Saturday, November 18, 2017

Around the Course

After a long and accidental hiatus I'm finally sitting back down to write. My intentions of updating the blog monthly throughout the course of the year instantly went out the window the minute the weather broke in March. Grass was growing and there was more work than time in the day, updating the blog seemed like a distant memory. But after a whirlwind Spring, Summer, and early Fall things are finally slowing down, even if it seems like thats only because of the time change.

12 Hole the end of March
March and April were a blur, the Chicken Manure compost (3-2-3, ratio) we used in the fall as a pre-plant amendment broke down over the winter and as soon as soil temperatures came up the entire course exploded over night. We were swimming in grass clippings and doing the best we could. It was very satisfying seeing my hard work from the fall pay dividends even if it meant long hours.

11 the end of April

The other big news from March was the addition of a new Superintendent. Jim Bolinger arrived late march from Old Quarry Golf Course in Curacao. Jim brings with him 35 years experience working for the Dye family and has completed 9 successful renovations. Jim is an amazing superintendent and wonderful boss, I couldn't ask for anyone else to learn under.

May brought back the construction team and the start of completing the last 4 holes. While they were busy doing grade work and moving the last of the soil into place the maintenance team was busy with mowing and touch up seeding before summer stress. We also spent a lot of our time training new staff members. Most of the golf staff moved on to other jobs during the renovation meaning we were hiring a completely green crew in the spring. As challenging as that may have been, we have built a great staff and I'm excited to take them into next year.

9" roots!
June was similar to May with the addition of summer stress beginning. We spent a lot of time dialing in the irrigation system, adjusting heads, changing nozzles and trying to see where our pitfalls were. We also began top dressing the greens on a regular basis, smoothing them out for future play. Hard work was paying off though as shown in the picture to the left. Our roots were as healthy as can be and the greens filled in wonderfully. We left the HOC (Height Of Cut) closer to tee height for most of the summer. Doing this gave the greens a better chance of surviving summers stress and gave us a little bit of "buffer" in the balancing act that grow ins are.

Bunkers going in
July began the real start of the crazy. Cart path team was back in full force doing pours almost every day. ISI Irrigation was finishing irrigating the last 4 holes. We also contracted ISI to build all our bunkers for us and when they weren't laying pipe they were slinging sand in bunkers. Growing solutions was also on property laser grading our tees. All this on top of managing hot spots, scouting for disease, and training the crew. Despite the crazy it was rewarding to see all of the progress.

7 Tees Post Seeding 
 July's craziness spilled into August. We began seeding tees with 007 Bent grass behind the tee laser crew in the beginning of August and seeded the second hole the end of August. The construction team meanwhile was hard at work getting 18, 1, 2 and 5 green ready for drainage and sand and staying ahead and behind the tee and cart path crews doing prep work and finish work. By the end of August we were seeding full force and it felt like water was flying 24/7.

Hole 2 the end of August, Green Drained and Fairway seeded 

As you can guess September and October were more of the same. So where are we now? All the greens have been seeded and are growing nicely, 2 fairway is nearly filled in, 18, 1 and 5 fairways are quickly filling and the rough is nearly ready to mow. The only major area left to seed is 2 and 5 tees, which were both delayed due to the steady rain we've been getting nearly every week the past 2 months. The photos below will show how far we've come this year.

16 Fairway (check out my last post to see just how much it progressed) 

Flag and Logo

12 green

6th Hole

11th Hole 
18 green and the First Hole

Baby Greens Roots!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Compost Amendment on Fairways

16 Fairway, Good germination 
16 Fairway, Seeded Nov. 23rd
One of the recommendations for amendments on our fairways was to incorporate 1" of organic compost from leaf litter into the top 3" of the soil profile. We did this on all the fairways although it amounted to more of a dusting due to time constraints and material available. On most of the fairways we just put out a light dusting to darken the soil as we didn't usually have time to wait for the amount of material needed to be delivered to achieve the desired 1".

"Skip" in compost = No Germination 
Virgina tech in cooperation with the University of Maryland did a study a few years ago on germination rates, establishment, surface water runoff and overall turf quality when using organic compost vs no compost. The were establishing Tall Fescue in low maintained rough areas. They set up a trial tilling in organic compost, topdressing with organic compost and no organic compost control. They found that the use of organic compost delayed initial germination but once the seed did germinate it was healthier and stronger and performed better during the course of the trial. (you can read the report here, Page 15)

15 Fairway Seeded Nov. 10th 
When we got around to 16 fairway we had somewhat of a surplus of compost. Combined with the fact that we weren't rushing to get 16 done as it was approaching December and from our standpoint we were dormant seeding the fairway. Soil temperatures had already drifted below 50 degrees on average and we weren't expecting to see much germination this fall/winter from the seed but had high hopes the seed would germinate once soil temperature increased in the spring. We also had not logged the heads on 16 into the computer and therefore couldn't supply the new seed with water to encourage germination. With all that in mind I decided it would be a good time to do our own trial in regards to the organic compost.

"Pocket" of Compost 
Instead of doing the usual dusting I put out a good 1" of compost across the entire fairway and then worked it in to a depth of 3". We then seeded the fairway the same way and let mother nature take over. We seeded 16 on November 23rd, I used 15 and 3 fairway, which had been seeded on November 10th and 16th to compare germination times and rates.

To my surprise 16 out performed both 3 and 15 despite both those fairways receiving adequate irrigation following seeding. Turf cover on 16 is around 65% compared to roughly 20% on the other two fairways. In areas where the organic compost had been sitting on the surface and collected from rain the Bentgrass turf is doing exceptionally well and is growing. The rest of the fairway has germinated but isn't as far along as the seed thats in these "pockets" of the compost.
3 Fairway, Seeded Nov. 16th 

Come spring time I will be sure to put the full 1" of compost across the rest of the fairways

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fairway Grassing

Seeding September 24th
We seeded our first hole September 24th which was the par 5 6th hole. From that point on we moved at pretty good clip averaging seeding a hole every 7-10 days. At this point holes 3, 4, and 6-17 have been completed and seeded minus cart paths and tees.

Seed bed Prep 
The first hole took the longest to prep for seed at about 10 days. The construction crew and shapers had already come through and rough shaped the holes, moved soil, built bunkers, installed drainage and dug out lakes. Each hole was then stabilized with Annual Rye Grass and the shapers moved on to the next hole. ISI Irrigation then came in and laid out the piping and heads on the stabilized holes following closely behind the shapers. We decided to go with Toro Infinity Heads and Toro Lynx 2 wire system with Smart Hubs. ISI did a great job with the instal and have been a pleasure to work with.

Ripping with Motor Grader
 Most of the holes sat idle all summer till we could get back around to do the seed bed prep, final shaping and touch up work after the irrigation had been installed. In order to create an adequate seedbed we ripped the fairways to 12" with a motor grader. After that we took a chisel plow over them and then chopped everything up wth a disc. Once the initial ripping, plowing, and discing had been completed we applied Lime, Gypsum, PPM (Chicken Manure) and Organic compost to the soil profile and worked it in to provide pre-plant nutrients.

10 days post germination  
Once that process was completed the finish work began. The construction crew floated the fairways and rough, did the final shape on the bunkers and installed drainage in them. Greens were keyed in, a process to insure the transition from soil to greens are smooth and level and greens drain properly. After that we laid sod on the greens surrounds, bunkers, and any slopes we were worried would wash away with heavy rains. Like I said this process took 10-12 days on the first hole as everyone was learning to work together and establish a solid game plan. by then end we could complete this process in 3-4 days depending on sod delivery!

4 weeks post germination 
After the seed bed was prepped and ready for seed I came through and seeded the fairways and rough with a 6' box dimple seeder. We seeded Fairways 2 directions at 2lbs/1000ft2 total of Tee 2 Greens Pureformance Fairway blend. Rough we seeded one direction at 7lbs/1000ft2 with a 90/10 Tall Fescue/Perrenial Rygrass blend. Once the seed was down we put straw mat down around the fairway perimeter and on any slopes in the rough we were worried would wash away. The difference in germination and maturation between the straw mat areas and non straw mat was so impressive we started straw matting the entire rough as we progressed. We didn't put any cover or matting on the Bentgrass seed.

Behind on Mowing! 
The first fairway took about 6 days to germinate with the rough right behind it. Once the plants had matured enough we began hitting them with ammonium sulfate to encourage growth. The earlier fairways came in nicely and began thickening up quickly, we weren't able to get as many applications of Ammonium Sulfate on the later Fairways due to MD's Fertilizer cutoff. Those fairways are still coming in nicely though.

Aerifying with solid tines 
With everything going on and a limited staff we struggled to stay on top of the mowing of the new Fairways. Number 6 got a little shaggy toward the end of October. We were able to Demo a Toro Pro Core 648 Aerifyer the beginning of November and I went out and Aerified any areas that were struggling to come in with 1/2" solid tines. This process really helped the fairways retain moisture and let the seedlings spread.

6 Fairway Cutting Nicely
 Moisture management was a struggle with the speed we were seeding. Bentgrass seed needs constant moisture the first week to aid in germination and with our limited water supply (2 wells for 200 gpm total) it made for some interesting programming to keep moisture up in the newly seeded Fairways as well as the young plants. However, Toro Lynx Programming made this job easier and I was able to run a lot of the irrigation right from my phone. This let me add water to areas that were drying up as I was checking on the course without having to run back to the computer.

One of the big take aways I had from my classes at Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School was from Stephen Kay, Golf Course Architect. He recommended slicing Bentgrass Fairways to encourage lateral growth. We didn't have a traditional slicer on hand so I took our Disc and straitened the arms, added a Excavator bucket for wait and attached a pull behind roller to it to do our slicing. It worked great and I feel it aided in the fairways tightening up and filling it.

 As of now 7 of the 10 fairways we seeded have germinated and are filling in, 15 and 3 are trying to germinate and 16 looks like its going to wait till spring.

Growing in and looking great 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Fall 2016 Greens Grow In

Well it's been far too long since I sat down to update what's going on around the course. October hit with 80 hour weeks and racing soil temperatures and rain to get as much seed down before winter set in. We didn't slow down till Thanksgiving and had completed 13 holes, with the 14th completed after Thanksgiving.

Were all but shut down now, Albanese and Lutzke's construction crew has gone home for the winter and the staff here is just doing final leaf clean up at The Inn at Perry Cabin. We're hoping to get rolling on the last 4 holes (18, 1, 2, and 5), two putting greens and the driving range late February weather dependent.

My plan for the next few weeks is to showcase the work we completed this fall in stages, starting with the greens grow in.

Sand being put in on top of gravel base on 12 green
We seeded the first 6 greens on October 20 with A1/A4 Bentgrass. We were a little behind with seeding them as we had to wait for soil tests to come back and amendment recommendations. The reason for this was that in true PB Dye style our greens are straight sand. We still have drainage and a gravel base (Choker layer) but rather than put in a 80/20 or 90/10 mix we have sand with less than 0.03% organic matter.
Gravel being added into 16 green drain lines 

Because of this we had to put a lot of amendments down to give the seed something to grab onto when it germinated. The delay in seeding came because we had to put the amendments down, incorporate them into the top couple inches, let them sit there a week, then send a soil sample off to see if we needed to adjust our rates. It was a worth while wait since we found out we had to double some of our rates to encourage growth.
Drain lines being cut into 17 green
Those first 6 greens (6-11) germinated in about 6 days, 7 days post germination we put our first ammonium sulfate fertilizer app down and started watching them grow.

Water on 17 green
The next greens to be seeded were 12-15 and 17 on November 2nd. 16 green wasn't built yet as it sits out on the lake for 17 and they were still putting the railroad ties in at the time. Those greens took about 2 weeks to germinate due to the lower soil temperatures. We were able to get a couple shots of Fertilizer on them before the December 1st cut off. Greens 3 and 4 were seeded on November 19 and 16 green was seeded was seeded on December 6th. Those last 3 have yet to germinate and I'm not expecting them to till the soil warms up in the spring.

Scar left from pump fault
We ran into a couple of issues with the grow in of the greens. The first was having deer and foxes walk across the greens and in some cases dig in the sand. We ended up putting construction fencing around all the greens to remedy this. The second is that we have done the entire grow in this fall off of 2 wells which generate about 200 gallons per minute. It was tricky scheduling irrigation to keep the seed wet and spread across the course. The pumps would fault if we surpassed 200 gpm and one we came in to find the pumps had faulted and left "trenches" in some of the greens. That ended any nighttime watering. The third and more problematic was the pathogen known as "Take All Patch" that popped up after we stopped applying ammonium sulfate due to the Dec 1 cutoff. We got some granular fungicide down and the greens affected are slowly bouncing back.

Left to right- 3 weeks, 5 weeks, 7 weeks
I tracked root growth more than shoot growth this fall as I wanted to make sure we had adequate roots to make it through the winter. 3 weeks post germination greens 6-11 had approx 1.5" roots. I reduced irrigation and gave them one final shot of fertilizer and 10 days later we had 3" roots. I reduced watering again and 2 weeks after that the same greens had 3.5" roots but the root mass had nearly doubled.

We gave greens 6-11 there first cut on December 13th at 0.3500, 7 weeks post germination. 6 days later you could see the greens start to grow together and I could no longer pull out individual plants, when you tugged on the leaf tissue you would pull out about a 6" strip.

Knitting together

First cut 

The greens that were seeded later (12-15 and 17) are lagging behind that schedule but coming in nicely. They have about 1.5" of roots but there hasn't been much activity in the last 2-3 weeks due to the temperature and the fact we haven't been able to apply and Fertilizer. We covered all the greens with permeable covers last Friday. I'm looking forward to getting the greens rolled out smooth next spring and hoping the covers help everything fill in during early spring. 

Cover up 

Covers on 16 and 17 green 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A week in Review

So much has happened in the last week its hard to remember where we started. We went from looking like we might not accomplish anything to seeding our first hole. Monday began as a total wash as we received an inch and a half of rain. Unfortunately the unproductivety spilled over into Tuesday as the course was a muddy mess that morning. By early afternoon it had begun to dry up enough to start the finish work on the 6th Fairway and laying sod around the 6th green.

Wednesday came with sunshine and much to be accomplished. Abe worked on finishing the seed bed prep on the 6th hole, we began ripping, disking and raking the 8th hole and prepping the green surround for sod. We had 3 truck loads of sod delivered on Thursday and Friday which finished off the 7th and 6th green surrounds and wrapped the fairway bunkers on the 6th hole.

We also spent Thursday and Friday doing final seedbed prep for 6 Rough and Fairway. It felt really good to see everything come together. As if all that wasn't enough we also began pouring cart paths this week and cleaning up the weeds on holes 9 and 10 to get them ready to rip.

By Saturday we were finally ready to seed the 6th hole. It was very exciting and was a huge step. After calibrating the spreaders and one or two hiccups seed was down and ready for water. It was a dusty mess but after spinning the heads a few times everything tightened up and we were able to build up soil moisture. Now its just time to wait and let the seed do its job.

Beginning the Sod on 6 Green Surround 

Lightly tilling 9 to clean up dead grass 
Sod around 7 Green Surround 

6 Green surround and Bunker being wrapped 

Bunker Complex with a bonus pot bunker sitting on top

Good looking Par 5 
Ripping 8 Fairway 
Cleaning up rocks on 8 

Cart paths going in 

Seed going down 

Let the water fly