We’ve finally ditched hibernation, the 2018 golf season is about to begin!
I don’t need to tell you that this year has been anything but ordinary. Yes, the golf course will open almost a month later than last year, but lets focus on the positives, and what you’ll see in your first few rounds at Midland.
- The turf has survived winter in fantastic shape. That’s the most commonly asked question, and quite frankly, the most important. We should take a lot of pride in all the strategic moves we’ve made in the past to improve our stand of turf, as it’s a cumulative process. And by improving our stand of turf, I mean promoting Bentgrass in a healthy environment. From tree removals around playing surfaces, promoting full sunlight and crucial air movement, to staying steadfast with agronomic practices such as topdressing, deep-tine aerifcation, installing drainage, lighter-weighted mowing equipment, and a winter preperation plan that gives us the best percentage of survival within our means. We are NOT immune to winter-kill, but we’ve made great strides in our chances of achieving what we see this Spring on a regular basis.
- Let’s look more closely at the greens.
- Below is how they looked last week after we uncovered them. On the left side, you can see the deep-tine holes, as well as sand. Right before we covered greens last November, we topdressed them and deep-tined them. This is a preventative measure, that again, increases our chances of winter survival. The sand protects the crowns of the plants, the deep tine holes creates channels for snow melt to get into the ground, preventing a smooth layer of ice formation. In the picture, you can also see our Assistant Supt. Brian Richert needle-tining over the sand and deep-tine holes. This helps get the sand into the profile evenly. The size of the tine is roughly the tip of a sharpened pencil.
- Let’s look more closely at the greens.
- We then drag the greens with a brush, blow them off, and double roll them. They then look like what you see below:
- As you can see, the holes are filled to the top, and are invisible. They will get better as we roll them, which will take place all week. The only thing missing is a nice rain, which will wash the sand into the canopy and get the turf to start growing. Again, we would have normally taken covers off roughly 5 weeks ago and would already received that much needed rain. We got 18″ of snow instead…. Now that the frost is finally out of the ground, we will be charging the irrigation system this week to supplement that watering if we don’t receive rain. We will continue to roll the greens, and once they have started to grown through the sand, they will be mown.
- Wait, what? A dog! Yes, we have a new pup! My family rescued Olive Martini from the Golden Valley Humane Society a few weeks ago. She’ll be coming to work with me most days, and hopefully, she’ll have an affinity for chasing geese. “Oli” is from Missisissippi and is a 9 week old Austrialian Shepherd/Terrier mix. It will be great to have another dog around, and in my opinion, she’s won the lottery – golf courses might be the best backyard a dog could wish for. It will take her some time to hone her golf course ettiquette skills, but I imagine everyone will have more than enough patience for a puppy face.
- Tees, Fairways and Bunkers. Tees and fairways are in fantastic shape, there are only a few isolated areas of fairways and approaches where we experienced winter-kill. You’ll notice some vole damage in areas, as seen below, on fairways (and bunker faces), but all areas will be seed/soiled over the next few weeks, and as soon as the soils are conducive for growth, most of these areas will heal quickly.
- Sticks. Tons of sticks. Normally, we have ~2 weeks of lead time raking up the roughs, getting things dialed in for opening day. Instead, we got 18″ of snow, a rapid melt, uncovering greens, and a quick turnaround with opening, but we’re not complaining. The Roseville high school golf teams will be out this week, and next, to help us rake up the roughs, so thank you for your patience while we complete this massive task. Please use caution when the students are out raking the course, they’ll be focused on the ground, not on play. Speaking of trees, you’ll notice our winter tree management work took place. Trees removed were diseased Spruce and Pine, as well as EAB-infected Ash trees. I’ve written about our Tree Management Plan for several years, but if you want to read more about it, follow the link that I posted last year: http://www.mhccturf.com/?p=827 This year’s stumps have all been ground, and we’ll be working hard to clean them out, fill, pack, and get them seeded/covered over the next few weeks. If you encounter my staff in the rough and they cannot see you (as they’ll be focusing down at their work), give them a heads up that you’re playing through.
- Divots. Over the winter months, with all of the snow melt, there are thousands of unfilled divots from being washed out. It will take us weeks to get everything filled flush on tees, approaches, fairways and the practice chipping areas. In the meantime, a reminder – Always replace your divots. Always! Even on tee boxes, replacing your divots is 100% always the preferred method of recovery. Keep that seed/soil container in your cart, and fetch those divots! But if you can’t find it, use the seed/soil bottles and fill a few extras if you see them!
- Raised sod. We did several projects late into the fall, right before freeze-up. We replaced some non-functioning irrigation isolation valves, moved irrigation heads to the perimeters of Fescue rough areas, and a large drainage project on #10. All of these areas have sod that is yet to be packed down properly. The sod will be tamped and smoothed-out over the next several weeks, and will obviously be GUR (just like the stump holes), until that happens.
- New Fescue area between 3 tee and 5 green. We killed off the rough and reseeded this area to a pure Fescue stand late last Fall. We had several snow melts throughout winter which then created ice. I’m not certain yet if the young seedlings survived. As the soil temperatures warm, I’ll know if any areas need to be reseeded. PLEASE keep all carts out of this area, as we’d prefer not to rope it off.
- Collateral damage. All winter long, our Assistant Brad Holt and myself, worked on renovating the bathrooms at 15 tee. Because of the deep snow, and getting all of the materials out there, we needed to plow a road from the gate on Cleveland Avenue to the bathrooms. All winter, this area was void of snow, and when it warmed up, the truck tires broke through the sod, as seen below. We have deep tined the ruts, and will fill with soil, seed and cover, where necesary. You’ll see traffic stakes, and if you’re a cart rider, please avoid these areas to expedite the recovery. As a cart rider, you’ll also see traffic stakes, and cart signs, in areas that are still wet from snow melt. Please avoid the general areas where you see the stakes, not just directly in front of them.
- New bathrooms. Yes, we’ve finished the renovations of the bathrooms. If you see Brad Holt this spring, thank him, because he spent months at a time chipping away at them this winter. Yes, they look fab, but if you play Wednesday and Thursday, the bathrooms will NOT be open, because of the late frost, and us waiting for the City of Roseville and St. Paul to install the water meter and turn on our water source. That will hopefully happen this Friday morning. Signs will be posted at the golf shop letting you know their status, so please plan accordingly.
- Small surprises. There are some nice, small upgrades we’ve made to the course accessories, added a few new pieces of equipment, gained some great new members to our team, implementing new ideas we’ve pondered over winter, and have plans for some great improvements that will happen this season.
- Aerification. Our scheduled dates for aerification is May 14th and 15th. We will be forgoing aerifying greens this year. Our winter preperation topdressing and aerification will serve as this spring’s cultural practice, given we’ll have had such a late start to the season. This will NOT become the norm on greens. As I’ve written before, managing healthy greens is about managing numbers, so we’ll make a few additional topdressing and needle-tine applications throughout the summer months to keep the greens within the organic matter percentages we strive for. Aerification on tees, approaches and fairways will still take place on the 14th and 15th, as we don’t have a large amount of sand built up, and we are still in a corrective-program (7 years running) to get organic matter percentages to desired numbers. We will use slightly smaller sized tines, so recovery will be quick, and again, no cores will be pulled so there won’t be mud to battle.
We’re excited for Spring to breathe life back into the golf season, and hope to see everyone out there!