Monday, July 1, 2019

Fairway Aerating

Mother Nature has been in charge all season with wet conditions. With only a couple of dry days every so often combined with a heavy play schedule, we were finally able to get dry enough conditions to aerate our fairways today. A few pictures with a couple drone videos.
Our process included the following steps:

  • Mowed Fairways to help reduce dew and the total amount of turf that would need to be mowed off after the process is completed
  • Aerated the fairways pulling a solid core with a 1/2" tine about 3" deep
  • Used our flail mower to help break up the cores after they dried for a few minutes. This mower has tags slightly larger than a dog tag that is attached to a rapidly spinning roller and literally flails apart the soil, thatch and grass plugs
  • Used 2 metal drag mats to break up the remaining pieces of soil that built up
  • Used our tractor blower and pull behind blower to remove grass turfts and excess soil
  • Mowed the fairways again to clip off the turf pulled up and help break the soil that was still left on the fairway
  • Sprayed the fairways with a soil penetrant and urea fertilizer to assist with the healing process and improve overall turf vigor
Aeration improve turf root structure, water penetration and drying of wetter areas, thatch reduction, gas exchange, and microbial activity which will improve over turf quality.
Jason pulling cores on 18, our last hole. Dodged a big bullet with the thunderstorm that hit around the I-64 area. Brought us in for about 45 minutes because of lightning.
Little drone view of Jason's work.
Tom using the flail mower with the before and after going over the area. Does a decent job.
Skip and Rollo dragging fairways to break up remaining cores and soil in preparation for the blowers to remove the remaining material into the rough.
Russ in a dust storm and he mows over the distrurbed turf on #1.
Sprayed fairways 1-5 and 7 with Urea and watered it in to improve turf vigor and color.
Will complete the other fairways as time allows over the next day or so. We included a soil penetrant in with the spray to assist water penetration over the next month as we begin to move into drier weather and the need for irrigation cycles.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Blues, Stimulation, and Getting Tight

What a whirlwind the last two months have been if you are a sports fan in our fair city. Great run for our St. Louis Blues as Pierre Laclede can attest outside city hall last weekend!!! #LGB

Speaking of stimulation which our Blues did plenty, we have finally been turning to the good side of weather over the last few weeks even though Friday and Saturday have been wash outs for the most part.

Glen Echo is a warm season golf course. Our largest area of fine mowed turf are our fairways and tees which account for almost 30 acres of warm season grass, mostly zoysia. The bermuda grass which I have a love/hate relationship with is required to help round out our course and fill in where we have voids in cool season fescue, poa annua and bent grass which invades our rough. The long cold winter has slowed its emergence in higher traffic areas but warmer temperatures are beginning to help it fill in where we need it.

There were enough gaps in the rain during Stanley Cup winning week so we could apply fertilizer on the fairways/approaches which will improve green up and also begin to help the turf fill in as needed. Most areas where we have needed to replace turf in fairways occurred from some of our bermuda eradication work last fall and some winter kill of both bermuda and a little zoysia. Also we experienced a few thin areas in north to east facing slopes 10 and 12 approach and also from excessive shaded conditions.We still have a few more places to do some sod patching on fairways, intermediate, and a few green approaches and surrounds. As temperatures increase which increases soil temperatures, this will also speed up growth of our warm season grasses. We did modest fertilizer application around the greens to improve fill in of the bermuda and give the cool season turf just a bit of energy to fight through the rest of the summer. We will do some additional spray-able and granular apps along weaker fairways and around all fairways in the first pass of the rough.  This will improve color and thicken the rough for the summer. Oh joy he's going make the rough rougher, yes, yes I am.

I think overall our rough is about in the best shape I can remember since arriving in August of 2008. Still fighting some weeds in various parts but are getting some good kill throughout the property. applications.

We had hoped to begin aerating fairways on Monday but it appears we will be too wet. We will try next Monday on our closed day which allows us to get a full day in. We will also do some individual fairways this upcoming week if we begin to dry down.The fairway aeration program should improve the turf in a number of ways:
  1. Reduce thatch through increased microbial soil activity
  2. Increase water penetration and drying down in wetter areas
  3. Assist with disease management including fairy ring
  4. Stimulate turf growth
  5. Reduce compaction in our fairways soil
  6. Breaking of the cores will help to fill in small imperfections in  surface areas.
Russ mowing 2 fairway.
From behind #2 green

The course continues to tighten and improve as we work our way into the first week of summer. Tree trimming, tree removal, sodding, aeration, and just general clean up of all areas are ongoing 

 I've included a Countdown Timer on the main page of the blog for the upcoming Invitational Member/Guest coming up in July. Amazing to think we are less than 30 days away from this great event.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Course Report

The following statements were made by Dr. Lee Miller, University of Missouri Extension turf grass Pathologist. They were opening remarks to his last four messages over the past two months. 

He supplies biweekly reports regarding turf grass issues that are being seen throughout our region. He talks about what he is seeing and then discusses potential cultural practices that have proven effective to improve turf conditions. Of course, when most of the issues are environmental and or weather related, one has to wait and be patient before real and effective improvement is seen. 


March madness may be over, but the consistent wet and cool weather pattern seems to be sticking around in MO. Temperatures are slated to rise slightly over the next few days, and infection of zoysia grass by the large patch pathogen will presumably be occurring. The over abundance of rainfall may not only flood the Missouri River, but also result in a flood of large patch in the region.

"This wet weather pattern is shaping a severe season for this disease, and this weekend's warm-up will likely get large patch pressure cooking. With the amount of rain the region has experienced, I expect fall fungicide applications may not be entirely sufficient for control and spring applications may be necessary.


The wet winter and spring is causing some head or belly aches for some zoysia managers in STL and mid MO. The wettest winter since 1984-85 and subsequent cool and rainy spring pattern has resulted in slow, and perhaps no, green-up thus far. Widespread winter kill of well maintained ‘Meyer’ zoysia would be a first since I arrived in 2010.

"Several reports in the last week have expressed extreme concern over the lack of zoysia green-up, and the potential for large amounts of winter kill on some golf courses and home lawns. As mentioned previously, the 2019 winter was the wettest since 1984-85, and the 5th wettest on record.


Spring is running about 50-70 base 50 growing degree days slower than last year, but most plants and spring turf grass diseases are in full bloom. This week’s warm up will hopefully spark warm-season grasses out of their slumber, and let worried turf grass managers and homeowners know if the wet winter won the battle.


A ton going on in the past week, and unfortunately a lot of it falling from the sky. Preliminary reports are that May probably will be the wettest on record in Missouri and those in Kansas City broke the record for sure with an astounding 12.82” in the month. Winter kill reports on warm-season grasses are also widespread across the state. In the good news category, cool-season grasses are faring well in this mild weather.

Even though it seems that rain has never let up, we have been able to make progress on the golf course. The wet conditions have still made it difficult to mow regularly but when we have been given a little open window, we have been able to improve overall conditions throughout the course over the last couple of weeks.

We just fertilized our warm season tees about 10 days ago. We hope to get our fairways fertilized soon but conditions have been so wet and or storms being predicted that we did not want to lose the benefits of the fertilizer so we have delayed this application. We use about 5-6,000 pounds so its important to make sure most of it stays on our property at Glen Echo.

We are starting to see some growth in the fairways even without the fairway fertilizer. We mowed last Friday and Monday and there were some clippings beginning to accumulate from the mowers so we are getting growth.

The slowest that I've had greens to heal after aeration over the last 10 years at Glen Echo. When we completed the aeration in March, our average temperature model was about two weeks behind last year. As we moved closer to May 1st things began to tighten up. We had a number of night time lows below freezing which stunted the healing process in March and April. We also provide significant growth regulation in the early spring to our greens to reduce the impact of seed heads in the stand of poa annua we have throughout our putting surfaces. 

Our control this season was exceptional for the most part but it did significantly effect the healing process. Once we were a month into seeing  the holes were not closing, we allowed our regulators to run out. From around May 1st on the greens have not been regulated but have been very slow to grow. This is mostly due to wet soil conditions and reduction of overall sunlight. We've been able to mow one day and roll the next because of the slow growth. As we have begun to warm, we have been increasing to almost daily mowing to improve ball roll. We have also started rolling on days that we mow to increase roll out. 

We've had pretty good success in combating large zoysia patch on fairways with just a spring application of fungicide but this season was not very good. Probably the worst I've seen in the 29 years I've been in the business. It does thin the turf but once we apply a curative application, the disease usually begins to go into check and the grass begins to fill in. We will probably do a fall application on the most severely impacted fairways this season to discourage a repeat performance in the spring of 2020. There are still some areas of activity but they are smaller in scope and should begin to fade as temperatures increase and the rain hopefully subsides. 

We've also treated fairy rings that have popped up as well. Most are in check but some appear to have loss of turf. We will replace these over the next couple of weeks.

Over the last 10 years, we have worked diligently on attempting to corral the berrmuda grass in our fairways and intermediate through mostly chemical treatments but also with sodding. We have some areas that need repair and we will work on those over the next couple of weeks. 

We will be spraying our healthiest fairways where the bermuda is beginning to pop up in small spots to allow the zoysia grass to spread and improve. We will also begin to aerate fairways and tees as conditions begin to dry. We will probably not do a large scale aeration operation but will be foreced to do individual fairways at a time during the month of June.  Our goal is eliminate the disruption of the fairways before the end of June to allow our zoysia to heal and be in great shape from July 4th through the end of October.  We have spent tens of thousands of dollars on chemicals, sod and man-hours improving these surfaces and will continue this work. We do not want to take steps backwards.

We have been pretty lucky here at Glen Echo this season on the amount of total turf loss we've experienced in our zoysia. Some clubs have had to replace complete fairways. We have a few isolated areas. Our thin areas will begin to improve as we dry, warm up and apply nutrients.

The staff have worked very hard at keeping damage to a minimum while operating equipment which has caused some difficult conditions for you and the game you love to play. Last week, we were able to string trim around all trees through Hole 15. We've been able to do a little less push mowing of certain areas. I still warn you if you are in the lowest area of a hole, it is probably the wettest spot and could lead to damage or a cart being stuck so be careful out there. 

We've been for the most part hand raking bunkers this spring to allow the sand that we added in late winter to firm. Two tee looks great but was very slow to set roots but we finally opened it last weekend. We added about a foot of dirt to the surface which had to firm causing additional delays in our sod being laid. Much different than the fifth tee last season which was basically leveled on the existing surface. A few limbs and or small trees will be removed to increase sunlight which will be necessary for the zoysia to flourish on this new teeing ground. 

One of the things that my experience has taught me is to remain patient. I've come to understand that most of the difficulties we face as turf managers comes from within and being impatient and trying to force mother nature and do too much. Mother nature always wins these battles so I remain patient and attempt to not freak out like the guy below. Hope to see you on the golf course soon!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Course Discussion, Bermuda Eradication and More

We've been able to mow more and more turf over the last week but conditions are very wet in various areas. It appears there will be a change in the pattern beginning over the weekend. We can't wait!!!!!!!

Randy and Rollo push mowing the area between 7 tee and 8 approach fairway which is too saturated for a big mower. You can still see the smaller tracking from the 22" mowers.

Bermuda eradication work on the course is ongoing. We attempt to suppress the bermuda in the late summer and early spring. You can see some of the areas that have worked pretty well in the intermediates on various holes. Our goal is the reduce the competitive advantage of the bermuda through early summer. We then do everything we can to repair the damaged bermuda areas and allow the zoysia to take over other areas by mid-June as we prepare for the rest of summer play and of course 'The Invitational' in July. We've made great strides with this work over the years but must continue with maintenance applications to keep the bermuda in reasonable check. Notice I said check and not eliminated. I posted a video below which is a bit longer than normal but goes through the thinking of our program and what we are attempting to accomplish.

True Grounds Management, More Than The Golf Course

The main focus of our work is of course the jewel of a golf course we have that dates back to 1901. One of the challenges we face is total staffing to manage other aspects of the outdoor property. We of course have the largest team of employees with overall grounds experience. Many golf management teams across the country manage other aspects of the grounds besides golf. In our case, roadways, building management from time to time which is being reduced with the work that Eric and Chuck are now accomplishing in the clubhouse maintenance operation. We also are involved in tennis court preparation and pool clean up, start up and physical plant operation.

Our work on the pool started during some bad weather in March when we decided it was time to drain the deep end and get the debris that had blown in since last fall and reduce the amount of algae that builds up from this material. Eliminating the water reduces the amount of staining in the deep end and decreases the amount of time power washing must be done later in April and May. Our pool does not have a cover which normally eliminates this material from accumulating. We then forgot about the pool for a few weeks until heavy rainfall began to fill the deep end multiple times. Then the time came to get serious which has included major power washing on a couple of occasions, crack repair in the plaster bottom and tile repair on the floor. Deck power washing and load after load of oak chip mulch hauled to the upper wall bed by the staff. Water planned for the pool on May 14th.

I've attached a video from today which shows some of the work we've accomplished so far.

The staff from previous posts is also involved in tennis court preparations. Luckily, we use our topdressing for parts of this operation but 130  80 pound bags of material have to be loaded into our topdressor one at a time and spread in one afternoon a couple of weeks ago.

Russ and Jason have worked the last two days nailing down the lines. Court 1 is finished and about 1/2 of court 2. Unless it rains all day tomorrow, it should be completed by the end of the day Thursday. We also have to put up the windscreens in the next couple of weeks. Clark Taylor, our new tennis professional said he will assist the guys in installing the screens which is most helpful. Skip has been working on patching the asphalt rest area next to the courts. We have a green paint waiting to be applied on the asphalt once the repairs have been completed.

Each tape has a nail hole approximately every 3". The single and double court boundary is 78' long so about 250 nails in each long tape. Think I figured about 2000 nails in each court which is basically done from your hands and knees. A back killing job by Russ and Jason.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Inside Agronomy Look at PGA Championship

An inside look at the agronomy practices at Bethpage Black for the upcoming 2019 PGA Championship. Curtis Tyrell is the former Director at Medinah Country Club in Chicago.

Monday, April 22, 2019

2 Tee Renovation, Tennis Courts and Cart Traffic

Well, we seem to get a step or two ahead with our work and then 2 step backwards with the rainy conditions we've experiences over the last few weeks.

Before starting on some big news on the 2 tee renovation, I would like to discuss the wet conditions we have been experiencing and how it relates to cart traffic. During normal weather conditions, Glen Echo's hill's have a number of springs that emit various amounts of moisture out of our rather tightly bound soils from late winter through the spring season. With a wet winter and now spring, Glen Echo's springs have really sprung this season. When we dry  enough to allow carts off the paths, we still have a number of areas that are somewhat damp. We have tried to rope off or place signage out but there are only so many signs that can be placed on a course. One thing to keep in mind, the lowest area of any hole is has the potential to be the wettest. Please allow me to give an example. #2 toward the metro track fence line has a tendency to be very wet. Within 20' or so of the fence your golf cart can end up over its axle in mud and water.

When we place a sign or signs on the course for an area to avoid, our expectation is that you give a wide berth of at least 20-30' feet to the left or right of the sign and 20-30' deep. Going directly behind a sign is not enough latitude to protect our turf. I've attached below a picturse which gives the example of what should not be done with a cart. Not trying to make an example out of someone but it is an example for future reference of how to avoid a wet area and not create tire tracks.

Tennis courts work is ongoing as the season is getting close. We are repairing the asphalt area adjacent the courts which will include filling some larger cracks with asphalt and then filling smaller cracks with liquid filler. We then intend to paint it a court green pigment. We also must add another 140 bags of clay to the courts in the next few days and then line the courts.

Skip cutting a couple of larger cracks out so we can replace with new asphalt.

Randy, Randy, Rallo and I cleaned the asphalt area and scraped the worn paint during the rain day we experienced last week.

So the big news of the day, 2 Tee surfaces and surrounding area were sodded today. We have a couple of small sections of sod on the back of the blue tee and forward off of the front tee toward the fairway that still must be completed. We will finish the remaining sodding over the next few days as weather allows. My expectation would be to hopefully open the tees on Memorial Day weekend if all things go well with temperature and not too much moisture.

White tee after tarps were pulled off Friday and was graded again by the bunker rake.

Blue tee was a bit damper but turned out ok.

Mike McNeil from Schaefer-Meyer Laser-leving the white tee Saturday morning.

                                                                   Laser leveling 2 tee
Begging laying the zoysia on 2 tee. Stake and rope to help with alignment. Old tee basically pointed down right edge of the fairyway.

Finishing the white tee surface.

White tee complete

Guys working on the right bank toward the tracks with Fescue

Pinning the sod to insure it stays in place. We intend to mow the top but initially will not mow between the bank and the track area. We will evaluate this as time goes by. It is pretty significantly sloped and we do not have a riding unit that can mow this hillside.

Edging and finishing up on the tee surface.

Before laying the sod between the 2 tees.

Big roll sod being used in the off tee surface areas to help reduce washouts and save time in applications.

                                        2 Tees Completed.
Mulch paths to long range and short range were smoothed and touched up over the last few days as well.
Large oak at the start of the fairway on the right of the cart path on #17 had its limbs removed today as we prepare to drop the main trunk hopefully Tuesday. This tree was severly compromised in the last storn and has signficant hollowing in at the start of the crown area which is where the limbws come out of the trunk.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Sodding Zombies

Not much of a zombie guy but the staff has been getting that sod zombie strut going pretty good the last couple of weeks. They laid another 500 yards on holes 5 left rough to finish the bunker surround area. 7 back right bunker entrance, 2, 11, and 15 approach's and the east side of the practice green area were all sodded. Also a couple of stump holes were covered up and some repair on 4 approach. Pulled up some good bent grass on the approaches and laid it on damaged collars. Normally when we have cut off larger areas for repair, we've used a tractor with a blade and the backhoe as well as a dump truck but its been too soft and the areas are pretty sensitive for large equipment. All these areas were hand picked up. We were able to place the sod nearby this week after our backhoe repaired which kept them from having to load into carts and then unload onto the ground. Staff did a killer job on all of this work!

Left collar on #11 repaired.

Right collar repair 11.

15 stripped and waiting on sod.

Right side of 15 laying sod.

15 complete

We had completed part of the practice green area near the pro shop and looked at the Pearson Lane side and had to clean it  up as well. Aerified it heavily and then put a couple yards of compost in place to help soil structure a little.

Guys laying the sod on practice area.

Its been mentioned could we place some zoysia around so you can practice approach bump and runs so we did a decent sized strip on the east side of the practice green. Not really a place to be chunking out areas of sod but should be able to practice and few bump and runs. We might have to close sections of this during the season when play has worn it down a bit.
We also put some entrance and exit areas on the  pro shop side to try to spread the walk on and off area. We hope the soil modification, irrigation and aerating we will be doing will help keep this area looking good as well.

From the pro shop walk way. Did a larger cut out of zoysia neared Doc Ott's clock area.

Finished the area between the bunkers. Still have to repair the sod trench line from new irrigation.
Another look on 5.

2 approach repair and clean up.

2 approach

The mowing of greens are becoming more regular along with rolling. The first mowing of rough, tees, tee surrounds, fairways occurred this week and bunkers were trimmed up. Finishing up on our pre-emergent applications and we do have a great deal of broad leaf weed control that will take place over the next couple of weeks. Dandelions, clover and some cool season weed control.

We did some finish grading around the new 2 tee complex. Trying to get our laser leveling contractor in over the next week. We are going to have to dig out part of the back tee. The soil is soft and pumping so we will dig it out this morning and put some good hard Glen Echo clay in its place. Little video below showing the smoothed out area.

Update on the repair to the back of the tee. Dug out a 10' x 12' section of the back of the tee this morning and back filled with some Glen Echo clay. The soil that was originally used was excessively wet and plastic like not allow the surface to firm and ultimately would have settled. The new soil should improve the situation.

Skip dug out  about 2' of fill that ended up being too plastic/rubbery.

Back filled, packed and smoothed over.

Friday, April 5, 2019

2 Tee Renovation and a Great Deal of Other Work to Discuss

March 22nd and 23rd we did the rough in of the new tees on #2. Due to the movement of a great deal of soil and wet conditions every 3-4 days, we are at a pause in work on this project.
I would hope if we can get dry in the next week or so we will get the surrounding area of the tee finished graded and prepared for sod. The teeing ground will be tilled and laser leveled by Schaefer-Meyer we hope within the next couple of weeks and then sodded so that the tee will be open for play by mid-May.
View from the front of the tee complex. Tees are now set up as 2 separate tee boxes.
From behind the tee complex. Sorry for the poor pictures, just looks like a pile of dirt from this level. Had my drone in the air the other day to take pics and crashed into a tree. Once I finish the repair, I will give you an overhead view.

Being the largest group of maintenance folks on staff at Glen Echo, our crew has been assisting in other areas. We spent about 20 man hours power washing the pool wall both inside and out. Also power washed all the walk ways in the front of the building and a part of Pearson Plaza. The staff power washed some of Limestone window sills that we did not get completed last season. The staff  with some able bodied assistance have also been busy inside the pool area removing some over grown shrubbery and pruning others. We we were in the process of mulching the upper wall bed when our loader broke down earlier in the week. Once it is back up, we will finish the mulching of this area. 

We will also be power washing the swimming area of the pool and installing new drain lids and plastering in new frames for the pool system. We will be managing most of the mechanical start up of the pool this season. I attained my pool operator certification for the pool over the winter.

The staff have also been involved in stringing the patio lights and moving equipment to the patio since warm weather is on its way.

Randy power washing the walk way in the front of the clubhouse

This week the staff have been extremely busy with sod work. Over 450 yards of old sod was removed and replaced with both fescue and zoysia. HATS OFF TO THE CREW THIS WEEK!! Our loader was broke down and we had to load the sod into carts and then unload it from the carts.  Normally we place the sod right in the area of work so double work for the guys this week because of the repairs taking place to our loader.

We first completed the tree removal stump repair and root removal on the old tree near 11 green. This was replaced with fescue.

Area to the right of 11 green. A large amount of roots had to be busted out by hand using axes and shovels.
                                                       The finished area off the front right of 11 green.

We then moved to #5 left bunker area. This area has a number of contributing factors to its look. Small area with a great deal of foot and equipment traffic. Last year we tried to resolve some of it with walk mowing the area. Significant shade and drought is the biggest reason for its decline. A large Pin Oak is growing right in the middle of this area and robs it of sunlight and much needed moisture. We stripped the old sod away, trenched in some new irrigation heads that will hit just in this area. We aerated it and put in a couple of yards of leaf compost. The area was then dragged with a metal drag to break of the dirt turds and move some of the compost into the holes. Sod was then added. Should see some improvement we hope with new sod and the other work we completed. We still have some additional areas to sod around the tree and bunker and will complete this hopefully next week.

Tree on the left is a beautiful specimen set back in the proper area on the hole. Tree on the right is being over shaded and basically is growing on one side. Leaves, acorns, and other material fall into the bunker regularly. The shade and moisture depletion is significant.
This is the trench that is about 15' deep and shows the network of tree roots from this tree.
Small 2-3" long turf roots have no chance in a competition for resources with these trees.
Aeration completed so that we can then add compost to improve the soil.
Compost added to the area.
After the area was dragged with a metal drag. Cores busted and some compost moved into holes.
Staff finishing up the sod work. You can still see the weakened turf around the tree. It will be replaced in a few days.


The staff worked on the 13th approach today and also did a smaller amount of work on the 18th approach. We removed the bent grass sod, repaired part of the collar on 13 and part of the collar on 16. They removed the rest of the material and then laid zoysia in its place. We also had some bermuda contamination and very weak turf in front of 18 approach which was pulled up and replaced.
                Bent grass sod being reused on collar on 13.

Finishing the removal. All of this work is being done by hand.
Zoysia sod being laid on 13 approach 
The finished area.
Jason Cutting the old material off of 18 approach.
The look from the left side bunker.
Same area but from below the area.
Finshed area looks great. Still some weakness in front which we will work on improving with aeration, compost and traffic control from our mowing units.