Catching Up

Yesterday marked 5 weeks of playing golf, that literally flew by. A lot of things have happened, and I’ve had a few consistent questions, so I’ll try to shed some light on them.

Question #1: Why were the deep tine holes on #13, 14, and 15 greens larger than the rest of the course this Spring?

  • We topdress and deep tine greens right in front of the winter covering process. We always try to keep the course open as long as possible, and this year, we probably kept it open for a day too long. On the last day, on the last few greens (you can guess which ones), the ground started to freeze up at night. This made the soil slightly “sticky” against the deep tine tines, and as the tine exited the ground, it didn’t make as clean of a hole as the rest of the greens, and instead made the holes larger.

 

Question #2: Why didn’t you just topdress the open holes on those greens, and why didn’t they heal quickly?

  • The deep tine holes were 1″ wide by 14″ deep. To be able to fill those holes we would have had to apply multiple inches of sand, making them completely unplayable and unmowable for weeks since there was no significant growth, because of continued cold weather. There’s a difference between “green up” growth, and recovery growth, both driven by soil temperatures. We finally reached recovery growth last week, those greens were topdressed, lightly fertilized, and they recovered very quickly. As a silver lining, those 3 greens will most likely perform at a higher level than the rest all season, because of those open channels, producing better gas exchange and drainage.

 

Question #3: Why were the fairway expansions core aerified?

  • We need to smooth the surfaces as much as we can to allow for the conversion of cutting them at rough height to fairway height. Coring helps smooth out slight imperfections in the surfaces, allowing the high areas to settle, and the low areas to fill with soil (as we drag the cores), preventing the fairway mowers from scalping. As of right now, the fairway expansions are just slightly higher than the fairways. Our architect, Jim Urbina, will make a site visit next month to adjust mowing lines as needed to get the final expansions set. A big thanks to all of you that helped us out, by skipping holes, as we put in some serious hand labor to execute the clean-up process. We decided not to close the course for aerification this Spring, and in order to complete the process as quick as possible, we needed your help.

 

Question #4:  What was installed in the 6th and 16th ponds?

  • We used to have spouting fountains in these ponds. They both stopped working after 25+ years. As part of our Golf Course Master Plan, the goal is to remove aspects of the course that are unnatural to our Classic Golf Course setting, included these ponds. Diffusers were installed, which pump air into the pond through an aspirator that turns air into billions of oxygen bubbles. This oxygen helps keep the water from becoming stagnant, specifically with algae blooms. These air diffusers required some electrical work, installing a compressor pump, and burying the air lines. This set up is much more cost effective than the old fountains, and will provide better water quality for ducks, birds, frogs, crayfish, as well as give a much more natural look to the bodies of water.

 

Question #5: Why were the Fescue rough areas mown down?

  • For two reasons. We want them to be as thin, and playable, as possible. Some years, if we have wet seasons, they will be thicker than others. We’ve learned that as the Fescue plants start to grow their seed stocks, if we mow them off, they will regrow them, but it cost the plants a lot of carbohydrates, or “energy,”  which results in a thinner, more playable stand. The other reason we mow them down is to help control weeds. We have mown all of the Fescue areas twice this Spring, and they will now be allowed to grow out.

 

Question #6: What was the fertilizer product around the edges of some of the greens?

  • This product is to help us control worms from creeping into the putting surfaces. Worms don’t like sandy soils, as it’s harsh on their skin. Around the perimeters of a few of our greens, we don’t have a lot of sand built up, because it’s hard to topdress these areas mechanically. The worms tend to come into these areas, leaving worm casts that smear during mowing/rolling, and leave a long-lasting negative effect to the putting surfaces. The product is a carrier that contains tea-tree extract, which is also an irritant to worms. The only effective way to get the tea-tree extract washed off of the prill is rainfall, irrigation is basically ineffective. So making the application is based on when rainfall is guaranteed, which happened to fall on a Friday. Not ideal, but the long-term benefits to the putting surfaces will out way the short-term inconvenience.

 

Why are there so many unrepaired ballmarks on greens?

  • Great question! This one, we have no control over, it falls strictly on the players. Yes, we repair literally hundreds of ballmarks, each morning from the day before. It’s not what we like to spend labor on, and unrepaired ballmarks usually end up as dead turf, so it’s even more detrimental to the quality of the putting surfaces to the same players that don’t fix them. It’s the same negative accumulation effect with not replacing divots, or parking carts off the cartpaths next to greens and tees – after weeks it really shows, and not in a positive way! Every player helps control the fate of the golf course conditions when driving carts, replacing divots, and properly repairing ballmarks. With twice as much cart traffic as normal, we’ve aerified, overseeded, and fertilized, certain areas of rough, and will more than likely have to do it again to combat the compaction. If you are a cart driver, it makes a significant difference if you follow traffic stakes, and park all four tires on cartpaths.

 

Thank you for being patient with all of our new staff. Turnover is unfortunately normal for us, and there is a steep learning curve to not only master their tasks and equipment operation, but also to be able to pay attention to oncoming golf. Most of our staff do not play the game of golf, nor understand the etiquette. First and foremost, we are concerned for their safety, so never hit into them if they do not see you. With time, they will understand when to look up, move to a safe distance, as well as etiquette with their equipment. We’re all looking out for them, and training is constant, so thank you for staying positive and patient.

We look to be in a wet-weather trend, so we’ve lost our firm and fast conditions we enjoyed for almost a month. With the rains, came the heat we needed to get the turf into “recovery growth,” and with our department at almost full staff, conditions will continue to improve.

 

See you out there,

Mike Manthey




12 thoughts on “Catching Up

  1. Mike,

    A very helpful explanation on the conditions you outlined. Thanks for the science behind the decisions you make to improve our course. I for one will try to do a better job on the things I can control. Thanks for your hard work.

    • Bill,

      Thanks for stopping by to read. Our job is part science, part art, and the ratio is always changing.

      Appreciate all the help!
      M.

  2. Great report, Mike.

    Thanks especially for encouraging ball-mark repair and smarter cart operation. It is distressing to see so many unrepaired ball marks, and so many carts ignoring the cart paths. They can’t all be Outside Players!

    • Dan,
      From what I’ve seen, we have a great group of members who care for their course, one that other Supts would envy!
      M.

  3. Mike –
    Great information!

    Thanks to all the team for working so hard to keep us out there. I know there have been a lot of 10-12 hour days for the team.

    Keep up the great work!

  4. Mike, we are new to the club this summer and I am enjoying your turf blog (current and past entries). Thanks for all the detailed explanations, photos and insight on upcoming changes/adds as it relates to the game. I can tell you really enjoy what you do. Excited to watch the progress. Thanks for the good work by you and your crew!

    • David,

      Welcome!

      Thanks for reading and for the comments. The staff is starting to come into their own, so more good things ahead.
      Best,
      M.

  5. Thanks for all you guys do every day. I’m still loving your posts. I’m eager to see how the ponds improve. Yesterday I looked down onto the pond just to the right of the 11th tee box and saw within 5 feet of each other the following- a red winged blackbird, an adult merganser, 5 baby mergansers, a bunch of turtles, and a muskrat. What fun and beauty!

    • PK,

      Fantastic! The wildlife is thriving in that corner of the property, we’ve placed some logs in that pond to provide better habitat as well. Its pretty rare for us to have Merganser chicks, but there’s another family on Walsh Lake as well. And as long we can keep that muskrat in that pond and not 16, we’re good!

      Thanks as always.
      M.

  6. Mike:

    The course is fantastic and I love your blogs. My question is about the worm “holes” on some of the fairways (6 and 15 especially). You mentioned your efforts to prevent worm holes from putting surfaces. Can anything similar be done to the fairways?

    • Scott,

      Thanks for the comments and question. The reason why worms stay out of the greens and approaches spring and fall is because of sand topdressing. Greens have been topdressed since the 1970’s, and approaches, when I started in 2010. There are a few areas of fairways I started that same year, in front of 6 pond, the bottom of 15, a spot right side of 17, as well as the bottom of 18. Those areas are worm free, but that’s only a few acres worth, and we manage 25 (and soon to be more) acres of fairways. There is a monetary, capital and time to complete such a large area, commitment that the club has to meet, and continue it, for us to start. But I can tell you it’s a high priority to get it started.
      Stay tuned for info on that hopefully soon.
      M.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.