Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Storm damage

One small piece of storm damage from last nights wind. This is the right side of 15 at about 125 yards. 

Golf Course Superintendent
Wahconah CC

Monday, June 30, 2014

Are Your Soft Spikes Best For Golf Or Soccer?

By Adam Moeller, agronomist, Northeast Region
June 25, 2014

Surface smoothness no longer exists near this hole location thanks to aggressive soft spikes and a lack of player etiquette.
Several common topics have dominated the discussions during Course Consulting Service visits over the past few weeks. Moderate weather has been welcomed by many superintendents in the region and excellent playing conditions are being maintained at many facilities. Unfortunately, the moderate weather has also contributed to slow recovery from winter injury. Temporary putting greens remain at many golf courses, frustrating golf course superintendents and golfers alike. Although temporary greens are never popular, they should not be abandoned until the putting greens are fully healed. Watch the USGA Green Section webcast Assessing Winter Injury and Promoting Turf Recovery in the Northeast Region for information regarding best management practices for promoting rapid, sustainable recovery from winter injury on putting greens. The Green Section Record article Winter Damage is an excellent reference for information on why putting greens experience winter injury and how to best limit the potential for future problems.
Aggressive, soft spike golf shoes have also been a hot topic in recent weeks. Aggressive soft spikes can be very damaging to surface smoothness, especially when golfers drag their feet or twist while standing on putting greens. Damage from aggressive soft spikes has been particularly severe on young creeping bentgrass turf at golf courses recovering from winter injury. In some cases turf has actually been ripped out of the soil by golfers wearing soft spike golf shoes. Many superintendents are suggesting that modern shoes with aggressive soft spikes are more damaging than the old metal spikes that were commonplace 20-30 years ago. Golfer etiquette certainly plays a role in this discussion, but the aggressiveness of some soft spikes is overkill on certain shoes.
The cool weather coupled with ample rainfall this spring has made the rough challenging for mid- and high-handicap golfers at many courses. Increased mowing frequency and even plant growth regulators have been used to combat the rapid growth of rough. Lowering the mowing height may offer some relief, but this adjustment will also increase the turf’s susceptibility to drought stress so caution is advised.
Annual bluegrass weevil and anthracnose disease damage has been observed recently at courses throughout the region. Careful scouting for annual bluegrass weevils is very important to ensure insecticide applications are made when and where necessary. Golf course superintendents battling anthracnose disease should review the Golf Course Management article Best Management Practices for Anthracnose on Annual Bluegrass Greens and make adjustments to their management program as necessary. Increasing the mowing height, applying 0.1–0.125 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet every seven days, and light, frequent sand topdressing combined with regular fungicide applications are often the most impactful changes to combat an anthracnose outbreak.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Just a bit of minor flooding this morning. We recieved about 2.5" of rain last night. There are no carts today and the back is temporarily closed. I do expect the back to be passable by noon time if not earlier. 

Golf Course Superintendent
Wahconah CC

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Easy Does It

By James Skorulski, senior agronomist, Northeast Region
May 28, 2014

Young turf plants are most vulnerable to traffic, especially that caused by aggressive shoe patterns. Keeping severely damaged greens closed to play is never popular and sometimes not possible, but keeping greens closed continues to be the best strategy to obtain the most rapid recovery.
What a difference a week with mild temperatures and some rain can make. Grass does actually grow in New England during the spring. Actually, I was getting a little worried but, sure enough, roughs are thick and lush, Poa annua is seeding, and we have real growth in areas that were damaged this winter. Growth rates between annual bluegrass, creeping bentgrass and perennial ryegrass are not yet uniform but that too will come as soil and air temperatures become more stable.
Those attempting to re-establish turf areas lost during the winter have experienced pretty good seed germination from initial seeding attempts. Areas that did not establish well have been reseeded or, in some cases, plugged out or patched with sod. Recovery is progressing but is never fast enough. This time of year is always a difficult period during the recovery process because golfers begin to tire of playing temporary greens, expenses are up while revenues are down, and severely damaged greens look just about good enough to open when viewing from the 150-yard markers. The pressure to open damaged greens builds regardless of whether the surfaces are ready for play. Unfortunately, opening greens dominated by young, tender, seedling plants will negatively impact the growth of those plants and ultimately hinder recovery. Greens with widespread damage will be impacted the most by premature play. Eventually, the surfaces will fill in but will be dominated by annual bluegrass. Recovery time will be longer if greens are opened too soon and, in some cases, recovery may not even be complete by season’s end.
Stay strong and do the right thing for the grass if you can. Manage conservatively for the purpose of promoting new grass plants and obtaining turf cover as fast as possible. However, if you must open damaged greens, keep play away from the areas that are still recovering by using ropes and signs to direct golfers. This might make for some interesting hole locations, but it will promote turf recovery in damaged areas. Communicate the important role golfer cooperation plays in the recovery process.
Additionally, be careful topdressing young turf that is subjected to play. Topdressing should be done but do so selectively, perhaps when damaged areas are interseeded. Restrict regular, light topdressing applications to areas that have fully recovered. Furthermore, increase mowing height, utilize smooth rollers, spoon-feed with soluble fertilizers, and only use growth regulators on areas that have near complete turf cover to expedite recovery. Damaged greens that are prematurely opened to play will likely require more persistent interseeding to offset the damage caused by traffic.
Annual Bluegrass Weevil
The emergence of adult annual bluegrass weevils has been impacted by cold spring temperatures. Adults were observed on several central New England golf courses last week, while third- and fourth-instar larvae are feeding in other parts of the region. Dr. Pat Vittum, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, indicated that now is the time to apply insecticides targeting ABW larvae in areas where the common rhododendron is blooming. The 2014 season has the makings of another challenging management season, especially if ABWs are resistant to pyrethroid insecticides.
Source:  Jim Skorulski (jskorulski@usga.org)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Here are a few picks of the course this morning after 3" of rain. Expect wet conditions today and unmowed surfaces as my crew spends the day repairing washed out bunkers and paths. No carts today as well. 

J Stachowicz
Wahconah CC

Monday, May 26, 2014

And Recovery Continues… At A Snail’s Pace

By David A. Oatis, director, Northeast Region
May 13, 2014

These plugs were placed extremely close together, but they are having a major impact.
Perhaps it’s just Mother Nature’s way of rubbing salt in a wound… or reminding us that she still holds all the cards. Regardless, winter-injury recovery efforts have been hampered by colder-than-normal weather this spring and the areas hardest hit seem to be experiencing the coldest spring weather. Seed germination has been very slow, and regrowth of existing turf has been slowed as well. The road to recovery is going to be a long one for many courses.
Golfers understandably are becoming increasingly impatient, and to appease them, damaged putting greens have been opened prematurely at a number of courses. Unfortunately, this is a false economy. Opening greens too early results in a substantially slower and weaker recovery. Damaged greens subjected to golfer traffic take at least twice as long to heal. Turf loss has provided an opportunity to get new and improved bentgrass plants established in the affected areas, but tender bentgrass seedlings are very susceptible to injury when subjected to golfer traffic. In short, more patience now can pay bigger dividends later. As we have stated numerous times this spring, the damage is very unfortunate, but it has provided an opportunity to improve the foundation of turf at many courses. Here are a couple of important tips to keep in mind as the recovery of your turf progresses.
Damaged areas have been seeded, and now is the time to assess whether enough seedlings have been established. Reseeding may be necessary in some areas, but take care with how you go about it. Aggressive seeding techniques can kill tender seedlings that have already become established. If reseeding is necessary, don’t set your turf back. Seed in a non-disruptive manner, and reseed only where it is necessary.
If you have not done so already put plugs in damaged areas. Even if you have to rob plugs from the edges of other greens, two or three inch plugs installed in damaged areas speed recovery tremendously. The plugs obviously spread, but they also help protect weak turf and seedlings. A skilled employee can plant 80-100 three inch plugs in an hour, so significant progress can be made quickly. Larger plugs (i.e., hex or 4.25 inch plugs) can be effective, but they are much slower to plant. In this instance, volume is the key.
Annual bluegrass is seeding profusely in many areas, and the growth rates of bentgrass and annual bluegrass are very uneven. Between the seedheads and the differential growth rates, putting conditions are far from optimal. Consistently warm temperatures are needed for growth rates to even out and putting quality to improve. Golfers can expect to experience uneven surfaces for a few more weeks.
Keep in mind also that the growth of creeping bentgrass is especially affected by the cool weather. Cold spring weather leaves it more susceptible to, and slow to recover from, wear injury. Even normal maintenance practices like mowing and rolling can cause injury to creeping bentgrass at this time of year. Once temperatures get consistently warmer, the growth rate of creeping bentgrass will kick into high gear and it will tolerate traffic and mowing traffic much better. Until that occurs, reduce mowing frequency and be conservative with stressful, abrasive maintenance practices.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Another quick update this morning as we are experiencing yet again decent frost. Earlier this week we conducted some greens aerification. The process was to apply some sand first, followed by a solid tine aerification (no plugs pulled) and we followed this with a verticutting. Our verticutters are old and don't dig in the way I want them to, but they did a good job of chopping the sand into the holes and the turf canopy. We followed this up with brushing and blowing. We will mow the greens again on Thursday and hopefully Saturday. Now all we need is a bit of weather to get them growing and filling in.

Two new crew members are starting today which is a big help. We will use the day to catch up on our mowing. Then the remainder of the week we will get some more bunker work done. Next week a good chunk of our summer staff arrives giving us more flexibility and the chance to really put this place together. Most of our staff is returners from previous years so we don't have a ton of training to do which is a huge plus.

The drinking water is not on yet due to a leak located down by the main shut off valve. Its a difficult fix in a tough location. We are working on this as well and hope to have it repaired as soon as possible.