Fall Weather and Maintenance Don’t Always Match Up

There is nothing better than Fall golf in my opinion. This season has been no exception, especially in regards to the weather. It’s given our department the ability to accomplish many important projects and hopefully many rounds played for you as well. Numbers haven’t been tallied yet, but 2017 might go down as the wettest year in 30 years. This has posed unusual challenges for us in regards to damage from carts and mowing equipment. Those repairs will take place all the way up until the ground freezes.

The other thing the weather has done being 20+ degrees warmer than average is preventing the turf from going into full dormancy. Usually by the first week of November, the turf is hardened off and ready for winter because of numerous hard frosts, night time average temps in the 30s and drier conditions. There have been questions regarding recent green speeds and why we haven’t been mowing turf for several weeks. This is our counter attempt in getting the turf to start the internal dormancy process. Every time you mow turf, it metabolises resources, repairs the wounds from mowing and essentially keeps growing. We’ve taken away all of that with eliminating mowing. What we are trying to protect is having the turf active when winter does arrive and especially when we cover greens. The turf doesn’t look at the forecast and see that the temperature are about to drop off, preventing the turf from going through its normal slow process of going dormant. This weather is great for getting your last few rounds in for the year, it’s not ideal and somewhat dangerous for the golf course. We need the turf to be done with its normal respiration processes before covers go on so that the turf doesn’t suffocate. The issue with a fall like this is we’re going to go from temperatures in the 60s to 30s and 20s quickly. I’m not even going to post pictures of winter kill from several years ago. Those of you with good memories will remember the pain and suffering with the recovery process. We’ve learned that with our non-permeable covers, if the greens are covered and the turf is not dormant, suffocation and winter kill can occur. It’s not the only way turf can die in the winter but we are taking all measures to prevent it. I am making decisions to ensure long-term health, not short-term gains for such a small period of time of the playing season. Sometimes Fall weather, like what we are experiencing right now, does not match up with how we should be managing the golf course.

 

Fall is project season for our department. We’ve been very busy and have been very effective with the warm weather. This is what we’ve been up to:

  • The parking lot islands coming up the front entrance have been renovated and replanted. Thanks for being patient with the mess and all of the activity as you were looking for a parking spot.

 

  • The front hill-side facing the parking lot has been regrassed to Fescue. This change will not only be a huge visual improvement as a first impression but will reduce maintenance on an area that previously difficult to do so.

 

  • Native and Fescue areas being mown down and raked out. This practice keeps the broadleaf weeds down and also keeps the areas thinner. With a record wet season, these areas were very thick. Using our new thatch rake, we can essentially remove that extra growth. We have over 10 acres of natives to take care of, this time of year is when they receive their maintenance.

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  • Under brush and buckthorn removal in select areas. This is a never ending process but this year we are working on the wooded area between 3 Tee and 5 Green as well as behind 6 green.

 

  • Bunker shaping. We’ve accomplished a few minor tweaks to select bunkers. Some were edged back because of over growth and we reshaped the practice bunker edge to prevent rain run-off and filling the bunker with water.

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  • Deep tining the fairways. Our deep tine machine had a major breakdown the week after aerification. It took 6 weeks for our mechanics to tear it down and rebuild it. At the time of aerification, we had only completed half of the fairways. You have seen us mark drainage and sprinkler heads in the fairways with orange flags as so we don’t damage anything. We are down to our last 2 and will finish early next week.

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  • Mulching leaves. This has, and is normally, the largest fall task we complete. Our day starts off by blowing off all playing surfaces and bunkers while our rough mowers mulch leaves as quickly as possible. This process is 80% complete and by the end of next week, 95% of the leaves should be off the trees.

 

  • Irrigation blow out. This coming Monday we will be blowing out the irrigation system. If you do come out to play, please be aware that we cannot stop for play and it will be very loud. Thanks for you cooperation.

 

  • Winter Snow Mold applications. I’ve had several questions regarding how green the playing surfaces are for this time of year. Yes the weather is keeping the turf green but our Snow Mold applications have dyes in them that also darken the turf. This along with some fertility and iron, the surfaces are much darker than normal. This also is a preventative measure for when the snow starts to melt in the spring with stronger sun rays, in that it speeds that process along and hopefully prevents ice from forming. We will make our final applications right after we close the golf course as we don’t want foot and cart traffic on the products as they must last up to 5 months.

 

  • Winter covering preparations. You will soon see winter covers being staged on the golf course. Yes I write this while it’s 65 degrees but I can assure you cold weather is coming real soon. We need about 5 days to get everything covered, sand bags and snow fencing in place. We have to be ready when that time comes.

 

  • Prepping the flower beds, the drainage project on the beginning of 14 fairway, trimming trees and removals, tree and vine plantings, splitting wood, fixing perimeter fences, along with several other small tasks are taking place in preparation for the winter season.

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Come out and take full advantage of the weather and get in as many rounds as possible as I can’t guarantee many more days that we stay open. The one thing I can guarantee is that the forecast is changing, it’s hard to imagine but winter temperatures are on their way. I will send out an email notice mid-week with an update on the course closing as this time of year, forecasts change rapidly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Replies to “Fall Weather and Maintenance Don’t Always Match Up”

  1. Norm Chervany says:

    Great report!!

  2. Paul Kirkegaard says:

    Thanks for the great update, Mike! Always informative and fun to read.

  3. Ken Chock says:

    I too was hoping for that one last green cutting but now I get it. That was a great explanation and thanks to you and the crew for working around us as best as you can while doing your projects and preparing to put the course to bed for the Winter. I appreciate all of the projects you are able take on internally instead of contracting outside help, saving the club extra expenses. This is BONUS GOLF and I am just happy to be able to be out there and can handle hitting my putts a little harder for the sake of the turf. I just wish more members cared about the course as much as you do and would fix their ball marks, fill or replace their divots , and rake the bunkers they have been in.

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Thanks Ken. Time to let off the gas and play defense in preparation for winter.

    2. Dan Kelly says:

      A loud AMEN to all of this — and especially the first part of your last sentence, Ken.

      I’ve been fixing a huge number of ballmarks this week. I didn’t know we had that many good iron players! (Emojis omitted.)

      Dan

      1. Mike Manthey says:

        Thanks gents.

        When we stopped mowing and rolling greens on a regular basis over the past few weeks, our staff stopped fixing ball marks each morning. They’ve always been there, we just stopped repairing them before play….

  4. Brian Johnson says:

    Mike,
    It looks like the worms and nightcrawlers are not leaving as many castings in the fairways as the past couple of years. Whatever you and the crew have done, keep it up as the fairways are wonderful.

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Thanks Brian! As you know, many of the topdressed areas of approaches and fairways are worm-free. I think since we haven’t mown for a few weeks, the turf is a little shaggier, hiding a lot of the casts. The worms are starting to go deeper into the soil as well, helping our cause. Hope to see you out there a few more times this year!

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