The course has dried enough for carts today, but do not expect it to  play firm yet.  We do have several ropes up around the course to direct traffic.  We are waiting for the fairways to dry more before we mow them, so they will be long today.  The approaches are being mowed today.  It looks like we might have a couple of dry days to get the course back in shape, but the evidence of standing water will remain.
Our trees received some attention this week.  On Monday and Tuesday a tree inventory was done on the entire property and on Wednesday a tree climber was in to clean out the remaining hanging branches left from the storm 2 weeks ago.

This was the 3rd time that a tree inventory was done on the property.  The first inventory was done in the mid-80's, then another in 2004.  The purpose of this inventory is to get back to a starting point after the renovation project.  The inventory does involve tagging and identifying each tree, but we will also get an assessment of its condition, age and recommended maintenance.

A tree climber is in the Ash tree right of 4 green to clean out some branches that were hanging in the top.  This was done with several trees, after the wind that felled the spruce on 8 fairway also left several branches hanging in the tree.  He was not able to finish on Wednesday and will be back out on Monday.

Here, the climber has cleaned out some branches from behind 2 green.
It would be nice to post something good about the weather, but I have not had the opportunity.  This last batch of rain (0.90 inches last night, 0.10 today) is exactly what the course did NOT need.  We have stressed the importance of being able to control the amount of water on the course during warm periods of weather.  Last week we were fortunate to have been able to do that, but since Friday we have lost control of the amount of moisture on the course and it is showing.

I have mentioned before that the most damaging disease pathogens are active during periods of warm moist weather-usually temperatures that stay above 68 degrees at night. (see last year's post: Uninvited Guest)  Over the past 10 days, the lowest temperature we have recorded on our weather station is 68.3 degrees, and six of those days never dropped below 70 degrees.  To make matters worse, we have had 6.3 inches of rain, from 5 rain events over the past 7 days.  This creates the perfect environment for pathogens that cause pythium and brown patch diseases.  We have seen only a small amount of brown patch, and today we have seen pythium on a few fairways.  Pythium is the disease that caused the damage in the fairways last year as well.  We are trying to get a spray out today on these areas that will contain it, but it needs to go down when it is not raining.  We are waiting for the rain to stop.  Removing water from the surface will help with this disease, and our crew was out today with squeegees to remove water from the fairways.  The picture above is from the 16th fairway where some of the pythium was found.  We are not able to remove this water because it is still draining from the pond over-flow, making it difficult to remove the disease pressure.

Carts are restricted for Thursday, and rain is in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow, which creates the possibility of cart restrictions tomorrow.  Pythium is a disease that will spread by the tires of a golf cart.  This picture was taken in 11 fairway.  If a cart were to drive through this, the disease would spread along the track of the cart tire.
Allowing air below the soil to exchange with air above the soil is a regular maintenance practice for us throughout the year.  We have many different pieces of equipment that we can use depending on what our ultimate goal is.  Through the summer we try to get through the course every 3-4 weeks, but use equipment that will cause minimal disruption.  We decided this week would be a good time after the very hot temperatures and the excessive amount of rain we received over the weekend.

On the greens and tees we used a "needle tine" on our aerators to create a small hole about 6 inches deep.

Conny spiking our tees today.

Here Torres is using our aerator to spike 4 green on Monday.

Torres is using a different piece of equipment to spike our fairways today.  It take one person about 10 hours to get through all of our fairways and approaches with this.

This is a nice piece of equipment to use in the summer.  It is quick, and leaves very discrete holes that are 2 inches deep.

The greens are done and the tees, fairways and approaches will be done by the end of today.  We hope that this will allow the soil to dry quicker and more evenly after being saturated for a few days, but more rain in the forecast over the next few days.  If it does rain, these holes will allow the rain the infiltrate the soil quicker.
One Hour at a Time: Record Heat, Brown Patch, Dollar Spot, Pythium blight, Take-All, Physiological Decline, Turf Dormancy, Worn Collars, Tim likes Fairy Ring Research, and Peter says MRTF 

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle -

As predicted the week's weather was dangerously warm and golf playing sufaces now look a a tad bit wilted and possibly dormant in places. It was the combination of summer's hottest temperatures accompanied with humid air. What normally stays south in places like Texas and Kansas arrived in the Great Lakes. What the heck! At its peak, a heat advisory warning was in place for Wednesday and Thursday. The last time Midway Airport hit the century mark on two consecutive days was 1995. I know 1995 well, not that I experienced it on Chicago's golf courses, but because it is a point of reference for superintendents - possibly the toughest year to maintain turfgrass. It keeps our work in perspective and it also says something about 2011. For example, mid-week a superintendent sent a scouting report. It said, "Dollar spot, Pythium blight (in the rough), active fairy ring with puff balls (I am sure there is brown patch somewhere). Poa is starting to thin - raised mowing heights and no more double cutting. Dry areas are REALLY dry. We water for an hour and the soil is still bone dry. I'm just hoping to make it through the next few days, one hour at a time." I could sympathize as each midsummer I have my share of helping long faces. At season end I will think of this week - for the heat, the issues, and for the game. I also just happened to volunteer for a wonderful event where faces smiled no matter what. 

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

Have a good weekend and keep your fingers crossed - some forecasters are saying a return to 80s next week. 

Derek Settle, PhD 
Director of Turfgrass Program 
Weather Blog 

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS 
Manager of Turfgrass Research 
Research Blog 
It has been a rough few days for courses in the Chicagoland area.  We feel like NCC received our fair share of it, but reports from other courses show the weather certainly did not share fairly.  Rain totals for here at the club:
0.55 inches on Friday
2.50 inches early Saturday morning
1.25 inches over Saturday night
1.00 inch Sunday morning.

The immediate evidence from these storms is the rain washing out bunkers and a wet course.  Any damage from lightning may take a few days to find in the irrigation system or trees.

The weather channel is reporting a record breaking weekend of rain: Chicago's Weekend Rain Breaks Record

The pictures and reports from other courses have been awesome:

Winnetka Golf Club has closed until July 28th from over 7 inches of rain.

Biltmore Country Club reported over 6 inches of rain from Friday to Saturday.

Indian Hill Club didn't give a rain total, but does it matter when all of your bunkers look like this?

Ben McGargill from Wynstone Golf Club posted one of the most amazing pictures of a lightning strike I have seen.

Park Ridge Country Club has not updated their blog yet with photos.  They did say they do not know a total rain amount because their rain gauge was over flowing.

Today we will be fixing bunkers again.  We are waiting to mow fairways to allow them to dry more.  We are keeping our heavy equipment off the course until conditions are more suitable.

This the green side bunker on 7 Saturday morning.

This is the green side bunker on 7 this morning.  A few bunkers will be fixed today for the 3rd time in about 48 hours.

One issue we fear during hot weather is the presence of excess moisture.  We now have the excess moisture and do expect one area to show signs of it.  16 fairway will likely have a few patches that die from being underwater so long this weekend.  A similar thing happened last year.

Here is a picture taken last year on July 26th, after heavy rains on July 24, 2010.  The weather conditions this weekend were very similar to the weather conditions the same weekend last year.  We have had better spring growing conditions this year, and the temperatures were not has hot as they were last year.  Because of that, we hope to not see this result.  Other course may not be so lucky.
and lots of it. No carts again Sunday. 1.25 inches of rain over Saturday night and lots more this morning. That brings the total to 4.3 inches since Friday. We have not had the course closed today because of water, but the lightning is keep golf inside.
Expect soft and wet conditions with standing water in places. No carts today.

We received 2.5 inches of rain early this morning. The course has the typical flooding right now. There is minimal tree damage, but the bunkers are all washed out. This bring our rain total to just over 3 inches in the last 24 hours. We will let you know when the course opens for play. When it does re-open, there will be no carts available for Saturday.
Some areas on the course are beginning to show signs of hot weather.  The annual bluegrass in the fairways and areas that receive the most traffic is showing the most stress.  This reaction from the annual bluegrass is what we expected.

Here is a picture from 9 fairway that shows the yellow annual bluegrass.  Annual bluegrass is more shallow rooted and less heat tolerant than bentgrass.

This picture is from yesterday afternoon.  The cart traffic is concentrated around the edge of the bunker, which will lead to more annual bluegrass.  Several of these areas on the course have been roped off to prevent any further damage.  In the background you can see a syringe cycle running on the fairway.

This is the soil temperature reading from 12 green yesterday afternoon.  The grass can not tolerate these types of temperatures for extended periods of time.  The temperature this morning was back down to 79.9 degrees, which isn't ideal, but much better than yesterday afternoon.

We have had a cool cloudy morning today, which will help.  And, we just received a burst of rain, which will help return water and cool the soil temperatures more.  After looking at the weather report, it looks like the worst of the weather is behind us now.  The break in evening temperatures that is forecasted for early next week will be much needed if it gets warm again later in the week.
I should have done a post about our irrigation auditing first, this post may make more sense if I had.

Golf Course Industry magazine asked several courses what methods they have been using to conserve water.  Naturally, the conservation of irrigation water is a big issue for many golf courses.  Though we are not subject to water use restrictions for our irrigation water, many areas of the country are subject to them on a regular basis.  Here is a link to what we offered.

Deep In Data

This is the graphical representation that we use to see what areas of the green are getting more or less water.  This is for the 18th green.  This image is of the first irrigation audit done.

This is the 18th green after the second irrigation audit when times were adjusted.  You can see that a more uniform application is made across the green surface.

I will get another post or a list of posts made about what we have been doing.
Throughout the past week a beetle has been burrowing in the putting green and creating several little mounds.  These beetles have not been causing any damage to the green, but the mounds are difficult to putt over.

The beetle is the seedcorn beetle.  Other than creating the mounds, we do not foresee any other issues.
You may have noticed this term used recently on if that is where you get your weather information.  We thought we would send out a special weather statement of our own for this week.  This type of forecast is not very accommodating for turfgrass growth, and it looks like it will be hanging around for about 8 days.  A 2 day stretch of weather like this normally is not a problem, but a string of days like this is something that will be very stressful on the turf.  Check 2 of the posts from last year for a better understanding:

Turfgrass Temperature Stress, Part 1: Optimal Temperatures

Turfgrass Temperature Stress, Part 2: Water

Because of this forecast we are planning on doing several things differently this week to prevent any undue stress on the turf.

-We will be raising the height of cut on the greens through this period of heat stress.  We do expect this to noticeably slow the speed of the greens.  This will give the grass a better chance to make it through with less injury.

-We will be altering our mowing frequency also.  Even mowing the grass in these conditions can be very stressful to the plant.

-We will have many more ropes up to better control traffic in stressed areas.  We may also restrict carts if conditions become severe enough.

-We will be altering our normal water schedules.  This may include applying light applications through the day, so you may see heads running on the course.

-Dry spots will probably show up this week.  Dry spots will be more welcome than risking excessive moisture on the surface to encourage unwanted disease pathogens.

-We have made plant protectant applications with our normal spray schedule.  However, this week will also be a very high disease pressure week.  You may see us out on the spray this week making an application if it is necessary.

We are not looking forward to being outside in this type of weather this week, but we can take breaks in the air conditioning when necessary.  Unfortunately, the grass is not able to do that.  Anything we can do to relieve the stress on the plant will help.
It's Hot: 80 mph Winds, Physiological Decline, Brown Patch Wows, Fairy Ring on Greens, Rust Begins, Tim says Digiteria, and Peter Learns Rhizoctonia 

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle -

The forecast has our attention. The '10 day' has all superintendents and staff gearing up. As far as the eye can see, for the next ten days, daytime highs are to be as hot as it gets. In Chicago that means highs will reach 90° or more. Midsummer is our worst enemy as far as management of cool-season turfgrass goes. It is just too hot for it's life to be normal. Our saving grace is that we are to remain dry (no scary thunderstorms). Believe it or not, to have control of water input by judicious measurement we have a better chance at maintaining plant health. Still, there is no way around the fact that physiological decline is now in place. High temperature causes shallow roots and an imbalance between photosynthesis and respiration. A slow starvation of plant carbohydrate fuels is now occurring. 

This week Chicago courses adjusted by raising mowing heights and reducing rolling of golf putting surfaces. On the human side, the national weather service put out a warning. In part it said, "Heat and humidity will build this weekend. Heat indices will likely climb to around 100° and probably around 105° by Monday." That news spells trouble for all organisms that utilize and manage water for cellular life. That includes us. Folks outdoors need to show good diligence and take measures to stay well hydrated. Meanwhile, we'll spend long hours managing the greens. Midsummer is here and the heat is on. 

Click here to view the July 15, 2011 Scouting Report. 

Have a good weekend and be the heat. 

Derek Settle, PhD 
Director of Turfgrass Program 
Weather Blog 

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS 
Manager of Turfgrass Research 
Research Blog 
Early this year we tracked down a video from 1951 taken at the club during the annual Round-Up event.  Tim took the video to Memory Keepers downtown and had it made into a DVD and .avi format.  It is now on our YouTube account to watch.

The Round-Up was an annual event at the club that involved a round of golf and a typical summer cookout after.  It is interesting to see the course in 1951.  I will try to get some photos of similar angles so the viewers can have a better feel for which part of the course they are looking at.  You will also see that the term "appropriate golf attire" was more liberally defined in 1951.

If you can identify anybody in the video please let us know.

-there is no sound on this video

A refresher on divot repair from the club's Divot Digest.

Seed and soil boxes.
Seed and soil boxes are located on the par 3 holes. They are filled with a mixture of sand, peat, and T-1 bentgrass seed.

If your divot is intact, it is best to replace the divot. If the divot explodes then it should be filled with the sand/seed mixture.

There is no need to overfill your divot, simply fill the divot about half-full that then tamp it down firmly.

A properly filled divot will avoid damage to the mowers and allow the new seedlings to grow slightly before they are subject to their first mowing.

Properly filled divot.
Divots that are over filled will be slower to heal because the mowers continuously scalp the young turf.

The mix in the seed and soil boxes should only be used on the tees. Use of the divot mix outside of the tee surface will result in bentgrass contamination.

At NCC we have moved away from the use of seed and soil bottles on golf carts. There are several different types of grass on the golf course. It is important that the proper seed be used in the correct area. This also minimizes waste; seed will germinate if it is exposed to moisture. When you are done filling a divot please make sure to close the lid on the seed and soil box to keep the seed dry. The maintenance crew fills tee divots on a daily basis and fairway divots are filled weekly. It is more efficient for our crew to fill the divots directly, than to spend labor servicing seed and soil bottles.

Always replace your divot.
Always replace your divot - whether the replaced divot will survive is for the maintenance crew to evaluate. Replacing a divot is proper golf etiquette, and guarantees the best course condition for members and guests who play later in the day.

If replacing a tee or fairway divot, replace it in the same direction that it was removed.

Tamp the divot down firmly so that a mower will not pull it out, and so that the severed root are placed back in contact with the soil. This provides the best opportunity for the divot to survive.

Tamp the divot.
A correctly replaced divot may not always grow back, but it will insure a reasonable lie in the rare instance that a ball comes to rest in the divot.

Divots that do not survive will be removed by the maintenance crew, and the void will be filled with the seed and soil mix during the course of routine maintenance.

The membership of NCC is linked by their pride in the unique piece of property that is Naperville Country Club. Members of NCC consider it an extension of their home. While playing the course, the membership takes great pride in caring for the course and leaving it in better condition than they found it. This is manifested through proper golf etiquette of ballmark repair, divot repair ad proper cart usage.

This is obviously a different divot situation that should not even need to be addressed - a divot off of the fifth green this past weekend.
The latest storm did leave a large amount of clean up on the course, but the most noticeable evidence from it was the lack of power at the club until about 2:30 yesterday afternoon.  Here is a series of pictures from the last two days:

Tree behind 2 green.

Yesterday afternoon after the clean up.

Since the storm yesterday morning, the club has been without power. Most importantly, this means the club is without water. No restrooms are available at the clubhouse or halfway house, and cart availability will be questionable. The course will be open for play, but services available will be similar to our closed day on Mondays. We will let you know when power resumes.

For the green department, we can continue our maintenance with few other problems...until our equipment runs out of fuel. Then we will have to chase down some more at a gas station that has power.

It is a great morning today if you had planned on golf.

The storm that blew through this morning left a large amount of debris and a few trees to clean up. We received 0.50 inches of rain. The club is still without power at the clubhouse and maintenance facility. There will be piles of limbs around the course over the next few days.
A String of Hot Days: Wilt Stress, Water Management, Physiological Decline of Roots, Summer Patch, Tim's Early Dollar Spot, and Peter says 'Zenith'

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle -

Part II begins. With peak turf quality experienced just prior to the Fourth of July, we were smiling as we battened down the hatches. It's midsummer after all and we've come to know it well. The first week of July was hot and the cloudy days which had provided a chlorotic (yellowish) look to our outdoor world suddenly went away. We entered a new week, and this one was all about water management and tanner skin. In my workday I began to move about the city on a more regular basis and the driving to provide diagnostic assistance gave me time to think. It was a season with two parts! Part I began with elements of 2010 having overly wet periods during spring into early summer. It interrupted the game of golf and shortened normal root growth (again). Part II began this week (sunny and dry) and in many instances the loss of turf health was releated to midday wilt and the usual green collars suffered the most. With the lowest humidities of the season it did make sense. The consistent new issue was decline associated with poor root characteristics and this meant physiological decline had begun. The wear and tear on golf surfaces might just overtake its ability to grow if adjustments aren't made. Welcome to Part II! With close monitoring of evapotranspiration rates and soil moisture our 2011 season continues. We're seeing more folks outdoors and 'some' began looking forward to fall (Part III).

Click here to view the July 8, 2011 Scouting Report.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the warmth?

Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program
Weather Blog 

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS
Manager of Turfgrass Research
Research Blog 
Another look at the club's fireworks show.  The angle is different from what we normally watch fireworks from.  The camera is sitting next to the fireworks looking up.

A Hot Summer Arrives: Turf Quality 9s, Signs of Fairy Ring, Japanese Beetles Emerge in Chicago, Tim Finds first Brown Patch, and Peter Likes Diagnostics 

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle -

Summer has arrived. The calendar says it's so, and now the weather says so too. This week we gradually warmed and during the transition we were able to enjoy some of our nicest days this season. Several cloud-free days appeared and we learned the last time Chicago saw back-to-back clear skies was mid-February following our major snow blizzard. By Friday temperatures were to peak, but the Chicago forecast for one of the hottest days of summer didn't materialize. The heat stayed off to the south and west and another spat of turbulent weather hit the greater Chicago area to the north. Reports of tree damage on golf courses came to me from superintendents working in Waukegan, Ill. (Twitter) and Kenosha, Wis. (text). In addition, my work environment lost power for the third week in a row. It's just another summer. 

Over all, it's been a good week. Though we saw a couple more pest arrivals in the landscape -Japanese beetles emerged in Chicago and reports of fairy ring have begun. Otherwise turfgrass health was observed to peak and during this week of research our visual quality ratings of golf surfaces seemed to be all 9s (a good thing). Here's to cloud-free days, 9's, and the Fourth of July! 

Click here to view the July 1, 2011 Scouting Report. 

Enjoy your Fourth of July weekend. May it be long and restful... 

Derek Settle, PhD 
Director of Turfgrass Program 
Weather Blog 

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS 
Manager of Turfgrass Research 
Research Blog 
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