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.
It has been a rainy couple of weeks on the golf course.  4.7 inches of rain since last Tuesday morning, and we are watching rain build on the radar for tonight.  Tornado watches are already out for areas west of Chicago.  Our schedule has been rearrange the last 10 days, but somehow we have managed to get things mowed.  Timing has been delayed, and grass has been tall, but it is still getting cut.

The rain, with a little bit of sun, has really greened the course. With the good comes the bad-the rough is growing and is very thick.  It is in the tail end of the roughs most prolific growth cycle of the year, so I suspect the continuous searching for golf balls will come to and end.  This has also been one of the wettest springs on record, which has helped to thicken the rough as well.  A heavy dose of rain tonight may push us over that old record.

Through it all, the course has come through the spring well and is in good shape for the start of summer.  Summer flowers will be showing up next week.  More drainage work is planned, but has been put on hold due to the rain.

Let's hope the rain tonight and tomorrow is light so this weekends Member-Member will be dry.
From the perspective of weather - I have learned that Chicago and the region certainly have periods of extremes over short time spans - and distances! I did realize that when the high on May 14th at Sunshine Course in Lemont reached 94.9 degrees, meanwhile it was 81 degrees on the North Shore close to the lake - nice life! It certainly means that there are some extremes that you have to deal with based on the situations and I hope that you can communicate this to your members regarding temperatures and how you handle their effects. Another thing I learned this week is that even though we have multiple weather stations on Sunshine Course - they really do show the effects of micro-climates - and it's something that everyone needs to remember in their daily management. Despite the fact they may be separated by only 20 feet - there can be multiple degrees of temperature difference and this may reduce the competitiveness of bentgrass in particular at this time of year against Poa annua.

Click here to view the May 24, 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
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
Monday started the week as one of the driest days of the year, but the following days have been some of the wettest.  Storms on Monday night into Tuesday morning left 2.05 inches of rain at the course.  Water was across the 16th fairway and running behind the 14th green for the 2nd time this year.  By the end of the day, the water was down and the course was in good shape.  However, storms Tuesday night brought another 0.60 inches on Wednesday morning and 0.50 inches through the day Wednesday.  This brought the total to 3.15 inches and has left the course very wet.  Carts have not been allowed yesterday or today and the only hope for carts on Thursday is if we do not get anymore rain.

We were forced to repair bunkers on Tuesday morning as well as repair a few wash outs of the cart paths.  Other than the rain, the course has exhibited little other storm damage aside from the tree on the right side of 9 fairway.  A large limb fell on Monday night.  It is unclear exactly why this limb failed with the lack of tree debris elsewhere, but there was evidence of some rot from moisture in the crotch of the branch.  This limb has been cleaned.

These rains have also hindered our ability to get equipment on the course.  We still have plans to get the rough cut down before the weekend and have the course back to its usual condition, but extra rain will have to avoid us.

While we were under snow in the first week of March, we went inside the Clubhouse for one last winter project.  Here is the blog post about that ("One More Winter Project").  Yesterday, the other half of that project was completed.  There was much anticipation for the new TV, but most did not know what was actually going in.  This will likely turn out to be a popular place to watch the games.  There is a good chance hockey fans will be watching the Blackhawks on Thursday.
Its back!

Members and fellow turf professionals, the weekly scouting report is back and hopefully with some new and interesting tidbits to keep you guys in a comfort zone as we move through the golf season. I will aim to talk about a range of topics on top of what we see on a weekly basis with a paragraph on my take on abiotic stresses that we may be seeing. Finally - I will say I am very excited to be here and hope to get out and interact with you all very soon.

Click here to view the May 17, 2013 Scouting Report.

I would like to wish everyone the best for the season and I hope I can continue to serve you as well as my predecessors. If you do need an extra set of eyes or have some ideas for research please don't hesitate to call. It has been excellent getting to meet everyone so far and I hope to continue the process.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
We have been fielding many comments over the last couple of weeks about the difficulty of the rough on the course.  This is not unusual for this time of year.  We have made posts to the blog previously about the growth habit of grass in the spring.  Here is a link to a post on May 16th (almost the same day) in 2011-It's Rough Out There!  There is nothing new to add to that post.

Spring is a usual time for rapid growth of cool season grass-like we have in the rough.  It is difficult to keep up with the rough mowing during all of the activities we like to accomplish in the spring.  We have been mowing the rough two times per week and localized spots have been getting mowed three times.  This rapid growth of the grass will pass and the course will play to what golfers are accustomed to playing in the summer and fall.

We do present 2 different heights of cut in the rough.  Our first cut of rough is 1 inch shorter than our second cut.  The first cut is 4 passes with our Sidewinder mower which will create approximately 20 feet of shorter grass around each fairway and 10 feet around the par 3 approaches.  This picture shows a ball sitting in the first cut of rough.

The second cut of rough is the lowest priority area on the course.  It is the area that we do the least amount of maintenance to.  This picture shows a ball sitting in the second cut of rough.

I am pasting here the last paragraph of the post "It's Rough Out There"  It is a great summary to the varying conditions on the course:

The course is ever changing.  In the spring the rough makes the course challenging, following a rain event you might not get 30 yards of roll in the fairways thereby changing your approach shot into a green, on a windy day your drive could be blown off course…  The influences that nature has on the course is integral to the game, it creates interest.  It is up to the player to adapt their game so as to overcome seasonal influences.

You may have noticed the Club's slow play policy during events for this year.  Slow play has been an increasing issue not only here but at all courses.  Here is a great article by Tim Moraghan from Golf Course Industry Magazine in April regarding slow play (link to full article).  I have copied the recommendations for golfers:

At the USGA’s annual meeting a few months ago, it was announced that it will begin addressing pace of play, not only in their own events (good luck with that!), but down at our level, too. Along with many new programs to educate golfers (watch for another scintillating series of advertisements), the USGA said the Green Section will work with clubs to find ways to prepare courses to encourage faster play.
Hold on a second. I take a back seat to no one in my distaste for slow play. I’ll support any good ideas that tackle the problem and will offer some down below. But you and I and everyone else with a pulse know where slow play is worst: On the pro tours, which we watch every week on television.
PGA and LPGA Tour players are so methodical and deliberate, it’s painful to watch. Yet, we copy them.
Most of us have neither the ability nor the reason to spend 60 seconds lining up a two-foot putt. I don’t think the pros really do either, but they do and likely will continue to. So I’d like to propose that the pros stand up and say, “Don’t play like us. When you are ready to play, play. You’re not playing for thousands of dollars, this isn’t your livelihood, it’s supposed to be fun. So please, don’t copy us, but play faster.”
It won’t happen, but it’d be a start.
As for the USGA attempting to tackle this disease, I’d hope our national governing body has more important issues than how fast the 20-handicapper is playing. But if we agree slow play sucks, I suggest we help in this endeavor.
Here are some suggestions to superintendents, architects and golfers on how they can speed up the game.
For Golfers
  • Play “ready golf.” Hit it, find it, and hit it again
  • If someone in your group is slow, tell him. And don’t perpetuate his slowness by waiting: When you’re ready to hit, hit!
  • Get off your cell phone
  • Practice on the range, not the course. And those five practice swings before each shot don’t help
  • Mulligans? Extra shots through the green? Certainly not if anyone is waiting. And even if they’re not waiting. Don’t
  • When it comes to choosing which tees to play, leave your ego in the car and play to your skill level. And even then, “playing it forward” is always a smart idea
  • If you must use a rangefinder or GPS, do it quickly and appropriately: It doesn’t help on a shot less than 60 yards
  • Plumb-bobbing and walking around the hole checking the breaks isn’t necessary to make your two-footer for a 7
  • Rake footprints when leaving a bunker
  • Fix ball marks on the green
  • Park your cart or place your bag or trolley on the side of the green closest to the next tee
  • Be honest with yourself. Know and accept your limitations. You’ll play better and have more fun
  • Understand the biggest reason for slow play among us 20 handicappers is the $5.00 golf ball

If we all do our part, the USGA can concentrate on its core competencies: the Rules of Golf, conducting national championships, and causing/settling equipment controversies.

The few areas on the course with pine trees got a face lift this week.  These areas got the pine cones and sticks cleaned up and a cleaned up the edges of the pine needles.  New lines for the pine needles were made in some areas.

The finished product leaves a clean look with clean lines.
Another project that was done last Monday was at 8 green and involved a drain and some new sod.  This bank in front of the green was almost completely bentgrass. (You can see how much bentgrass is on the slope by comparing the color of the dew covered grass on the slope with the color of the grass in the fairway)  Bentgrass at green/tee/fairway height will create a fine playing surface, but at rough height will create and uneven mess.  Having this spot of bentgrass so close to the green after slogging the first 600 yards of the hole could result in a very difficult chip.  We decided to cut it out and replace it with bluegrass and install a drain in the approach and at the bottom of the valley while we were at it.

This valley in front of the green was abnormally wet for extended periods of time as well.  After trenching a little we noticed why.  The top layer of soil looks good, but under it was not.  This light brown and light gray under the top layer was very high in clay and will not drain well.  This drain should prove to be a great benefit to the area as well.

The drain extended out into the approach and a few laterals were installed to it as well.  This will help the approach drain better after rains also.

Here is the finish product a week later.  It will take a couple of weeks to get the seems to grow together and get the pieces rooted enough to allow foot traffic on it.  We do have signs up near this area to remind golfer to stay off.  This area should play much better this season compared to previous seasons.
I have some catching up to do with blog post from last week.  Most of this you will have already seen if you were fortunate enough the enjoy the beautiful weather for the Walrus Open on Saturday.  We completed the first aeration of the year on the greens last Monday.  A verti-cutting, aeration and a little topdressing was completed all in one day.  We had some disruptions in the plan for the day, but everything was completed.

This is the first spring aeration that has been done on these greens.  Our biennial Turf Advisory Service visits with the USGA agronomist have recommended adding a spring aeration to stall the accumulation of organic matter created by the dense growing habit of the grass.  This is a process we will try to do as many times as possible, however, playing conditions remain a top priority.
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