Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Here some before and after pictures of #7 green. You can see the definite improvement.
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With the heat the last few days the grass has really started to take off. Especially the rough. We mow rough at 2". It isn't really the height that's the problem in our case its more the rate of growth versus the frequency we can cut it. We have been keeping extra mowers and personnel on rough as much as possible.
The winter damaged greens continue to improve. We will keep topdressing the damaged areas so that the putting improves in those areas.
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Friday, May 27, 2011

The following is the latest USGA report for the Northeast. I highlighted the last section of the article because I think it is what we are dealing with the most at Wahconah CC.

By Adam Moeller, agronomist, Northeast Region
May 26, 2011

Annual bluegrass weevil larvae were observed in the past two weeks in New Jersey.  Frequent scouting for this insect is necessary to prevent significant damage.   
A few days of dry weather has been a welcomed respite from the deluge of rain throughout the Northeast in April and May.  With luck, drier weather will continue as we head towards Memorial Day, a prime golfing weekend throughout the country.  Due to the frequent rain, golf courses have battled a multitude of weather-related and agronomic problems over the past few weeks. 
Penal, thick rough has been a constant source of discussion on golf course visits recently.  The growth rate of the rough turf, combined with saturated soils that are prone to tire rutting, has been next to impossible to keep up without damaging the soil structure or producing excessive clipping piles.  The abundance of heavy rain also has been frustrating to many golfers who want to play, even though the course is nearly underwater.  Playing on puddled and saturated greens is never good for the turf, and particularly damaging to soil structure.  Golf cart restrictions have been necessary at most facilities.  It is difficult to predict the damage potential from a few golfers playing on saturated greens, but everyone should agree that nothing good comes from golfer traffic in these conditions.  Thankfully, these frustrations diminish as the soils dry.  
Annual bluegrass weevil larvae (and slight damage) were observed at several New Jersey golf courses in the past two weeks.  These larvae are likely to be active throughout most of the Northeast.  Keep a close eye on areas with a history of annual bluegrass weevil damage.  Discolored annual bluegrass (Poa annua) could be mis-diagnosed as drought stress when soils begin to dry.  Scouting early and often is necessary to maximize control programs and prevent significant injury.  Visual inspection of the soils in areas of past damage, soap drenches (lemon scented soap is ideal), and submerging turf plugs in a salt solution are excellent ways to identify insect numbers and life stages as you consider initial control and future action.      
Golf courses that experienced putting green winter damage are still in recovery mode.  Whether seeding or sodding was used, inconsistent temperatures and saturated soils have slowed recovery to some extent, especially when the greens were opened for play before the young turf was adequately rooted and healthy.  Healing from winter injury is never easy, but golfer patience and conservative management practices will allow the injured areas to recover and survive through the stressful summer weather.  Many winter-damaged greens may look bad, but they play fine after a few topdressing applications.  It is important for golfers to focus on playability rather than aesthetics as much as possible, especially if winter damage has occurred

Monday, May 23, 2011

We have been scratching more seed and sand topdressing into our remaining stubborn spots on greens. We also have been fertilizing just these areas in order to get them to fill in faster. We will be persistent in this until our greens are completely filled in.

Also some have asked if we are still doing the first cut of rough. Well as of right now the answer is no. Over the last few years our budget, labor and resources have been cut dramatically. So as of right now we have not been able to do this cut of rough. However we have been trying to add extra shifts to our rough mowing in general to have a more consistent depth. We will reevaluate in a month and see if we have the people to get back into doing this practice.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011


We are experiencing some flooding from the brook on the 14th and 13th holes. The back nine will be open. But there are no carts on the back. Also we built a walking bridge.
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Thursday, May 12, 2011

We are 9 days past aerification and the greens are getting closer to normal. We are now back to mowing them everyday and starting next week we will lower the height down to somewhere between .110 and .120. Hopefully in a short time we will have the speeds that most of you enjoy.
I'm going to partially open the 7th green for the weekend. Basically roping off the damaged areas and setting the cup off to the left and rear of the green. It would be best not to walk through the covered areas at all. I have some new growth in those damaged areas but they are very sensitive. I'm just trying to balance between keeping people happy and still do a good job growing in new grass.
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Here is a picture of the leak we had on the 10th Bridge. You can see where the gasket in the coupling went bad. We replaced with a new coupling and also reinforced with rods and clamps to keep the whole pipe from pulling apart. This is a tough fix and an area where 5 greens have to be shut down in order to isolate the bridge.
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If I’m Sneezing, It Must Be Spring!

By David A. Oatis, director, Northeast Region
May 12, 2011

(L) Off color bentgrass at this time of year is usually due to cool temperatures and mechanical injury.  Adjacent annual bluegrass may be unaffected. (R) Newly established AB usually seeds prolifically and will likely be more susceptible to stress and disease later in the season.

Pollen levels have been off the charts in the Northeast Region recently, and even people who “don’t have allergies” have been feeling the effects.  With luck, this isn’t a sign of the pain our turf is going to experience in the coming months!
It is always interesting to watch the growth and development of putting green turf in the spring.  Initially, bentgrass outgrows annual bluegrass (AB) and turf managers everywhere are hopeful that bentgrass populations have increased.  Typically, a few weeks later, hopes are dashed as the growth rate of annual bluegrass suddenly outpaces the bentgrass, giving rise to the concern that the “annual bluegrass is taking over!”  This is where many courses are now.  When temperatures rise a bit more and stay consistently warmer, this appearance will dissipate and the next phase will kick in: the “June swoon” of annual bluegrass.  Once AB’s energy is expended in producing a seed head, the plants turn yellow and their growth rate slows dramatically.  For turf managers with lots of AB, this also can cause concern.  So what is the point of all this?  Most golfers look at putting greens and think of them in a “singular” sense.  However, each green is comprised of millions of individual plants, most falling into 2-3 species: annual bluegrass, creeping bentgrass, and perhaps velvet bentgrass.  Note also that there are thousands of different biotypes of each species present, and the growth rates of these grasses vary.  So if you are wondering why the greens are not smooth as glass, these are the reasons. 
Regional Observations:
  • Bentgrass throughout the middle and southern part of the Northeast Region now is showing the effects of cool nights and mechanical injury.  Plenty of bentgrass is off color, has a bronze cast, and may be experiencing some thinning.  AB right next to the bentgrass looks perfectly healthy.  Many misdiagnose this as leaf spot, and while a disease may be involved, it usually is nothing more than the weather.  When warmer temperatures arrive, the growth rate of the bentgrass will take off, and the discoloration will dissipate.

  • There are plenty of AB seedheads throughout the region this year, especially at courses that did not treat preventively for seedhead formation due to injury suffered last summer or this last winter.  Seedhead production is particularly heavy in areas that sustained damage.  Keep in mind that the prolific seedhead production in the damaged areas is a sign that newer, weaker AB has become established.  These weaker biotypes will be more susceptible to stress and disease later this summer.  If your course has a lot of AB seeding in the damaged areas, more conservative management may be in order this year.  In time, the weaker annual bluegrass biotypes will be replaced with better ones, and later with more bentgrass.  However, for the first year or two after damage, they will be a bit more susceptible to turf loss.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Aerification is over, with the exception of the sand working in and the holes filling in. The rain today will aid in knocking the sand into the canopy. We will probably be mowing them on Friday. The first couple mowings after aerfication are pretty brutal on the mowers, but usually after a week or ten days the sand subsides and the greens begin to return to normal. After this we will try and lightly topdress every couple or three weeks. Usualy we do this on Tuesday's, mostly because Monday, Wednesday and Friday's we are all tied up in mowing the course. Tuesday's and Thursday's are our lighter days when we get our other activities done, including topdressing, spiking, verticutting, fertilizer applications and spraying.

We are finishing up our bunker work today. We have added about 30 tons of sand to our bunkers. Reset some drainage lines and restored sand depths throughout. We have also begun rebuilding some falling bunker walls, #14 and we will also do one on #15. Ill order sod for these when we are ready. We are also updating a few of our older irrigation heads by replacing them with new ones.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I recently received a fairly negative comment on the practice of aerification at Wahconah. Here is some information that will help explain the reasons why it is a necessary practice.    

Here is a link to the USGA video on why we aerify greens. Probably a good view for those who do not understand the importance of this process.


Here is more from the USGA:

The Importance of Aeration
One of the key functions of core aeration is the physical removal of organic matter and the replacement of this material with sand. For a complete discussion of the role of aeration and its importance as a cultural tool in a putting green management program, refer to the article, "Aeration and Topdressing for the 21st Century" that appeared in the Green Section Record: http://turf.lib.msu.edu/2000s/2003/030301.pdf.
Bentgrass Putting Greens
The question of how much to aerate bentgrass putting greens and when to aerate are questions we field regularly. Based upon the research conducted by Dr. Bob Carrow at the University of Georgia, the goal should be to apply a total of 40 – 50 cubic feet of sand per 1,000 sq. ft. through both core aeration and topdressing. Since the goal is dilution of organic matter, it is useful to think of aeration and surface topdressing together since they both help with this goal. This recommendation can be difficult to conceptualize. Practically speaking, it can be reached with three core aerations using 5/8" diameter tines on 2 inch by 2 inch centers. Two of these aerations can be combined on one date in the spring and the third can be done in late summer or early fall. Surface topdressings should be done regularly throughout the season.
What if the appropriate program is overruled by the economy?
Sometimes golf courses are not able to do what is agronomically appropriate. What will happen if the greens are not aerated as extensively as desired? First, unwanted organic matter will continue to accumulate. Most likely your putting greens began as a sand rootzone with particles of organic matter floating in them. As aeration is deferred and organic matter levels increase through the deposition of old plant parts and roots, this sand rootzone is transformed into a sea of organic matter with sand particles floating in it. Unfortunately, a high organic matter rootzone has physical properties with fewer large air-filled macro-pores that can lead to many secondary problems such as disease, shallow roots, a propensity to scalp, algae, softness, etc.
If you are not able to aerate at the desired level, the rescue technique is to use solid tines or the Hydro-ject every three weeks throughout the growing season. This will increase soil oxygen levels and will help water drain through the profile more readily. Please be advised this suggestion is not a replacement for core aeration or a recommendation to skip aeration.
Aeration and topdressing are no fun for the crew and can be disruptive to golf. However, the life of the putting greens is longer than a single season and the effort needs to be made. There is an old saying, "Pay me now or pay me later" and this certainly rings true with core aeration.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Aerification Day 1.

The weather held out enough for us to get the front nine greens aerified, picked up and topdressed. The sand probably didn't get swept in completely because it was damp. But with upcoming rain is should work its way in to the holes and canopy.

Tomorrow we hope to get the back nine completed. It very touchy with the threat of rain. But its always a relief to get it done and behind us and we can get the greens ready for the rest of the year.

Its been about 4 or 5 years in a row that we have been doing a consistent spring and fall aerification with half inch tines. Over this time I think we have been making slow but steady progress on improving our top layer and growing environment. I don't feel like the greens are as spongy and thatchy as they were 6 or 7 years ago. Aerification coupled with steady topdressing throughout the year has led to firmer more consistent greens. We still have a few oddballs, 18 and 13 come to mind, but in general our greens are much truer and easier to manage than a few seasons ago.
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We are starting aerification this morning, working on the front nine. The weather forecast doesn't look so good for the week, with a lot of rain showers. This could end up being a somewhat long drawn out process if we don't get some sunshine.