns through the winter.
After the sun and warm weather from last week, the only snow that remains are a few piles hiding in the bunkers.  I was able to get a few pictures while inspecting the winter damage last week.  Here is what we have found:

These two pictures are representative of what the rough looks like now. Pink snow mold is very widespread in the rough throughout the course, and is worse beneath trees. It is worse under trees as a result of the weakened turf due to the lack of sun exposure, as well as the higher populations of annual bluegrass. Annual bluegrass is a weaker turf and is more susceptible to disease.




This is a patch of active snowmold on the edge of the first fairway.





There are a few locations around the course that are showing where we missed a spot with our snowmold application.  All of these spots are in the fairways and will grow out of the damage when the weather begins to cooperate.

This spot shows the benefit of the fungicide application for snow mold we make in the fall.  This is near the tree in 15 fairway.  We will probably end up over seeding this area to aid with recovery.


The tees and fairways on the course look good and only show a few isolated spots where disease pressure was too high for the snow mold application that was made.  The few spots that do show symptoms of snow mold look like the following picture.

A close up:


The greens have made it through the winter safely.  All the greens look good and show now signs of disease.  We did have ice cover over a few of the greens for an extended period of time, but no signs of an ill-fate from that either.
The two dark spots on the 5th green mark the location where we monitored ice cover on the green:


I took these two pictures to show the benefits of selecting a good turf species for a golf course.  These pictures show the difference in resistance to snow molds among the older grass varieties and the new varieties that were planted during the renovation.  No snow mold control was applied to this location.

Aside from the rough, the course is in good shape after the winter weather.  The rough will recover from the snow mold damage when the weather is will to accommodate growing conditions.  It won't be long!  Be sure to check here for updates on course conditions while the weather warms.

SNOW MOLD

Snow molds are the diseases that can occur on turfgrass through the winter months.  There are two types of snow molds - pink snow mold and gray snow mold. 

Gray Snow Mold

Gray snow mold is the least common of the two, and rarely occurs in this area.  However, the amount of snow cover we have had this year may result in more occurances.  The key to gray snow mold activity is snow cover, and lots of it.  The longer the turf is under the snow, the more likely this disease is to become active.  If conditions are right for gray snow mold to become active, the results can be devistating.  Gray snow mold can kill large areas of turf, unlike pink snow mold which the turf can grow out of when conditions are better for turf growth.  Lengthy snow cover caused by the amount of snow, shade or north facing slopes give way for the possibility of gray snow mold.  An application of a fungicide, like we did in November, can help prevent the disease, but the fungicide will only last a certain length of time.  Locations that experience continuous snow cover for long periods of time, will remove snow from their greens and reapply a fungicide to help the greens through the rest of the winter.  You can image the labor required for that type of job, on a course in the mountains, that may be removing a few feet of snow off all the greens!  If gray snow mold does occur, it can require reseeding and a lengthy recovery time.

Pink Snow Mold

Pink snow mold is the disease we will likely see this spring.  Pink snow mold is more common, and thankfully, less devistating.  This type of snow mold does not require snow cover to become active and is very common in the early spring and late fall when no snow cover is present.  If the disease is present in the spring after the snow melts, most often the turf can recover after two or three weeks of good growing weather.
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