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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Native Grass Update

The Native grass area below the putting green has grown in well over the past two years.

 

 

What a difference a year makes.  Last year at this time, we had recorded over 50-inches of rain from October 1st through the middle of April.  So far this season we are currently at 25-inches.  The relatively dry winter combined with a December and January that had most mornings in the low 30’s prevented many of our native grass areas to germinate and begin their regrowth.  Last season these areas began germinating in January and were well established by the end of March.  This season it seems as they are about 2-months behind schedule as some of the specific species have only just begun their regrowth.  With the late season April rains and warm weather, most areas have quickly rejuvenated and are well on their way to filling in.  It is expected that most of the native areas will look like a full meadow from a distance, yet be spotty to create better a chance for a player to find their ball.  The individual bunch-type grasses compose the blend that initiates growth during the rainy-season, then goes dormant as the soils dry out in mid-summer.

Several of the native areas are just beginning to germinate with the recent warm weather and timely rains.

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.

 

 

Aeration Week


Unfortunately the rain prevented the fairways from being aerated this spring. However, the rain was definitely a welcome sight as it has been a very dry winter.

 

The rain prevented many areas of the golf course from being aerified this spring, but due to the very dry winter so far this year the rain was a very welcome sight.  On Monday, March 12 we solid tine punched the greens with 3/8″ tines at a 2-inch forward spacing.  This created thousands of small holes in each green, but without pulling cores.  The process involved verticuting the greens in two-directions and removing as much of the extra spring growth as possible.  Then we applied a heavy amount of sand on the greens, followed by the aerators punching the holes.  This allowed the dry sand to be “vibrated” into the small holes and after the brushing and rolling of the greens, it simply looked as if we just completed a routine verticut and topdress procedure.  With two aerators working throughout the golf course, the process was efficient and the crew finished in one day.

 

Solid tine punching of greens following the sand topdressing. The sand being used was died a green color.

 

View of greens before and after punching.

 

Final process of brushing and rolling created the look similar to the routine verticut and topdress procedure that we do twice per month. Following this weeks rain, the sand is gone and only a handful of small holes are visible.

 

The tees and approaches were core aerified along with #4 and #12 fairways.  The aeration on the rest of the fairways was canceled due to the weather forecast calling for rain.  The cleanup process would not have worked well and more damage would have been created than it was worth.  Overall, what areas were aerated in the short timeframe we had to work with went well.  The nearly 5-inches of rain that we have experienced this week was a welcome sight and pushed all the sand into the areas that were topdressed.  Once the sun returns, the course will look and play great.

Rain Dance

In June of 2010 (3.00″) we recorded more rain than in January 2010 (2.70″). That broke an all time record as it normally never rains in June. December was the second driest on record. As the crazy weather continues, we head into the second week of January with our dry spell continuing. Most other Bay Area courses are not all that concerned about the lack of rainfall. They have on-site wells, irrigation ponds/lakes, use recycled water, or do not have to pay $2,500 per acre foot like we do. Being at the mercy of the City of Santa Cruz, we are very concerned if drought restrictions are imposed in the coming months. That would significantly impact the amount of water we can use and potentially how we can use it. Having said that, the work that has taken place over the past several years with the installation of the new irrigation system greatly improving our efficiency with water use and the conversion of 30-acres into naturalized areas, has set us up to better withstand future drought restrictions. The most recent drought period was in 2009 when we had to cut back 30% or (17-million gallons) in water usage during a six month period beginning in May. That year, we irrigated 80-acres whereas we currently irrigate 68-acres. While we are currently working on alternative water sources for the future, we still have to be concerned about what is currently going on with the weather pattern and the potential for drought restrictions in 2012.

If rain clouds do not appear in the coming weeks, we may be getting desperate

Dry Ice

Unusually dry December has created numerous frosty days with the long clear cold nights

Although the mornings have been cold without the rain and clouds, the weather this December has been great for playing golf with bright sunny days.  The only obstacle is the minor threat of frost in the mornings, but we have managed to dodge any major frost delays for the past several weeks.  Last December we had nearly 16-inches of rain for the month…still only .10″ has been recorded this year.  The irrigation system has been running periodically throughout the month and it hurts the budget to pay for water when normally it would fall from the sky for free.  Sure, it has been dry like this before, but the previous driest December was in 1989.  Prior to that, you have to go all the way back to 1876 to have witnessed a December with a .10″ of rain or less.  Since we are at the mercy of the city water department, if the pattern does not change as we get closer to spring we could be looking at another summer of mandatory water restrictions.  Another negative aspect is that there are several areas to establish with native grass seed.  While we are still seeding, these areas do not have any irrigation installed.  The seeds depend solely on the rain to germinate and grow.  The native areas that have been established also rely on the rain to begin their regrowth cycle.  If it had been raining, the grasses would all be green right now.  Most of the time, the climate has a way of balancing itself out and rain will hopefully fall in the coming months.  In the meantime, enjoy the golf course and the warm mild days.

Junuary?

Rain and drizzle during a very rare early June storm

June has been a very odd month in terms of weather.  We are accustomed to the extraordinary micro-climates in the Bay Area where it is 58-degrees at the coast and scorching to well over 100-degrees a few miles inland.  Typically, the golf course falls in the middle of the two extremes, making it one of the most desirable climates in the world with 70-degree weather dominating the forecast.  However, turfgrass likes consistency and when it goes from rainy at the beginning of June…to hot…back to cool and foggy, the grass doesn’t know if summer is coming or going.  It is rare to receive rain during the month of June.  You have to go back to 1964 to see the last significant rain event for June…after that the last time this area recorded over 2-inches of rain in June was back in 1884!

This random, inconsistent weather can create undesirable response in turfgrass.  For instance, earlier in June the green surfaces were eliciting extreme seedhead production.  As we approach the end of June, the greens are fairly “clean” following the application of a product that stops seedhead production.  The annual poa will develop seedheads as a stress response, especially if it has been cool, then a spike in heat.  The seedheads most often affects the late-afternoon players as the “puffing up” of the poa can create bumpy greens and green speeds that are slower than desired.

While we do not experience many of the summer weather extremes as other parts of the country, we still have issues and the most recent forecast has rain expected on the 28th or 29th of June, officially allowing us to rename this month as Junuary.    

Intense seedhead production on the 18th green in early June prior to an application of Proxy / Primo