Black Friday

The Black sand is expected to speed up recovery despite the short days and cool nights.

 

You will notice the greens are quite a different color when the golf course re-opens on Friday following the four-day closure to complete the fall aeration.  Due to the late season punching, a new technique was used to promote a quick healing with the short days and long cool nights.  In an effort to speed up recovery, we contracted with our sand company to create “black” topdressing sand.  It is the same sand we use on a regular basis, just dyed black.  It is expected that the black sand will increase soil temperatures by 7-to-10 degrees F, offering a greater chance at a quick late season recovery.  The tees, fairways, approaches, and rough were all aerated and all punched areas (except rough) were topdressed with sand to enhance surface drainage and create firmer playing conditions along with smoothing out slight imperfections.  Many weak areas of the rough were overseeded with improved  varieties of grass seed which will help promote denser turf, and better playing condition.  It was a tremendous amount of work that the maintenance crew pulled off in four-days filled with great weather.   Because November is a relatively late month for aerating, please be patient and understand it our goal to return to optimal conditioning as quickly as possible, but with cool nights and short days, the healing is expected to take several weeks.

View of the 8th green complex with the black sand

 

View from a distance of the 13th green complex with the black sand

 

What Lies Beneath

This week, an irrigation team from Toro will be scanning our fairways with a specialized machine. This unit will drive up and down each fairway and collect a wealth of data indicating what lies beneath the turfgrass you see at the surface. The PrecisionSense machine will greater identify how every sprinkler in the fairways is performing, tests for soil salinity, identifies heavily compacted areas, and raises awareness about impending turf stress. Yes, we are in our third year of using a new irrigation system and the system itself is running well.  However, we did not change the soil, the topography, or the grass types on the golf course and this new technology is part of the irrigation package we installed several years ago and will allow us to optimize the efficiency of our irrigation system.  Furthermore, PrecisionScan will help to maximize conditioning through our foliar fertility program. All the data will be compiled and transferred into Google Earth images and we will soon be able to make necssary changes to the irrigation system along with performing cultural practices to help improve upon conditioning throughout the entire golf course.

Some of the benefits include:

•Inefficiency of the irrigation system by showing moisture content in the soil
•Salinity levels and impending drought stress related to excessive salt in the soil
•Wasted water due to runoff and water/nutrient absorption deficiencies due to compacted soils
•Dry and wet areas related to topography
•Turf stress based on any and all of the above

Native Wildflowers

 

Over the past several weeks the putting green surfaces have been relatively clean from seed heads.  The combination of specialized products being applied to the greens to suppress seed head production and regular grooming or verticuting of the greens has created smooth and firm greens.  Seemingly overnight, several greens have exploded with seed head production which has led to spraying another application of seed head suppression and growth regulators.  This is not unusual, the same occurrence happened in late May of 2010 and 2011 with several greens displaying the same issues.  This late spring application should be the final dagger to control the pesky puffy poa.  Similarly, in the past two years, the green have been very smooth with little to no seed head issues throughout the rest of the summer months.  Be patient as the material takes several days to kick in and it will take up to a week for most of the seed heads to be mowed off.

 

18th green with an unexpected outbreak of seed head

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smooth Operation

 

The most basic benefit of topdressing greens is to create a smoother, more consistent putting surface.  We have performed this process over the past several years and use the important practice to fill in the un-repaired ballmarks and other slight imperfections in the putting surfaces.  The primary reason for creating a high-content sand green is to create compaction resistant and well-drained growing conditions.  This helps the greens withstand heavy traffic over the busy golfing season all while creating optimal putting conditions.  From an agronomic standpoint, the timely applications of light sand helps to dilute the thatch and prevents “spongy” green surfaces.   We had not topdressed greens since the beginning of April and you can expect to see this process completed every two-three weeks during the main growing season.  The maintenance crew is accustomed to performing this practice and has developed a smooth operation to ensure there is only minimal impact during the day of topdressing.  Following an irrigation cycle and mow the next morning, most players do not even realize the practice was done.

Spring Flush

The recent solid-tine aeration combined with warm weather and timely rains has created a beneficial spring growth surge.

 

Stripes on a green surface can be dizzying to some, while others may consider them visually appealing.  This particular look on the greens does not happen often at Pasatiempo.  What this indicates for us right now is that the greens are happy and growing at a higher rate.  It also means slower green speeds and softer surfaces due to the aggressive growth.  Our greens experience this growth surge each spring following aeration along with sunny weather creating warmer soil temperatures.  Importantly, this indicates the greens are healthy and this is key as we prepare them for the upcoming season.  We are expecting to be very busy this year due to the US Open being relatively close and attracting golfers to our area.  Over the coming weeks the greens will firm up and green speeds will be come noticeably quicker.  For now, enjoy the interesting hole locations.

 

 

A Whole New Light

Notice the patches of shade created by the thick overgrowth on the cypress trees.

 

Extensive pruning this winter has created a dramatic new look to the golf course and ultimately better growing conditions for the grass.

 

This past winter the maintenance crew has focused on in-house tree pruning projects.  The relatively dry winter allowed the crew to complete a considerable amount of work over the past several months.  The results are visually apparent and have made the golf course aesthetically more appealing.  Removal of three large cypress trees behind the first green was a top priority as the amount of shade it created on the back of the green created undesirable growing conditions during the winter months.  The #1 green has been the weakest green on the course in regards to health and it should perform much better due to having sunlight all day long.  Clicking on the above pictures to “zoom-in” enhances the difference that the pruning has created.  Results will lead to improved growing conditions in the rough along with increased sunlight and better air movement.

 

View of the first green following removal of three cypress trees on the right side of the green.

 

View of the 1st green from 2009 and prior to tree work.

Ring Around the Bunker

 

Each winter season there are several inquiries as to why the edges of the bunkers dry out so fast, causing the grass to turn brown.  Even more prevalent this season with the consistent cold nighttime temperatures in December through early January, many of the bunker edges are browned out.  This has created a unique look…but it has nothing to do with drying out.  The grass around many of the bunkers edges is bermudagrass, an aggressive warm-season type grass that goes dormant once the first frost hits.  Over the years we have incorporated more fescues into the bunker noses as these grasses will stay green throughout the year and are drought tolerant.  The bermuda actually helps us in the summer season as the bright white sand reflects a lot of heat and negatively affects the poa and ryegrass that surrounds most of the bunker noses.   Even though the bermudagrass is quite aggressive, expect more of the fescues to fill in over the coming years, thus reducing the brown edges.