Another piece of the winterizing puzzle was put in place yesterday with the completion of the irrigation system.  We finished in the moon light, which isn't saying much, it is out at 5pm now. Winterizing the irrigation system is not difficult, but it is important to do a thorough job.  When water freezes, it expands; and the plastic components of the irrigation system were not designed to expand.  Ensuring that all the water is out of the pipes, heads and valves makes for an easier start to the year in the spring.

We do not winterize our pump station. This provides the water for our fire sprinklers in the maintenance facility.  The pump station remains on and operational through the winter.  This does require a little extra work to cover vents and make sure the heater and thermostat are working.
We made lots of progress today towards finishing our on-course preparations for winter.  The greens are closed for the season and the temporary targets are in place in the approach.  Please do not walk on the greens until next season.  Tee markers, benches, ball washers, trash cans, signs and ropes are all off of the course also.  The Halfway House is closed for the season and cart use is finished for the season.  It has been a long year and the course is looking forward to some rest.  The irrigation system will be winterized starting tomorrow and our winter snow mold treatment will be going out later this week also.
I had seen this video posted by The Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents but had forgotten about it a long time ago.  It shows some of the early methods of Greenkeeping in the Chicago area.

Thanks to Scott Pavalko at Cog Hill for posting it on Twitter this morning and reminding me of it!
The warm weather is going to continue this week as 3 days near 60 degrees are in the forecast.  The course will be open and cart use has been extended to Sunday.  We do still plan to stop carts and close the greens on Monday, November 26th.  This could change if night time temperatures stay above freezing, but the extended forecast is not showing that will be the case.

2012 has been an extremely hot year, and this weeks temperatures are continuing that trend.  Last week I attended the 60th Turf Clinic at Medinah Country Club.  The Turf Clinic is the annual meeting for the Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents, and consists of a day of education.  Naturally, many of the topics related to the excessive heat that a large portion of the country experienced this year.  This graph shows the variation from the mean temperature of all years from 1895 through October of this year.  The striking thing is not that 2012 is above the rest, but how far above the previous 5 hottest years.  With this weeks temperatures, I would assume that line will remain the same distance above.  Dr. Settle, who puts out the Turf Scouting Reports each week through the season presented this graph and the following graphs that show the periods of hot weather through the summer.

With the early spring warmth that came in March and this warm stretch now, it has been a long golfing season for the course.  Put on top of that the hottest year on record along with one of the driest and it becomes a VERY long golfing season for the course.  The course and the crew are ready for some snow.
Growing Season Ends: Winterizing Irrigation, Sandy's Winds Cooled Chicago, Turf Begins Dormancy, and Tim Sees Control of Poa in Bentgrass

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle -

And so the season concludes. How do I know? This morning while working in our lab (outer wall is adjacent to Sunshine Course) a hissing sound got my attention. A little worried I was relieved to find our superintendent winterizing our irrigation system - compressed air blows water from underground lines and this prevents freezing/breaks. I smiled as it meant one thing, our growing season in the upper Midwest had ended. On Sunshine Course in October the turf increasingly had developed a dormant look - from the purples of cool-season creeping bentgrass, Agrostis stolonifera, to the golden hue of warm-season zoysia, 'Zenith' Zoysia japonica.

To be sure, growing season 2012 will be remembered. For the young ones, we would use a lot of exclamation marks in our week to week communications. For turf professionals long in the tooth (anonymous highly respected individuals who've seen everything) they instead were reminded of two growing seasons (1988 and 1995). And so together we would learn valuable lessons (first time or again) in the great outdoors. Have a good winter with some well-deserved vacation time. For continued communications/blogs see or check @TurfResearch on Twitter.

Click here to view the November 2, 2012 Scouting Report.

On behalf of the CDGA turf program, your support during the 2012 growing season was appreciated. Thank you,

Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program
(630) 685-2307
Weather Blog

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS
Manager of Turfgrass Research
(630) 685-2310
Research Blog
Our big project this fall involves removing bentgrass from the bluegrass adjacent to the tee boxes.  Large areas on 3 and 4 tees have already been completed.  The other tees are in the process of being cut and cleaned now.  New sod will be arriving next week to complete the project.

The bentgrass variety that is used on the tees has an aggressive growth habit.  This is great for recovering from divots, but does cause problems at the edges. This bentgrass will invade the adjacent bluegrass and become unsightly and at time a maintenance issue.

While we are cutting the sod we are straightening tee lines and making sure the tee boxes stay square.  This will give a much cleaner look to the tees next year.
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