Monday, September 28, 2020

Plans for the Fall, The Invitational 2020


Hundreds of courses in our business host a tour or major event each year but for thousands of others, there is a local event that is the major focus for its staff.

This past week, our club and staff were given the opportunity to host our major event at the club, The Invitational 2020. The work that was completed over the many months prior to the tournament plus the weather we were given over the last couple of weeks provided for great surfaces for our members and guests to play. Congratulation to Mr. Len Toenjes and his guest Mr. Russ Hanson who won the shootout and the overall title for the event. 

We still have some great golf weather ahead over the next month or more. Most of our efforts emphasize putting our turf to rest for winter in the best condition possible so it awakens ready to grow next spring. Below are some the areas of focus we will have over the next month or two. 

Raising Height of Cut 

As our zoysia begins to go dormant, we raise our height of cut slightly to assist with wear and tear and energy storage. We have reset our fairway unit and tee mower to 3/4" which is just .150" taller than their normal height. Once the growth slows over the next couple of weeks, we will stop mowing completely for the season to allow them to get a little fuzzy for winter. I anticipate our amount of play and cart traffic will be up so the turf will get beat down a little. Drier conditions, cooler and temperatures and less sunlight help in reducing overall growth so we should still have excellent playing conditions.

We have also applied Potassium to our zoysia surfaces over the last couple of weeks to improve its ability to survive the winter onslaught of cold and frozen precipitation.

Our green turf height usually gets raised slightly during the month of November and we usually quit mowing greens after Thanksgiving depending upon the temperatures and if there is a need to continue mowing.

Aeration, When Are You Going to Aerate Greens

We will be performing the same process we did in the spring with our greens, Verti-drain deep tine aeration. Since all of our Mondays are full through the month of October, we will begin our aeration after the tournament being held on October 26th. We will do some greens each day to get the process completed. I've always been of the opinion, to do our greens past closing day to give our membership and guests the best possible putting surfaces during the best time of the year to play in regards to ball roll out and turf health.

We also will be pulling cores on our rough the next couple of weeks and will also be involved in some seeding in weaker areas of the rough. We did some initial seeding and aerating in our green surround areas a couple of weeks before the Invitational.

We will also be fertilizing our cool season rough over the next couple  of weeks. We begin last week but had an equipment malfunction and are waiting on parts so if the rough smells a bit earthy, you will understand the reason. A part of our fertilizer in organic in its origin.

Drainage Project from # 6 through #8

We anticipate to begin the storm water drain project after the first week of November. The project will begin on hole 6 from the beginning of the drain along 6 property line to the first large surface drain in the left forward area of 6 approach. We expect the first section will take us about 7 working days or so. During the work on this section, the 6th hole will be closed to all play. 

We would like to get the section that crosses 8 fairway completed next depending upon weather. This is the longest section of the project. We have some soil/dirt work to that fairway to help move water to the surface drain we exposed in the left side of the fairway. Our hope is to have some dry weather so we can move soil and get the section compacted properly and sodded. 

Below are pictures of 2 trees that will be removed during October as we prepare the area for construction of the storm water drain replacement. The ash on the left is directly over the drain pipe and the Willow oak on the right is 2' off the center of the pipe. The trench at the top will be 12' or so wide. There is a 3rd tree that is the Ash to the left front of 6 green that will not be removed but it will be severely compromised by our trench. I expect this tree to not survive the construction due to the severe damage to its root system and surface construction traffic.


Leaves, Many Leaves

It's that time of year where first leaf drop is beginning with Cottonwoods, Ash, Walnuts and other trees which are under stress and or weakened. Our main leaf drop will occur sometime in November depending upon freezing temperatures. A great deal of backpacking, vacuuming, and large blowers plus grinding up leaves back into the soil with our mowers are all a part of the process.

Enjoy your fall on the course! 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Summer's Almost Over and Fall's Coming and A Major Project Change

 Well, we've survived the meteorological summer(June-August) with a little less than 3 weeks before fall. Overall had a pretty good summer. I would have liked the greens to be a bit firmer but humid(wet) and hot conditions do not make it easy to produce that type of playing surfaces. No doubt they will get firmer and roll out will be great here in September/October.

Weather highlights for July/August

4th wettest July on record 9.07"

22 Days over 90 in July, normal is 12.

16th wettest summer(June-August) of all-time 16.49"

26th warmest summer on record.

So what have we been doing on the course the last month or so.

  • Sliced, knife aerated the fairways

16 blades per hub. 12 hubs, 192 blades going about 2" deep and 3" long
12 hubs, 16 blades on each hub for a total of 192 blades. Aerator is 6' wide. Blades go in about 2" deep and leave a cut about 3" long in the fairway. Normally in previous years the slits would turn a little brown due to less rainfall/drying on the edges but with our fairways being fairly moist when we did this work, they stayed green. 

  • Deep solid tined the approaches and tees

There are 6 tine holders with 3, 1/2" tines and 2,  3/4" tines for a total of 30 holes every 3" as the aerator rolls along. We set the aerator to go about 4-5" in depth. This will assist in root growth and moisture penetration into the tees.

  • Sprayed 2 applications of fairway, intermediate and zoysia green surround bermuda eradication chemical products. Fairways are not crispy, just slightly off color from the spray. The club spent $ 250,000 to put the zoysia down in 1995. We are trying to keep the bermuda grass out of the fairways. 

Other work completed included but not limited to the areas below.
  • Needle tined greens at end of July
  • Trimming fence lines trees, vines etc.
  • Topdressing and brushing greens and tees with sand to improve ball roll out and smoothness
This was some of the major work accomplished over the last month or so. Of course there are many hours spent mowing, spraying and daily routine work that takes place as well.

The month of October we had scheduled a tee renovation project for #4/#12 tee complex. The Glen Echo Historical Foundation had raised money for this project through member donations and the Gala. 

There is a 3' drain pipe that takes the storm water from Glen Echo Park subdivision and sections of the course from #6 to the lake in front of 10 tee. One of our rough mowers ended up rest on top of one of the pipes near the edge of 8 fairway when a cave in occurred. The galvanized pipes running underground are completely compromised, rusted out in the bottom which is creating sink holes in various sections of the pipe. We have completed minor repairs over time but its finally time to repair this situation properly.

The project will be broken up into 4 sections. Three sections average about 100-130 feet and begin and end at large drain chambers where the pipes are encased in concrete. The longest run is from a drain we exposed in the left side of 8 fairway to the cart path in front of 7 tee. We intend to place some additional drainage in 8 fairway and to the right of 8 fairway which stays wet for a long period of time in the spring. We also intend to reshape the bottom of 8 to help direct water into the large basin. 

I'm evaluating a potential timeline and will discuss it in the future. We have not had a Green Committee meeting since this situation occurred so more details will be forthcoming. We intend to wait until at least mid November since we will have a great deal of work on the course to complete over the next couple of months and of course we want to give our members ample opportunity to play the course during the middle of fall.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

SiriusXM PGA Radio Tour Interview ‘On Tap’

Umm, yes excuse the umm hiccups during the interview with Brian and John. Yes, I know the Worlds Fair was scheduled for St Louis and not Chicago. But anyway, maybe mow your grass while listening to this interview. Thanks 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Radio interview, Venting Greens, and More

I am a proud member of the GCSAA Golf Course Superintendents's Association of America which is our national trade association. The association has a weekly segment on the PGA Network on Wednesdays at 5. With the Olympic Games originally scheduled for next week, I was asked to be on the program to speak about Glen Echo and our place in Olympic history. As we all know, Covid has since delayed the Olympics for a year but it was decided to go ahead with the interview.  Below is some information regarding the weekly broadcast and how it can be located on satellite radio.  There is also a podcast that is made available after the interview that I will put on the blog when it is ready for those of you without satellite radio.

Listen to GCSAA on PGA Tour Radio Network

“Katrek and Maginnes On Tap" Wednesdays on SiriusXM radio

GCSAA has joined forces with the PGA Tour Radio Network to feature superintendent and GCSAA-related topics weekly on SiriusXM radio. Every Wednesday at 6 p.m. (Eastern) on Sirius channel 208 and XM channel 92, the subject matter will be part of the popular show "Katrek and Maginnes On Tap.”
The program is hosted by Emmy-award winning broadcaster Brian Katrek and John Maginnes, a former PGA Tour player, who spent more than 15 years playing professional golf before starting a second career as a golf announcer in 2005. He won several times on the then Nationwide Tour and had a second-place finish on the PGA Tour at the 1996 B.C. Open, where he was paired with a young rookie, Tiger Woods. He got started on television for the USA Network and then the Golf Channel. He joined the PGA Tour Radio Network in 2005 and has been a fixture there ever since.

We have had a pretty warm July with over 20 days of 90 degrees or better. Our average for July is normally 14.  Timely rains have kept the course green from wall to wall so we have that going for us which is nice. Of course a little quote from 'Caddyshack' which had its 40th anniversary the other day!

Its that time of year for where we try to get a Needle-tine venting of our greens. This process is completed for the following benefits:
  • Exchange of gas.  Oxygen into the system and hopefully the removal of some harmful build up of carbon dioxide which can build up in the soil
  • Movement of moisture into and out of greens. Some sections of greens are dryer and or wetter based on their location, irrigation head set up and other factors. The drier sections of greens will accept water more readily with some holes in them and the wetter areas will dry quicker with more air entering through the holes.
  • Root growth is at a minimum but root life is essential. These small narrow channels provide optimum growth potential if the plants are able to respond.

Our process includes mowing the greens, doing a light topdressing since temperatures are to be in the 80's, needletine, than roll to smooth down the holes. We usually roll the next day to reduce the potential for scalping than start mowing again on the 3rd day. We were able to complete the PG, 1-9, 12 and 18. We will complete the remaining greens this morning.

We had hoped to get some bermuda sprayed on fairways but weather and timing did not allow us to do this work. We will begin spraying in the next week as weather and time allows. Hopefully will get a 2nd application completed to where the effects will not be seen for Member/Guest at the end of September.

We will also begin spraying collars to reduce bermuda competition. More blogging on this work as it begins over the next few weeks.

Hopefully we will see you on the course over the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Needle tine venting, Fairway Aeration, Bermuda Eradication, Green Surround Renovation, and Fathers

Happy Father's Day. My Dad has been gone for 28 years now. A great deal of life has occurred since he went to be with our Lord. Follow the best I can with the lessons he taught me daily on how to live a full life. Sharing your time and treasure to lift up people was one trait he shared regularly. The last day of his life he spent a day in a small town trying to build a new Kiwanis Club that would share in the giving he believed in so much. Its an honor to be your son!

A busy couple of months on the golf course as we barge head first into summer. Allow me a few moments to summarize our work.

Our new zoysia tee and surround areas are trying to establish themselves and mature. Some a little better than others but we moved into some warm weather conditions that will help push it along. Teeing ground turf will be a little slower to respond because of its concentrated wear from teeing it up but we will continue to encourage its maturity. Will begin some sand topdressing to help smooth out the surfaces and help them fill in.

We sprayed the weed contamination on the surround on 5 and 6 where the turf is established. We also sprayed some bermuda encroachment in these areas as well. Speaking of bermuda eradication, we will begin our fairway applications in the next few days as weather allows. Please see the video below for further explanation.

6 Green surround continues to improve. Weed control applied and we've opened the right side bunkers for play.
Fairways and tees were aerated last. We still have a few tees left including the ranges, the approaches and close green surround zoysia areas. We will do this work as weather and time allows over the next week or two.

We also Vented the greens using a very thin 5/16 needle tine. We also double topdressed the greens over a 5 day period last week.

Why vent the greens? You just aerated them at the end of March twice. Venting is a process that is used because it reduces surface disturbance but improves performance of our root growing area in the plants. 
  1. It improves gas exchange. Oxygen in and carbon dioxide out which can build up over time in the root zone.
  2. Allows water to penetrate in hard to wet areas and can dry wet areas more quickly with air entering the subsurface.
  3. The surface closes rather quickly but the small channels into the green surface going down 4-5" allow for roots to improve and thrive. Research has shown that these small pathways can be effective up to 3 weeks.
  4. The lack of basic infrastructure in our greens(no drainage systems) places puts us at a disadvantage when it comes to dealing with adverse conditions including high heat and heavy moisture. This regular program allows our greens to combat some of the problems we face.
  5. As you will see in the video below, there are 48 venting tines on the machine. Our greens average about 5,000 sq ft. Thats about 145,000 vents into each green assisting approximately 142,000,000 million bent grass and poa plants to survive. Approximately 1,500 plants per sq foot.

We have not been walking mowing our greens but plan on getting that started this week. We have 3 new staff members for the summer who we will begin to train along with our experienced group to incorporate this into our program for the summer to improve green conditioning.

Thanks for your time and I will try to get back to posting some additional work on the blog in the upcoming weeks ahead.


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Extra Cart Traffic

With concern for our members and guests health during this difficult time, the use of single cart riders has been recommended for non-household related players. With an increase in total carts being used, additional wear and tear is occurring on various areas of the course.

There are a few tips I would like to remind those using carts which will assist in reducing wear and tear to our zoysia turf which is coming out of dormancy and is not actively growing. I made a video 6 years ago which will explain the pattern cart operators should use to protect our playing surfaces.

Also a reminder that there is a green post positioned 20-30 yards from the green which directs all carts to go back to the cart path. This improves turf quality on our approaches and reduces traffic away from our green surrounds.

Carts should enter the fairway perpendicular to the fairway. This not only
reduces wear and tear on our rough grass before the fairway but also reduces traffic
on our zoysia fairways. It also improves the aesthetics and overall look of the course.
This is a picture at the bottom of #3 but translates to all cart path to fairway access areas.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Oops I Did It Again

No, we aren't talking Britney Spears here ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about millions of holes in our golf greens at Glen Echo CC for a second time in 7 days!!

We completed our Dry-Ject contracted service on March 23rd and we spent parts of 4 days this week doing our Verti-drain Deep-tined Aeration. Our process includes the following:

  • Burying each green with about a ton of sand
  • Then using our Verti-drain deep-tined aerator with 1/2" tines going about 8" deep into our green profile
  • We then blow the sand into the holes
  • Brush the green with a drag brush behind a cart
  • And Roll the greens
This work assists our .125" tall bentgrass (30 pieces of copy paper tall) in a number of ways:
  1. Deep channels assists water to move through the green profile. 
  2. It creates channels for new roots to form and grow.
  3. Oxygen moves into the subsurface assisting root growth and soil microbiology
  4. Reduces excessive thatch which can make a green spongy and be susceptible to foot traffic during wet conditions
  5. The additional sand assists in protecting crowns which is the growth center of the plants where roots grow down and leaf shoots grow up. The sand also assists in filling blemishes, ball mark holes and improves ball roll out

                                                 Skip topdressing our greens with sand

Russ deep-tine aerating our greens

It didn't happen if you don't show it in SLOOOOWWWMOOOOOOOO

Tom blowing sand in holes. We also use backpack blowers in tight areas.

 Pretty much the finished product. We've brushed and rolled the greens a couple more times this week which assists in spreading the heavier pockets of sand around the green surface. We expect the greens to be completely healed over the next 10-14 days. Work took about 150 man hours to complete.

Tree Management Plan includes removing dead and or dying trees throughout the season. It also includes a few planted when needed. Staff installed 3 trees on the right side of #9 red tee toward the fence line on 9. These trees were grown in our nursery over the last few years and we then transplanted them. From left to right, Black Gum, European Hornbeam and Yellowwood to replace the Carrico tree which died over the winter.

Skip mowing fairways for the first time. Not a real tight mow and used an old set of reals since there is so much small debris on the fairways. We blew and hand picked up as much as we could. This got a little bit of the winter fluff off of them.