Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Likely Challenge

I recently had the opportunity to attend a symposium with Carley and Alan, our two tree experts.  The symposium was hosted by the University of Illinois in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Agriculture and spent six hours covering the topic of the Emerald Ash Borer.

The Emerald Ash Borer (or EAB) is an exotic pest that was brought in from China.  It, like many borers, attacks a specific type of tree. Unlike native borers however, the EAB tends to attack healthy trees and causes a 100% mortality rate on trees it infects.  To date, the EAB has destroyed tens of millions of Ash trees in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois and is on the move.  Currently, EAB has claimed trees as close to us as Bloomington, IL.  Some experts predicts that the EAB will eventually eliminate Ash trees alltogether.

Here at CCC, we have reason to be concerned.  With around 50 Ash trees, many of which are quite mature, the EAB will certainly make its mark.  We will be making regular inspections of our Ash trees, looking for the tell-tail "D-shaped" exit holes, and will be peeling bark on any Ash tree taken down due to poor health.  As part of our ever-evolving tree plan, we will look to diversify our tree population with species that are native to our area and are not yet well represented at CCC.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Welcome to Lucy!

Introducing "Lucy" to the CCC Maintenance Staff!

My family and I recently decided there was a need to fill the void left by the passing of Maggie, our 12 year old Brittany.  Maggie had been with our family for her entire life and was a veteran of three golf courses.  She has been missed by both the Rinks and the CCC Maintenance Staff. 

This past weekend, my wife came across a listing for Brittany pups located near Brazil, IN and, quite honestly, there was very little discussion involving the decision to get a new puppy.  We all new it was time!

"Lucy" was chosen out of the litter and named by my 4-year-old daughter, Sarah.  Lucy comes from a long line of champion hunting dogs and will surely find a warm and exciting home both at the Rinks house and at CCC!  Over the next weeks, months, and years you will surely get to know Lucy as she joins me on my morning rounds and accompanies me throughout the day on the course.

Friday, September 18, 2009

2009 Fall Aerification/ Demo Equipment

First of all, my apologies for not posting for awhile. My intent is to post frequently to keep you abreast of all that is happening on the course at CCC, and I haven't exactly fulfilled my end of the bargain. Again, my apologies.

Moving on to the golf course... another round of aerification has come and gone and with the cooperation of Mother Nature, we were able to complete the entire course in the two days. Every year it is our goal to finish in two days, but occasionally Mother Nature throws a curve ball and we have to finish the course on day three. This fall we had the opportunity to look at some new pieces of aerification equipment perform on our course (demos) and so far the results are just so-so. Our current aerification is either not ours or is getting very old and temperamental and will need to be replaced soon, but with what? I lined up several demonstrations with my John Deere and Toro salesmen to see what was out there. Both companies brought with them three pieces of equipment: a greens aerator, a fairway aerator, and a core pulverizer. The Toro fairway aerator actually pulls the core pulverizer (see embedded "One Pass Operation" video)and makes for a "one pass operation." While conceptually this is a great thing, logistically it becomes difficult. We had some "set up issues" with the Toro aerator causing some heaving of the turf while being aerified. While the heaving itself isn't a major problem, the fact that the pulverizer was being pulled six feet behind the aerator was. The heaved turf wasn't able to be pressed back down and frequently would get caught up in the pulverizer causing damage to the fairway. Certainly not what we want. Unfortunately the "set up issue" was not resolved and the demo fell short of expectations.

The John Deere fairway aerator (see embedded "JD 1500 Aerator" video) performed much better, but still caused some excessive heaving and subsequent damage to the fairways.

When all was said and done, the end result was better performance from our two old-and-tempermental machines than the two new demo units. Toro has already asked for a "re-do" next spring now that they have figured out the correct set up for the machine. I've got a bit of time to decide on that one.

The greens aeration went very well. We pulled 3/8" cores, harvested the cores off the greens and topdressed heavily to fill the holes. We sped throught the actual aerification process due to the two demo units we had in addition to the two older Toro aerators we borrow from HG Golf Properties. As expected the new demo units performed circles around the two older units. Toro's ProCore 648 (see embedded "ProCore 648" video) performed well as expected, finishing 5 greens to John Deere's three.

Both units pulled excellent cores and the holes were untufted and vertical. I'd give the edge to John Deere on hole quality (and subsequent recovery) but to Toro for overall productivity and versatility.

The demonstrations, as chaotic as they were, were truly beneficial for the "due diligence" that will be needed as we start thinking about equipment replacement. None of the equipment is cheap (individual units ranging from $15k to $30k) but is an essential part of a fleet of maintenance equipment.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Needed Break...and more.

Every year around the 4th of July, I deal with burnout. My crew, tired from the seemingly endless "double weekends" and 5am starts of June, starts to slow down. My turf, weary of Mother Nature's abuse, cries for a few days of rest. My kids, engrossed in their summer activities, ask their Mom when Dad is going to eat breakfast at home again. Simply stated, round about this time of the year, we all need a long weekend. Thankfully in mid-July we have a brief break from weekend events and we are able to rotate long weekends through the entire crew, recharging everyone's batteries for another intense August.

This year the turf even got a long weekend. After a fairly intense 10 day heat wave that took its toll on both staff and course, the 4th of July brought with it moderate, even cool weather. This "break in the cycle" allowed for the beginnings of turf recovery and stifled some of the annual burnout issues I see throughout my department. Finally, Mother Nature shows a little compassion!

I have been watching our "large scale" Velocity experiment throughout the heat wave and subsequent cool down period and I am encouraged by the early results. Last week we reached the peak of the "ugliness" with the predicted "yellow flash" followed by the decline of the Poa annua. During the heat wave, the recovery of the bent was slow, painfully slow to be accurate. With the moderating of the temperatures, we have seen the bentgrass kick into high gear and is now looking very healthy. The Poa annua, however, is still down although even it is starting to perk up. We are currently in week three of the spray interval and by all accounts we are getting predictable results. It is during week three and four of the interval that we gain the most on the Poa due to it's continued slow recovery. Bentgrass has the advantage. Once the Poa starts looking happy again (in two weeks) we will make another application of Velocity, starting the process over again. Each application will see an overall increase in the bentgrass population, which will in turn speed the recovery of the fairway. Exciting times for closet agronomists here at CCC!

As soon as I have a working camera again (it's being shipped) I will post some pictures of #11 fairway. As you play, notice the damage to the fairway and let me know what you think. After all, our experiment on #11 is being done to gauge our "threshold" or tolerance to the injury that Velocity produces. Your feedback will help us plan our future use of this product.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Velocity Update

You may have noticed our Velocity trial on #12 "flashing" yellow recently. The yellow flash is a good indicator that an application has recently been made and is working. We have made an application to our #11 fairway and I expect to see the flash in the next couple days. We have made the determination that "the flash" is the most noticeable and most negative aspect of this chemical, but only lasts a short time and will become less noticeable as we make more applications. Thus far in the trial we have seen very predictable results. A few days after an application we see the flash, which is followed by about two weeks of weakened Poa annua while the bentgrass remains strong. During the fourth week of the interval, we see the Poa annua begin recovery. Our trial in #11 fairway is our first "large scale" trial and will be exciting to watch. We have created a "control plot" at the 200 yard marker and will use it to check the effectiveness of the trial as compared to an untreated fairway. You will likely notice the Poa annua decline, but will hopefully still enjoy a quality fairway during the process. Please comment on this blog or email me with any questions regarding the trial. As we get more "photogenic" results I will post some pictures.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer is here!

After reviewing the 10-Day Forcast it has become obvious to me that we are in the beginning stages of our first heat wave of the summer. Nowhere in the aforementioned forcast did it call for high temperatures below 90. What does this mean for the golf course? It means several things:
1. We will be a petri dish for fungi unless we are on top of our fungicide treatments. The good news is that we are, and I don't expect any major disease occurances. We will, however, be vigilant.
2. Our maintenance staff will be starting at 5:00am instead of the regular 6:00am in order to get out of the heat sooner.
3. We will be closely monitoring water useage. When the heat and humidity are up, too much water can be very problematic. We will only irrigate when absolutely necessary and will hope to catch a break from the rains until the temperature cools a bit.
4. The staffer in charge of filling watercoolers has just been elevated in the heirarchy. Our watercoolers will be serviced daily at a minimum, more often if necessary.

As you go about your day, or round of golf, be sure to monitor your pace and drink plenty of water. A little extra vigilance will ensure that everyone has a safe and healthy day.

See you on the course!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Another rainy day...

Well, another topdressing has been rained out. It seems that we can't catch a break in the weather this year... certainly not on Mondays! With the overabundance of rain that we've had, the frequently rained out topdressing, and now impending 10 days of 90 degrees or more, I am starting to get edgy about our greens. We have scheduled a "venting" for next Monday (June 29th) to open up our greens and let them breath. The profile has remained wet for so long that conditions below the surface are almost certainly getting anaerobic. Not good for a root system! Our venting will basically be a very small tine aerification with "star tines." Star tines are just what they sound like, aerification tines in the shape of a star. This unique shape produces a relatively small hole with an abundance of surface area to allow for air exchange. The goal will be to allow our greens to breath, and not adversely effect the putting surface. Pictures of the process will be forthcoming.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Almost Complete...

Work began yesterday on the new artificial tee line at the back of our practice tee. With the excavation of the old and the pouring of the new concrete pad, we are 2/3 of the way to completion. Our new hitting surface arrived on Wednesday and will be installed on Monday. By Tuesday morning it will be playable.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Encouraging results!

As you make your way down #11 fairway you may have noticed some markings around the 150 yard marker. These markings deliniate the boundaries of our 2008 Velocity trial done in conjunction with the University of Illinois Turf Department. We have done these trials since 2004 and have slowly honed in on the best rate/application interval combination.

A little background information first... Velocity is a herbicide that is relatively new to the turf market that, among other things, claims to successfully remove Poa annua from a stand of bentgrass. This very thing has been elusive and sought after by superintendents for years and now, it seems, we may have found something. Early on in the trials it was very evident that Velocity worked. In fact it worked so well that most superintendents (including myself) wouldn't consider using it! With the older rates and application intervals, the trials showed us that the Poa annua would die out and leave a void in the turf. Seeding was usually necessary to fill the void and frequently Poa annua seed would germinate alongside the new bentgrass. The net result was a damaged fairway and a small gain on the Poa. At CCC we decided to take a "less aggressive" approach and go after the Poa annua with selective growth regulators so that we would never have any voids in the turf.

Recently, through Velocity trials similar to those conducted on our course, we have found that longer application intervals were the ticket to a slow transition to pure bentgrass. While conducting these trials, we became keenly aware that within our Poa annua patches was a good amount of bentgrass. With this new approach, we have been able to injure (not kill) the Poa annua at monthly intervals, allowing the bentgrass to make a surge. Repeating this process monthly for five months virtually eliminated the Poa annua all together. Click on the picture embedded in this blog and you will see one of the plots on #11 fairway. You will notice (if you look closely) that below the plot there is a fair amount of lime green Poa annua. Within the plot there is virtually none. The University rated this plot at 1% Poa annua. The encouraging aspect of this plot is that we never saw the Poa dying out, it just slowly went away! We will be repeating this entire trial, plus a few more protocols, on #12 fairway in 2009 and will be treating the entirety of #11 fairway. I will post pictures and thoughts as we continue through the season with this exciting research.

What the....!

What do you get when you hire an ex-sports turf manager at a country club? You get a ballfield on your practice green!
Assistant Superintendent Mick Tempel called upon his past to create a "to scale" ballpark on the west half of our putting green. "CCC Field" was used for the CICCA Ladies Golf Tournament and by all accounts was a "home run!"
On the rest of the course, we are preparing for the busiest month of the year with Ladies CICCA, Men's Member-Guest, Club Championship and the beginning of the Juniors Program. It is safe to say, my staff will be tired by the end of the month. Over the next month I will be bloggining about our new Velocity trial on #12 among other things so keep checking back for updates!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Catching Up

As the rainy days slowly fade from memory, we are finally able to "catch up" with our much needed mowing. We have now mowed the entire course twice since the rains stopped and will need to get through it one more time before we finally achieve that quality cut that we are seeking. Thanks to all of our recent golfers for keeping their carts out of the wet spots and allowing our Greens and Grounds staff to catch up with the mowing!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Inflow > Outflow = Overflowing ponds!

I am officially sick of the rain. While yesterday seemed to be a bit of a reprieve from the rains, it was short lived. Precipitation moved in again early this morning and dumped varying intensities of rain nearly all day. According to the radar, more is on its way. As you can tell from the picture, #14 pond has decided it's had enough and is now flowing down 14 fairway into #13 pond. We will likely not be able to mow anything tomorrow, with the exception of greens, but will again try to prep the bunkers for the weekend. I will have several Greens and Grounds staff on mowers this Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting, to try and make up some ground on our now very long rough.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Where's the Sun??

Monday afternoon's rain persisted overnight and into early Tuesday morning. When all was said and done, we had gotten around 1.5". On Tuesday morning we changed gears from aerification to bunker pumping and edging to try to salvage some play on Wednesday. Thankfully we saw no measureable rain on Tuesday and were able to get the bunkers playable by this morning, unfortunately the course remained too wet to run carts.

With the course still soaked, and more rain in the forcast, we made the decision to try and mow the high areas in the rough and to continue fairway aerification. With the solid tines on the aerators and no plugs to clean up, the soft ground actually made for some easy aerating. We are hoping the rain holds off long enough tomorrow (Thursday) to allow for some morning golf and some rushed mowing. Maybe we'll get lucky and the rain simply won't arrive!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Aerification Update

As the rain settles in, I am feeling good about the decision to not aerify greens today. Had we attempted greens today, we would have been caught by the rain and would be in for a week or two of "fighting" sand and bumpy putting conditions. Since we elected to forego greens, we will incorporate a few "mini-aerifications" during the season with small diameter solid tines. These aerifications will not adversely affect putting conditions for more than a day or two.

Despite the impending rain, we were able to successfully aerify fairways on holes 1 through 6, and finished tees and collars on 1 through 5. As weather permits we will continue to work our way around the golf course until we have finished.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Welcome to my Blog!

Thanks for checking in! It is my intention to use this blog much in the same way I have used my periodic e-mail blasts. I intend on posting frequently and utilizing pictures of the course, events, etc. to help update and educate anyone visiting this blog. Please sign up to follow this blog and I believe you will be notified whenever I post new information!

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