It’s that time of year when our department starts to shift gears. With essentially 6 weeks left in the (typical) golf season, we are shifting our focus towards golf course improvement projects and winter preparation. We are no longer spending time and energy on most of the detail aspects of course maintenance because it prevents us from accomplishing our Fall season goals. Here is a breakdown of what we will be working on for the remainder of the golf season:
1. Bunker Restoration
- I’ve received a lot of questions regarding what’s happening with the bunkers.
- Our bunkers were installed in 2000-2001 so they are 16 years old, which is no longer considered “new”. They age and evolve at different rates based on the amount of play, debris that gets into them, their exposure to wind as well as how we are able to maintain them. In the picture below you can see there was 16″ of sand that has been built up on the face of the bunker. As the sand builds up the angle of the face of the bunker becomes less steep and balls start to stick on the face. The edges of the bunkers start to erode as people walk up the face because they are pure sand and the quality of the grass declines in the heat as it cannot hold water, thus it becomes very hot during the summer months. Restoring the bunkers is part of the long-term maintenance plan for the course as they need maintenance to be able to play and perform like they were designed to.
- Since we are doing the work in-house it will take us several weeks to complete. It’s a large project to complete, especially since we have a small staff this time of year. Holes 4, 6 and 7 are being done this fall as they are in the worst condition and are all in close proximity to each other. We are able to get the bunkers back to their original shape easily as we can still find the sod staples that we installed by Hartman Construction when they were put in. Another task that will take place during the project will be to level any unlevel sprinkler heads around greens so that the distribution is consistent. We will sod all of the bunkers once they are all prepped.
- Once restored, shots will hit the faces and end up on the sand and they will again have the Seth Raynor steep and deep look to them. If you’ve noticed that in recent years they did not function the way they should. The process of restoring the bunkers will take us several years to complete but by the time we reach our acceptable conditioned bunkers, they will be ready for restoring.
2. Deep Tining Fairways
- We have just started the process of deep tining fairways. Didn’t we already aerify fairways during aerification? Yes, we poked a small hole 3″ deep to relieve the surface compaction. Our plan was to deep tine the fairways at the same time but 2 things prevented us from it. First we no longer have enough tractors to operate all of our aerifiers since we purchased a sand hauler this Spring. Our sand hauler has sped up the process of topdressing more than two-fold. The problem is that we need our largest tractor to pull it. Second, at the time of aerification, the soil was too dry deep in the profile. Our deep tine machine pokes a hole 10-14″ deep and if the soil is too dry, it grabs onto the tines and flips the turf upside down. Last week we received 2.5″ of rain, allowing us to get it done with minimal disturbance to the turf surface. Deep tining is the backbone of our cultural practices for fairways. We no longer (for now) pull a core on fairways for thatch and Bentgrass management. Deep tining helps get water into the soil profile quicker, keeps gas exchange occurring at the root zone, create channels for our roots to thrive, relieves deep compaction from our equipment and carts and hopefully aides in minimizing deadly ice formation during the winter months. Please be patient with the process as the machine travels at less than 1 mph. The 2 weeks it takes pays dividends during the 7+ months of the playing season.
3. Fall Herbicide Application to Roughs
- Now is the best time to treat for broadleaf weeds. We will begin the process of spraying the 70 acres of rough next week. As the leaves start to drop, you will see us mulching ahead of the sprayers.
4. Greens Contour Restoration to #9
- As we have done for the past 2 Falls, we plan on restoring the original shape of our greens. #9 will be done over the next few weeks to restore the original Seth Raynor shape and intent. Looking at aerial photos from the 1930’s, we can see exactly where the shape of our greens have changed. This process will take 2 days, look for a temporary pin on 9 approach while we complete the restoration.
- All past green expansions will receive an additional small aerification yet this Fall. These areas have been sodded and don’t perform as well as the rest of the greens. The core will be the size of a pencil, will be filled with sand, should have no effect on play and heal within days. The process of getting the soil profile to match the remainder of the green is the intent of the additional aerification and introduction of more sand.
5. Tree Management Plan
- This week, the Greens Committee is making its way around the golf course working on the Long Range Tree Management Plan. Plantings for 2015 and removals for 2016 are currently being discussed. Look for plantings to be put in the ground in early November.
6. Moving Sprinkler Heads
- When the irrigation system was installed in 2006/2007, irrigation coverage didn’t take into account our native areas. We are now moving sprinkler heads to the perimeter of those areas. We’d prefer not to waste water and electricity and those areas stay thin and more playable when they are left dry, especially our new Fescue areas. Before the ground freezes, we hope to move several heads around our natives as well as other areas with poor coverage.
7. Growing in New Fescue Stands
- Last season we re-grassed the native area between 1 green and 2 tee to a pure stand of Fescue. The stand is thinner in nature, will help with playability and requires little to no input. We have expanded that conversion to the areas between 10 green and 11 tee as well as between 14 and 17. Please keep your carts out of these areas as the seedlings cannot handle cart traffic.
- Over the next several weeks we will be mowing down all of the native areas. Mostly to reduce the number of Broadleaf weed and to remove the plant material, helping them stay as thin as possible.
8. Preparing for Chilton Edging Installation behind Clubhouse
- We will be installing Chilton edging around the back of the clubhouse to improve the landscape aesthetics and to help keep the mulch from the perennial beds from washing out after large rain events.
9. Removing Annual Flowers
- It’s the time of year that we will start removing annual flowers, most commonly after the first kill frost.
10. Mulching leaves
- Once the leaves begin to drop consistently, we will focus on mulching and not mowing the entire rough. There will be days when we cannot keep up and they’ll become ankle thick. Please be patient while we work as quickly as possible.
All of these projects are aimed at improving the property. We continually look for ways to make our operation and your round of golf better. There will be short-term pain for long-term gains. We do have a smaller staff this time of year and with the warmer temperatures and large rain events, mowing the turf unfortunately gets in the way of our projects. Thank you for your understanding while we make long-term improvements to Midland Hills.