The 8th green has become home to a few cicada killer wasps.  We make an effort to control them as we see them.  These wasps become a nuisance because to the burrowing they do into the green.

Early in the morning we have been noticing piles of sand like this one.  The wasp is burrowing a tunnel into the green to lay eggs.  The wasp chooses the green to burrow because the light sandy soil is easy to burrow through.  You can see a wasp burrowing in the video on the home page of the blog.

The wasp is naturally called a "cicada killer" because it preys on the cicada.  The wasp stings the cicada to kill it, then moves the cicada into the tunnel it has just created on the green.  After the cicada is in the tunnel, the wasp lays its eggs on the cicada for the larva to feed on when they hatch.

This cicada was just off the edge of the green near the burrows.

Here is a picture of the start of a burrow.

The wasps are quite large as you can see in the picture.
The fountain is operational again.  Due to its history this year, I will make no speculations regarding how long it will be operational.
The tree work that has been underway this week is about to be finished.  7 trees have been removed, and their stumps ground out, as well as several other stumps were ground.

This picture shows a silver maple that was removed between 6 and 7.

After the stumps are ground, the hole is filled with soil.  These spot will be sodded, but not until later into the year.  If these spots are repaired now the likelihood of sod surviving this time of year is low.  Until then, these spot will be marked to play as "ground under repair."
Part 2 of the tree work started today and will continue.  The Maple tree at the entrance was removed today, as well as the lightning damaged tree on the left side of two.  There will be other trees on the course removed as well.  We will keep you up to date with pictures here.

As we began preparing the course for the final day of the Invitational on Saturday, the rain could not be ignored.  Rain on Friday night forced us to cancel our exhibition for the evening.  Rain on Friday night total 1.5 inches.  This rain in the picture from Saturday morning dropped another 1.25 inches.  The course was flooded most of the morning on Saturday.
The recent weather patterns which have brought along high temperatures and at times high humidity, deteriorated turf health, especially amongst the annual bluegrass populations in the fairway.  The greens and tees remain unharmed.  This decline in turf health left in vulnerable to a pathogen that thrives in temperatures of high heat and humidity.  That pathogen is pythium.  Late last week we began to see symptoms of the pathogen on our fairways.  Pythium is a very destructive disease due to its ability to spread very quickly.  Not only does it spread quickly, it results in death of the plant.

Pythium thrives under warm moist conditions, because of this, the hardest hit areas of the course are the low areas and areas around drains.  many areas will be able to grow back after the disease is stopped, others will need to been helped along with some seed.  On Monday, the 26th, a fungicide was applied to stop the disease progression, however many areas have already been affected.

The thin areas in the pictures are a result of pythium.  There are many areas on the course.  The hardest hit areas are 1 approach, 2 approach-in the low area, 9 fairway-in the low area and around the drain behind the fairway bunker on the right, 5 fairway-the hardest hit area on the course, and 11 fairway and approach.  Other fairways with some damage are 4, 6, 8 and 12.

For more information on pythium click here: Purdue University Disease Profile: Pythium

July 23, 2010 Scouting Report
A Brief Break: What me worry? The Kitchen Sink, Pythium blight, Fairy Ring, Summer patch, Brown patch, Dollar spot, Localized Dry Spot, Poa trivialis looks dead, Poa annua is dead, Tim's Biorational study and Nick says Mini-Rhizotron. 

Sometimes we just ask for a break - a break in the weather that is. This week it came. On Monday highs were about 5 degrees lower - we reached 86.5 degrees on Sunshine Course near the practice putting green in Lemont. We were thankful for cloud-cover and waited for the rain - it fell in central Illinois this time around. In response, average soil temperatures at a 2 inch depth dropped a digit below 80 degrees the next day. Natural root mortality should slow a bit... 

Today, we are told, may be our hottest day of summer, 2010. As I drove to work thinking of an early morning email from a Superintendent my eyes turned north just for a moment. Ominous thunderstorms were still probably flooding Wisconsin and parts of Northern Illinois and yet Chicago remained dry. My truck's outdoor temperature reading was 80 degrees at 8 am. Yep, it was to be a hot day. Summer and the dang forecasters continue to be right. So were we though, using experience and history turf professionals were expecting this one. But it hasn't been any summer. This one has remained consistently humid without regard to rainfall. During peak heat stress it is better to be dry. Superintendents will tell you there is no other important ingredient than water. There is not greater blessing, about mid-summer, to be in control of water. My other life, tenor who sings in a choir, will continue - come summer, might just answer a prayer or two.

Click here for the July 23rd Turf Scouting Report
The fountain in the pond on 13 was not left out of the storm damage from June 18th.  Multiple electrical problems have delayed its return to the pond.  It has been operational outside the pond, but not when returned to the pond.  After the most recent step in the repairs, the fountain is ready to return to the pond, an have arranged for the electrician to be present when we do.  Our next try at checking the fountains operation will be soon.
Some mid-season tree work has been underway.  This post addresses some pruning work that was done a couple of weeks ago.  The catalyst of this tree work was the storm that passed through on Friday, June 18th.  The storm left several branches hanging in the upper portions of the trees requiring a tree climbing crew to remove them.

Once the decision was made to bring a crew in, other trees that did not leaf out in the spring were included in the work (check Tree Work Part 2).

We suspect the ash tree on the right side of 2 approach was damaged during the storm, but it took another week for a large branch to fall.  When the branch fell, it damaged a large lower branch that had to be removed as well.  The top picture shows the lower branch being removed.

2 approach before the branch was removed from the ash tree.

After the branch was removed.

Other trees that were removed were located around the chipping area.  The tree with no leaves on the left was removed, the tree on the right will share the same fate soon.

After the tree has been removed.

This tree on the north side of the chipping area did not fully leaf out and was removed as well.

After the tree was removed.

The stumps of the trees are still in place.  After all the slated tree work is completed, the stumps will be removed and sodded over.

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle -
We have just weathered two storms.  Well, counting two long holiday weekends with difficult weather.  A superintendent with good insight reminded me of this week. And what will the third long holiday weekend bring – Labor Day? This humid Midwestweek, we continue to monitor unusual disease pressure caused by an especially warm summer.  Scouting of our big three (dollar spot, brown patch, and Pythium blight) went too well in a week.  However, in most cases, we handle diseases quite well given correctly-timed fungicides.  It is physiological decline that scares us most – heat-intolerant Poa annua our weak link turf-wise.  Our eyes got bigger as the weathermen’s oppressive predictions for a hot July continued to come true.  We logged a few more 90-plus days and now have less memory of summer’s 2008 and 2009 (a cool anomaly X 2).
More upsetting, we lost our cool nights this week – allows plant recovery/healing.  This has meant soil temperatures continued to climb.  At 2 inches below, rootzones are now topping 80 degrees on average – natural summer root mortality just accelerated. Beam me up Scotty?
July 9, 2010 Scouting Report
A Difficult Week: Letter of support, Lots of disease pressure, Poa annua greens decline, Wet fairways cook, Wilt and traffic injures roughs, Tim's fairy ring research, and Nick talks industry news 

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: 
The occasion was the 4th of July weekend. All were smiles, especially golfers. We all were finally experiencing an extended dry period since early May and turfgrass growth had finally slowed. Golf balls would move fast and true, without jump or wiggle. Meanwhile superintendents were bracing themselves - likely to be an aftermath. A big weekend of play coincided with an especially hot and LONG weekend. In total, we logged 4 straight 90+ degree days (Sunday to Wednesday) and our current running total, 7 days, just beat the 6 of 2009. We are to expect 18 hot days this summer (normal). 
Plants are adapted to growing zones and ours is "Cool and Humid." Therefore, a potential for physiological decline will always exist if temperatures remain hot - this week. With cool-season golf surfaces in the upper Midwest, it is just a plain fact that during peak summer heat respiration (energy use) exceeds photosynthesis (energy production). Nevertheless, golf continues largely unfazed by weekend decline and blemishes. Our next round is coming - July's 3rd week is always hot. Superintendents always make it look a lot easier - quickly adjust practices to optimize plant health. Up next...Round 2. - Derek Settle

Click here for the full report
A quick update on a previous post in early June: The days for the tree on the left side of 2 fairway are numbered.  The picture taken a little over a month ago shows many green leaves, this picture at the left was taken on Wednesday.  The condition of the tree wasn't great, but the lightning strike from early June has put it out of its misery.  Only a months time separates the two pictures, but now many of the leaves are down and those that are not have turned brown and are waiting their turn.  The tree has now become a safety hazard, making removal necessary.

Here is a picture of the leaves from 1 month ago.  You can also see some of the damage from the lightning strike.

The tree will be removed shortly.  I will keep you update with its removal, as well as other tree work that will be done at the same time.
This weeks Turf Scouting Report discusses some of the much needed dry weather we have received, however some superintendents are beginning to see the implications of a month of very wet weather.  Here is the July 2nd Turf Scouting Report.
The club continues to take advantage of a service offered by the USGA called the Turf Advisory Service.  The Turf Advisory Service or TAS visit was conducted on Tuesday this week.  Ty McClellan, USGA agronomist for our region visited, and followed up on details from the previous visit and make recommendations for the coming year.

Mr. McClellan was very positive regarding conditions of the course, and recommended to continue much of what has been put in place since the renovation project.

Some of the topics discussed included rough mowing patterns, creating more fescue areas like we have near 10 tee, fairway topdressing and possible tree removal due to health problems.

Mr. McClellan will create a report for the club discussing his findings.

Here is a link from the USGA discussing the TAS.

This week we tried to take advantage of the cooler temperatures to do some verticutting.  We preferred to accomplish this during the cooler temperatures because to the level of aggressiveness we wanted to take with the practice.  We used a new piece of equipment that will remove more material from the turf surface.  Our goals for the approaches was to stand up some of the grass that has been laid over from mowing the same stripe continuously in an effort to achieve the look we want.  This verticutting will be a usual practice with this mowing pattern.  Due to the level of aggressiveness we took, the approaches may look a little yellow or brown for a week to two weeks while the turf begins to fill in some of the areas where leaves were removed.  Even though the short-term results in some off color turf, the long-term benefits are well worth the effort.
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