Due to the wet weather this week, we were unable to get the rough mowed on our regular schedule. The rough will be long this weekend. If you keep the ball in the fairway, it should not be a problem.
April is Cloudy and Cold! Bentgrass Purples, Snow Falls, Sub 50 Degree Soils, and Tim talks Tall Fescue Green-up 

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle - 
Cold and Wet. A week ago, I praised the progress of spring. I was sure winter was completely behind us and, like many others, I was checking off the appearance of our earliest blooms in the landscape - Forsythia, check. Also, for the first time, all cool-season turfgrass had attained a nice uniform shade of green and a few trees had begun to leaf out. This week things changed. During the day we had to accept a dismal cold and wet weather pattern above our heads. At night hard frosts would return and Mother Nature even delivered one final snowstorm for good measure. The weathermen put it to us this way: "It's rained 14 of April's first 21 days--a fact not lost on many rain and cloud-weary Chicagoans." "April 2011 is tied with 1953 as the cloudiest APRIL on the books here. The month, with 9 days left and at least two additional wet storms in line to visit the Midwest, has already logged 3.25 inches of rain..." Tom Skilling blog 4-22-10 

Superintendents were in disbelief (emails, texts, and photos to me) as some measured 2-3 inches of snow on Monday, April 18. Still, there is no holding back all the seasons - Easter is Sunday! 

Click here to view the April 22, 2011 Scouting Report. 

Have a good weekend and Happy Easter! 

Derek Settle, PhD 
Director of Turfgrass Program 

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS 
Manager of Turfgrass Research 
The rain didn't want to stop this week.  We had 0.70" on Saturday morning, 0.80" on Monday morning, 0.68" on Tuesday morning, 0.26" this morning and almost 0.20" since we have been at work today.  Thankfully it looks like the bulk of the rain will be missing us to the south.  Our total for the week is still a little more than 2.5".

As I mentioned earlier, most of our time this week was spent on getting our bunkers in shape.  This involved trimming and pulling weeds around the edges, moving sand to provide a uniform depth and finishing up with a thin layer of fresh sand.  The bunker on the left was done and ready for a fresh layer of sand.

Here is a picture of the guys adding a fresh layer to the green side bunker on 9.
This was the soil temperature reading on 12 green yesterday morning.  Our weather station logged a low of 31.1 degrees last night which gave us a frost delay today and will bring the soil temperatures down a little more.  This will not injure the turf, but it will make for a slow start to the year.  Though the grass is green, at these temperatures, the grass is not growing.  Last year during the middle of April our soil temperatures were between 60 and 65 degrees which is a more ideal growing condition.

These cooler temperatures have given us the opportunity to get more little projects done rather than concentrating on mowing everyday.  We have been able to weed and prep our pine beds, chip a pile of limbs into mulch, clean the fence rows along the property lines and get our beginning of the season bunker work done.

This was the soil temperature reading on 15 green yesterday.  It forecast does not show a dramatic warm up, so it looks like this slow start will last another week.
If all the world's golf course putting greens had the ability to express the magnitude of their tortured existence - in a manner that could be recorded by the print and broadcast media, there would surely be a new Guinness Book of World Records mark for "Volume of Complaints from a Single Source."  I have chosen to speak for the greens.
Wouldn't you scream to high heaven if thousands of rock-hard golf balls speed from the sky each week - tearing into your outer skin, crushing your tender circulatory system, traumatizing your nervous system and leaving unsightly depressions that require about five days to heal if repaired immediately, or two weeks if unattended to?
Wouldn't you raise particular Cain if part of your daily regimen was to submit to being trampled and disfigured by ever-increasing hordes of thoughtless players - each of whose shoe-bottoms contain 24 half-inch metal spikes that are designed to prevent slipping on tees, fairways and roughs - but are not meant to be part of an adagio dance on a green's tender surface (or leap in the air and click of of the heels) after holing a 50-foot "no-brainer" putt?
The foregoing barely scratches the surface of the number of ghastly horrors that daily attend the overseeing of current state-of-the-art greens.  Construction costs for greens today approximate $100,000 to $250,000.  With the 18 greens, superintendents find that they are dealing with 18 different personalities.  Let's look at some background:
In golf's earliest years (1450-1850),  putting surfaces were not clearly defined.  They were the immediate, semi-barren areas surrounding a gull feather that protruded from a partially filled in rabbit hole.  The driving area for the next hole was only seven to 10 paces away from the gull feather.  Wet sand for teeing the ball on the succeeding hole was obtained by reaching onto the hole just completed and grabbing a handful!
Golf, in its totality, was quite a simple game for its first 450 years, when less than 150 courses existed worldwide.  In Scotland, it appeared that nature created links-land to accommodate the game.
In the last 100 years, the game's popularity, capitalistic opportunity and mega-marketing have caused serious crowding and cost crises.
Threats to perishable putting surfaces today are truly legion.  They include: frost, ice, hail, snow, humidity, birds, insects, rodents, sun-baking, loose farm animals and "Bambi," rowdy teenagers, floods, worms, beetles, fungi, snow-mold, competing grasses, irate and thoughtless players and poor maintenance equipment.
Walking on frost-covered greens crushes the blades (not the roots) which thaw to an off-white color in the shape of the foot that crushed them.
Large flocks of geese nibble at the slightly taller grasses at the green's fringes.  They can tear out fids of turf the size of a wedge divot.  Swarms of starlings deface greens by pecking open 1-by-2-inch holes in search of cutworms.
Adventurous teenagers can be severely destructive.  Driving across greens while violently spinning the wheels is a criminal act.  Using the flagstick or broken branches to scrawl obscenities deep into a green's surface means heavy fines and extended community service.
Player indiscretions include such things as carelessly replacing the flagstick so that it breaks down the sharp edges of the hole, which can cause putts to lip-out for players that follow.  If you have a relatively short second putt and will have to wait to finish, mark your ball and move a good distance away from the hole.  If all four players are standing whispering distance from each other when the last party putts out, it means that all four players will then turn at the same time to head for the next tee.  What happens at that moment is that four pairs of shoes (with some 96 spikes) will turn and "push off" from the very crucial putting area around the hole.  A forest of nearly 100 small soil eruptions (called spike marks) appear and they become like roadblocks to players that follow.
Words may be exchanged; there are still a few dim bulbs who insist on repairing their ball marks by tapping in the sides of the depression with the toe of the putter and sickening eyesores can occur and linger when an irate player (after missing and 18-incher) takes a swipe at his ball with the putter - misses - but lifts out a fairway-sized divot from the pristine green.  The awful scar telegraphs the guilty party's name to every member of the club.  The memory of the act is as a hard to remove as a tattoo.
A suggestion to parents: Should a son or daughter make so much as a peep about desiring to become a golf greens superintendent, seek psychiatric help for the child immediately.  That is unless he or she was born with cartilaginous scales for skin, a prehensile tail and breathes fire from both nostrils.

Herb Matter, Jr. - The Naperville Sun, Friday, July 22, 1994

Herb Matter, Jr. was a long-time member of Naperville Country Club, and a member of the Matter family who is referred to as "The First Family" of Naperville Country Club.  Herb Matter, Sr. was a founding member of the club in 1921.  Herb Matter, Jr. was an avid golf historian and collector as well as a columnist for The Naperville Sun for 15 years.  This is one of his columns from his time at The Naperville Sun.  A full collection of his columns are compiled in a book that is available at the club.  With golf season upon us (eventually), I felt like this would be a good reminder for the golfer to do your part to preserve the playability of the greens through the season.

The Anatomy of a Pitch Mark - USGA Green Section

It's Not the Tool - It's the Toolee - USGA  Green Section

An Appeal for the Return of Golf Course Etiquette - USGA Green Section
April 15, 2011 Scouting Report

April is Nice! More Flowers, New Leaves, Average Soil Temperatures Hit 50+, Rhizoctonia Yellow Patch, and Tim's Colorific Kentucky Bluegrass 

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle - 
Flowers. This was a terrific week in your life, especially if you have horticulture in your blood. I grew up learning the art of growing plants from an Iowa farm girl. It turned out I knew a little Latin before I was told it wasn't a real 'living language'. Hah! This week turf greenup continued its good pace across the landscape. Golf courses in Chicago and Northern Illinois look terrific with few issues reported. Another nice warm week during April has meant good things for more than just monocots (grasses). Increasingly, we've begun to see some nice flowers. For example, star magnolia is now with creamy white flowers, one of the first to deliver a potent fragrence. Another woody ornamental with a medium yellow flower appeared this week - Corneliancherry dogwood or Cornus mas. Golf continued its return as well, just ask Sunshine. 

It is the best spring I have experienced in 5 years - turf healthwise. We still face the risk of a late hard freeze and to remind us of that, Mother Nature turned off our tap of warm air this weekend. In the meantime we can enjoy spring's progress up to now. Yellow flowers anyone? DMS 

Click here to view the high resolution version of the April 15, 2011 Scouting Report. The high resolution version may take longer to download. 

Have a good weekend, enjoy spring, and stay warm!?! 
Much of this week was spent sodding or mulching flower beds and trees.  Most of the sod was laid on the hill left of 3 green with the rest of it being used in various spots across the course.  The hill at 3 will be roped off for a period of time. We ask that you do not play from the new sod.  It will be marked as ground under repair until further notice.

Another drink station has been added near the driving range tee.  This will be convenient for before the round and walking from 9 green to 10 tee.

Porfirio and Joel digging out for the stones under the drink station.

The course is beginning to shape up!
A change that began last fall is almost complete.  There had been a growing concern about the area left of the green as it relates to playability and the rules of golf.  The area has had several different projects done to it over the years but nothing since the project.  The hill was left to grow as it wanted and had a combination of grass, shrubs, brush and a couple of trees.  This left the golfers vulnerable to losing a ball from a shot that was not that far off line.

This is what the area started as in the fall.  We began by clearing the brush off the ground to make it easier to find a ball that might find its way into the area.  After some of the brush was removed, we mowed the area and left it over the winter.

This is what it looked like early this spring after more brush removal.  At this point we had decided to remove all the undergrowth and replace sod in this area.  We hope the sod will still stop a ball before it makes its way down to the fence and the golfer will be able to find their ball and play a recovery shot.  Here is a series of photos of some of the work:

Last season you may have noticed a spot between the cart path and pond on 11 was beginning to show a sink hole.  This spring we dug it up to find out exactly what the problem was.  There is a pipe that moves the overflow for the pond to a concrete tank underneath the cart path.  From there the water move out of the tank into another pipe that moves it to the pond on 17.  After it was dug out, the underside of the metal pipe that was in the ground had completely rusted out and soil was being washed from around the pipe into the concrete tank.

The hole was dug out and a new pipe was put in place.

We were not able to get the repair completed before a rain event set us back a little.

After the rain, we needed to dig around the pipe again to prepare for more concrete to seal the pipe to the concrete tank and to hold the pipe in place.
April 8, 2011 Scouting Report

We're Green: April Showers, Kentucky Bluegrass Awakes, Forsythia in Bloom, GDD Tracker Works, A New Website, and Tim's Arboriculture Dissertation

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle -
We're Green. I hate to say it but until this week's warm temperatures it didn't exactly feel or look like spring. For example, lawns and roadsides were still more shades of tan and brown than green. This week that all changed. It began with a dramatic warm-up last weekend and much of Illinois uniformily felt 80+ degree highs on April 3. In Chicago temperatures at sunrise began in the 40s and over a 12-hour period we had gained 30-35 degrees. It was surreal. Even little Sunshine Course in Lemont hit 77 degrees that day. Folks took notice and began enjoying the outdoors and singing birds were especially vocal. For most golf courses, regular turf management has begun - last green covers are now removed. It turns out most putting surfaces have been carefully mowed for the past 2-3 weeks and most fairways have received a first cut.

April has delivered BIG in categories necessary for plant growth and means our outdoor environment is getting back to the way we like it. It's green and has the occasional flower. It's without freezing temperatures that remind us of winter. It's with showers that provide necessary rain. It's with warmth that halts lingering dormancy. Light jackets are on and...we're green! DS

Click here to view the low resolution version of the April 8, 2011 Scouting Report.

Have a good weekend...it's supposed to be another warm one!

Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program

Timothy A. Sibicky, M.S.
Manager of Turfgrass Research
The red gravel to finish the new cart path extension next to 8 green was installed this week. There was significant cart traffic concentrated to this one area that resulted in poor conditions next to the green. This path should help the turf conditions in that area.

We opened the greens a little over a week ago, since then Mother Nature has been stingy with her golf days.  Today the soil temperature is hovering around 45 degrees, we are still waiting for things to really kick in and show signs of spring.  Our plan was to let carts out over the weekend, .8 inches of rain threw a wrench in our plan but we are still hopeful that with a little cooperation (in the form of wind and sun) we will be able to run carts shortly (maybe Sunday).    Check the blog and the website for current information.

Regardless of cool soil temperatures, it wouldn’t be right to go through Masters Weekend without opening the range.  So, in honor of the Masters, the driving range, practice green, and chip green will open tomorrow.  It is very likely that we will close them back down on Monday so that soil temperatures have a few more days to rise before re-opening the range on Friday.  Again, check the blog and website for the most current information.  It has been a slow start but the weather for Saturday looks great so plan to dust off your clubs and get out to the club.  Get outside, enjoy the course and plan to stick around to watch the Masters unfold.
Carts are not out yet so you may have walked past some work that has been done near 1 green.  The city was inspecting the sewer lines a few weeks ago and found a collapsed pipe under the cart path. This area is where the city spent 2 days fixing the pipe under the cart path.
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