Monday, January 28, 2019

A Big Blast From the North and the Impending Thaw, How That Effects Golf Green Health

We've had above normal temperatures for the most part during the first 28 days of January with nights being well above normal and day temperatures a couple degrees above. This next blast of cold air the last four days of this month will bring our temperatures closer to average.

I'm sure everyone is anticipating the impending cold that will be followed by a warm up in the forecast below. I believe we have a 1 in 4 chance getting the course open this weekend.

Before we get too excited for a potential course opening this weekend, allow me a moment to discuss the yearly freeze/thaw issue that takes place with our greens.

We are getting to the time of year, probably a month or less before our first mowing of the winter/spring season. With cold temperatures like we will be experiencing over the next few days and no snow cover, the freeze is going to move pretty deep into our sand layer of our greens. The greens need to thaw at least 2-3" and the top of the green surface must be free of significant moisture.

Consequences of Greens Not Being Thawed Deep Enough
As the greens begin to thaw just an inch or two, the thawed part of the green can shift from golfers walking causing the area where the thaw and freeze meet to break or shear the roots off. Our roots this time of year are about 4" deep on average.  

Reducing the length of the roots forces the plant to regenerate new roots in the spring forcing it to catch up with non-damaged plants. Roots not damaged are growing deeper and branching more which  contributes to a healthier plant throughout the spring  and into the summer. The damaged plants see a total surface area of the roots reduced from this damage. The damaged plants must play catch up the rest of the spring and into the summer. If summer conditions arrive early like they did last year, there is less growth potential available for recovering plants and no storage of excess energy. 

The more total area of rooting the plant has, the more energy and moisture they can absorb throughout the spring and into the summer. Usually excess energy is produced and the plants can store some of this excess energy within the plant. The plants store this energy for use during the summer when growth slows and photosynthesis does not produce enough energy to maintain a healthy plant. The longer the plant has energy, the better it can ward off the severe stresses of our 
St. Louis summers. 

Consequences of Water Near the Surface
If the greens have not thawed deep enough to allow the moisture to move through the profile, the greens become spongy and very soft. During late winter play, if we allow play on greens that are very soft and spongy, foot traffic imprints into the surface of the green and may take a couple of weeks for it to come out. This condition can also contribute to large ball marks and damage from just walking on the green. There is also some potential for equipment potentially scalping the surface if this thaw occurs closer to the end of February. We always try to roll our greens in early spring in an effort to reduce the potential for scalping from puffiness and or foot imprinting.

The staff will be monitoring our surfaces and will alert the pro shop when play will be allowed on the golf course including the practice green. For those of you who like odds, I would place our chances of opening at 25%.

The staff has spent the last few days splitting wood, cleaning up tee markers, refurbishing some tables for Golf Pro Mike, cart maintenance, and checking out the internal workings of the ball washers. I've attached a few pictures of their work below.

Sanded and stained but not quite finished.

Shiny and new!

3 Tables in all were refurbished.

Sanding of old material from tee markers

Beginning the coating process.

The walk on area from the pro shop to the practice green was renovated
this past fall. We prepared a little taller stake to attach our nylon rope which will
 allow us to rotate the entrance and exit area from the practice green. Proper
 water, soil structure, aeration, rotating the wear pattern and removing the large sweet
gum should  help improve this area tremendously.
Guts pulled out of the ball washers and being cleaned. Washers were professionally
repainted 4 years ago and look like new  to this day.

Cleaning up the chairs next to the practice green.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Plans for 2 Tee Renovation

Over the next few months, we will be renovating the 2nd tee at Glen Echo. There are a number of issues with this tee that need to be addressed.

  1.  It's alignment is pointed down the right side of the hole which makes it extremely difficult because as you know the hole slopes significantly from left to right. 
    Red arrow shows existing line of the tee. Green arrows shows the approximate direction the tee will be pointed.

  1. The tee surface is cool season grass which creates more inputs of resources; water, fertilizer and fungicides.
  2. It is at grade which allows water from above it to over run it causing less than ideal softness during rainy periods.
  3. It is much larger than necessary for our amount of play the course receives. This also takes more time in maintaining.
The plan is to turn the one long tee into 2 tees similar to what we did on #5 last spring. There will be a swale between the 2 tees to allow water to go around the tees and the tees will be pointed in the proper alignment.

The staff will be removing the front part of the tee which is currently covered in zoysia. Approximately 10-15 yards. This tee height zoysia will be cut off and used to replace the false bent grass front on #7, #10, and #13 until it is gone. The bent grass sod will be used to replace sections of collars that are damaged.

We will strip off the top 6-8 inches of soil and save it to cap the new tee services raising the level of the tees-6-8" so that it will be above the cart path next to the tee helping to move the water around the tee. We will of course strip off the remaining sod on the tee service and dispose of it.  Once we've stripped off the zoysia and removed the growing layer of soil, we will then remove the remaining soil. 

We intend to expand the blue tee back about 10 yards or so and will have to expand out the right side of the two new tees which will help us align the tees properly and also make them slightly wider. We will make the egress to the tees simple for our players and easy to access. The surrounds of the tee will be laid in fescue which will give great contrast to the new tee.

The pics below are a general idea of our plans. Ultimately we will have two tees approximately 17-20 yards in length and about 8 yards wide. We will be removing some of the scrub trees or pruning along the metro side to assist with afternoon sunshine for the zoysia grass. I mentioned to the green committee that the first Pin Oak on the left side of the tee has become compromised and appears it will expire in the next year. The 2nd tree appears to be in good shape and should not create any issues for the tee. It's limbs have been raised high enough to allow early day sun.

The tee should be completed by early April and will be open for play we hope by early May. There is a winter tee that is above the 2 large pin oaks about 40' from the existing tee that will be used once the renovation begins.

Okay, better quit for now. Gotta go get some bread, milk and eggs for the upcoming snow apocalypse!

White tee

Blue Tee