The first changes to the course since the renovation are underway.  The "winter" weather has been fantastic and it has allowed us to make great progress.  The four new bunkers have taken shape and drainage and finish work is the next step.  We will continue to work on these as the weather allows, which appears to be a few more days.

Hole 11

The bunker on hole 11 was the first one shaped.  As the bunkers we dug on holes 10 and 11, the soil was moved to hole 2 to create the mound needed for the new bunker there.

Hole 10

The two new bunkers on the right side of hole 10 will provide a dramatic new look.  Soil removed from these bunkers was also moved to the new mounding on hole 2.

Hole 2

The new bunker on hole 2 will be on the right side of the approach.  The mounding from the bunker that is currently there was extended to create the mounding for the new bunker.

The rough work has been completed.  The next step is cutting the edges and installing drainage.  This will be accomplished as the weather allows through the winters.  We have been fortunate to accomplish this much work in December and will take advantage of any additional weather we receive.
For many of us as we head into the Fourth of July, a feeling of good fortune should abound. Temperatures have saved us from almost complete disaster after all the precipitation we have received. Many people will have noticed in the news that June was the wettest June on record in Illinois since records began in 1895. If you didn’t get washed away or notice that carts were not in use as much then you were not at the golf course! Fortunately, temperatures for many of us were not in the extreme heat situation and so while soils are somewhat saturated – potential for large scale root and patch diseases has been limited.
Masked chafers have arrived and presumably the adults are in the process of producing offspring as we speak. The offspring of course will become those lovely grubs that the skunks and raccoons love to dine on while turning the golf course into a plowed field. The drying conditions that are predicted over the holiday weekend may prove to be vital as we have high temperatures in the forecast for early next week. An opportunity exists next week to also see some of the great senior golfers as the Encompass Championship rolls into town - the start of the tournament season here in the area. Venting should have occurred this week as many of us drew breath after all the rainfall and the arrival of drier weather conditions. Etiolation has certainly arrived and managers now have to judge best practices as far as how hard they can push surfaces. The drying conditions and cooler temperatures over the holiday weekend will only serve to put us in a better situation going into some forecasted heat next week. Enjoy the holiday weekend and get ready for a busy month!

Click here to view the July 3, 2015 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
We were spared by the weather patterns last night.  We received no new rain and very little wind.  The excess moisture that has persisted for several days is beginning to recede into the soil, and firmer playing surfaces are beginning to present themselves once again.  A good chance of rain exists tomorrow night, but then dry weather is in the forecast until next week.

The staff has done an excellent job of keeping the bunkers in good shape through all of the rain.  Our next task will be to get caught up on rough, which we should be able to do later today and tomorrow.

Our other tasks this week will be prepping for the Fireworks Extravaganza on Sunday. Hopefully the current weather forecast holds for those events this weekend.

By Bob Vavrek, agronomist, Central Region

The entire hillside was seeded to fine fescue. Notice the wispy, sparse turf in the dry soil that surrounds dense, weedy grasses in a wet spot caused by a single drain tile that exits an adjacent housing development.

Many areas of the Central Region have been inundated with heavy rainfall during the past few weeks. The acute effects of severe flooding with respect to fatalities and property damage are usually well documented in the nightly news. The immediate impact of flooding that occurs on a golf course is obvious because erosion and silt deposits are seen just as soon as the water recedes. However, some of the side-effects of heavy rainfall that caused the floods are not so obvious.

A popular practice at an increasing number of golf facilities is to convert a portion of the maintained rough to tall grass areas. These low input naturalized areas still require annual maintenance, but the ultimate cost of managing a tall grass area will be less than the cost of maintaining a rough that is mowed at least once a week, fertilized, and treated for weeds and insect pests.
Your average golfer prefers a thin, wispy stand of turf in a natural area as well as an opportunity to find an errant shot and, depending on the lie, the opportunity to advance the ball towards the hole. Golfers have been grousing a bit more than usual about dense, unplayable tall grass lately on Course Consulting Service visits, and the weather is mostly to blame for their angst.

The fact is that once the turf is well established, most tall grass areas perform best when they are kept as dry as possible. Fine fescue natural areas are particularly susceptible to the encroachment of coarse, weedy grasses and broadleaf weeds under wet soil conditions. Unfortunately, nothing can be done to keep the recent heavy rainfall out of the tall grass.

On the other hand, an extra effort can be made to keep irrigation off the tall grass areas. Full-circle sprinklers that extend coverage into the natural areas can be switched to part-circle sprinklers, and you may find sprinklers deep in the roughs that can be eliminated. This often occurs in highly visible areas of the course where sprinklers that water tees are located between the tees and nearby tall grass areas. Tees are typically watered frequently throughout the season to accelerate divot recovery, so the tall grass areas near tees are often lush and weedy. Take the time to assess and adjust irrigation coverage during spring and you will reap the double benefit of water savings and the tall grass areas golfers crave.

Source: Bob Vavrek (
1.8" in each of the last 2 days has transitioned our focus from maintenance to clean up.  Our 4 day total has reached 4.22" of rain since Friday morning.  It will take a few days to dry down the course to allow us to fine tune our maintenance practices again.  It looks like we could have a couple of days with no rain, but it is back in the forecast for this weekend.  We will start the day with NO CARTS, and will re-evaluate at noon to see if there is a possibility for carts in the afternoon.

This bunker represents a typical clean effort after a heavy rain.  Any debris or soil that get washed into the bottom of the bunker from the heavy rain is removed, the the sand is pushed back up to the edges.  Our bunkers drain very well, so significant washouts are typically not a problem, but this little bit of clean up still requires a good effort from the crew.

Other than the storm cleanup and some lingering standing water, it has started out to be a nice day.
A week that promised quite a lot became a week that rapidly fell apart and put rootzones into an awkward situation. The high temperatures created problems for turf and this combined with reported deluges of over 1" in under 30 minutes particularly on the southern side of the city that resulted in some very stressed turfgrass. The heavy damage to bunkers and undermining of cart paths will require some time for repair and of course some expense incurred. These intense storms while building up the monthly rainfall total do absolutely nothing but wreak havoc for turf managers as far as clean-up is concerned. Further to that the excess moisture and hot weather will have driven up the chances for patch disease and root problems developing. The saving grace is two-fold - night time temperatures stayed below the 70°F mark and there is a cool down forecast coming - which hopefully will also bring some drying out of the soil profile.

Regional research meetings took place this week and many of you will be glad or sad to know that the problems with seed head control were not just localized - some sentiment was that the timing seemed to be too early. Damage from winter in the Midwest was not considered anywhere in the realm of last year. Conditions in Iowa were equally extreme early in the week and in certain ways the Chicago area may have been lucky based on some of the rainfall other locations have seen this year to date e.g. Kansas City saw >16" of rain for May - monthly normal is 4". Growth potential models are a collaborative project which will receive attention amongst the group going forward. Finally, for those of you that have forgotten - rounds for research is still ongoing. The money raised really makes a difference going forward and if you want to investigate or bid on the donated rounds please take a look here:

Click here to view the June 12, 2015 Scouting Report

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

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch
The flowers are displaying the unfortunate consequence of dealing with a variety of weather conditions.  The hail from Monday night has left the flowers tattered and torn, but they will survive.

We are will be planting the flowers around our flag pole today.  However, the first step is to remedy a soil problem that has developed through the years.  Every winter when snow is removed, the circle drive receives a large pile of snow.  Usually, the snow has salt mixed in with it from the previous time the circle drive was salted.  Over time, this has resulted in excessive amounts of salts in the soil, which has led to a decline in the flowers through the season.  This year we are starting by removing the soil that is in the circle drive and replacing it with fresh soil.  After some warm weather and rain, which are both in the forecast, the flowers should get a good jump start for the year.
We were fortunate to miss the bulk of the storms on Sunday, but did get a quick shot of rain, wind and hail yesterday afternoon.  This picture from yesterday afternoon shows the sun shining with the storms moving through.  0.46 inches of rain yesterday afternoon and 0.67 through the day on Sunday was a nice set of rains to replenish the soil.  We were ready for some rain, as things were beginning to get a bit dry.

 The hail we received with the storm yesterday was impressive.  It looked like a covering of snow for a few moments before the hail melted.

The hail was about marble size or a little larger.

March 27, 2015 Scouting Report

The initial green shoots of the spring and the golf season are almost upon us. As I write this we are still shaking off winter however with snow still on the ground after a 5" event at the Midwest Golf House. Of bigger importance however, is the impact that winter has had in general on local courses. In comparison to last year the general sentiment is that we are at least 99% better on greens and even tees and fairways are in superior shape. The one caveat is that we haven't gotten clear of winter yet, so one sharp cold snap is still a possibility and it could undo a lot of good work that has occurred so far. In general courses around the state should have become largely snow clear prior to the most recent snow event and certainly some public courses in the Chicago area had opened to help drive revenue. Areas that are a traditional issue such as low spots and heavily shaded greens are not impeccable certainly but in general everyone is happy to date. The other missing issue is the smell - last year we all learned very quickly what the famous 'smell of death' was. The anaerobic conditions created by 2-3" layers of ice were not recreated this year due to a favorable January where by super bowl Sunday, the Sunshine Course was completely clear of snow and any potential ice. The 18 - 22" of snow that fell on that date actually was a huge help for the record cold month of February as it insulated the turf in many ways and prevented any damage. That being the case many have said it's the best that greens have looked coming out of winter in a long time.

Spring can be volatile of course in the region and the hope is for a little rain, a little sun and plenty of warmer days. One issue that has raised some eyebrows has been the disease pressure that occurred this winter. Evidence of both pink and gray snow mold can be seen on tees and in roughs throughout the area. Courses from a budget standpoint locally do not warrant control applications in the rough, so damage there can be expected. In areas where shade plays a role and where snow melt made sites excessively wet, potential for pink snow mold or Microdochium nivale to break through control measures increases. Generally warming temperatures and soils will see grass grow out of the somewhat superficial damage, but it certainly makes for some interesting pictures.

Education this year had a broad focus - with looking at future technology being one area of interest, while bacterial etiolation was still hot on the conference list. As cabin fever hit however the snow finally began to melt and so a majority of superintendents are glad to be back outside and at the grind of massaging grass to provide a smooth putting surface - it's great to be back. It's a big year for Chicago golf with the United States Amateur, The Encompass Championship and The BMW Championship all paying a visit to the city - its going to be busy!

Click here to view the March 27, 2015 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
With the preferable weather forecasted for Friday and Saturday, we will have the greens in play for those who would like to take advantage of it.  The greens will be slow and a little bumpy while we work to get them back in shape.  Carts will not be available and no other amenities will be on the course.  The practice areas will also be closed.  We will not have anything other than the greens mowed.  It will be March golf, but come on out and dust off the golf swing for the coming year.  After Saturday, the temperatures do not appear to be favorable for golf, so get out and enjoy it while you can.
It appears the grass on the course is getting some color back.  After we get the first mowing in on the playing surfaces, the grass will start to perk up.  We are still cleaning the course and that will continue through the rest of the week.  Hope to see you out this week!
I said we would be back to seeing grass at the end of the week.  Well, we made it!

Monday, 3/9

Friday, 3/13

Most of the snow left on the course resides in the valleys and will likely realize its inevitable melt this weekend.  The course is beginning to dry from the abundance of moisture left from the snow.  There is still a frost layer on the soil, but it is shrinking daily as well.  The amount of ice on the pond is a good gauge for the frost in the soil.  When the ice on the pond is gone, the frost in the soil will not be far behind.

The grass on the course looks good to start the season.  The spots in the bottom picture are snow mold symptoms.  There are several areas, in the rough only, that display these symptoms.  They are cosmetic symptoms that the grass will grow out of when the weather allows for growth.

Our plan is to start cleaning the course on Monday.  This is the first step in getting the course ready for golf again.  We do not have a date for opening greens yet.  The course still have some snow, and a frost layer in the greens.  Then it will need a few days to dry, and we will need a few more to get the greens ready.  We will have all the updates here, on ForeTees and on Twitter.  It won't be much longer!

If you have been craving some golf during the tail end of the winter season, next weeks forecast likely caught your eye.  Some great weather is in the forecast for the next 10 days.  This stretch should melt the snow we have, and begin drying the moisture that is left over.  Historically, we are golfing 3 weeks from now!  Who knows what else mother nature may throw at us between now and then, but the next few days look promising.

 The snow is still quite deep on many parts of the course.  These pictures are from this morning.  Once this snow does melt, the course will be very wet.  Some time will be needed to dry the moisture that will be left.  Then, we will be ready to get on the course for the necessary preparations needed to get golfers back out.
We will see you soon!
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