Friday, November 29, 2013

Special Holiday Cart Rule

With nice weather predicted for the weekend, we will be allowing Carts On Fairways and Off the Paths for this special holiday  weekend only. Come out and see us!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving/Hanukkah

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our membership and staff @Glen Echo.  The clubhouse staff has been working feverishly since Tuesday preparing the dining areas, take out orders and  a nearly full clubhouse of members, family and guests for Thanksgiving Dinner setting.   I would also like to take a moment and mention the beginning of Hanukkah for those of the Jewish faith which started last night.  To everyone, I hope your day is filled with good food, fellowship and take just a moment to reflect on how blessed we are!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tornado Ravaged Course in Washington, IL

Andrew Morris from Country Club of Peoria penned a great read regarding tornado ravaged Hillcrest G.C. in Washington, Il.  Unbelievable devastation at this course.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Turkey Day Scramble(MGA Event)

Contact the pro shop to sign up for the Men's Golf Association last event of the year "The Turkey Day Scramble" on Friday November 29th at 11:00 a.m.  Looks like the best weather day in  7 days will be Friday. Sign up as an individual and get paired by the pro shop or bring from one up to three guests for a $ 30.00 per guest fee.  

I'm giving one last chance to have carts off paths since the course is reasonably dry and the forecast is trending for more dry weather so no excuse for the cart playing golfers. 

 Get out of the house and come have some fun at the club on Black Friday!

Course should be in good shape.  Staff are working on cleaning up the leaves that fell during the last storm and over the weekend.

Overseeding Long Range Tee

As mentioned in an earlier blog posting, we over seeded half the long range tee in mid-fall.  We had sprayed a selective poa management material on the tee in September to clean up the early germinating poa annua and then rotary spread an average rye grass rate over the tee.  No fertilizer since the bermuda was still green. We drug in the rye grass and mowed without baskets.  No scalping of bermuda like they do in the south.  

We were not helped in germination by the dry weather.  We did water some to allow the rye to germinate but not enough to encourage more poa to germinate.  This would have also softened the tee leading to more damage than necessary going into winter.  Once winter breaks next March and the turf begins to grow, we should get a good jump in growth of the rye on this tee with a dormant fertilizer application.  We will keep the non-over seeded side closed until it begins to grown and can repair itself which will be probably in late April/early May.
Not a Florida style over seed but should be adequate for us next spring as the rye begins to expand.  We will also be filling divots with sand and rye as they occur in the spring.  The right side which is in more full sun and was not over seeded should give us some good mid-spring bermuda if the weather warms properly.  Less competition in the spring should also assist the bermuda in greening more quickly. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Nasty Day/Work to be Done

A nasty weather day with dropping temperatures but work must get 
done.  Stick removal and leaf mulching of the club lawn. Only .35" of rain, not enough but helpful.  We will take what we can get going into winter.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Knowledge is Power

As the main golf season wind's down, a great deal of reflection goes into this past season and potential changes or improvements in the program for next season.  Along with the evaluation, comes an increase in opportunities to gain knowledge about what we do as growers of turf grass and managers.  There are educational opportunities throughout the season but a majority of my time in the slower times of the year is devoted to gaining knowledge.  Some of the educational opportunities include;

  1. Trade journals either in paper form or digital.
  2. Forums on professional sites such as TurfNet or Superintendent Association site.
  3. Monthly local meetings or visits to golf courses.
  4. Vendors or field reps from companies talking about their products and solutions or problems we might be seeing.
  5. Turf advisory visit from USGA agronomist which occurred this season.
  6. Webinars presented on different sites.
Dr. Rossi Cornell University Opening Slide

Today with the wet and cold weather, I sat in on a webinar presented by TurfNet(Internet Golf Course Communication Company) which was present by Dr. Frank Rossi from Cornell University regarding Plant Health.  Superintendents from all over the country sat in on this power point presentation regarding the health of golf greens and how the impacts of our work impact their plant health.  Many times, these presentations spend most of the time discussing how we can improve plant health without using chemicals to fix or cure our problems.  There are many cultural practices which can improve and or negatively impact plant health.  In many cases its about proper application, operation and timing.  Get one of those three out of order or sequence and problems can occur.  Keep those in the proper order, and great putting greens can be in your future.  One of the most interesting slides he used during his presentation the production of energy and the use of energy in the plant. 

Last week, in the discussion regarding trees I spoke about shade weakened turf on greens and how they can become deprived of energy during the summer.  During the webinar, a slide was used by Dr. Rossi that relates to energy production and use.  The yellow line which represents use peaks at the top in the summer.  The white line which represents production bottoms out directly underneath the use line in the middle of summer. 
Dr. Rossi', Conrell University's slide regarding production and use of energy.
There are many abiotic(non-living) stresses in turf which can negatively effect the production of food and the use of food.  
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Drainage
  • Air movement
  • Sunlight
  • Mowing
  • Golfers(Yes I know your living but the effects of walking on greens, ball marks etc)
Too much or not enough depending upon the type of stress can widen the gap between production and use.  Our attempt is to keep the gap as narrow as possible so when the worst weather of summer comes along, our turf is prepared.  You can also see the blackened areas which represent storage.  The greatest time for storage in a plant is during the fall.  The sun's angle in the fall is flattened which reduces light.  Trees living on the eastern and southern sides of greens negatively effect this storage because of reduced light.  Leaves are usually on trees until November so any trees close to greens on the sun side of the green reduces the greens ability to build up reserves going into winter and the following spring which are terribly important for plant survival the next summer.

I missed a number of webinars this season and intend to go back into the archives and watch them   Hopefully I can learn something new or refresh some information that gets pushed down in the memory bank to assist the staff and I as we hope to keep your golf course in great condition again next season.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Irrigation system blown out today

Every late fall, we blow out our irrigation system to insure that it is protected from potential winter freeze damage.  We rent a large compressor that pushes a column of air through the system.  The heads are turned on using the control boxes which are the green plastic boxes that are about 1 1/2' square and stand about 3 1/2' tall in groups of 2-4 that you see all around the course.  We manually turn on every head through the control boxes to evacuate the water from the system.

Before the event today, we opened 4 valves that drain into our lake system to remove water from the system.  We also opened our wash pad drain for this side of the course.  The more water we drain manually, the less water that has to be drained through the heads which helps to prevent damage.  The compressor''s pressure is regulator controlled to 50 psi which protects our system from potential damage from too high of pressure.  Our system runs at an operator pressure of 130 psi when full of water.  Running a compressor with air at 130 psi would be catastrophic for our system.  High pressure air can damage heads or pipes.  The compressor we use provides a large column of air at lower pressure which helps to push the water out of the system in a safe and efficient manner.   The system will be recharged in March when we have a need for water which is usually before our spring aeration.

Compressor outside the pump house ready to blow out the system.

Sprinkler heads turned on with water evacuating out the irrigation lines.

End of the day, air being released back out of system after the job was completed.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Continued leaf work and a little preaching about shade on greens!

With the winds, cold temperatures and  natures timing, leaves are falling at great numbers than we can remove.  The staff are out trying to clean off greens and our bunkers today.  I know they will not get finished since we had to delay our start because of frozen turf grass.  Tomorrow, we will begin to clean off fairways and move material into the rough areas.  We will be utilizing 2 blowers, the vacuum, at least one rough mower for mulching and probably at least one or two guys doing greens and finishing bunkers. We attempt to grind up as many leaves as possible which do provide some nutrition and soil tilth.  Too many leaves ground up in one area can smother grass, change pH of the soil and create additional layering for our grass which can restrict growth. This is why we use our vacuum to pick up and remove large quantities of leaves.

Once the leaf work does slow down, we will begin to pull plugs in the rough to improve water penetration and turf health.  This will help to increase freezing and thawing cycles within the turf which leads to the soil becoming more fractured.  The heaving of the soil improves exchanges of gases and root development in the soil profile.  We plan to pull cores in the rough until the ground freezes and in late winter/early spring when turf thaws.  This will strengthen our plants for the summer heat by improving moisture movement through the soil profile and at the same time allow for moisture retention due to millions of small water holding holes in the soil.  The more water that can move into the soil, the deeper it can move which will strengthen the plant through improved root systems.  As in trees, the more branching of a root system, the greater the water/mineral uptake and the more production of energy which then leads to more growth.  Excess energy is then stored within the plant.  This storage becomes most important in the heat of the summer when plants naturally protect themselves from the heat by slowing their growth.  When you slow production, less is available for the plant to survive.  The larger reserves, the better chance and plant has to survive stresses such as heat, disease, insects, mowing, walking, golf carts or having a divot removed..
Leaf removal from 7 green.  Also notice heavy shade from trees behind green.  The trees behind 7 green are not the worst because the green does get good morning sun but are becoming an issue because of their southwest location to the sun''s track across this green.  Air circulation is good to this green because of it being in the open and elevated which does improve its overall health.  FYI, these trees are not on a list for removal but they are beginning to create the potential for health issues.

Allow me to shift gears for a couple of paragraphs since we are talking trees.  Most superintendents are not judged on how they can grow a tree. Warning, editor opinion.  (Pretty easy, plant to grow, keep mowers off of it and watch it dominate its landscape unless a disease and or pest takes it out.  In most cases, they are pretty bullet proof)  Superintendents are judged primarily on how we can grow turf grass, specifically golf greens.  In a nutshell, that is why I'm so concerned about the competition created between trees and grass.  During ideal summers when there is reasonable amounts of moisture and milder temperatures, heavily shaded poa annua infested greens are not much of an issue.  Poa annua is a nice rolling surface except for the seed head disruption in the spring.  Its when we have a horrible summer like 2011 with high temperatures, high humidity from heavy rains and saturated soils when our turf suffers the most.  The plants have not been able to store as much energy as they should because of shading and or competition from tree roots.  Green root systems are less branched and become lazy because of excessive moisture from poorly draining and slow to dry shaded turf which means less food production is occurring during the build up to the summer.

Its then on like Donkey Kong.  High heat increases soil temperatures.  Water is a great conductor of heat and with heavier rainfall, the green profile does not release the heat like it should.  As soil temperatures increase into the upper 80's and then 90's, the plants begin to lose root structure.  Cells begin to die one at a time as do the root that is made up of these cells.  We talk about roots shortening which does naturally occur during an average summer but can be exacerbated due to compromised and unhealthy environments leading up to the severe weather conditions.  The higher the temperature, the more severe the impact on the plants. Poa annua root systems already shorter by biology then bent grass, suffer more severely because of this shorter root system.  More water is necessary to keep it cool but then their is too much water for the bent grass plants.  Bent grass, normally the stronger plant is weakened, has fewer numbers because of competition from the poa annua and poor growing conditions.

In most cases, poa annua will colonize greens in certain areas.  High moisture concentrations and shade are the two biggest factors.  The higher areas of concentration of this weaker plant species, the greater potential for larger areas of damage due to heat, excessive moisture and or disease.   Less root structure means less water/mineral intake.  The plant then overheats because it cannot cool itself.  In a way like humans, the plant basically goes through heat stroke and or exhaustion.  The plants systems begin to shutdown one at a time until it finally dies.  Root diseases can also begin to show their ugly head. This type of stress require chemical applications which are generally very expensive and require the highest labeled rates to apply and usually more than one treatment.  These applications can negatively affect the microbial populations which help to breakdown nutrient products and make them more readily available for the root systems to move into the plant.  At a time when the plant might need to be stimulated, this process slowed because of reductions in the life within the soil.

Golf greens are made up of about 2000 plants per square foot.  Below is a hypothetical example.

4000 sq foot green  5% turf loss = 200 sq feet of total turf loss
200 sq feet of turf loss x 2000 plants = 400,000 plants.

In most cases when areas begin to die or suffer, the leaf or leaves from one plant only die back to the crown where new leaves will regenerate.   If the weather changes for the better, damaged areas can heal fairly quickly.  If weather severity continues, the damage can continue to spread.  Sometimes, damaged areas require changes in maintenance practices to encourage healing which includes reducing mowing schedules and or raise the height of cut which can negatively effect ball roll.  When death does occur, that's when we have to seed into areas and or replace the damage through plugging and or sodding.  Okay, enough proselytizing for one session. Need to go out and help the staff remove leaves!!

Large oak behind 11 green in which its limbs now reach to back edge of 11 green.  This green has reduced morning sun due to tree line along cemetery.    Selectively removing trees could improve its morning light issues.  The green does sit down and is blocked from air movement because of the pine trees behind the green which are necessary due to the 12th tee which in direct alignment with the path as it goes behind 11 green. Also located next to the cemetery, the abundance of trees in the cemetery also reduces wind movement into this corner of the course.  The green is also flat which reduces surface water's potential from moving off of green.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Indoor activities beginning to heat up at Glen Echo!

With the golf season winding down and weather beginning to force many of us indoors, there are a number of activities both for couples and families that you should mark on your calendar for the next couple of months.

Nov 15 Beer Dinner with a Brew Master from Ferguson Brewery in the house for the evening!
Nov 22 Wild Game Wine Dinner(A nice group already signed up so get your reservation in soon!!)
Nov 28 Thanksgiving Day Dinner at Glen Echo(Better put another notch in your belt for this one)
Chef Terry and Jeff also provide carry out for your family needs to help you with your Thanksgiving Dinner celebrations.
Nov 29 Turkey Day Scramble(Last gas tournament of the year, bring a guest)
Dec 4-5 Pro Shop Holiday Sale
Dec 5    Ladies Luncheon(Guests are welcome for this great lunch event with a charity
Dec 7    Breakfast with Santa(The kid event of the year!  Bring grandmas and grandpas, invite the grand kids              and enjoy the day)
Dec 20  French Wine Dinner(The signature wine dinner event at Glen Echo)
Dec 31  New Years Eve Dinner and Party at the club

These events are on the calendar and ready for you to sign up.

The December Holiday Calendar is getting pretty full but there might be an evening or two open so if you want to do something for your company and or family and friends, contact Rob.  Also, great opportunities for lunch events for your office staff, friends and or family gatherings before the club closes for the Holiday break.  Reservations would be very helpful to assist the staff in taking care of your groups needs as well as the events that take place each evening.  As we must prep the golf course for events, there is so much prep that takes place in the kitchen for the day's activities to be successful.  Chef Terry also provides carryout food for office parties or family get together's for the Holidays as well.  Why go to the grocery stores when you can get the best food in town from the Glen Echo kitchen!!  We've had a great season on the golf course, its now time to fill up the clubhouse for the next couple of months!!

Happy Veteran's Day/Belated Marine Birthday

Happy Veteran's Day to all who have served our country and continue to serve to provide the freedom we experience everyday.

I always try to recognize the Birthday of the Marine Corps.  Happy belated birthday to the Marines!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lowering the front collar of #5 green

The collars on the front of some of our greens that are flatter can become artificially raised from the years of topdressing sand.  Sand can be blown to these areas during major aeration projects or the natural turning on the topdressor and turning off the machine can lead to more sand being applied to these areas right off the edge of the green surface.  Raised collars can slow water from going off the front of the green and or trap water from going off the green.  In a way, the higher collars create a bath tub effect which is never good for bent grass turf.  Excessive moisture creates a number of issues:
  • Softened conditions which contribute to bigger ball marks, spike marks and poor ball roll out.
  • Removes oxygen from the soil and creates a anaerobic or oxygen deprived soil profile which contributes to poor root systems and easily damaged turf.
  • Encourages disease both surface borne and root.
  • Encourages poa annua to become the dominant turf because it loves excess moisture.
  • Elevated soil temperatures during the summer heat which can damage root systems.  Moisture is a great conductor of heat.

One of our worst greens for this issue was #5.  I was hoping to get this situation corrected last fall during the bunker project but we were just too strapped for time.  The moisture from last week softened conditions enough today and we tackled the problem right before lunch.  We removed one pass 18" of green height sod from the front of 5 green since it was beginning to elevate up to the collar.  We removed about 12' of collar/approach sod and laid it out to use over once the soil was leveled.  We left about 6' of sod on the outer edge of both sides of the approach.  Once the sod was removed, we took out 1-3" of excess sand which had built up over the years.  Upon removal of the sand, the sod was laid back in place.  We will be lightly sanding the sod cracks to reduce the potential for the sod to dry out and will do some light topdressing before winter sets in.  Once the turf begins growing again next spring, we will do some additional smoothing of the surface with sand.  The overall health of 5 green should improve with the evacuation of excessive water from the front area of the green.  

Staff cutting pieces of the approach on #5 and laying it on the boards in the order it was removed.

Same  as above.

After the sod was removed, we hand shoveled and raked the area smooth.  We then used our  laser level to insure the water would move away from the green.  Once that was complete, we used our compactor to smooth the surface of the area before laying the sod back in place.  Of course Lady is checking out our work as usual!  She did approve.

The staff edging the sod back in place to the existing grade on the side of the approach.    As you can see the green does slope from back to front but does flatten out at the front of the green.  When we pulled the row of sod off the green, there was a anaerobic black layer of disgusting smelling sand in the front of the green.  The fronts of our greens do have a tendency to hold extra water since we do not have drainage but they will not hold as much with water being able to move more freely off of the green with the lowered collar during rain events.

The finished product.  This area will be painted as Ground Under Repair.  Please walk around this area the rest of this season and please move your ball from this area before playing your next chip or putt.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Thanks to our Seasonal Staff

Our seasonal staff have finished or in the final stages of their work year here at Glen Echo and I wanted to thank them for their efforts this season.  Randy Brown who came down here about 3 years ago to supplement the work he was doing with the housekeeping staff worked full time for us this season.  Randy within the last week found another job which will offer him full-time year round work with benefits and we are happy for him.  You still might see him working banquets at the clubhouse on the weekends where he will fill in and help Reid.

Michael Geiger began working in early summer for us when we lost a staff member or two.  You know Mike from the pro shop and caddying over the last few years.  This weekend will be his last week for us.  Michael did a great job for us this year.

Jeff Hasekamp has one more week left.  He's done great work for us again this season.  He's been around the business since he was a teen with his Uncle Dan who was the former super as most of you know.  We can always count on Jeff's efforts.

Becky and Nick will be leaving toward the end of the month for the season so they are here for a few more weeks before they are laid off.  In regards to Becky, she is dependable and you know you will get her best effort in taking care of the horticulture operation here at Glen Echo.  From time to time I might have an opinion about something but I learned a long time ago when someone works for you and they know what their doing, get out of their way and let them do their thing.  We provide support for her on occasion but about 99% of what you see out on the course when it comes to horticulture comes from her expertise, drive and sweat.  

Nick spends most of his time spinning around the course on the rough mower which is a mind numbing job. A few hours out on the mower and I think I get a little delirious.  He's out there for 32-40 hours a week on a big, noisy, dusty and dirty mower.

Thanks again to all of our staff because without them, I'd be a crazy little short guy running around not knowing which end is up.

First big leaf drop

Our leaves appear to be a couple of weeks behind in changing colors.  Along with that comes the clean up after they fall.  We've had some clean up over last couple of weeks but have a large under taking over the next few days with the lead drop from the rain.  It's a little wet in areas which prevents us from using our wide area mowers right away.  We are trying to get the green and tee complexes cleaned up first.  The staff will spend their weekend work time doing some wide area mowing and blowing to help clean up the course more thoroughly.  We appreciate your patience during this time.  Also, a majority of our seasonal help are at their lay off weekend so we will be reduced by 3 additional staff members beginning next week.
Leaves next to 3 tee and 2 green.