The unseasonably warm weather we have been experiencing is showing on the course.  The color of the grass is holding its green later into the year.  The soil temperatures, rain and sun have created some growth of the grass also.  On a walk today, the fairways have noticeably grown since our last mowing of the year.  It is not hard to find patches in the fairways like this patch in the picture.  Of all this talk about unseasonably warm weather, last year at this time we had 50 degree weather and almost an inch of rain.  However, we had already received about 8 inches of snow by this time.

This picture shows how green the grass is in the fairways.
The water was off to the clubhouse for a short time yesterday and into today.  A leak in the pipe between the well and clubhouse had developed.  We noticed something was wrong and had been troubleshooting the problem for several days.  The pipe was dug up yesterday when the leak was revealed in a fitting coming out of the well.  It has been fixed and the water in the clubhouse is back to normal.
The frost on the ground this morning looks like all the white Christmas we can hope for.  Temperatures in the 40 look like a regular thing over the next week.  No news on the ice rink for a few more weeks.  We are working on a "year in review" post that I hope to have up by the end of the year.  Here are a few pictures of the course this morning.  All of us at the Green Department wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Our annual equipment maintenance has been underway for a few weeks now.  We started with a thorough cleaning after the equipment is done with its work on the golf course.  Once that is completed we bring it inside for greasing, cleaning and changing of filters and fluids, then sharpening the blades.  All of the equipment has been cleaned and we are moving on to the detailed maintenance for each piece of equipment.  Here, Mario is removing the blades from one of the Sidewinders that we use to mow around the fairway and between the tee and fairway.

Here are a few of our reel cutting units that have been removed and are ready for Greg to rebuild and sharpen for next year.
Today we are at the Midwest Golf House in Lemont for the first of 2 days of education. Tim will be part of a panel this morning and Steven will be speaking with a group about using social media to communicate with golfers.

We have Google Analytics set up for the blog which allows us to watch the traffic that come through the blog.  Here is a list of the 5 most popular post that are on the blog.

1. VERTICUTTING - From May 16th, 2010

2. INVITATIONAL PREPARATION - From June 11th, 2011


4. CICAGA KILLER WASPS - From July 29th, 2010

5. DISEASE IN THE ROUGH - From August 3rd, 2011
The ice rink has been assembled, filled, and is beginning to freeze for the year.  We can not speculate yet on when the rink will be ready for use.  We just have to play the waiting game at this point.

Our trials and tribulations of our first at-bat with the ice rink last year were well documented.

Ice Rink Is Nearing Completion

Ice Rink Problems

We were much farther through winter before we decided to put one in.  Though it was constructed properly, our timing could have been better.  A few days after it was constructed the blizzard came through, and the weight of the snow on the partially frozen ice forced water up from underneath creating a slushy mixture which them froze.  We were unable to get the surface smooth again.

This year the ice is much farther along that is ever was last year.  We still have pockets in the ice that are not frozen and will need more time for the surface to freeze solid.  We will then work at putting a smooth coat on the surface to make it ready for skating.  Keep checking back for more updates.
We spent this morning removing the first snow from the sidewalks this season.  It was not a lot, and with the sun out today, will likely melt off quick.  This year doesn't deviate from our usual schedule of 1st-2nd week of Dec. for seeing snow.  In 2009 the first snow was Dec. 1st, and 2010 the first snow was Dec. 6th.

Our winter preparation checklist is complete for the year.  We are now in the process of beginning our seasonal maintenance on the equipment, starting with a thorough cleaning.

The drainage project on 11 fairway is now complete.  A heavy layer of topdressing was applied to the fairway when the project was completed.  One objective for the heavy topdressing is to protect the turf through the winter (like was done for the greens).  The sod that was laid will not have a chance to root this fall, so any extra protection will help.  This fairway was very heavily traffic with our equipment during this project as well.  This topdressing will aide the recovery of any weakened plants in the spring.  This picture shows a turf blanket down the middle which will remain through the winter.  The purpose of the blanket is the same as the heavy topdressing.  The blanket just add more protection.
The first attempt at burning the ESAs on Friday was unsuccessful.  The ESA areas are not far enough into their dormancy for them to burn effectively.  The amount of smoke coming from the ESA in this picture shows there is too much moisture in them to burn the way we need them to.

We consult with a company called Pizzo and Associates for all of our management of these areas, and this company also performs the burn.  We will continue to monitor these areas to decide when an appropriate time will be.  After the rain this past weekend, it will most likely be spring before the ESAs will be ready.

Here is a link to past posts about ESA burn:

ESA Burn

ESA Burn Almost Complete

ESA Burn Completed
This past weekend was the last weekend for the greens this season.  We put the temporary cups in play today, and ask that you avoid traffic on the greens until the spring.  During the cold weather, we do not want to subject the turf to any stress that it will not be able to recover from while dormant.  Also, traffic on frozen or partially frozen greens can cause significant tissue and/or root damage.

Here is a link to a good article from the USGA Green Section about traffic on frost or frozen ground: Playing Par With Jack Frost

We are also applying a layer of topdressing to the closed greens today.  This topdressing will be slightly heavier that the regular topdressing we apply through the golfing season.  The purpose of this topdressing is to act as a blanket for the greens through the winter.  The sand will provide a layer of protection from the wind when the greens are not covered with snow.
11 fairway is slowing beginning to look like it did before we began throwing soil with the trencher 4 weeks ago.  3 days of rain delayed work the second week into the project, and rain with Thanksgiving last week delayed more progress.  Our original projection of 2 weeks turned into 4 weeks.

Other than the weather delays, the project did go as planned.  We did add 2 more drainage basins to the originally planned 2 for a total of 4 basins on the main line of the drain pipe.  All laterals went in as planned.  One irrigation line was broken during the work, and that occurred while trying to dig around the pipe by hand - a notable accomplishment considering irrigation lines were crossed more that 30 times!

We are currently finishing up sodding the laterals, and anticipate having this project completed and ready for winter by the end of the week.  We are already beginning to see the benefits of the drainage tile.  This fairway was showing none of the usual signs of receiving 1.25" of rain this past weekend.
We have spent the last 2 weeks working towards closing the course for the winter and our list is about checked off.
  • irrigation system winterization was started on Wednesday and completed on Friday.
  • our final spray for snow mold was completed yesterday.
  • all benches, ball washers and trash cans are off the course.
  • the Halfway House is winterized and closed for the year.
  • the temporary cups are cut in the approaches, but the greens will remain open for a short while longer.
  • we are still battling a few persistent leaves from the oak trees at this point, but most of those leaves are on the ground now.
  • we are still working on the drainage project in 11 fairway - look for an update on the blog this week.
  • the ice rink is being constructed now, we will let you know when it is ready for skating.
  • cart usage has been suspended for the year.
It does not appear there will be many golfing days left this year.  If you do plan to play, there are no amenities on the course at this time.  All drinking fountains and restrooms are winterized.  All benches, ball washers, trash cans, tee markers and signs are off the course for the year.

Snow Is Up Next: Weekly Updates Conclude, Winter Conferences and Education Begins and Tim ends by saying "Winter Research Project" 

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle -

It's cold. In a week we saw nights drop to 20˚ F, their lowest yet on Sunshine Course. We've now stopped field scouting as the growing season has ended. The basis of the weekly Scouting Report is to keep superintendents abreast of what we see and do. In 2011 we wrote a total of 36 reports which ran from 18 Mar to 18 Nov. Diagnostics: Using an education with an emphasis on plant pathology I said things like Tufts, Rings, Spots, Patches and in this difficult summer I said Kitchen Sink. Research: Some E=MC2 (energy is equal to mass times the speed of light squared). Actually, it's just turf but it is complicated and can be diffiucult to understand as it encompasses genetics, plant science, entomology, plant pathology, weed science, and plant physiology. This year some of what Tim had to say included, Agrostis stolonifera, Poa annua, Poa pratensis, Festuca arundinacea, Digetaria spp., Zoysia japonica, Sclerotinia homoecarpa, Rhizoctonia solani, Waitea circinata var. circintata, Sclerophthora macrocarpa, and Photorespiration. Weather: We look at weather daily to understand effects on pest development, plant physiology and overall environmental conditions. I said things like ET, High T, Low T, Soil T, Inches, and in this growing season I said Flood. We're about to say Snow and so the Scouting Reports now conclude. Thank you for your support in 2011 as we really needed it. P.S. Enjoy your holidays! 

Click here to view the November 18, 2011 Scouting Report. 

Even though it was difficult...we enjoyed another growing season. I hope you did too! 

Derek Settle, PhD 
Director of Turfgrass Program 
Weather Blog 

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS 
Manager of Turfgrass Research 
Research Blog
We are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel with the drainage project on 11 fairway.  Last week's weather only allowed us a few hours of work on Monday before the rain started.  A little under 2 inches of rain forced us to stop work on project until the area was dry again.  We were back at it again yesterday, and feared the chance of rain could prevent more progress this week.  Luck has been on our side so far this week and we hope it doesn't run out.  We were able to get in a full day yesterday and will be at the project all this week.

Work on this project is slower this week due to a small crew.  About half of our staff is done working for the season.  We are also still battling some persistent leaves around the course which takes at least 3 people to keep up with.

If we can avoid setbacks from the rain or equipment problems, it appears we will have the pipe, gravel, and sand in the ground by the end of the week.  Sod work on the lines will be left to complete at that point.

This has been a long and detailed project to complete in-house, but the results will be well worth the effort.  There will be a noticeable difference in the playability of the fairway after rain.
Triple 11 is Good Luck Somewhere? First Snow, Few Issues, Hindsight is 20/20, and Tim says Scleropthora macrospora 

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle -

It snowed in northern Illinois! It was what we had been waiting for - all around first reports had occurred. In Chicago early November had been cruising along with few periods of frost, but on Thursday all would change when clouds combined with freezing tempertures would deliver a more solid substance. For most Midwesterners it was nothing new and reports of snow had already occurred in Wisconsin and south in places like Kansas. Old Man Winter now has at least one foot in the door, but we're ok. Golf courses have been diligent in preparations for winter and most deciduous trees are now without leaves. It's just the few maples and elms that continue to linger with a golden canopy, not to mention those stubborn oaks. Still, outdoors a few color standouts remain like the bright reds of burning bush, Euonymous alata, and the usual splash of green courtesy of dormant turf. We'll continue to see some color until snowcover, but it's always amazing to see the speed by which our landscape becomes a monochrome of browns and grays. 

As far as scouting and research goes - not too much to say this week. We put out final applications on a study for selective removal of Poa annua from bentgrass, but we'll have to wait until next spring to get a good estimate of what worked. In the meantime final research reports are going out and, at times, I clog my email. When will I ever learn to use fewer images? 

Click here to view the November 11, 2011 Scouting Report. 

Have a good weekend and... is it really time to begin embracing snow again? 

Derek Settle, PhD 
Director of Turfgrass Program 
Weather Blog 

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS 
Manager of Turfgrass Research 
Research Blog
We have a heavy frost today, and 28 degrees.  This will be a longer frost delay.  First tee times could be pushed back towards 10:00.
The weather had the drainage work on 11 stalled this week, so we turned our efforts towards getting the accessories off the course for the winter.  Only a few trash cans and ball washers remain for any late season golfers.  All signs, boundary stakes, and tee markers have be brought in for the winter as well.  We closed the driving range tee this week and are almost finished filling the divots and having it ready for the winter.

The rain earlier this week has stopped the drainage work on 11 for a few days.  We received just under 2 inches of rain for the week.  The rain was heavy enough to allow us to get pictures of how the water moves across the fairway on 14 and down towards the approach.  This will be the next area that a large drainage project is done.

This picture illustrates why 14 approach is often wet.

Leaf clean up has been the concentration today.  The rain and heavy wind this week did a wonderful job of getting the majority of the leaves that were left in the trees onto the ground.  We will be working on cleaning leaves all of today and into tomorrow.  We feel like the fairway on 11 will be dry enough to allow us to revisit the drainage project tomorrow.
It's November: Earthworms, Morning Frosts, Very Few Issues and Tim says Zoysia japonica 

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle -

Weatherwise we've seen it all in 7 days from snow to unseasonable warmth. Last weekend, folks to our east got a sneak preview of winter when a significant storm caused power outages and left a blanket of snow that measured more than a few inches. Meanwhile, Illinois continued to enjoy a relatively normal period and, if you looked up, you could see peak fall color of many decidous trees like maples, oaks, ginkos, elms, sweetgum, and hawthorns. Our first series of freezing nighttime temperatures had occurred prior to Halloween to change the landscape - annual flowers are now largely gone. Then it was November, and the first two days surprised us (Tuesday's high on Sunshine Course reached 65˚ F). Midweek, this meant good opportunity to visit a few courses without a jacket. I saw extensive drainage projects were now complete. I appreciated the sucessful establishment of slit-seeded bentgrass seedlings on fairways previously flooded during summer. I noticed tees were now without markers and other amenities for golfers. Lastly, I would see the activity of an earthworm or two, but mainly I would capture images of peak turf health as well as beautiful fall color of tree leaves. At season end, our weather favors photosynthesis of cool-season turfgrass which allows accumulation of sugars/carbohydrates. You sense the natural hardening off of plants prior to winter and you realize the significance - like a mother putting children to sleep, with final inputs we are now putting the landscape to bed. 

Click here to view the November 4, 2011 Scouting Report. 

Have a good weekend and enjoy some of that fall color I keep writing about! 

Derek Settle, PhD 
Director of Turfgrass Program 
Weather Blog 

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS 
Manager of Turfgrass Research 
Research Blog
Just a reminder that today is the last day for the driving range and chipping area. We will begin the winterization of these areas tomorrow.
We are starting Saturday morning with a frost delay.  It is patchy frost at the moment.  We will get a better idea about the length of delay after the sun comes up.
We do have a frost delay for Friday.  Look for first tee times to be a little after 9:00am
I do the posting about the work getting done on the course, but this is the group that gets the work done.  We are fortunate to have a group of guys that show up everyday and work through rain and heat to get done what needs to be done.  All of our crew returned from last year, and we hired one new employee for the summer months.

Name, years of service; Back row L to R:

Torres, 16 years
Antonio, 5 years
Juan, 4 years
Gustavo, 2 years
Inocente, 2 years
Cesar, 12 years
Conrado, 15 years
Adolfo, 2 years
Samuel, 4 years
Marcial, 6 years
Greg, 37 years
Armando, 8 years
Steven, 3 years
Tim, 7 years

Front row, L to R:

Mario, 8 years
Porfirio, 17 years
Alejandro, 4 years
Emilio, 7 years
Conny, 17 years
Ramon, 6 years
Joel, 6 years

Not pictured:
Chris, was our new hire during the summer months, 1 year.
Juan (left), 7 years. 2011 was the last year Juan worked with us.  He suffered a stroke in the middle of the season.  He has recovered, but unfortunately without his speech, and is unable to return.

Last Thursday we had our end of the year party, across the street at Pepe's.

11 fairway has always been one of the worst areas on the course after rains.  The edges of the fairway slope towards the center, and there is significant grade sloping towards the tee.  This concentrates the surface drainage into the center of the fairway and to the lower part of the fairway.  Though the surface grade is steep enough for water to drain, the size of the water shed is too large.  As a result, too much water gets concentrated to too small an area, and wet conditions persist.

Here is a picture of the 11th fairway during a heavy rain.

There is a main line that runs up the center of the fairway that laterals will connect to.  The laterals will run out to the edge of the fairway.

You can see the lines painted for the laterals in this picture.

There will also be 2 catch basins on the main line to grab the surface water that runs down the middle of the fairway during heavy rains.  The curve in the main line is there to follow the path of the surface water as it runs down the fairway.

The drain will run into the edge of the pond on 17.  There will be around 5000 feet of pipe installed in the fairway for the project.

As always, we will keep you updated with our progress on the drain.  We are expecting it to take us 2 weeks, or more depending on the weather.  While we are working on it we would ask that you play hole 11 as a par 3 from the temporary tee in the fairway.
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