Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New Natural Areas

Our new natural areas are taking off great. I hope you have noticed the areas under construction over the past month in preparation for planting. They are on holes 3, 4, 15, 16 and 17. In total the area covered is about 5 acres. That will bring our total of naturalized areas up to about 13 acres. I know that some of you out there hate these areas I am doing my best to make sure that we are not interfering with "in-play" areas. Yes, we did put a large area in front of #3 Blue tee box, but I'm hoping that If your hitting off the Blue tees that you have no problem hitting over a native grass area. The same can be said for #17 Tee Area.  The Blue tees are the only teeing locations that will have to hit over a natural area. You will notice that the White tees on #17 have a clear path of Bermuda to hit over in front of the tee box. Please keep in mind that these areas are not to be driven through. I have already seen some tire tracks through the new area on #17 Tee. Just a reminder when we put ropes up somewhere it means that we don’t want you driving in that area. All of the pictures are from one week ago.  They are since 100% germinated.  We have to keep getting them water throughout the early stages of the grow in period.   

 Above is a view from #3 Blue Tees.  The whole areas from the tee to the spillway has been converted to Tall Fescue.  We have had a lot of problems with sinkholes in this area, and a natural area is a good solution to keep people out of the area and keeping ankles from getting broken.  To the right is a Picture looking back at the Tees from the Fairway.  These pictures were taken at 2 weeks after planting.
 This is a Picture of #4 on the fairway side of the cart path.  We have had Natural Areas on the right and left of #4 Tee for 2 years now.  After looking at that hole for a while I determined that the Fescue needed to be extended down the fairway side of the cart path to help draw your eye back to the hole.  There is not a lot of area covered here but, I think It will help you if you are a new golfer to the course setting up on this blind hole.
 This Picture to the right is another view of the area on the inside of the cart path on #4.  You may have noticed how wet it has been around the area lately.  After Seeding and fertilizing I applied 40 minutes of water per day to this area.  I don't want to risk the soil drying out during the grow in process.  I just turned the timers down to 10 minutes per day yesterday to help remove the standing water conditions on the cart path.

 Above is a view of the back of #15 Tee.  We have had the Fescue to the right side of #15 for 2 years also.  I am hoping with this area on the left side of the Tee that we can create a buffer area from Highway 231. 

On the Left is another view of the area at #15 Tee.  This picture gives you a better idea of how far it extends.

 Above is a picture of our brush pile behind #15 Green.  When we tilled this area up I was so surprised to find some of the best soil that I have ever seen in the state of TN.  This area floods easily.  The years of flooding have lead to a beautiful silty riverbed soil that is a perfect growing medium for the Tall Fescue.

To the right is a picture of #16 Tee box that is an extension of the natural area above that will completely enclose #16 Tee.

To the left is a picture of an 2 year old Tall Fescue area that is doing quite well at #17 Tee area.  Behind the trees you can see the front of the Blue Tee and the newly seeded natural area.  I think that this area is going to be the most dramatic area that we have done so far.  It will completely change the way the hole looks (not plays) from the Tee. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Please keep your feet inside the cart

I have a huge problem with people hanging their feet out of the cart while they are traveling throughout the course.  I scold my guys when I catch them doing it.  I still catch myself doing it.  I have seen the aftermath of hanging your foot out of the cart and it going bad.  If you have a strong enough stomach there is a picture below for you to see the damage that it can cause.  I saw it happen at the first course that I worked at a long time ago.  The picture that I have posted below is from a course in Illinois that another Superintendent had on his blog.  Apparently the victim in this case was the beverage cart driver.  Word is that she would make a full recovery from the accident, but I'm sure she would rather not have had to recover from anything. 

Please keep your feet in the carts while they are moving.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

USGA Visit

As you have read in my last post our greens are not in good shape.  I explained the reasons for the decline in the last post also.  I recently had an Regional Agronomist, Chris Hartwiger, from the USGA visit our course to help us through this issue.  I received his findings over the weekend.  Here They Are.

Opening Statement
On behalf of the USGA Green Section, it was a pleasure to return to Indian Hills to discuss the golf course maintenance program.  This was my first visit to the course in many years and I was interested to be brought up to date on what is happening at the course.  The major focus of this visit was the current Condition of the putting greens as well as future options.

This USGA Turf Advisory Service visit consisted of a tour of the golf course in which numerous topics were discussed.  The main topics of discussion will be reviewed in the report.  Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments after viewing this report.

Putting Greens
  1. During the month of July, the putting greens experienced a rapid loss of bentgrass due to summer bentgrass decline.  The same summer bentgrass decline has occurred at numerous golf courses in mid Tennessee and northern Alabama over the last three weeks.  The catalyst for the decline was heavy and frequent rainfall accompanied by 90 degree plus temperatures.  At Indian Hills the conditions were simply too much for the turf and the grass was overwhelmed. 
  2. We discussed recovery strategies for this August and Fall to restore the bentgrass greens to good health. 
  3. Future life support tools to promote better summer survival were reviewed.
  1. Most of the greens will recover with cooler nighttime temperatures, fertilization, Some areas will need help with seed sod or plugs.
  2. At the time of the visit, it appeared the rapid decline of the bentgrass had stopped.  There were signs of some green leaf tissue emerging through the weak areas.
  3. As soon as the weather breaks, implement a grow-in fertility program.  The Andersons Contec products would be good options.  They can be put down in rates as low as 1/4 lb N per 1000sq. ft. with good uniformity.  They also dissolve readily with irrigation which reduces any burn potential.  Select one of the products that such as the 19-0-15 that has appreciable quantities of potassium given the recent heavy rains you have received.  A possible protocol for you is to apply 1/4 lb of N from a contec every week on the greens needing to be grown in.  As,  the weather cools the rates can be increased to 1/2 lb N per week.
  4. Vent the greens again as soon as possible to improve gas and water exchange through the rootzone.  Now would be a good time to use one of the heavy hitter fungicides such as Insignia or Heritage.
  5. I would not core aerate the putting greens this fall with 1/2 inch of 5/8 inch tines.  The grass is too weak and likely will be some significant damage done to the greens.  Instead consider using either hollow 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch tines sometime in late September to mid- October when the putting greens have recovered.  This will help to open them up a little bit and allow a maximum flow of oxygen into the rootzone.
It was a pleasure to visit Indian Hills to discuss the care of the course.  The maintenance staff does an excellent job of developing a maintenance program that balances the agronomic needs of the turf with the expectations of the golfer.
While the report summarizes the main topics of discussion during the tour of the course from a practical standpoint, it is impossible to detail every suggestion and observation offered.  Therefore, the Green Section agronomists encourage those who play to join us on the visit. 
Besides providing a service free of bias from affiliation with any product or manufacturer, the USGA Green Section is the largest supporter of turfgrass research in the world.  this research effort is critical to ensure the future of the game of golf and the industry of turfgrass maintenance.  The thrust of this research is to provide superior turfgrasses that play better and are easier to maintain while insuring golf courses remain positive influences on the environment.  Your club's membership in the USGA and support of the Green Section makes this research effort possible. 
Thank you for your support of the Turfgrass Advisory Service.  Please do not hesitate to call my office should you have any questions concerning this report, the research efforts of the USGA, or any matter regarding the maintenance of your course.

Chris Hartwiger
USGA Green Section

We have already put some of these suggestions in place and bugun the healing process.  Unfortunately it will take time and patience to fully heal from this years damage.  Thank you for your paitence and continued support.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Current State of the Greens

I haven't created a post on here in quite some time.  Primarily because I have been so consumed with the course this summer.  I don't know a P.C. term to describe our greens condition right now, but it's definitely not "immaculate".  We have endured a lot of different weather patterns this season; Early spring, Late frost, 90+ degrees for 2/3 of May, Heat that hasn't stopped all summer, Record breaking heat wave, Drought conditions, One of the wettest July's in a long time, massive amounts of rain fall in a short period of time.  All of these conditions turned into my worst nightmare. 
We were doing great through June into the first of July.  I recall checking root depths on the 5th of July and having a solid 4" of root mass.  Remember the 11 day stretch of 100-113 degree days.  We were good through that period, sure we had a few stress areas but we were okay.  Remember the massive amounts of rain that we got right behind the heat wave.  I think it was about 5" over a week.  Well, the 5" of rain was our downfall.  I was checking root depths shortly after the rains and we had about 1.5" of root mass.  It is a misnomer that greens only look bad when they are in need of water.  When they receive too much water they go through a process called "wet wilt".  You may remember they turned yellow and then thinned out, that was the wet wilt in process.  The plants essentially drowned.  Once the yellowing presented itself I immediately aerified the greens to get some oxygen in the soil.  Turned out, too little too late.  We had better weather patterns for the next 2 weeks.  This weekend we got hammered with 2.5" of rain.  I had our greens aerified again Monday.  But I fear it's, too little too late again. 
Hopefully, most of the damaged areas we will be able to "push" really hard with fertilizer to get them to fill back in.  There are some areas that we will have to reseed; #4, #8, #12, PG.  This will be a long process of regaining turf.  I am doing everything that I can to keep you playing on the correct playing surface.  I am hoping that the greens do not get any worse, because we may be looking at temporary greens if they do.  hopefully we can push through the remainder of the year get them back playable for next year. 
Please understand that it pains me terribly to have to work on something that reflects poorly on myself.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I was asked a great question

I was asked a great question this morning.  "Why aren't you watering fairways?"  In all honesty, I have not altered any of the fairway programs from last year.  We water fairways on a 3 day a week schedule for which they receive 20 minutes of water per irrigation day.  It has been very dry lately and our weak spots are showing.  Unfortunately, we have a lot of weak spots in our fairways.  Our Irrigation system is close to 30 years old, and just like a 30 year old car it breaks down a lot.  We fix the plumbing breaks as quickly as we can.  But, we also have electrical breaks to worry about.  Every irrigation head on the golf course has 2 wires running to it(a hot and a ground).  Each head also has a solenoid that tells the head whether or not to operate.  These are two of the problems with our irrigation system.  Priority #1 is to keep the water contained in the irrigation system.  Priority #2 is to make sure that the water is distributed through it properly.  I believe that we have 50 of 54 zones of the irrigation system live with water,  The 4 zones that are not live with water are scheduled for repair.  On to the electrical problems.  the most inconsistent areas that we get irrigation to are our fairways.  We have some holes such as 3, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16 and 17 that get what I would consider adequate coverage (over 50% of the irrigation heads come on because they receive an electrical signal).  We have holes such as 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 18 have what I would consider inadequate irrigation (less than 50% of the irrigation heads get an electrical signal).  Then there is #12 fairway that receives no water due to electrical failures.  As I stated earlier, faulty wiring and solenoids are usually the culprit for an irrigation head not coming up electrically.  The problem is trouble shooting the electrical issue  for 1 irrigation head can take up to 4 hours to determine the problem.  My priority for Irrigation control is in the order of Greens, Tees, Fairways and then Roughs.  That is the order of priorities for fixing things on the golf course.  I'm not trying to say that we don't work on electrical issues on the golf course, because we do.  Currently we are working on electrical issues with #6-7 greens heads.  After we fix that area I want to work on #13 Tee area that gets 0 water. 
This is one of the many jobs that we do on the course other than mowing the grass.  But, first things first we need to get the water to stay in the pipes. 
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Bunkers

We have just finished sodding the latest group in the bunker renovation project. This group consists of #'s 17 and 18. On #17 the back green side bunker has been filled in and mounded over. The front green side bunker on #17 has been reduced in size and made much flatter. On #18 we renovated the front two bunkers and removed the back green side bunker. The front right bunker got considerably smaller while the front left is about the same size. There are pictures of #18 green surround below.

There was also a bunker eliminated in this round of work. #1 green side bunker has been removed. It is now rough height Bermudagrass. It is basically a catchers mitt now. If you come up short in that area now you will have a very difficult up and down. I did like the placement of the bunker on #1, but the slope was just too dramatic for a bunker here.

We also laid a lot of sod in other areas while we were finishing up the renovated and removed bunkers. We re sodded the exit from #6 fairway back to the cart path. This area has been a continual "thorn in the side " for us. We also sodded the removed bunker on #11 fairway, the exit to the cart path from the fairway on #12, and we also did some cleanup work behind the pump house on #18 where we did some repair work this winter.

We have already started working on the next round of bunker renovations. #'s 3 and 5 have already been shelled out and we are ready to begin cutting drain lines in them. we hope to button them up soon.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Cart Path Policy

We have had a ton of rain lately. I'm hoping that we will be able to get the carts off the path in about a week or so. There are a few more chances for rain this week and we are already soaked.

We will be changing our cart path policy soon. We will be deviating from the standard 90 degree rule. We are switching to a new policy that will help us protect our roughs. Instead of being 90 degree, we will have a fairways only rule. There will be a green banded post at the start of the fairway, which will be the entrance point to the fairway. There will be a set of red banded stakes at the end of the fairway, which will be the exit point of the fairway. If you hit your ball close to the boundaries than you still have the option to drive down the cart path, but you may not drive in the roughs.

The reason for the change is milti-fold. Our agronomic practices have changed in the past few years. We have aerified the fairways twice in the last two years, which has created better soil conditions for the turf in the fairways. We have gotten more irrigation heads to work in the fairways in the last two years. I have seen this policy enforced at other courses with good success. The main reason is that roughs are not as recuperative as the fairways. We fertilize our fairways with at least 2 lbs of nitrogen fertilizer per year. Our roughs get 0 lbs of nitrogen fertilizer per year. I try to get 15 minutes of water per irrigation head in the fairways 3 times per week. Our roughs only get 10 minutes of water per irrigation head, when they are present, 2 times per week. So, put simply the roughs are not as healthy as the fairways.

I think that the new policy will benefit the course greatly. It's not that bad to have to walk from the edge of the fairway to the ball within 20 yards. Please check up in the golf shop the new rules will be posted there. The golf shop staff or myself will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the change.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Aububon Projects

We have been working on some Audubon International related projects here lately. When the weather gets bad, and we have a chance to work inside, we have been making Wood Duck houses. As of today we have 5 of them out on the course. Two of them on #7 pond, two of them on #18 pond and one on #12 pond.

They were built at virtually no cost of materials. We got the plans from an online source. We got the lumber from my family farm, where we cut fallen trees for reuse in our saw mill. We went to a local metal recycling place and found some old 1.5" X 12' fence posts for $1.83 each. The mounting brackets cost $0.50 each at the local box store. I have some installation pictures below.

If you or someone you know would be interested in a project of this nature, please don't hesitate to give me a call. I'll be happy to help.

This is the finished product on #12 pond.

Here we have Neil and Spencer trying not to fall out of the boat while mounting this Wood Duck house.

This is the mounting pole going into the pond on #12. There is A LOT of rock in the bottom of this pond we found out. It took a while to find a place where they could drive the posts into the pond floor.