The coming cold temperatures are forcing us to begin the final winterization procedures for the greens and close the greens for the season.  This final winter procedures involve a heavy topdressing and solid tine aeration of the greens.  We will be working through the greens today and tomorrow to finish.  The temporary targets will be in the approach for the winter months.  Naturally, cart use is done and halfway house is being winterized today as well.

From a previous blog post:

We close the greens before the soil on the greens begins to freeze.  This practice prevents unrecoverable wear, turfgrass damage, and soil compaction or displacement during winter months.  Reopening of the greens in the spring will occur as temperatures and soil conditions allow.
The main reasons for closing the greens, in no particular order are: (1) the inability of the grass to recover from wear, (2) traffic on frozen soils can cause much more damage to the grass, and (3) moist soils on the surface, and frozen soils underneath can result in compaction or foot print marks.  The unavoidable annoyance of cold temperatures and the cold soil temperatures in the winter causes the grass to stop growing.  If the grass is not growing, it lacks the ability to recover from damage.  
In the spring, as the soils start to thaw, it is inevitable that the surface of the soil with be thawed, while underneath, the soil will still be frozen.  This opens up the possibility for soil compaction or, if the soil is saturated enough, dents in the green from foot prints causing an uneven surface.

The course can still be utilized for winter recreation.  We will keep you updated with the progress of the ice rink, sledding and cross country skiing conditions through the winter.

The final golf event of the year is tomorrow.  The weather does not look great, but it rarely is.  With the last golf event complete we will begin closing the course for the winter months.  The practice areas will close for the season this coming Monday.  We will begin removing course accessories and beverage stations as the month progresses.

A rainbow peaked out last night over the maintenance facility as the rain was finishing.  3.5 inches of rain fell from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday afternoon.  The course is very wet now, but does appear to be on the mend.  We were not able to mow fairways and approaches today due to the wet conditions.  The wet leaves are also proving difficult to get cleaned.  Assuming we do not receive additional rain, the course should play well for the Turkey Shoot tomorrow.

Fall projects are underway.  I will be highlighting them as they are completed on the course.
Cold and frosty on the course today.  The frost delay on Wednesday in similar conditions lasted until 11:00am.  The sunny weather and warmer temperatures predicted for today should help it burn off quicker.  Golfers should still plan on a 10:30am start time for today.
We do have our first delay of the year due to frost.  We will keep the Pro Shop updated on a projected start time.  Golfers can plan on at start around 9:30.
For the last week I have been saying frost delays are coming, but somehow we made it through the week with just the right weather to avoid them.  It looks like our run of luck is over and the first frost delay will be happening tomorrow.  Come out and enjoy the sunny weather and green grass while you can!


This weather forecast shows quite a change in the temperatures are coming.  Not even in the 50's next week for highs.  This will certainly start to change the leaves quickly and expedite leaf drop.  If you have plans to play next week, this forecast also means very lengthy frost delays.  There is also a 10% chance of snow for Wednesday and Thursday!  Fairway aeration will continue next week and look for fall flowers in front of the clubhouse as well.
We began our fairway aeration process on Monday.  Two fairways were completed Monday and we are attempting 2 more fairways today.  This is a process that will span the period of a few weeks.  We will be completing this practice around golf and weather, so players should expect to see us as they play.

There are several parts of this process which will result in the work lasting a few weeks.  We are topdressing the fairways heavy with sand.  We are then using one aerator with a solid tine to create a large deep hole then following that with another aerator that is pulling a small core.  We then drag all of that together and clean up whatever is left.

This will cause a large amount of disruption to the playing surface and a period of time will be needed for the fairways to heal.  With the frosts that are now predicted, healing time will be delayed due to the slower growth of the grass.
It appears that the first frost delay will be happening later this week.  The first frost is much later this year.  We had 5 frost delays in the middle of September last season.  As usual, when frost is on the grass, we can not allow traffic on the course.

We have made several posts for the reasons we avoid traffic during frosts.  Please refer to these for more detailed information:

Frost for Friday?

Frost


Well another glorious fall week has passed with ideal temperatures and almost complete recovery for many greens surfaces that were opened up in early to mid-September. Aeration is still going on but there is always a much bigger gamble in regards to recovery when doing it this time of the year. Insect problems are still hanging around somewhat but in areas that are considered low value. The overnight temperatures have dropped somewhat but a frost may be needed to knock back any more disease problems. Dollar spot in the aggressive fall form has been hanging around and this has proved to be difficult to shake. Leaf fall has definitely begun to occur and many courses have switched from aeration mode to leaf removal and mulching mode - despite temperatures cooling off - there is always something to do! 

Conference and meeting dates are coming up; the Midwest Turf Clinic is scheduled for November 14th at Medinah Country Club. Dr. Zac Reicher, University of Nebraska-Lincoln is coming in to discuss practical Poa management and round table discussions with a year in review also on the schedule. Attending these events keeps you up to date and ahead of the game - if you're not going forward it's hard to say you're not going backwards! 


As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email. 

Ed Nangle PhD 
Director of Turfgrass Programs 
Chicago District Golf Association 
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
They have arrived! Yes, the grubs have finally turned up and I have found some excellent examples this week of efforts by our furry friends that love to dig and eat those juicy white grubs - it's a pity that the efforts lead to surfaces that remind me of Mars. Mapping the problem locations out this year is crucial to next year's planning and making sure that you are managing water properly

Rainfall managed to hit most of us in the last week including central Illinois who were still hitting temperatures above the 90 degree level. Temperatures seem to have moderated and hopefully soil temperatures will follow. Wrapping up club events and looking towards the winter education may be on most people's minds - make sure you get involved in the conferences and seminars - there is no better way to stay current on product safety and efficacy.

Click here to view the September 20, 2013 Scouting Report

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
www.cdgaturf.org
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
The greens have recovered from the scheduled aeration that took place last Tuesday.  8 days after aeration they are back to putting well.  We did not push them back to normal due to the forecasted heat.  The putting green has not been as rapid in its recovery.  The heat and traffic that the putting green has been subject to has delayed its recovery.  When the weather accommodates it, we will be able to fertilize the green and it will recovery shortly.

You will also see some white dots around the edge of the green.  This is the last part of the aeration process.  We will leave the outside pass on the greens for a few days, then use the dots to keep the collar a consistent width on all the greens.  The grass will grow out of the dot in a few days as well.  Refer to this post (Soils and Water: Greens) to review the benefits of aeration.  8 days to recover during high heat is a small cost to the benefits of this practice.
Finish strong' may be the quote of the moment. Many of you have had a great summer and really gotten through unscathed or relatively compared to the last three years. Golf may have declined a little after the holiday and you are either in the middle of aeration or getting close to it. I think however it is time to consider that finishing strong and making sure that none of the aggressive dollar spot that can pit quickly here in the fall in Chicago takes hold. Along similar lines ensuring that you have all materials for snow mold protection in the barn or at least plans to put them there may be also a good idea - summer has been too nice so winter might have the returning bite!

In saying that, the turn towards fall and cooler temperatures will have many of you exhaling and looking forward to other activities such as education seminars, networking events and getting the work week to somewhere under 60 hours! It is also a time of year to look back on how you went through the year and what adjustments you think you will need to make note of going into next year. Drainage maybe one area that many people will look at while irrigation systems may be another!

Click here to view the September 6, 2013 Scouting Report

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
www.cdgaturf.org
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
Our greens were constructed with a sand mixture during the renovation project.  From the previous post, this gives us the benefit of large air spaces in the soil.  Those large air spaces allow for water to move through the soil profile very rapidly and space for roots to grow.  Two very important benefits for an area that is subject to such high demands.

The picture on the right is of a profile from one of the greens.  This profile is an example of how we want the profile to look.  Clean consistent soil throughout the full profile.  We can also gather from this that there exists an excellent root mass in the profile.  The root mass is dense enough to keep the sand profile in tact through the depth the core.  You can even see a tiny root sticking out the bottom of the sample.  Our objective is to keep this profile in this condition over the long-term.  This will allow for the consistent, high-quality playing surface the golfers expect.

Towards the top of the sample on the right, it appears to have a darker color.  This is the organic matter that exist in the soil from the constantly growing turf we talked about is the previous post.  This layer is why we intensively manage the surface with verticutting, topdressing and aeration.

This profile better displays the organic matter layer that is in our greens.  This is typical of greens that have been constructed with a sand.  This organic matter has built up since the greens were constructed.  It is not likely that we will ever be able to completely rid the greens of this organic matter, but we are able to manage its development.  From the previous post, I mentioned that organic matter in the soil has the ability to hold a large amount of water.  Aside from the myriad of agronomic issue that would be created if this organic matter build-up was ignored, the playing surface would become soft, spongy and inconsistent.  The problems arise when the consistent flow of water through the profile is inhibited by the amount of organic matter at the surface.  Our goal is to dilute or remove the organic matter through topdressing or verticutting and aeration.  By consistently incorporating these practices into the management of the greens, we can keep the organic matter at a low enough level to maintain the benefits of the sand based soil and a uniform profile.  This will then allow us to provide the firm and smooth conditions of a high quality playing surface.

This post comes a few days after we completed an aeration of the greens.  This picture shows the new sand channels through the organic matter.  We removed a core from the soil, let it dry, then dragged the sand off the core and back into the soil.  The organic matter that we removed does not break up and we are able to blow the debris into piles and remove it from the green.  These sand channels provide for a more consistent movement of water through the profile.

The consistent movement of water through the profile is the reason these practices are done.  The consistent growth of the grass is the reason that they need to been done as often as possible.
We were able to complete the majority of our scheduled greens aeration today.  We have cored and cleaned all greens.  We will need to complete rolling the back nine greens in the morning.  Our electric roller is not able to finish the greens after an aeration due to how soft the greens are immediately following the procedure.  Greens will be soft, bumpy and slow following aeration.  They always are.  But, they always get back to normal after a few days.  Our first priority will be to get the greens smooth again.  Soon after that, the familiar ball roll distance will be back to normal as well.
The second post in this series will give a very brief overview of what soils are made of and how those parts interact with water.  We can build from this in the future posts that will be more specific about each area of the golf course.  The preferred soil for providing a high quality playing surface has a large amount of air space for roots and water to move through the soil.

Soil consists of sand, silt and clay particles along with an organic component.  The fractions of sand, silt and clay in a soil determine its suitability for providing a high quality playing surface.  This figure on the right is one of the first diagrams that is learned in a soils class.  When the fractions of each soil particle in a given soil have been identified, you can use this diagram to classify the soil.

Sand particles are larger than silt particles which are larger than clay particles.  The larger the particle, the more air space between the particles.  If you have a bowl in your kitchen and fill it with oranges, there will be large empty spaces in the bowl between the oranges.  If you fill that bowl with grapes, the empty spaces between the grapes will be much smaller compared to those that the oranges create.  The larger the particle, the larger the air space between the particles.  It is much easier for water and roots to move through a larger air space in the soil.  So, there is a larger air space between sand particles than there is air space between silt particles, which has a larger air space than between clay particles.  This is why soils that are higher in clay are much slower to drain.

The other component of the soil that was mentioned earlier is organic matter.  In the turfgrass soil, this organic matter comes from dead tissue from the grass plant (because there are no trees nearby, right).  This organic matter has a high capacity to hold water.  As a result, water is slow to move through organic matter because of its ability to hold the water as it attempts to pass.

It is not accident that this string of posts comes in conjunction with the beginning of our aeration this fall.  The following posts will be more detailed about the specific areas of the course, and why we do the maintenance practices that we do.
This will be the first of a series of posts that will discuss water in soils.  We talk all the time about the importance of controlling moisture in the growing environment of the turf.  However, we have not given the same amount of attention to moisture in the soil.  The soil is what the plant grows in.  The soil is how the plant receives the water and nutrients that it needs to sustain an appropriate playing surface.  The soil is not a topic that regularly floats around the Member's Grill after a round either. Just because it is not something that is seen by the golfer does not mean its importance can be discounted.  So, naturally, the relationship between soil and water has a great impact on the quality of the playing surface that the golfer does see.

Aside from mowing, most of what we do is an effort to influence soil properties.  Fertilization, aeration, topdressing, vertical mowing, etc. are all done to provide a favorable impact to the soil over the long-term.  "Long-term" is the key phrase in the last sentence.  These practices do not have an immediate impact on the quality of the playing surface.  As these are performed on a regular basis and begin to compound across a longer time horizon, the benefits outweigh the short-term disruption that may result.  The reason these practices need to be done on a regular basis is a function of the continuously growing grass.  Grass needs to grow to recover from wear and stress of all forms.  As a result of the continuously growing grass, these practices can never be skipped.

At the core, these practices are done to influence how the water moves into the soil and through the soil.  In these posts I will attempt to address how moisture in the soil impacts the long-term health and playability of the greens, tees, and fairways.  Maintenance practices on our greens and tees are very similar, but differ from what we do on the fairways.  However, the goal of these practices is the same across all surfaces - provide a firm uniform playing surface.
Our fall aeration gets kicked off next week when we start with the greens on Tuesday September 3rd.  There will be a regular flow of aeration happening through the fall on all surfaces.  Greens will be first; tees, fairways, approaches and roughs will all be done with different methods on a regular interval throughout the fall.  We are mindful of the golf schedule when we schedule these type of practices.  However they are necessary, and long-term benefits certainly outweigh any short-term disruption of the surface.  I intend to have other posts that address aeration and its goals in more detail this week.

Regardless of which weather forecast you monitor, it will be hot over the next 7 days.  Some show temps being hotter than others, but they all show no rain-which is the most important part for us.  Being able to control how much moisture is in the soil and on the surface is terribly important through these stretches.  Most of the forecasts are showing lower humidities which is good.  With this stretch comes the usual warnings of the potential for the adjustment of maintenance practices that will favor turf health while the surfaces experience temperatures that are beyond its normal adaptability.

The end of the 10 day forecast shows the potential for temperatures to be back in the mid 50s by middle of next week.  I have read some forecasters who are predicting upper 40s after Labor Day with potential for frost by mid September!
Its come and gone!! The date that many of you look towards as being the start of the end of another season. August 15th passed without so much as a whimper and hopefully that does not come back to bite us in September. This week was somewhat hectic from the standpoint of traveling to the world class Hancock Center at Michigan State University to see the fine research they are working on there and I will discuss later. The other interesting event this week was the involvement that some of us had with potential future industry leaders. In an excellent initiative I have to give credit to the First Tee for their partnership with John Deere and the creation of the experience 'Careers on Course'. This week we had 24 young people who had little background in any facet of the turfgrass and golf industry interact with superintendents, clubhouse managers, golf pro's and general managers at the Golf House and Cog Hill CC. Their intrigue in the positions and opportunities that the golf industry as a whole affords them was refreshing and despite the doom and gloom about student numbers and turfgrass programs, potential to attract and educate people into the industry is there if these programs continue down the road.

How you handle the end of season cultural practices will help you recover for what should have been a busy golfing summer. Managers have said they have been very busy play wise and it does seem in weather like this that should be the case. Therefore getting the greens aerified is going to be on many peoples minds, however hopefully you have a set date and this has been fixed earlier in the year - don't let it float and get caught out!

Click here to view the August 16, 2013 Scouting Report.

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
www.cdgaturf.org
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
Green speeds are the topic of the moment - surprisingly! This week we have been relatively dry and not too hot with the exception of Wednesday. It has meant that the golf courses have started to really dry out and for green speeds this usually means good things. Dry and firm always means fast surfaces, and many golfers tend to appreciate this. The issue that we run into is - how far can we let turf go before turf health is negatively impacted resulting in turf death and bare patches with weed infestations. The balancing act has not just occurred this year or last, it's an annual issue. Reducing mowing heights helps speeds but so does double cutting at the traditional higher height - the issue is that, trying to be consistent with a greens surface is nigh on impossible unless you have no trees, every green is virtually flat and facing the same direction toward the sun and has proper grasses, drainage and wear is evenly dissipated across the greens surface - this does not happen. I always think the best analogy to mowing height is this - if you continuously cut the top of your little finger off for 20 years every day, how do you think it would look and more importantly how healthy would it be. Greens are inherently unhealthy and vary dramatically from hole to hole, from undulations particularly in 100 year old greens that were designed for balls to roll 8-9ft, to heavily shaded sites where grasses elongate and stay wet for extended periods of time ruining cutting quality, to southern facing slopes that get hot by 11am in the morning and turn into concrete by 2pm. The dry conditions this week allowed many of you consistency in your surfaces which had been a battle all summer as far as I have seen.

As a turfgrass manager you need to know these differences and many of you are on top of this, it does mean however you have the hotspot holes which frustrate you annually and tend to lead to head scratching and lost sleep. Keeping things simple and creating a base to build on is always important, getting oxygen into the soil, sufficient nutrients, properly and consistently timing cultural practices are all going to benefit turf health. The more you have these lined up - the more you may be able to push it without plunging of the cliff.

Click here to view the August 9, 2013 Scouting Report.

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
www.cdgaturf.org
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
Well, I think I deserve some credit for bringing the best weather in four years - I can't do much more to make life easier on the 1st of August! These last two weeks have been fantastic for turf and for golf and anyone that had an issue should be starting to see some serious recovery. As always this can change so continue to expect the unexpected! The date August 15th has been mentioned many times and it is now less than two weeks away with good weather forecast for at least 10 of those days. In many places I suspect grass should be basically jumping out of the ground!

To that end, while no one has made any comments about the roughs, they have been very healthy this year and so the push will continue to keep them under control. Financially they are costly from a labor and equipment standpoint. In many golf clubs the roughs will cause some discomfort for managers, the season opens and roughs are growing very well, this leads to complaints about the rough being too thick. Managers understand that the push of growth early will recede and with heat building, many rough areas will thin out and be in trouble later in the summer. Fertilization in the spring is common to try and combat this - and hopefully a slow release fertilizer is the only source of nutrition at that time. The issue however is playability, and so huge consideration must be given to turf health, balancing speed of play, difficulty and fairness of the golf course. However, this year, the climate has meant that your growth did not slow dramatically and roughs have stayed thick and very healthy. If you don't believe the complaints, walk the course, it always teaches you more than riding, also play it - you like the members will find the spots for sure. Communication with the members and architect are key to solving the problem long term.

Click here to view the August 2, 2013 Scouting Report.

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
www.cdgaturf.org
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
Well we are just over half way through the summer season with another six weeks to go until the end of August. Many of you feel that 15th of August means relief and if you have not lost turf by then, you will be good for the rest of the year. This week was the first test and it seems like many of you came through. It is the first however and it does mean that the roots which looked excellent 3 weeks ago are not a happy bunch right now and probably have retracted dramatically. That being the case despite the cool weather predicted early next week, trying to get oxygen down in the hot soil is the best thing you can do early next week. Many people I have talked to this week have cut back on a lot of things, whether its top dressing, raising mowing heights or growth regulation. The understanding that grass is not recovering as quickly and pushing turf harder will lead to problems is clear.


Click here to view the July 19, 2013 Scouting Report.

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
www.cdgaturf.org
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
This week gave us some good examples of how plants react to hot weather.  Multiple days with heat indexes over 100 degrees has been enough for the plants to show typical stress symptoms of growing conditions that are not optimal.  Up to this point of the season, aside from being a little wet, the weather has been very conducive to growing plants that we do.  This allowed us to maintain a very healthy plant - one that can withstand a stretch of temperatures like we have had this week.

 The Salvia that is in the circle drive in front of the clubhouse has had fantastic color all season.  This week the blooms have slightly faded in color.  Some petals have even fallen off.  We have been diligent about keep moisture available to the plant, but the heat has been too much stress.  This is a particularly unique situation on the property due to its location.  This bed is in the center of a circle of asphalt which exacerbates the hot temperatures.

This picture shows the temperature of the asphalt adjacent to the planting bed.  134 degrees!  The radiant heat from the drive is too much for the flowers to handle.  Thankfully, we only receive these temperatures for stretches at a time.  Once a few days of cooler temperatures set in, the plants will have a chance to recover.  And, hopefully, present the vibrant color it had earlier, before another heat wave comes through.  It's summer in Chicagoland, so we are bound to have a few of these stretches.  It helps us to appreciate the cooler stretches even more.
The weather forecasters have their special weather statements out for the week, so it is time to have ours.  The most difficult stretch of weather so far this year is upon us, and we are doing what we can to keep the grass as healthy as possible.  During these weather stretches, if you feel uncomfortable in the hot and humid weather, the grass feels the same way.  We try to keep the grass as healthy as possible to make it through this type of weather.  So far so good, but 2 more days is a long time in this heat.

Working to manage moisture in this type of heat is critical to turf health.  I have heard some comments after we had 0.30 inch of rain Monday like "I bet this really helped the course."  Actually, any excess rain during hot stretch is very detrimental to our efforts to keep a healthy playing surface.  The first picture shows a few patches of disease, this particular one arrises during hot and wet periods.  The picture on the left shows our efforts to remove moisture by dragging dew in the mornings.

The playing surfaces are healthy and in good condition which is our number 1 effort for getting through these type of stretches.  If you see some things different on the course this week, it may only be temporary while we work through the heat.
This week I took the opportunity to visit courses in Central Illinois and it was a very nice week visiting and interacting with some of the hard working ingenious superintendents in the area. It's a very different dynamic in central and southern Illinois where issues such as goosegrass and crabgrass are more prolific. Grasses differ and the pressures from disease, insects and weeds are much more difficult to deal with. I would like to thank the superintendents for their hospitality and graciousness when I visited. I will continue to get down and meet people going forward - so if I didn't get to you this time, let me know, I will be back!

The one factor that came up which has been constant was climate and its variation. Golf course superintendents regardless of location understand that everything they do is at the mercy of the climate. There is usually a theme that runs through a season which leaves an indelible mark on the mind going into next year. This week I did pick up some really interesting tidbits which we can all consider as valuable information. In tough years - use the issues you see as testing for the next year. It may be that your product or cultural practice may not have worked this year due to timing or the excess moisture. It does mean that you can start to consider other options looking into next year and also remember what worked for you this year is conditions which brought high disease pressure or high rainfall amounts. If you end the year saying to yourself 'boy I sure hope we don't have another year like that' - as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west - it will be worse! However if you end the year thinking about what changes you need to make to get you through and it's an easier year - then you get to have the benefit of being over prepared. The other topic I picked up on this week was irrigation and water management and I will touch on it in the strategies portion of the report. However the crucial issue and lead point is this - know what the weather is doing to you. Turfgrasses in rootzones that have been wet and get into hot and humid conditions are not going to lose much water - the evaporative pressure to lose it is not there, thus watering is counterintuitive. Micro climates are of course going to throw this off but that comes down to you knowing your course. High sunny days with plenty of air movement are great weather especially after an inch of rain, that doesn't mean that the inch of rain is still there - don't lose turf because you failed to water either - watching and understanding the weather will allow you to do the simple things - and the doing simple things right makes for some good living.


Click here to view the July 12, 2013 Scouting Report.

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
www.cdgaturf.org
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
That time of year has arrived once again for all of us. It seems the heat or what heat we may get has begun to build. Its also that time of year where problems start to pop up. This is also the time you lose the most sleep and deal with the emergencies while trying not to pull your hair out. It is also the time that we can over manage.... Turfgrass mowed at such low heights is always a difficult proposition to handle and pushing it through heat and humidity usually results in problems. It may take some form of trigger for you but at some stage soon, raising the mowing height a touch and reducing wear and tear from extra rolling and excess topdressing will stop. You know as managers that pushing the turf hard will result in loss of quality not just on greens but also on collars. Over managing is probably one of the biggest problems we create for ourselves. Therefore - that extra application of product, that extra roll or mow just for a few extra inches - is it really worth it? Grass on your greens all year round is a far better sight than not! 

In light of the fact this week was a holiday shortened week, I did want to make note of the time of year as most of you probably all know. During the summer the golf course industry becomes extremely hectic. Its tough on you as managers, but its also tough on your families - don't forget to take a moment and get out of the tunnel that is the 6.30 am shotgun start tomorrow. The pressure you put on yourself to produce championship conditions everyday is probably undue, and its not the day to day parts that put the course in excellent condition but more a balanced approach early in the year when grass growth is at its optimum that lays the ground work for the good life during the stress of summer. Sometimes it pays to step back and smell the roses so to speak. 

Click here to view the July 5, 2013 Scouting Report. 
 

Ed Nangle PhD 
Director of Turfgrass Programs 
Chicago District Golf Association
www.cdgaturf.org 
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
I am reposting this video that demonstrates the proper method for repairing ball marks.  Play has been picking up on the course and ball marks are becoming very noticeable.  It is not hard to repair a ball mark and it only takes a few seconds.

Two things are critical to repairing a ball mark correctly:

1. Pull the grass from the edges to the center of the mark. - When a ball mark is made, it is very likely that grass will die in the middle of the mark.  Pulling the grass from the edges to the center leave less area for the grass to cover while healing.

2. Tap the repaired mark level after fixing. - After fixing the mark, always tap any raised grass level.  This leaves a level surface for the next group.




This week I was all ready to produce a profound and deeply insightful scouting report. Tuesday night and Wednesday morning changed that. The problems with rainfall are unprecedented and will leave some of your colleagues in tough situations going forward. The response and empathy however is what struck me strongly this week and followed on from last weekend at the Encompass Championship. As an industry I would like to say that your willingness to lend a hand and jump in to do whatever it takes is astounding in the region. I have been delighted to see volunteers help in so many situations to try and get the job done. The passion that is here for the golf courses you manage has been in plain sight over the last 5-7 days and I would like to say that you all deserve a slap on the back. It is a pity however that this is only the start of the summer!

The teamwork you have instilled in your crews has shone through and I can only say that the golf courses here are benefitting immensely from the same mentality on a day to day basis. In light of the fact that the soil saturation has continued basically all the way since ground thawed, please try, and try some more to get oxygen into your roots. If the 'weather forecast' holds for the upcoming week the cool off in temperatures will provide some relief, but pencil tining your greens is the least you can do to help yourself going forward. This may be also a great time to start considering future drainage projects - so use the problem to create a long term benefit where possible. The crews all deserve respect for the long hard hours they have put in cleaning the courses up and I'm sure they will take all the appreciation they can get - you will need them to step up again so keep them happy! Its events like this, whether, weather or tournaments which make me realize what a great industry made up of great people we are in - long may it continue!


Click here to view the June 28, 2013 Scouting Report.

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
www.cdgaturf.org
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
June 30, 1973 was just another day for the members and their guests at Naperville Country Club.  Nothing significant enough happened that would have caused a person to remember an event they may have witnessed on the course.  If you were on the course that day, you may have seen an 18 year-old on his first day of work at the club staining the old wooden bridge that once existed over the waterway in front of 2 tee.  On June 29, 2013 you would have found that same man in the maintenance facility checking the cut on the greens mowers.  For 40 years Greg Morar has been the club’s mechanic, fabricator, handyman and any other person the club has asked him to be. 

After only 3 weeks of work on the grounds staff, the superintendent learned that Greg had worked in a lawnmower repair shop and had him fixing equipment in short order.  Greg has assumed that role since then, as well as short periods as the assistant superintendent and interim superintendent along the way.  Greg has seen this club through lots of changes.  It is always enjoyable to listen to him reminisce on his time working here.  Whether it is something he has seen at night while changing the old quick-coupler irrigation system, or rants he has witnessed from members unsatisfied with their golf game that day, it will surely bring a laugh.

Greg prefers to do his job unrecognized in the confines of the maintenance facility.  But his importance to the green department will not go unrecognized.  Nearly everything we need to accomplish our tasks on a daily basis requires a piece of equipment-a piece of equipment that Greg has checked, set and given the OK to use; or a specific tool-a specific tool that Greg has fabricated or modified for our use.  Nothing on the course gets done without Greg preparing something that is involved in completing the task.


You likely will not see Greg on the course too often, but if you do, be sure to thank him for his 40 years of dedicated service to Naperville Country Club.
This week and the next few weeks there are a couple of things which I think are important to you and your golf course which can make or break your summer. This weekend we have our first blast of heat and humidity. As everyone has some grasp of the problems this brings in relation to disease pressure increasing, I can only hope that you have had a plan in place for this type of weather in relation to disease management. There are some points however that while I have already touched on them need to be re enforced - opening up your soil profile without huge amounts of disturbance will be crucial for maintaining oxygen in around the rhizosphere and the more oxygen you can get down there right now the better. Empathy is a word I feel is useful for managers who have had some of the vast amounts of precipitation since the start of the year. You have gone from saturation with little heat to high heat and humidity pretty quickly and this is not a nice change. Moving water as much as possible away from the rootzone is a primary concern and again wetting agents will be of use to you regardless of rainfall. Remember - oxygen is crucial right now and the best way to get it into the roots is to open the profile up as much as possible with limited disturbance to play.

Secondly - everyone has had or is getting into member competition times. These can really set up well as long as the climate cooperates. You have worked all year to set up for a great day or weekend and it's nice to receive the compliments for your labor. It is also important to remember the day is about the game of golf and not the golf course itself - promoting faster play, sustainable conditions, quality surfaces and meeting the demand of memberships all come about through effective communication. Tournament set up is not the same as day to day set up due to labor cost, turfgrass management practices and time management - this can be communicated effectively to ensure there is grass on the golf course all through the summer. You can also use the events to showcase your efforts and professionalism and so don't treat them as another headache in the way of maintaining the course - if they are not there - then there is little reason to have the course. Try to keep everything even handed and ensure that your staff knows what to expect ahead of the event - life gets easier.

Finally - as the summer stress hits remember you may not be able to always beat the weather and so keeping a calm head and trying to decompress will be crucial to both you - and your grass!

Click here to view the June 21, 2013 Scouting Report.

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
www.cdgaturf.org
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
This weekend is "Tee It Forward" weekend.  Below are 2 videos talking about why to tee it forward.  This initiative would accomplish two things that inexplicably seem to be lacking amongst the membership - play faster and have more fun.  Leave your ego and give it a try this weekend!




Be sure to double check the schedules for the club this weekend. Fireworks Extravaganza happens on Sunday afternoon!


Extreme might be the best word to describe this week. Precipitation events and non-events have been dominant for our golf courses all over the region this week. The volumes and more importantly the time period that the precipitation fell over have been problematic to say the least. Steady rainfall and dark wet days might be more associated with the Emerald Isle but in actuality 'soft' rains tend to wet the ground much more thoroughly and give the soil profile time to push water through rather than ponding. This week it has been far from 'soft' rain. At Sunshine Course in Lemont on 6/9 - 6/10 we had 0.6" of rain overnight which returned the soil profile to saturation. However as I found out that evening the variations in the regions were dramatic. Reports of 0 to 1.4" across the region came in with drying conditions north of the city turning to trashed bunkers and standing water on the south side. The storms that passed through 6/12-6/13 also had dramatic variations. Unfortunately Joliet had 2" but colleagues up at Makray Memorial had 0.4" and no damage. This leads to large volumes of run off and soil erosion - however from an environmental standpoint turfgrass has proven vital to water filtering and negating soil erosion. Thus it is always important to have your turfgrass in optimal condition at all times.

On the up side it is US Open week and already Merion has been eating them up. One other event coming up for us in the Chicagoland is the Encompass Championship (June 17-23) and if you get the chance go out and support the work at North Shore CC.


Click here to view the June 14, 2013 Scouting Report.

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
www.cdgaturf.org
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
I received several surprised reactions when people learned that carts would be available for golfers today.  This was on the heals of 1.2 inches of rain yesterday evening and last night.  No doubt we missed the brunt of the storms, but the course was in great shape after that amount of rain.  We perform several maintenance practices that may present a short-term disturbance, but the long-term benefits are evident on days like today.

All through the season we are continuously monitoring the course after rains to identify potential areas for drains.  Every spring and fall we try to do 2 or 3 of the worst draining areas.  This spring we completed a drain near 1 tee that would hold water for very long periods of time, which created problems for the carts that drove near there (post here).  We also installed a drain at 8 approach (post here).  This was not a large area, but being so close to the green, it was often in play.  We had other areas in mind for  drains, but the abnormally wet spring has delayed those drainage projects until fall.  Last year we complete 2 large drainage projects-one on 11 fairway, and on at 14 approach-both of these projects provided a noticeable benefit to the playability of the course.

Our fairway topdressing program is continuously displaying its benefits.  As this project continues through the years, the growing sand layer allows for water to better percolate through the surface of the soil.  This topdressing, combined with regular drainage projects provides and excellent playing surface through a wide range of weather conditions.

We always aerate as much as possible.  This creates holes in the soil that allow air and water to better exchange between the soil and air above.  Though the grass may cover the holes on the surface, the channels in the soil last for extended periods of time.

These practices show a very slight disturbance to the playing surface.  But, their long-term benefits far outweigh any inconvenience that may be created.  That is evident on days like today.
Undoubtedly everyone is waiting for this weather to end and that includes us turfgrass managers - or maybe not! This week on my way around the courses, meeting with superintendents it became clearly obvious how competitive Poa annua is, if it has the right conditions. The last ten days have been party time for Poa and while you may be scratching your heads, the continuation of what begun last week is far from your control. Temperatures have been around ideal for Poa with no consistent heat to benefit creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) growth and this is following a long, wet winter - as I said last week - it's not surprising that it has been a tough start on Poa control this year. The weather data again has pointed toward cool conditions with lower light levels over the last week and it seems that until the middle of next week at least it will not let up. Unfortunately we cannot put up an umbrella and turn on the heaters and so communication with members is a key to management at this time of the year. Once the heat returns - the growth of Poa will go into reverse rapidly and lose density unfortunately. The biodiversity of Poa with annual and perennial biotypes and hundreds of others in between which all have adapted to YOUR golf course in some unique way makes them far more competitive than bentgrass - particularly in this weather.

Click here to view the June 7, 2013 Scouting Report.

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
www.cdgaturf.org
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
Our crop of summer flowers has arrived and we have begun the process of planting them.  We have another delivery coming, but the first one included the majority of plantings.  This first set will be done by the end of the week and includes all of the flowers for the entrance and clubhouse.

The picture above is what the bed around the flagpole looks like today. It is hard to believe what they will look like after a couple of months of growth.  This picture is from a couple of years ago, and shows what you can look forward to.  We will begin a regular schedule of watering and fertilizing in a couple of weeks.  We like to get them in the ground and have a little growth in the soil before we begin to push them.
Without meaning to state the obvious for everyone but it's been a wet one! It is also the end of May and so the 'honeymoon period' may be at an end for yours truly!

As you can see in our data accumulated here at Sunshine Course rainfall has been voluminous and prolonged over the last week. It means you may have run into a range of management problems which will have short term and long term effects on your golf course. As courses vary the impact of the rainfall you may have had will also vary. Drainage, temperature and level of submersion are all issues that will play a role in the health of your turfgrass during periods of high precipitation. Fortunately temperatures have not been excessive recently and this will save any major problems for golf courses in the current period. However if similar conditions arise, combined with increasing water temperatures (50 - 86°F), extended periods of submersion will become a greater problem. Another 2 inches is predicted over the weekend also!

Good aeration practices, drainage and practices aimed at maintaining healthy turf will help managers get through the periods of extended submersion that some locations may be suffering from. The rainfall we have dealt with over the last week is certainly enough to have clay soils at field capacity (45-50% volumetric water content) and some golf greens have been at 30% volumetric water content (VWC) or higher. We have been able to measure this using the recently purchased TDR device which we wrote about last week.

Click here to view the May 31, 2013 Scouting Report.

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
www.cdgaturf.org
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
We have had a few rounds of severe weather already this year.  More is predicted for this afternoon and evening.  We hope the little damage we have received to this point in the year will continue through.  With these rounds of weather, it is time to remind you of our lightning detection system and what the signals mean.

Sirens are located on the top of the clubhouse, and near the green on hole 13.  When the sirens sound one long blast, all golfers are required to leave to the course and take shelter in the Halfway House or the Clubhouse. It is not an alert that means watch for bad weather. It means lightning has been detected nearby and it is dangerous to be outside.

Three short blasts from the siren means "all clear".  Just because it has stopped raining and it appears the storm has passed does not mean the lightning danger has passed as well.  Golfers are required to wait for the "all clear" signal before they can return to the course.
Next PostNewer Posts Previous PostOlder Posts Home