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.
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