Course update and some Fescue Management

It’s been a while since the last post. The weather has been all consuming with keeping things properly hydrated for the past 2 months. It’s been a mental grind to keep up seven days a week with all of the sod, as the heat hasn’t let up, nor can we. Our staff has done a phenomenal job at keeping a positive attitude, and constant dedication, to make sure all of the hard work during the project last year, survives this year. Remember, several acres of sod was laid as late as October, did not root, nor did it root in May like it should have, as it was too cold, then came the relentless heat of June and July. We are only 30 days away from relief, and can hopefully put the hoses away. Thanks for being patient with a very difficult grow-in process.

But this hot weather has prevented us to complete some typical important agronomic practices. Mid-season topdressing is one that has a major beneficial impact to playability. With temperatures/forecasts not letting up, none of of the playing surfaces have received any topdressing since spring Aerification. Rubbing sand across the turf plants in these kind of temperatures creates wounding that leads to damaging diseases, and plants that struggle overall to even heal. Matching normal growth with applications of sand dilutes naturally forming organic material, which in turn, keeps the surfaces firmer, smoother, and healthier. And with this heat, specifically being above 70 degrees at night, the plants barely slow their growth, even at night, which in turn, creates more organic material. With the current forecast, and no outside event this coming Monday, we will be topdressing Greens and Tees. With us not topdressing since May, a slightly higher amount of sand will be applied to match the production of organic matter over the past 2 months. We will also needle tine over the top of the sand to help increase gas exchange to the sub-soils. Not to worry, there will only be a few days of the sand at the surface, but the after affect will be immediate improved surfaces. If the weather cooperates, the approaches will receive sand the following Monday.

It’s obvious the difference in our Fescue conversion from the front nine to the back nine. Some areas are beautiful, and some are far from it. The timing of seeding last fall made a large difference in the establishment of the Fescue, and maybe more importantly, the encroachment of grassy and broadleaf weeds. Specifically on the back nine, much of the Fescue didn’t germinate until late spring 2021, but so did the weeds, especially the grassy varieties of weeds. The Fescue didn’t get a chance to grow up, as it germinated in the late spring, then when it would normally mature, and June was unseasonably hot, stunting the maturation process, so the result is it won’t grow tall until next season. This situation puts it at a disadvantage to be outcompeted by the grassy weeds, as they love the hot weather, and become thick, choking out the Fescue. We’ve made the decision to mow down the Fescue conversion areas on most of the back nine. This process will entail mowing them to 5″, waiting a few weeks, then applying a selective herbicide to rid the grassy weeds. This will then give the Fescue the opportunity to receive sunshine, and continue to mature throughout the season. These areas would not have produced the nice brown, showy, seed heads this fall regardless, but their long-term health and development is at the forefront of this decision.

Below you can see the Fescue (dark green) was hidden under the grassy weeds. 

Specialized mower in action. 

There are also areas on the front nine that became too thick. This was because we didn’t get our irrigation heads converted to not apply water on them past the initial development. There are over 1000 sprinklers on the golf course, and a few hundred of them need internal parts replaced with parts that allow for an adjustable arc instead of a full circle. This is a massive undertaking, but a necessary part of the management plan, to keep irrigation water out of these areas. You will also see a few select areas on the front nine being mown down. This will hopefully improve playability for the remainder of the season. Next season, with the irrigation removed from those areas, they will stay much thinner.

Below is a map of the irrigation system. As you can see, it’s almost wall-to-wall coverage, and takes significant modifications to adjust to the edges of the Fescue grassing lines. 

 

Over time, with no irrigation, fertility, or any other inputs, and with the maturation of the Fescue, these areas will develop into the intended goal. They become more self sufficient once they mature by naturally controlling weeds, but for now, we must stay committed to controlling them by spot applications, and localized mowings.

The bottle filler stations have arrived! We just took delivery of them, and will plumb them in, and mount them to the walls of the bathroom/shelter buildings on 7 and 14 next week. Once you see the white coolers disappear, you’ll know that the bottle filler stations are operational. These coolers will be filtered/chilled water. If you don’t have a refillable bottle, stop in the golf shop to purchase one.

The next big cultural event will be fall aerification. This take place Tuesday September 7-9th. Remember that all 18 fairways will be topdressed during this process, which is a new cultural practice for us. Additional time, and resources will be needed to complete the massive undertaking. Again, our goal is to topdress them 3 times per season for at least 5 years to expedite the benefits of the process. I will explain the process more in detail once we’re closer with a future post.

Picture taken July 28, 2021 showcasing the restored course. 

Mike Manthey

10 Replies to “Course update and some Fescue Management”

  1. Ron mason says:

    mike as always truly appreciate your commitment to even the smallest detail. appreciate all the hard work of you and your crew.

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Thanks Ron!
      Appreciate the support and kind words.
      M.

  2. Brad M says:

    Thanks for the update Mike – always look forward to these.
    The course has been so fun and enjoyable this year and appreciate all the hard work you and the turf management team does – especially in this hot/dry spring/summer!

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Thanks Brad, it’s been a beast of a summer but the staff has remained undefeated!
      M.

  3. Bruce Drake says:

    Mike – noticed the fescue mowing yesterday. Very tough, stressful summer. hot and dry. Course is in great shape considering. Where’s the rain this year?

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Bruce,
      We haven’t had one of these summers for a decade, makes you appreciate the mellow ones we’ve had in the past.
      I think Rochester is hogging the precip!
      M.

  4. Paul Kirkegaard says:

    Thanks to all your team for making this course great to play this year. I know you all have your hands filled with the weather challenges but is there any way you guys could totally remove some of those really hard to get out of sand traps when you have a couple of spare minutes? I seem to be penalized when I inadvertently hit into them. 😉

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Haha. PK, we’ll skip topdressing tomorrow and jump back in the excavators, see what we can do….

      Thanks!
      M.

  5. James E. says:

    Mike, every team needs a leader – and you’re a great one! Thank you!

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Trust me James, we have many many leaders on this team!
      M.

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