A week of contrasts is the best way to describe this most recent week. Storms early in the week brought much flooding and damage to many courses, while towards the end of the week, conditions cooled off and turned rather comfortable. The lake has been creating its own problems as cold water in the center has led to a clash of temperatures and fronts around the city and mornings were extremely foggy and putting it nicely, cool. Further to that turfgrass canopies were staying very wet for extended periods which really was not what was needed.

The excess moisture and some of the extremely high humidity that we saw this week lead to further diversity on the disease front. I do not envy anyone trying to grow grass in tropical situations - there must be insane disease pressure - early this week we did get a taste of it, but summer is here so it's to be expected. Many courses are on the precipice of final recovery from what has been a long winter. I will say however spare a thought for managers in Minnesota who experienced something similar last year and dealt with the remnants into the early part of August - so be grateful for little mercies!

Our forecast is for the first three day spell in the 90's back to back to back, so depending on humidity, timing of control applications and how hot it actually will get, it could be a tough start to the week. Fortunately conditions look like cooling off so some relief is on the way. More importantly we can hope to see some bright skies which will help places which have been in fog and heavy cloud all week doing bentgrass no favors.

Click here to view the June 27, 2014 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
Changes around 1 tee have been underway since last fall.  Several projects have been done to provide a fresh look to this area.  We are nearing the finishing stages and hope to have it wrapped up before the Fireworks Extravaganza on June 29th.

The project began last fall when 3 spruce trees were removed to highlight a maturing Bur Oak.  Clearing of the overgrown shrubs behind the tee continued last week.  The remaining shrubs that still stand behind the tee will be replaced with this project.  We have a few steps to complete before we can remove those plantings and introduce new.

The curb was cut today to accommodate the new routing of the path, which will be out of the circle drive rather than around the back of the tee.  The former cart path behind the tee will be cut narrower and used as a walking path.  The additional area from narrowing the path will be used for the new plantings.

Work is also being done today to trim up the pines left of 1 tee.  This work also involves defining grassing lines and spreading fresh pine needles under the trees.
Divots, unfortunately, are an unavoidable result of members and their guests enjoying the Club.  Divots will be present at all times, and repairing those divots is a constant effort of the membership, the staff and ..... the golf course!  Yes, the golf course plays the most important role in the recovery of divots.  Once a divot is taken we ask members to replace the divot if it is still in tact.  The Grounds staff then fills any divots that are not able to be replaced.  Once the divot has been replace or filled, the area has been prepped for a full recovery.  It is up the the course at that point to heal the grass.  This picture, and these 4 divots, were take on October 3, 2013.

Immediately after these divots were take, they were repaired using 3 different methods.  One was left unrepaired.  I will refer to the divots from left to right as 1-4.  Far left is 1, far right is 4.
-Divot 1 is repaired with soil only.
-Divot 2 is not repaired.
-Divot 3 is replaced.
-Divot 4 is repaired with seed and soil.
Some notes after they have been repaired.  The replaced divot (3) is barely noticeable.  Divots 1 and 4, though they have been repaired still look like divots.  This is why we ask golfers to always replace their divot if possible.  It will heal quicker, and looks better after it has been replaced.  Now that all (except 2) have been repaired, we have to rely on the course to heal itself.

Here is a follow up picture of these divots taken today.  7 months after they were repaired!  Though divots 1 and 4 have been repaired, they are still visible, because the last piece of the puzzle - the course healing itself - has not had an opportunity to happen.  Any divots that were on the course at the beginning of October or have been taken since the beginning of October have not had the opportunity for the course to heal them.  The weather has been too cold.  Unfortunately, the best time for divots to heal is also the best time for golf on the course.  This is why there will always be divots on the course to heal.

We will be adding divot bottles in the fairways starting this weekend for members to fill divots if they are not able to replace it.  Now that the warmer temperatures are beginning to arrive, and the course will be able to do its part in the recovery process, all three sources of recovery will be in place for the golf season.

Hurry up and wait is about the only way to describe the current situation for many courses. Frustration has set in with the climate as the cold, wet, cloudy weather is good for nothing except spending time worrying about it at the bar. Many superintendents who responded to the recent survey sent out by CDGA and MAGCS indicated the most consistent reason as to why they did not have damage was purely down to the fact that they have a strong creeping bentgrass stand on their putting surfaces. I think they might even feel a little bit guilty - if not, they certainly are extremely grateful!

Germination has been slow and while covers will help to warm soils they do very little as far as making an immediate putting surface. Moisture has arrived in a somewhat more consistent manner although there were instances of heavy hail occurring this week in the western suburbs of Chicago. Staying the course and remembering it is somewhat out of your control in regards to climate will help to reign in the frustration somewhat. Take solace in knowing that many people are in the same situation, trying to get back to optimal conditions as soon as reasonably possible and that once soil temperatures get to >55°F consistently we will all feel some relief.

Many superintendents understand now what they have and I think the fear of loss has now been overcome with determination to beat the damage with the hope that there is some form of spring prior to the return of summer - roots have begun to make an appearance downward but it doesn't seem like they are sprinting as of yet. Courses have aerified and some are looking close to recovered while others just need some heat. Time is all that is required - which unfortunately is not there in abundance. If the forecast holds for next week with temperatures possibly reaching the 70's and if we are lucky a warm rain then help can be considered to be on the way!

Click here to view the May 2, 2014 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
The major capital project of the off season has been the addition of the cart path on hole 9.  The gravel base has been in and we have been waiting on the availability of asphalt to take the next step.  Well this week may be it.  The contractor will be out tomorrow to do a finish grade and rolling to prep the surface for asphalt.  Our hope is that asphalt will follow on Thursday.

This corner of cart path on hole 13 will be receiving a touch up with the installation of asphalt at the same time.  This area of red gravel is prone to washouts during heavy rains.  Capping this short area, up to the front tee on 13, will make it easier to manage.  A curb is planned for this area as well to manage traffic onto the fairway.  Naturally, new sod will be installed to make a fresh edge.
Recovery is underway in many sites it seems and covers can be seen dotted all around the city as soil temperatures took another plunge this week. The forecast currently though seems like 70's are a possibility for many of us and even the guys on the north shore should benefit from that in the near to medium term. As I have visited more locations the glorious inconsistency of who did what and how it worked out has been disarmingly frustrating. There are some incredible stories of doing nothing and looking impeccable in a tree lined tight site to doing nothing and 30-50% damage in an open sunny site. Turf managers who broke ice 24 hours after it formed still had some 'perfume' while others who didn't even let ice form have four greens covered. Some of you would take only four greens covered, but from the perspective of play it's still causing some questions, especially as we are into summer golf and scoring.

It is Easter weekend so I hope everyone has an enjoyable period prior to what will be a very active period based on the current weather forecast!

Click here to view the April 18, 2014 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

Turf Will Need Time To Heal This Season

By Keith Happ, director, North-Central Region
April 16, 2014

Reestablishing plant health above and below ground will be challenging this spring. Recovery can occur and turf performance can be sustained if adequate time is provided to new grass plants.
During the winter months a great deal of planning and preparation takes place. The agronomic planning sessions center on growing healthy grass that can present sustainable, consistent playing conditions during the summer months. For many, particularly those in the Northern tier of the North-Central Region, winter damage has severely impacted putting green turf’s emergence from dormancy this spring. We are now starting to get a feel for the extent of the damage experienced. Wind desiccation damage, crown hydration and anoxia have occurred. The emergence of new bud leaves is a sign that the grass will recover as long as adequate time is provided to reestablish surface density and root mass in the soil profile.
Golf is played on the surface of a dense stand of grass; however, it is the root mass in the soil that provides the foundation that allows grass to tolerate traffic and environmental stress during the summer months.

Please take the time to watch our webcast that was presented April 17 of this year. It focuses on recovery strategies to help regenerate grass on greens and other areas of the course for golf this season. (Watch the webcast)

Big changes will continue to be happening around the 1st tee in the coming weeks.  Last fall three spruce trees were removed to highlight a maturing Bur Oak.  This spring the aging and overgrown junipers and arborvitae behind the tee will be removed to make way for new plantings.

The plantings behind 1 tee have become overgrown and unsightly.  The objective of this project is to maintain the screening between the tee and the circle drive, but improve the aesthetic of the area due to it proximity to the front of the clubhouse.

When this project is complete, the cart path will no longer run behind the tee.  The curb will be cut to allow access to the 1st tee from the circle drive.  A walkway will be maintained where the cart path currently is, and the planting bed will be made larger to accommodate new plantings.  The new plantings will be similar to other that are in front of the clubhouse.  These models give an idea of what the new planting may look like when the project is complete.

This project will begin as the cart path on 9 is finishing up.  This will be a great change for the look at the front of the clubhouse.
The winter weather extremes are still the talk of Chicago area courses (especially with another blanket of snow today!), and likely will be for several more weeks while courses tend to the recovery process.  In this week's CDGA Turf Scouting Report posted yesterday, we learned the NOAA has declared this the coldest winter on record for Chicago.  I do not see anybody lining up to dispute that yet!  Several resources from several organizations have been produced over the past month regarding winter damage and the accompanying recovery process.  This is a result of the widespread winter damage across the upper midwest.  Courses from the east coast to Detroit to Chicago to Milwaukee are experiencing varying levels of winter damage.  Reports of reseeding greens and fairways are not hard to come by.

Here is a short list of recent publications on winter damage:

CDGA Winter Issues letter
Cool-Season Turf Winter Kill Potential
Winter-Weary Golfers need to be Patient
Recovery Will Be Part of the Preparation for the Season
MSU Ice Damage and Winter Kill bulletin
USGA Webcast: Severe Winter Concerns
MI Ice and Recovery Seminar Summary
Winter kill 2014: What to do now

We have not been immune to winter's wrath.  Evidence of the extreme weather is in our fairways.  Most obvious to me is the areas that have been damaged are areas that receive a longer duration of shade through the day.  This results in a weaker plant that will be less tolerant of weather extremes.  These areas also have higher populations of annual bluegrass (poa), which is less tolerant of weather extremes than bentgrass.

This picture clearly shows the the greatest area of damaged turf resides in the portion of the fairway that receives the most shade.  These trees are lining the south side of the fairway.

These areas of the fairways that exhibit the greatest level of damage have been over seeded in an attempt to expedite recovery.  Expect these areas to be roped off for some time until a decent stand of grass can be established.  These areas include spots in 2, 4, 5, 8 and 12 fairway.

The greens and tees on the course have come through the winter very well.  The benefits of the recent renovation are evident in these areas.  The greens and tees have predominately bentgrass which is showing its winter hardiness.  The 7th green is thinner to start the year.  It is no coincidence that this green had the longest duration of ice cover through the winter resulting in stresses, even on the bentgrass.  We will gauge the necessary recover efforts for this green as grass begins to grow.

 The spring will still be progressing slowly.  We will not be ramping up our manicuring efforts until the grass begin growing at a reasonable rate.  Though the grass is certainly greening up, not much is growing yet.  40s for highs and 20s for lows does not help any.  But, it looks like we will be back into the 60s by weeks end!
It's a record folks - NOAA has reported that this was the coldest winter on record by 0.4 of a degree for the Chicago area - the last previous record was set in 1903-1904.

I am guaranteeing that nobody was managing golf courses in the area at the time and I am also fairly sure that there are no notes on the recovery process - which means, one day at a time and no panicking. Seeding, watering, fertilizer and covers are the order of the day - of course if you have bentgrass greens then you may be just fine.

Further reports have come in of dead grass of course (Picture 1 and 2), but also further reports of timing of issues have come in. Recent conversations indicated that one course manager knew he had the 'smell of death' on February 16th when he broke ice. This is remarkable as this was right on the border for Poa annua as he had counted ice cover to be at 42 days. The smell was not a nice sweet hay smell that is preferred, but the bitterer version and now famous line 'smell of death'. The impact on his course has been particularly harsh.

Recovery times of course can only be estimated and are everyone's focus going forward - mild damage may see recovery very soon but from some of my visits I would expect that optimal conditions may take an extended period of time. A call to the USGA is recommended as well as signing up for their free recovery webinar here.

The other issue at hand is that our current temperatures have not been ideal - some warm conditions have come through but with lows predicted to return back in the high 20's / low 30's, that is from ideal for warming up soil temperatures and getting seed germination.

Click here to view the April 11, 2014 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
Carts, Practice Tee, Chipping Green and Halfway House will be added to the amenities available this weekend.  Sunny weather and sunshine have begun to push color onto the grass on the green, tees and fairways, however the rough has a ways to go yet.  Though the grass is green, we have not seen much growth yet.  This weather has been two steps forward, but it looks like one step back next week with high temperatures in the 40s for most of the week.

Some nice weather is predicted for Saturday, but Sunday does not look so nice.  Naturally, cart availability on Sunday will depend on soil conditions.  Any rain Saturday afternoon or evening could force cart restrictions on Sunday.
Welcome back everyone - it has been a long winter and while the calendar has officially entered springtime - Im not so sure that we are actually there yet. Snowfall March 24th and lows in the teens March 25th meant that old man winter has not let go of us just yet as far as temperatures go. As far the winter itself went it has been far from quiet from what I observed. Education talks were very well attended whether it was at Mauh-Nah-Tee-See in Rockford or Nashville GC in Nashville IL to Medinah CC at the annual CDGA club leadership conference led by the venerable Mr S. Solow - guys are suffering from some severe forms of cabin fever.

From my perspective it has been intriguing picking up on methods and thoughts behind how to deal with the winter. I do feel however that there are extremes that we have dealt with this year that it may have not made one iota of difference. Instances of ice build up were reported in late December and unfortunately some courses never shook the ice cover until early March. That time period 80-84 days will have certainly wiped out a lot of Poa annua - pictures are below. The courses with bentgrass of course avoided the worry of this but at the same time the recovery to growth may take a little longer than many of us would like.

From the personnel standpoint, we have hired Ron Townsend as our Director of Turfgrass Research. Ron a fellow Buckeye (I know I'm infesting the place) worked with the pathology program at OSU and most recently was up in Exmoor with the esteemed Mr. K. Galisdorfer. Ron was a Toro/Nicklaus scholarship award winner at OSU as well as a winner of the Trans-Miss scholarship. Ron will allow us to return to a much more normal research service while also aiding with data and website handling. Ron will contribute to the scouting report regularly and he may also be seen at meetings acting as my translator.....

Click here to view the April 4, 2014 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
The primary playing surfaces have been cleaned, bunkers raked, and holes cut.  The greens are back in play on Saturday for the 2014 season.  Though the calendar says April 5th, the weather has not acquiesced.  Early spring conditions prevail on the course.  We have also completed our spring aeration, so greens will be sandy, bumpy and slow for the weekend.  The key phrase is "in play", not necessarily "in shape" yet.  The soil has thawed, the grass has greened and they will safely accept traffic, so get out and satisfy your golf cravings in some sunny weather.

Our greens aeration was originally scheduled for April 7th.  However, with the great weather on Monday and Tuesday this week we moved up the aeration to take advantage of the great weather.  As usual, growing conditions will dictate how rapidly the holes will heal.  With some sun, and warmer soil temperatures, it will not take long.

April 2, 2014

March 27, 2012

It is funny to look at the two weather extremes side-by-side.  2012 was a very mild winter with a very early spring.  2014 is the exact opposite.  Warm weather and time will get us to this point.  Unfortunately, we can't control either one.
It has been a long time coming, but the course is showing signs of waking from its winter slumber.  It has been a slow start and the forecast is not showing signs of breaking that pattern yet.  Temperatures in the 50s will be hard to come by over the next couple of weeks.  Conditions have only allowed for a short period of time on the golf course to begin cleanup of leaves and branches.  We have not set a date for opening the greens yet.  We will need a few days of good weather to get on the greens before we can open them.  Check back for updates.

Overall, the course has come through the winter well.  However, we have been left with evidence of the severity of the weather patterns of the past few months.  While the greens and tees are fine, there are some areas in the fairways that look very weathered.  These are areas in the shade where snow sat for extended periods, or drainage patterns where ice formed.  The recovery of these areas will depend on when warmer temperatures begin to stick around.  Here are some photos of the worst areas around the course.  Again, they look bad now, but will heal as weather permits.

Slowly but surely we are gradually seeing more grass on the course.  A favorable forecast this week looks like that slow and steady melt will continue.  With so much snow left to melt, frozen soil and saturated conditions, we cannot speculate yet on a potential opening date for the course.  One thing we are expecting - once the course is open, it will be a slow spring.

This picture was taken this morning and show how much is left to melt yet.  This picture also shows what we are seeing in spots as the snow does recede.  The brownish area of fairway grass in the middle of the picture exhibits signs of grass that has succumbed to the winter weather.  We are seeing small areas like this in fairway drainage areas around the course.  I suspect more areas will exhibit similar signs as more can be seen.  Plugs have been take from these areas to see exactly how much damage has been done.

This is not the first time this type of damage has been observed on the course.  This picture was take during the spring of 2010 (blog post here).  The brown spots are patches of annual bluegrass, similar to the picture above.  Annual bluegrass is more susceptible to winter stresses than the bentgrass.  I anticipate seeing several spots around the fairways display this type of damage.  If we do find this type of damage once the snow melts, we will take the opportunity to sod and seed bentgrass into these areas.  The result however, will be a slow spring start to the season.

These are the only observations we have to this point.  We still have several areas covered in ice and snow.  None of the tees or greens show any observable damage from the winter.  However, 1 green, 5 green and 10 green are still covered in snow.  We will have more pictures up this week.  I am sure you are just as anxious to see some grass on the course as we are.
The prolonged harsh winter weather has prompted the flow of information regarding implications to playing surfaces this coming spring.  Here is and update from the CDGA:

Winter Turfgrass Update

As we hopefully manage to drag our selves out of winter over the next month we will start to see an uncovering of what the snow and ice has left for many of us. Concern has been rising amongst many of you for many reasons as the thaw begins. The depth of snow has varied of course and this is mainly impacted by wind and surfaces in exposed locations such as hillsides, open sites and southern facing areas may be more prone to the thinner layer of snow. The depth of snow has not been of huge concern however - the length of time it has stuck around however is maybe more problematic. The predominant turfgrasses in the region have different tolerances to the time of cover as well as temperature. The other issues are freezing and ice which, have two different effects will become more apparent as we go through the early to mid spring.

Click here to view the Winter Turfgrass Update

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
Along with the post from yesterday, the USGA has been releasing a series of videos "fore the golfer" regarding course etiquette.  Here is a video regarding course etiquette with the golf cart.

One of our capital projects we will have completed before next season is a new cart path on hole 9.  We were able to get a good start this fall before the ground froze.  The soil has been excavated and we were hoping to get a gravel base down, but winter decided to stick around.  We will pick up with the gravel base when the ground thaws in the spring.

The cart path is being installed to relieve the concentrated traffic pattern that occurs in the center of the fairway around the bunkers.  This traffic pattern compacts the soil and tears the the leaf blades causing a significant amount of stress to the grass plant.  The rope that was across the fairway the entire season this year helped to sustain better turf quality.  However, to fix the problem completely, a cart path with a curb from tee to green will be the best fix.  Hole 9 will now be entirely cart path only.

The cart path will tie-in with the existing cart path near the tee and run up the left side of the hole.  It will connect with the existing cart path near the green.  Another path from 9 tee across to 13 tee will be added as well for maintenance traffic.  This will remove maintenance traffic from 8, 12 and 4 fairway as we make trips to the dump located adjacent to hole 4.

It has been a long time, but we are cleaning the cob webs off the blog.  Lots has happened since the greens have closed.  We will try to bring you up to speed on the winter activities around the course and in the shop.

The course has been frozen and covered in snow for quite some time.  Certainly more of a real winter this season compared to recent winters.  We are back in a cold snap this week with several nights of negative temperatures in the forecast, and highs in the single digits.

Part of the delay in posts has been the adaption of a new look for the blog.  All of the same information is available.

Hope you have been able to enjoy the winter activities so far this season.  We will keep you updated on when conditions are favorable for activities.
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