Saturday, December 15, 2018

Winter Play

Made a quick video on the course regarding winter play and our teeing grounds and 2 hole locations. We remove the tee markers for winter play to refurbish the markers and help spread the wear and tear to our tees. We ask that you tee it up on the edges, front or back of the tee and limit use of the middle. The tuf is not growing and middle of the tees has heavy usage during the season. This will insure that our tees have equal wear and will come out ofwibter ingoid condition.

We also will place 2 holes in every green to help spread out wear in case the greens freeze and we cannot change the holes. I would expect that we will change to 2 holes later this week since staff will be taking time off during the holiday season. We will place a sign at the first tee notifying you when 2 holes are being used. We ask groups to rotate the flag to the 2nd hole once your group has completed the hole. The holes are usually placed on the left and right side or front and back depending upon the green.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Tree Management Plan

This past season was a most difficult one for the trees on our property. Oak gall wasp, roller coaster of temperatures and moisture over the last 10 years with record all-time high temperatures and rainfall. Also, one thing to keep in mind a number of our trees were planted in the 40's to 60's which make them range in ages from 60 - 80 years. 

We have about 20-25 trees of all sizes to remove this winter. From green ash, locust and a large number of Pin Oak plus a couple of other red oak species who haven been under tremendous decline over the last few years. In most cases, these trees are in areas or groups of trees and are not strategic such as protecting doglegs. We do have an area along the left of #1 where we lost a couple of trees that need replacement and we hope to get a couple moved in this area over the next week or two. There are a number of other large trees that have showed some distress this season and will probably die over the next few years. Just like grass plants come and go, so do our trees.

We attempt to remove trees without a contractor unless they are too tall. Once we determine that we need the contractor, we call them in for a day and they remove tops on some of the largest removals that we need assistance in dropping. This might only occur once or twice a year. Our staff saves a tremendous amount of resources doing a majority of this work.

We like to prune limbs off of trees because of the close proximity of other trees that we do not want to damage as well as the protection of valuable turf areas. I also like to take the weight off of the tree so we can direct into exactly where we want it to fall. Trees can twist and turn without warning. We are also not aware how strong or condition of the trunk in case it possibly would snap as the weight begins to move one direction or the other.

We rented a lift for a week in an effort to drop as many limbs as possible. We chip the limbs in our dump truck and save the mulch for the range walk paths and other areas on the course where they can used. We are trying to do as many as we can over a weeks time to manage our resources. We haul off the larger limbs to areas around the maintenance building where we split the good Oak for firewood. We burn significant amounts of wood in our wood burner to heat our maintenance building. We save a minimum of $ 2,500 in natural gas expense over the winter. We will then remove the large trunks after the holiday break which will take a few weeks.

We have a small crew and it takes a significant amount of effort to remove the brush, limbs and log the trunks. .

In discussions with the green committee this fall, I talked about developing a plan to replace strategic trees as necessary but to not get into a large scale tree replacement program. We have a difficult time with managing our resources when it comes to the trees on our property. The shear size of these trees on an overall small piece of property is very difficult at best to manage. It is important that we conserve resources such as water, fertilizer and the total cost in tree management. Blowing, raking, mulching and grinding and mulching and grinding some more.

Our most important asset that we have at Glen Echo is the turf grass that provides the playing surfaces for our great game.   

Below is video of Gamma Tree removing the Sweet Gum next to the Pro Shop and practice green. I'm in awe of the work these guys perform. You learn to have a great appreciation for their work when you go up 40-50' doing the lower level work that we do. The removal of this tree will help to keep the practice green/cart parking area and ornamental plantings free of gum balls, leaf litter and other debris.

There are trees near 8 green partially removed (locust), Pin Oak right rough 16 230 yards from the green partially removed and another which has a large part of the crown of the tree exposed about 185 yards from the green that we have not trimmed yet but must be removed.

Contractor from Gamma working on the pro shop tree.

4 left side of the path about 50 yards before the cross path to the field bar at 7. Tree died over the summer.

11 top of the hill right side of the cart path at start of fairway. Had significant decay.
Today's look at the pro shop after removal of the sweet gum.

#18 right side of the fairway about 230 from the green. Oak died over the summer.

This tree was about 30 yards behind the tree above in the middle of 17/18 rough. 

This oak is to the left of the cart path on 2 near the green irrigation box 225 yards to 2 green. Died over the summer. There is another oak in significant decline up near the left tee on 16 which is in the same row of trees. I pruned it the best I could to make it look a little better for this season.

Oak chips used for walk paths and other needs on the course and of course the logs from the limbs only. We still have to cut the main trunks down.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Bunker Repair and End of Season Greens Spray

Our bunkers have gone through their 6th season and are in need of some repair. Most of the entrances and exits have some wear and tear issues from both equipment and efforts to keep them clear of debris. We spent most of the day on Friday reparing the left front bunker of #5.

The first thing we had to do was remove the sod along the edge to locate the actual edges of the bunker. We had to remove the excess sand that has been either blown out or drug out by our bunker rake.

We took the sod off and scraped the sand down to the soil layer and dug down along the sand until we found the original bunker edge that was done in 2012.

Once this was completed, we then laid new fescue sod and then moved the sand up against the new sod to assist in stabilizing the bunker edge over the next few months. In some cases, we will need to remove sod from the green splash side of a bunker as well. We will attempt to complete a bunker a week until sod cannot be cut from our supplier and will then begin again in late winter/spring hopefully completing most of the problem areas before spring has fully arrived. We will of course be checking sand depths and adding sand as needed as well to insure we have proper depths for our members and guests to play.

Some of you might have noticed the greens were pretty bright in color over the weekend. No, not a lot of growth taking place. We sprayed a fungicide called Civitas 
which has some late season benefits as well as early season benefits for 2019. Click on the link if you want to read more about it.

Right front edge of the #5 first bunker on the left

Arrows designate the edge of the bunker. We stripped off the sod from the tip up the arrow back up the slope. Sand hand been pushed up over the actual bunker edge so we dug down into the sand bank to find the original edge of the bunker Kyle Goalby had originally shaped.

Sand/soil mix being removed from the dge

Repaired edge with new sod. 

Sprayed the greens late last week with a fungicide which delays fall/winter dormancy and should assist in spring green up. Yes think spring!

Man Its Cold Outside(Weather Stats for November)

The ugly weather stats for November. The course was closed 9 days in November with 6 other opened days where the avg high temperature was 39 degrees so far all practical purposed closed 15 of 26 available days that we could have been open.

                                  Observed          Normal   Depart      Last Year
                                                              Value        from

Avg Maximum               46.2                55.5        -9.3               58.2
Avg Minimum                31.4                38.1        -6.7               38.0
Mean                               38.8                46.8        -8.0               48.1


                                          2.74                3.91      -1.17              1.53








4 SNOWFALL RECORDS SET OR TIED (11/15, 11/12, 11/09, 11/08).

Friday, November 9, 2018

Firewood Weather

Well, the worm has turned on the weather here in early November. Our aeration holes are trying to close up but have been a little slower than normal because of the cool weather. I'm not too worried, still plenty of opportunity for some growth over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, we are selling firewood again this year for anyone interested. Its $ 100 delivered inside the 270 beltway. If you prefer self-service, its $ 75.00 a pick up truck load. If you have a smaller vehicle like an SUV, we will normally just charge you $ 25 to $ 30.

Delivery is available Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. We can deliver without you being home as long as you let us know where we can stack it for you. Self service pick ups can be done 7 days a week. Please contact me by email if you have any questions. If you use the self service route, once you've picked up your wood drop we a line so we can charge your account at Glen Echo accordingly. Below is the wood that we have ready at this time.

This is looking from our maintenance building below the first tee toward the long range parking area on the other side of the wooden fence. The wood on the right is seasoned and has been sitting there all season. The wood on the left is seasoned but newly split and needs a month or two to improve its burning ability for those you who will do self service this season.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association Men's Player of the Year Award: Drew Pranger

When you manage playing surfaces at a golf course, you attempt to manage for the masses, the average player which is the majority of players both male and female. We have Club Champions every year who rise to the top in their particular category who play of course better than the average. 

But for many clubs, there is a time and a place where players develop into outstanding golfers for the entire region that we encompass. A couple of years ago, Darren Stoffel won the District, Drew Pranger won the Metropolitan Amateur hosted at Glen Echo and Darren and Nathan Calcari won the 2 man at District. We have a number of players who have played well in local amateur events.

This season was an outstanding one for Drew Pranger. He won the Old Warson Cup in the spring, the Metropolitan Amateur in the summer, qualified for the US Mid-Amateur Championship and the Sectional of the US Open. And by the way tied the course record at Glen Echo(Editors note actually tied in a year or more ago) at 63 and then beat it a few days later with a 62.(Editors note: Forgot he did the 62, and then 61) IN FUEGO!!!!!!!!!!!

Before we get to Drew's award, we should recognize Darren Stoffel who won the East Side Amateur this past summer.

Last night, we had the pleasure of being at Old Warson CC to watch Drew receive his award. His family and Glen Echo friends were there as well. I took a short video of the ceremony and a few pics. We have a very competitive group of players right now who can beat the ball around a bit here at Glen Echo. It is fun to watch and I'm glad to be a part of it. I would be remiss if I did not post pics of Men's Senior Amateur Buddy Allen and Ladies Player of the Year Ellen Port.

Drew and his hardware!

Had the pleasure of getting to know Ms. Ellen Port when I started at Sunset in 1990. What a great player she was becoming and has since. She is one of my favorites of all-time and our most decorated amateur golfer!

 Buddy Allen who had a great year. He's played a number of rounds at Glen Echo and can really strike his golf ball!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Fall Aeration 2018

This past Monday and half of Tuesday, the staff did our every Fall deep-tine aeration with our
Verti-Drain machine. This process involved about 170 hours of labor, 42 tons of sand, 900 pounds of a soil amendment product, and approximately 1.6 million 1/2" solid tine holes put in our greens, collars and cool season approaches at an average depth of 7.5 to 8.0".

Our process included the following:
  • Mow the greens
  • Placed a layer of sand ahead of the aeration
  • Aerated the greens
  • Applied a 50# bag of the soil amendment material to each green.
  • Blew, brushed and pushed the sand into the holes and did a final smoothing of the sandy surface with a drag brush.
  • Rolled the green surfaces to smooth the surfaces
  • Changed the holes
  • Mowed green surfaces with an old set of reels to cut off the tufts of bent grass or longer leaves of plants that were lifted up during the process.
  • Watered greens a couple of minutes
Aeration of our greens are one of the most important cultural practices that take place on our golf course for the year. We complete this process for a number of reasons:
  • Improves drainage through our green profiles and assists in drying out wetter sections of greens.
  • Exchanges good gas(oxygen) with an overabundance of bad gas(carbon dioxide).
  • Improves drainage and oxygen which is great for developing new roots and improving existing root systems.
  • Additional sand on the surfaces assists in smoothing the surface after the holes close back together and protects the crowns of the plant which is where roots and leaves start their lives.
  • It also helps to dilute thatch or improve the mat layer which reduces the effects of ball marks and speeds up the process of healing as long as the mark is repaired by the golfer.

Topdressing machine puts a layer of sand on the greens at about a depth of 1/4" more or less. This is the same machine that we place a very light topdressing layer on our greens during the season. Approximately 3 hoppers of sand for the total golf course. It takes almost 2 loads of sand per the average sized green during aeration. A green such as 1 green we go across it 3 times for very light topdressing. During aeration, its about 10 passes which could increase tire tracking on the greens which we attempt to prevent. 

The sand is kiln dried and reaches a temperature of well over 1000 degrees which dries it and kills the weeds and the bad actors in the sand. We brought our 45 tons of sand in on Thursday before the Monday activity so it would have a chance to begin to cool before placing it on the greens. Sand too hot being put on at the heavier rate could literally cook the bent grass.

We started the process before first light on Monday morning.

A daylight view of the aeration. As you can see, 4 tines per holder with 6 arms placing 24 holes in our greens every 3" at a depth on average of nearly 8".

Tom spreading soil amendment product which includes: Dry kelp meal, greensand, compost, rock phosphate, sulfate of potash magnesia, calcium carbonate, humic acid, zeolite, and compost.
Pull behind blower and staff using back packs during sand into the hole.

Dark thirty the 2nd day.

Hole filled vs no fill.

Completed, holes to the top!!

1. Below are pics of the end results.You can see the channels down into this 7" section of the               practice   green. The topdressing/sand layer has been applied to the greens for the last 30 to 40 years. At the last 2 inches is the soil layer which is being incorporated with aerating/topdressing sand over the years to allow moisture to drain out of the system.

2. Our overall roots grow in the top 3-4" of our profile but we have longer roots growing through aeration holes deeper in the profile up to 7" or more as you can see below.

3. A large aeration hole from our Dry-Ject process that takes place each late winter/early spring up to 4" to 5" deep.

4. After the rains overnight and into this morning, water at the bottom of the 7" deep hole where I pulled a hole. This moisture works through the 5-6" deep sand layer of the green and then enters through the 2" soil layer more quickly because of the deep-tine aeration holes. It will move directly through the soil and a much slower pace because of the tight soil particles.   

5. Below is a standard drainage system in most modern greens. We have one green that has drainage  set up this way, green 9 renovated in the late 80's. This system is designed so water will drain through the 12" sand layer represented by the dark section on top. The water will slowly build up in the bottom 3rd but will slow at the next layer which is gravel which creates a perched water table. The construction of this type of system in golf greens is to allow roots the opportunity to take up moisture into the bent grass plant as the water passes through the sand. Once the water pressure increases enough at the bottom of the interface between the sand layer and gravel, it then releases into the gravel layer. Too much moisture for too long of a period of time in the root zone will deprive the plant of oxygen which is needed for the plant to survive. 

This is once of the issues we have with our greens at Glen Echo which do not have standard drainage systems. A higher than normal period of moisture can lead to negative results both on the putting surface and below surface in our root systems.

Once the water begins to drain through the gravel system it will then enter the small holes in the drain pipe and will exit from the green area. 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Grass Range Tees Closing for the Season

With our warm season turf heading further into dormancy, it is that time of year to give our driving range tees the rest they have deserved from a full season of divots and traffic from both equipment and our feet. Dormancy does not allow the plants to recover and fill in for the next round of practice swings so we will be closing  the grass tee surface after Sunday, October 28th until next spring when the turf is again actively growing.

We understand your desire to hit off of the grass  but for the health of the turf we must stay on the mats during turf dormancy.. We appreciate your cooperation in refraining from using the grass tees.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Practice Green Walk-off Completed

Our staff finished the walk-off area to the practice green this morning during the frost delay. Irrigation was installed yesterday and it was sodded this morning. This area will be closed till next spring to foot traffic and equipment. Please do not cross the ropes. The area is totally saturated to allow the sod to heal in before winter.

Cutting cart path to run irrigation across to the walk-off area.

Laying sod along the path.

Additional sod laying.


Please don't walk on me. You could be up over your ankles in mud.  Thanks!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Frost, Turf Renovation and More

We experienced our first frost of the season today and it was heavy enough to create a slight delay. Be aware that this will occur more frequently as evening temperatures dip into the 30's and soil temperatures begin to cool. Excellent article on Frost Delays from the USGA and a video below. I'll give the Glen Echo Grounds Department's view on frost in the next week or two with another blog post.

Not good when your first hole is at a low point on the course
#10 as well

We have a number of turf renovations projects completed and taking place as I type these words. Over the years we have been replacing the false front approaches on the greens that are bent grass. We replaced #12 last week. It will sit dormant over the winter and will begin to grow in during spring. We intend to replace a number of other approaches next spring including 7, 10, 13 and 15. 
Guys finishing a corner of the intermediate near 12 green.

Single lap collar on #12. Saves club time in mowing, water since zoysia requires less water than bent grass and chemical applications.

Replacement of collar on practice green walk on.

Same area.

 As most of you have seen and can see from the pictures above, the practice green walk on area is not in great shape. We tore it out this morning and began the process of restoring this area.

  • First thing we did was strip the existing sod to Doctor Ott's clock.
  • Next we rented a large walk behind tiller and tilled the area as deep as it would go, 6-8 inches.
  • Bought 2 yards of compost and tilled it in. Also added some bagged compost that we had stored.
  • The next thing we will do over the next few days is to get some small irrigation heads installed that will only apply water to this area.
  • Once that is completed we will purchase some new fescue sod and let it rest over winter
  • We will install some human traffic control measures to spread the wear and tear. Provide proper cultural practices including multiple aeration over the season. Fertilizer and chemical controls will also be need to improve the overall health of this area as well.Pictures and video discussion of the work we are doing at this site.
    Working in the darkness of morning. Frost on the turf so we had this work to do.

    This is after sod was stripped. We do have mats for you to walk across the dirt area. After tilling below, the dirt is very soft and we don't want you tracking the dirt on your greens and into the pro shop.

    9 hp tiller I used to till up the pretty severely compacted soil and till in the compost.

    As you can see from the tracks, soft soil.             


Friday, October 5, 2018

Tree Removals

I wanted to inform you of a couple of tree removals which will be occurring in the next few days.
The green committee approved the removal of the red maple at the right front area of the 11th green.

Also, the dual sassafras between #1 green and #2 tee has become severely compromised. We will be removing the left tree as well in the next few days. We were going to prune off the dead wood but after looking at the tree closely, there is not much to salvage and the safety of our staff is of utmost importance when we look at partial or full removals.

There are a number of other tree removals that will be taking place over the next few months. There are some standing dead right now and others that are compromised and will need further evaluation. We intend to do this with the assistance of the green committee and an arborist to help us evaluate their health. As an organization, we do not have the resources to plan a major tree removal program but we do have an aged group of Pin Oaks that are being compromised from a number of different things. I've had discussions in the past with our arborist and I will invite him on site in the next couple of weeks to help us evaluate some potential remedies to slow this process down.

We also intend to move a tree from the nursery into the area on the left side of #1 where we have lost a couple of trees over the late summer.

A good Tree Management Plan includes planning/paying for ongoing maintenance of the existing trees, removal of the dead/damaged/out of place trees, and preparing for replacement trees.

Below is a link to an article which has some excellent information in it regarding a Tree Management Plan.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Collar Renovation

Over the last few weeks, the staff have been chemically treating our collars in an effort to weaken the bermuda grass that has invaded them. We've made 2 applications of a product called Pylex which is safe to use on collar height bermuda. Today, the guys are renovating the collars and planting some bent grass seed around each collar. The overall process will not be completed until next spring. It will take the bent grass plants time to mature and spread. We wll have to also continue our bermuda grass sprays next spring and will have to work our way off the greens to reduce the amount of competition that enters the collars in the future.

The process we used today is illustrated below and in video as well:

  • Used our Toro Walk behind aerator to place small and shallow holes one pass around each collar.
    10 small tines per holder. We are using 3 sets on our machine which is about the width of the collar.

    As you can see, my pinkie still dwarfs the tine. The tine goes into the surface no more than about 1/2" which provides enough room for the seed to drop in and be protected from a mower and adverse weather conditions such as high temperature.

    The remaining process will be illustrated in a couple videos below.
  • We then use our walk behind slit seeder to slice some lines into the collar creating a slight channel for the plants to germinate and mature.

  • We then take a drop spreader with some sand and bent grass seed and drop it onto the collar surface. This is to insure we get seeds into the open spaces and the job saver tine holes.

  • The collars are then hand brushed with a stiff broom and they are mowed without baskets to insure the bent grass remains on the green or collar edge.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Update on Fairway Bermuda Eradication Spray

Its pretty obvious the fairways that were sprayed with our bermuda eradication chemicals a few days ago. The bermuda has turned an off color red. There is one fairway, #8 which I noticed a skip in the spray which gives a good example of bermuda under attack and green and in good shape. Video is below.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Bermuda Eradication #5 Fairway

 Video from 5 fairway regarding our herbicide application on holes 4-5, 7-8, 10-13, 15, 17-18. Holes 1-3 were sprayed a few weeks ago at what amounted to a lower rate. Came back with an updated rate on the holes above which will show more damage to the bermuda.

2nd application went down the other day on our collars and we also hit some of the approaches missed by the first spray. Also did some backpacking where the zoysia came up next to the greens, mostly on approaches since the zoysia cannot handle the over spray of this material.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Spraying Collars with Bermuda Contamination As Well As Some Fairways

Last week, Tom sprayed the collars that had bermuda contamination in various stages. We still must backpack spray areas that have zoysia next to them because the chemical is harmful to zoysia so we will do it very carefully with our small sprayer where bermuda has contaminated the collars next to zoysia.

This week the bermuda has turned white if you have been out to the course the past few days. The chemical used (Pylex) disturbs the cartenoid biosynthesis. Carotenoids serve two key roles in plants. They absorb light energy for use in photosynthesis, and they protect chlorophyll from photo damage. By turning white, the chemical is disrupting chlorophyll production in the plant. We are applying this product at 1/2 ounce per acre because it is being applied over the top of bentgrass. It can damage the bent so we are going with lower rates to offset injury to the bent. Standard use rates on more tolerant species are only 1 to 1.5 ounces per acre so as you can see a highly effective product at low dose rates. We must do 3 consecutive applications over about 1 1/2 months to kill the bermuda. Of course, you must then go after the bermuda that is outside the collar so it is an on going process.

Collar on 10 turning colors from green to white. Part of the plant is still green. Successive sprays should for the most part kill it.

This is a section a few feet away in the approach that was not sprayed.
I also sprayed 3 fairways with our fairway eradication product last week. You are beginning to see some changes in fairways 1-3 and a little on 18. The bermuda in these areas will turn a little reddish as the chemical works its way into the plant. I'll have pictures of this over the next few days as the chemical begins to do some damage to the bermuda. I need to spray other fairways but rain and high heat have gotten in the way. I'll probably spray them right before Echofest so it does not disrupt the color until after the event is over. We also must get these sprays completed before the zoyia grass goes dormant which could effect its ability coming out of dormancy next spring.