Monday, April 12, 2021

8th Hole Opening w/Restrictions

 The 8th will be open for play with restrictions. 

The new zoysia fairway area is ground under repair and you must remove your ball from this area. It is currently roped off from walking traffic and carts. Only walk in this area to retrieve your golf ball.We’ve left a couple openings for your access .The red arrows designate the ground under repair area.


The left rough area next to the 8th fairway is now open for play and or walking only. It is not roped but has numerous signs requesting carts to stay out of this area. We will allow carts to move through this area when the turf has matured. The arrows in the picture below designate the area. 


The area on the right of 8 fairway in front of 7 tee over to the left approach of 6 is under repair as well and your ball must be removed to another unmarked area. The area is staked and roped to mark the area under repair. We have opened the area in front of 6 green. The zoysia is not in the best of shape but is playable since it is a anall area and has less water running through.  


As you know, we are in the wettest period of the year April/May. I will be conservative in making decisions when to open these areas. Our staff has spent nearly 3 months working on this project and want it to be at its best when it is fully opened. We have a tremendous amount of work on the entire property and do not want to have to repair what we have worked so hard to complete. We apologize for the inconvenience this work has created for our membership and guests but we anticipate a greatly improved area of the course. Your cooperation over the next month or so will be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Holey, Holey, Holey!!

Within the past 7 days, our staff have been to the beach and back a couple of times. No we were not on spring break but dealt with tons of sand. actually 71 tons of sand. Last Tuesday we posted the dryject work that was contracted out but our staff loaded the machines with 30 tons of sand. 

Yesterday, we connected our tractor to our Redexim Verti-drain deeptine aerator and put about 144 1/2" wide by 8" deep holes per square foot for a grand total of about 8,736,000 holes in our greens.(Yes I counted them all) The operation last week was about the same spacing so over 17,000,000 aeration holes in our greens the past 6 days. We still have 3 greens to finish, holes 16-18 and we hope to complete those on Wednesday.

Our operation included the following:

  • Topdress the green with a heavy layer of sand
  • Aerate the green
  • Use our pull behind blower and backpack blowers to blow the sand in the holes
  • Brush the remaining sand on the green surface to smooth them out.
  • Roll the greens to help smoother over the holes
This operation should assist our early season green growth in the following ways:
  • Allow moisture to enter surface more readily and assist wetter areas in drying more quickly.
  • Increase oxygen into the green profile.
  • Improve and increase root growth to combat summer stress
  • Extra sand on the surface assists in smoothing the surfaces. Of course initially the surfaces are disrupted from the tugging and pulling of the aeration equipment. 
  • Protects the crown area of the plant where roots and leaves begin their life.
It will take about a week of watering and rolling before we will mow the greens. This will allow the sand to settle and the turf to grow up through the sand canopy. The holes should be completely filled in within a couple of weeks. I anticipate the greens to back to normal around opening days for our members.

During the season, we will vent the greens with smaller tines about 3-4 times to assist in plant health. This is completed with a small 5/16" tine which goes into the surface of the green about 4-5 inches. It is usually non-disruptive to putting surfaces and the holes disappear in a couple of days but it is very important to plant health in the summer.

We will also do light and frequent topdressing which helps to smooth the surface and protect the crowns of the plants. It also improves ball roll out after a couple of days. A few videos below of the process as well as a couple of pics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfDejFQFZ9A



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOifOjolbUo
A little slomo action gives you an idea of the forces on the putting surfaces we place during aeration.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ut_al7WJ6Gk
Blowing sand into the holes. We had up to 4 guys also using backpacks to move sand into the holes


Brushed and rolled

Holes filled. Might be a stray hole or two not filled but for the most part they are all filled with sand.








Thursday, March 18, 2021

Drain/Cover, Restrict/Educate and Pound Sand

 Well, it appears we are coming out of winter in pretty good condition generally speaking. All of our turf has not awakened but I am seeing a tinge of green in some of our zoysia areas. We still have to see if some high traffiked areas are damaged from foot and or carts. More on traffic later.  

DRAIN/COVER

The drain and cover part our blog would not have occurred without some dry weather at the first of the month. This allowed us to make great progress on the drainage project from 6 cart path all the way down to 8 cart path. We finished installing of our small drain lines and covered as much as we could in sod. Over 1,800 yards of zoysia and fescue were laid in various areas. The front of 6 green approach and 8 fairway were covered in zoysia. The left rough on 8 and a few strips along the drain line in front of 7 tee were covered. The remaining areas still need some additional soil and a little bit of settling time.


Laying zoysia sod in front of 6 approach. 30 yard rolls.

After adding some additional soil to the left of 6 green Skip is smoothing it out. Still need to add more dirt to the area and more grading once the rain has stopped.

Some finish soil to help smooth out 8 fairway drainage site.

Skip grading on 8 fairway.

We used the forks on the box to break up the soil surface. We then graded with the box blade finished graded with our bunker rake. Our sod producer who was one of the owners of the company complimented us on our finish grade work. Sorry, for some reason didnt take a finish grade picture.

Big roll sodding 8 fairway.

Almost complete, had to bring in more zoysia the next day with the fescue.

Looking from the green side of 8 across the zoysia.

Big roll fescue going in on the left rough.

From 8 cart path looking across toward 7. Just waiting on some drier and warmer weather weather to get this area opened. It will need to firm considerably before we open it for play.
Signage and ropes asking you to avoid these wet areas at the bottom of 3 green.

Looking across 8 near the intersection of 7 tee cart path. With exposed soil above the newly sodded area, we decided to put some hay bales across to catch the soil from washing down on the new sod until we can get it covered with grass. Bottom right foreground are a few stips of fescue we had left over from 8 rough that we laid on solid ground that was not disturbed except from construction traffic ..

RESTRICT/EDUCATE

With the warm weather comes an increase in cart traffic. With increased cart traffic comes the need to restict cart traffic to slow the potential damage to emerging turf which is slow to awaken from its winter slumber. I made some soical media posts regarding cart traffic and the damage that can be caused from excessive wear. I thought it would be important to include it as a part of the blog post for those of you who do not follow our social media accounts.

We have various areas of the course which have springs coming out of them until the summer. There is of course just regular water weeping for short periods of time after heavy periods of rain from slopes into lower lying areas like illustrated below on 3. We have cart signs and ropes in areas on #3, #12 and #13 at this time. There could be other areas that develop over time that we will monitor and might have to place additional restrictions.


3 Fairway directing carts around wet areas next to hill side.

We have a number of holes that have permanenent stakes and decorative rope to force traffic to stay on the path until arriving past the starting points of the fairway. In most cases, carts should be driven on the path and then turn 90 degree into the fairway. Going directly from the teeing ground straight through the rough into the fairway creates signicant wear and tear at the beginning of the rough and fairway. 

Many are using these areas like they are interstate on ramps. 

We understand if you hit a shot that is short of the fairway. Its okay to take your cart to the ball and then move to the fairway. Golfers in carts are kind of like cattle and or dogs, They walk or drive the same trail, walk along the fence the same place without thinking of the damage that is occuring. Excess wear and tear costs money and time in renovation and makes the course not look its best. 

This is a pirme area of concern off of 3 cart path. The path comes straight down the hill and turns to go alongside of the fairway. The area at the bottom of the hill has a tendency to be a little wetter than other areas as well. You should not drive straight through to the fairway. 
No means NO CARTS proceed through this area. Carts should remain on the path and then turn left somewhere past the drain area to go across to your ball laying in the fairway. If its over in the left tree line, you can still cross the fairway at a 90 degree angle from the cart path.
Area at the start of eight fairway is roped off to reduce wear and tear. We have also roped off areas on  four, five and seven. As you might not be aware, this takes time away from 
the mowing team as they are mowing the rough. You have to get off your mower, take the stakes down, mow through and then get back off the mower and put them back in place. At times, a manager will be doing other things and will stop in and help remove the stakes but it takes time. I like the natural look of a course and don't like to have to put up stakes and signs but this is something we are forced to do if we want these areas to look good.

Please assist us this season in reducing cart traffic issues by following a 90 degree rule as often as possible.

POUND SAND

No, were are not saying get lost. We are pounding sand into our greens to improve the overall growth of our greens both above and below surface. Our contractor arrived on Tuesday and used three machines to do this work. Cloudy and wet conditions slowed our process but we were able to complete all nineteen greens by the end of the day. 

Dry sand is injected into the surface of the greens with a bead of water with a force of 2-3000 psi. The work is completed on 3"x3" centers. It takes about 10-15 gallons of sand for each pass on the green. Our staff had to move about 40 tons of sand in 5 gallon buckets at a time to fill the sand hoppers on the units. We normally brush and roll the greens but we had to wait until Wednesday to complete this operation. There area a number of benefits in doing this process;
  • Opens the surface of the greens to improve infiltration of moisture into drier areas and allows wetter areas to dry more quickly
  • Allows sand to be injected into the green mixing with the thatch and assisting in its control
  • Provides new pathways for roots to grow and branch/spread
  • The sand expands out wider than a normal 1/2" aeration hole as it reaches the 4-5" range of depth
  • There is not a lot of excess sand on the surface which is a positive of the process. The remaining sand is brushed into the canapy which improves protection of the crowns of plants and also helps to smooth the greens surface.
Below is an illustration from the Dryject website on how it works. Further down the page is a quick video of the process. We also intend to deep tine our greens to about 8" if the rain ever stops. We might be forced to do this over a number of days and do it when we are open. We will do everything we can to not inhibit play  I wll keep you informed as time goes by when this process will begin. This double aearation process is necessary to help improve the drainage in our greens.
























Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Winter Greens Thaw/Course Opening

Well, we've made it on the other side of the worst weather of the season. Hopefully, our turf has survived any issues. The snow cover should have given the surfaces some insulation. I would not mind some bermuda grass damage but we will see. Bermuda rarely dies, it just gets pushed into the ground where it starts its growth instead of from runners attached to the surface of the ground. 

The course should have thawed and drained enough to open this Thursday, February 25th for play. We would anticipate the range to remain closed at least through the weekend due to very soft conditions from the thaw and balls plugging. Rainfall over the weekend should help reduce some of the soft conditions but the golf professional staff will have to determine when it can be opened.

I've posted a couple videos on social media since Saturday regarding the thawing of the greens at Glen Echo and how we determine when the course will be opened. I made a post in a previous blog regarding the freezing and thawing of greens on February 9th. Below is the link.

Thawing of Frozen Greens and When They Are Safe to Play

The first video shows the spot I cleared away from the practice green on Saturday to show the difference in time it takes from a cleared green to a insulated/snow covered green.

The second video is from  this morning showing the depth the greens have thawed since Saturday and an explanation of our decision making whether to open the course or keep it closed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aT_2DL1KsnM


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQG3frUc2Ac



The pictures below are depth measurements of the freeze in our greens. Our greens have about 6" of sand on them and then soil. I would think the freeze moved down into the soil layer. The sand layer freezes quicker than soil but the soil layer underneather thaws slower than the sand. It is important that our greens thaw enough to allow water to evacuate through the profile of the sand allowing the green surface to become less saturated. The surface area of the green acts like a soaked sponge but in a greens case, the inprint in the surface can days for days and create a very disrupted surface. We will also want to mow our greens soon to remove its winter growth and the disruption in the surface from foot printing could cause scalping which would delay spring growth.
PG depth of freeze where snow was removed on Saturday

Practice green near the above picture but snow was allowed to melt naturally

15 green middle right

15 green back right

11 green still a little covered in snow

11 green off the left side middle. Still pretty frozen















Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Frigid Grass, Pipeline, Sap Lotta Sap and Tree Management

Like a shutdown corner on the football field, mother nature is doing her thing for the next week or two here at Glen Echo.  Below freezing temperatures and a few days of precipitation has moved us indoors to complete our course supplies refurbishing and other important duties before we get back out on the course. 

Green Root Shearing

Once temperatures have moderated and all the snow and ice is gone from the course, the course will not reopen until the freeze has come completely out of the greens. I've attached a 1 minute video from the USGA regarding root shear and its effect on golf greens.

Shearing occurs when walking on thawed green surfaces and the root zone is frozen. Foot traffic on softening bentgrass greens causes the surface layer to shift with our weight and can tear roots at the junction of the thawed and frozen part of the green. The shearing off or tearing of roots that were 4-6" long to barely an inch or less causes the plant to use a tremendous amount of energy to regenerate the roots back to their mature length. Now remember that there are an average of 

Keep in mind, all roots are continueing to grow and evolve during the spring season and into early summer. They are gaining root mass and extend top growth based on the supply of energy we provide. Once they've used all their energy for growth, there is usually excess energy that has no where to go so it is placed in storage to be used by the plant when production of energy does not keep up with demand. This generally occurs when soil temperatures reach around +85 and air temperature near +90 degrees during late June through early September.. 


Turf and Below Zero Temperatures

So will below zero weather have a negative effect on our turf? I'm glad you asked that question. Generally speaking our turf should be able to withstand these temperatures. Snow cover does provide some insulation but we only have about 1" or so covering our fairways and grens. 

 The turf most effected by below zero nights could be the bermuda grasss which we have invading almost all of our surfaces. It won't kill it completely but could potentially cause it to grow out from below ground. Normally bermuda begins to green up in its runners or stolons above ground. The freeze could force it to grow from rhizomes under ground because the runners on the surface on the ground could die back to below the surface. In most cases it will kill the plant completely but could delay its growth by weeks or more. 

Our golf greens, cool season turf have a higher cold tolerance to severe cold. We did discontinue mowing to allow our greens to get a little fluffy. I was contemplating a mow in January but saw the long term outlook and decided to hold on until February. I'm glad I waited. Mowing in winter, especially if it is milder can signal the plants to grow which could lead to some cold temperature injury. Poa annua can be negatively effected by cold but I've never seen much winter kill in my 31 years in the business here in St. Louis.  

Our zoysia grass tees, fairways have cold tolerance to about -5 to -10 degrees under normal circumstances. Without snow cover, north facing, shaded, and heavy traffiked areas could be subject to winter damage when temperatures fall into these ranges. This damage could result in slow green up and or death and in need for replacement.

Are there cultural practices which could reduce winter injury? Thank you for asking again and yes there are Best Practices that can assist in winter turf survival of zoysia grass. At Glen Echo, we do the following to improve our turf's chance for emerging unscathed in the spring.

  • Aeration and or slicing fairways/tees in the summer
  • Traffic control of carts and moving teeing grounds to reduce wear and tear. This is why we ask you to not drive directly from the teeing area to fairways because of wear and tear.
  • Light, the more light the better which means the removal of limbs and or trees as necessary to improve and increase light. A minimum of 5-6 hours is the best. This would also include root pruning of trees using our tractor driven root pruner
  • Ensure nitrogen fertilizer applications do not extend the growth of zoysia to far into the late summer/early fall which does not allow the zoysia to move into dormancy at the proper timing. Also provide adequate potassium to the zoysia through a late summer/fall which assists in winter hardiness
  • Reduce drought stress going into dormancy
  • Raise height of cut before season ends
  • Reduce traffic during non-growth dormancy months
Tree Management Plan

Our tree management plan is ongoing during the year. We did some significant pruning in the late summer/early fall to clean off suckers on trees and to remove lower and or dead branches that will allow more sunlight to get to our turf canopy. Our contractor is out this week removing a few trees that are on our green committee approved list that are too large for our staff to handle without being topped out. The committe has also given the green light to remove most Sweetgum trees from the property because of the immense clean up that are caused by these trees. The time and energy that will be saved from cleaning up gumballs as they drop can be moved to managing and improving other turf areas. We also have a few damaged and or weakened trees that will get our attention over the next month or so as well that we can drop on our own. Stump grinding will be completed and soil, sod and or seeding will take place depending upon where they are located. 

We have one tree left in our tree nursery which will be moved this winter. We will add another 3-4 back into the nursery before spring to allow them to grow and mature for future use.

Large Pin Oak being topped today near 4-5 cart path and main road. Tree has significant wounding in lower 1/3 of main trunk and top has continued to die back. 

Maple Syrup

We began the process of tapping our maple trees for their sap this past week. We had good flow the first day but the cold weather moved in and has shutdown the flow of sap. Looking at the forecast it appears the severe cold will break next week sometime and we will get temperatues above 32 which will allow for addtional flow. Attached is a video of a tree being tapped. We have about 15 trees tapped which should give us a great supply as long as temperatures moderate slowly over the next few weeks.




     Sometimes you get a bit greedy. 4 buckets of excellent
 flowing trees at the bottom of #3.
                                            
6 to 8 Drainage Project

The pipe between 6 to 8 cart path has been installed and the rock and dirt backfill is in place.
We still have a great deal of work to complete as the weather cooperates over the next month.
  • Additional soil to add as we pack it along and over the pipe
  • Grading and shaping of the soil
  • 4" drainage to be installed in front of 7 tee
  • Sodding all areas disturbed
Our hope is to complete this as quickly as weather allows so we can get the 8th hole open for play.



December/January Weather Stats

Daytime highs in Decembr were nearly 5 degrees warmer with night temps slightly warmer. Inversely, nighttime temps in January were over 5 degrees higher than normal with daytime being slightly over. Overall, averages were about 3 degrees above for the two months. 


December
TEMPERATURE (F) Observed Value   Normal   Depart Normal  Last Year
AVG. MAXIMUM    47.4               42.5       4.9           49.5
AVG. MINIMUM    28.8               26.9       1.9           30.0
MEAN 38.1 34.7 3.4 39.7
PRECIPITATION (INCHES)
TOTALS 1.60 2.84 -1.24 1.86
January
TEMPERATURE (F) Observed Value Normal Depart Normal Last Year


AVG. MAXIMUM 40.9 39.9 1.0 42.5
AVG. MINIMUM 29.0 23.7 5.3 28.8
MEAN 34.9 31.8 3.1 35.7 PRECIPITATION (INCHES)
TOTALS 3.82 2.40 1.42 6.49











Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Happy New Year and 6-8 Project Update

I hope everyone had a nice holiday and stayed safe under the existing pandemic. We had some nice weather in December which allowed for a good amount of play from members and guests and we thank you for the continued support.

We do have firewood available if you would like a load delivered and or would want to pick up a few sticks. We charge a fee based on the amount you take from $ 15 and up. Delivered firewood is $ 100.00 Please contact me if you plan on picking up some wood so we can charge your account appropriately. jwachter@gecc.org  

Some of the staff are getting in a couple weeks of vacation during the holidays and afterward. Once they return we will catch up on some of our other work which will include golf cart maintenance, tree trimming/removal, leaf clean up along fence lines and shop work as we prepare for the spring golf season 2021.  

The drainage project has gone well for us to date. We have about 60' of pipe to put in the ground and cover. I've posted a video below regarding what we have completed to date and the work we still have left to complete. We were hoping the weather would stay dry to allow us to get some sod in place but we received a good soaking New Years Eve which has put us at a stand still at this time. For a full explanation see the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExUAvjUAiew










 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

6-8 Drainage Project Update

Made a video today regarding the work we have been doing the last couple of weeks on our drainage project. Its a bit long but wanted to give full details on how we are progressing and what to expect next.

For those with shorter attention spans, here is a summary.

6th hole has been reopened for play.

  • 6 in front of the green is mostly complete with the exception of a strip about 12' wide where out drain pipe was installed. This area is to be sodded in zoysia. The soil is a bit soft and pumping. We are working on firming it up but sometimes it just takes some time with the rain and cooler temperatures.
  • We began work in front of 7 tee from the surface drain toward 8 fairway. 4 sticks of pipe (80') and covered in rock. Part of our work between 7 tee and the pipe is to but some extra 4" drainage into this area to help catch some of the seep water that comes out of the hillside and keeps that area very wet during most of the spring and part of the summer.
  • With a holiday week approaching and work limited to 3 days, we will not go any further. With a tournament on Friday and open play for the weekend, we did not want to close the hole down. We hope to cover the 80' in front of 7 tee with soil this week.
  • We are blowing out the irrigation system on Monday, November 30th and plan to close the 8th hole effective December 1st(weather dependent). We anticipate this work will take about 2 weeks to get to the drain on the left side of the fairway. Part of this work includes shaping 8 fairway to drain into the large storm drain that we exposed on the left side of 8 fairway.
  • We will then have about a week to 10 days worth of work to connect to the drain near 8 cart path.
  • I would anticipate the 8th hole will be closed most of the month of December. 
  • The last section we would complete will be between the left front approach of 6 to 7 cart path where we are currently working. It would be our hope to have everything buttoned up by mid-January.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhHa4b-tkDU