I hope everyone is excited for the start of the 2017 golf season.
We are planning on opening the course this Wednesday weather permitting. I started most of our full time seasonal staff Tuesday, next week the reminding full time staff members will be here. This week we were able to roll and mow all the greens as well as rolled all the tees. The golf course has wintered well with very little damage. We are still working on cleaning up debris and have yet to rake the bunkers. This spring we are also solid tining all the fairways and lightly vertical mowing before the first mowing. This process is moving along well. The new Better Billy Bunker wintered as expected with very little washouts. Our plan is to renovate the back nine in late October 2017.
Over the last 2 season, I have noticed an increase in excess moisture in the putting surfaces. This has lead to reduced surface firmness. I have been looking at many different solutions to this problem but the missing puzzle piece is a good set of data numbers, the only way to do this is send in core samples to a lab. My yearly soil testing does not show what is going on below the surface and soil structure. We need to understand why the greens are holding water, less firm and reduced green speed in the late afternoon. The greens are typically great in the morning and into mid day as the day progresses, I believe the excess moisture tend to swell the organics in the profile which leads to increased softness of the putting surfaces
The lab I chose to do our testing is International Sports Turf Research Center. The information gathered will be used to develop sound agronomic decisions for the health of the greens and provide the membership with firm and fast conditions. The results show we have lost considerable air pore space with the increase in organic matter. Our water holding capacity has increased over time, I believe to a point of concern. The only way to correct this is to start being more aggressive with our cultural programs. I have tried everything possible to not remove larger cores then we have in the past but now is the time for action to get our greens back to the firmness we had. Over the last 2 years we have core aerified using a .25 inch tine this impacts only 4% of the surface, The test reports show we should impact at least 17% this year and continue on the program until we reach desired firmness and organic matter concentration. This can be done using a .5inch tine in the spring and again in the fall. During this time all holes most be backfilled with topdressing sand. The process of filling the holes with sand is very time consuming and costly. We will use approximately 800 pounds of sand per 1000 sq ft for a total of 74 tons of sand to the putting greens. This alone should allow for much improved conditions. We all have noticed the greens aging over time, I have had numerous comments as to why the greens seem softer, less firm, slower in the afternoon then they were 4 years ago. This is a direct cause of an aging green. I feel we have been very fortunate over the last 17 years without aggressive cultivation but we need to make an adjustment for the health of the greens in the future.
We are planning on closing the golf course on April 10th and opening at 10am on the 11th. We need good weather, for any reason we have rain we will be move dates to complete this process the week of the 10th. We have a very busy May golf schedule and have determined this week is best. Cold weather will impact quick recovery, I would expect the greens will take at least 2 weeks to heal and 3-4 weeks to be back to normal. I am hopeful the "normal" will actually be better than the putting surfaces were before. We will impact approx 8% of the surface area, core to 2.5 inches deep and backfill using 700-800 pounds of sand per 1000 sq ft. The sand filling will be the most time consuming process of the operation. We purchased a special broom and blower to allow us to work the sand into the holes in an efficient manner. The goal will be to completely pack in sand in each channel, we may have to do some touch up sanding after opening the course to play. We will do this operation again in the late fall.
As the test report states we should continue our normal weekly or bi-weekly maintenance topdressing program supplemented with solid tine aerification on a monthly basis.I have already done this once on the greens 3 weeks ago.
This year, I plan on using a knife tine in place of our traditional pencil tines. I believe there is less impact to surface distribution using the knife tine and more air exchange can be achieved. The posted photo shows 3 tines the one on the right is our current pencil tine the 2 on the left is a knife tine which I will use this year.
I hope the membership will be supportive in the direction we need to proceed to achieve firm and fast conditions we all desire. You can not have good greens without cultural programs, our greens have reached an age that we need to have a good plan for our future. Sure we can keep things status qua but we will only prolong an issue which will only get worse. We are at a good point right now in a short time with this increase in our current program we will see results. I have posted a link to our test report for 6 and 4 greens. If you have any questions regarding the report please feel free to contact me. I will gladly answer any questions. I hope to see you soon and look forward to a successful and fun 2017 golf season