Thursday, October 15, 2015

Closing 13 green...for all the right reasons

Members noticed that when we completed our September greens aerification, the 13th green was left untouched. This of course gave way to many fantastic stories throughout the membership as to why. Was I suffering from ADD? Were plans in place to move the green across the river? Was the green so good we didn't want to disturb it? Was it so weak we would kill it? Well, I finally have time to explain the why, and put an end to many incorrect rumors.
The 13th green has two water holding areas that are susceptible to ice buildup during the winter. A high spot along the collar at the front has been preventing surface water from draining off the green. This is not a big issue during the playing season, but after the ground freezes, it causes ice accumulation, which frequently results in dead Poa. In order to fix this issue the collar turf needed to be cut and lifted so we could remove soil on the high spot, bringing it to a consistent and gentle grade away from the green surface.
Sod is removed and grading is about to begin

Using a box scraper we quickly remove the problematic high spot

Fine tuning and sod is ready to be reinstalled

All of this work on the front of the green has now been completed and the sod is back in place. There will be an increase to the frequency of aerification and top dressing in the near future to help level this area out as it was before we began. Had we aerified the green we would not have been able to lift the sod and reinstall it. The aerification process just causes too much disturbance to be successful in this type of project.

Looking forward to next week, Oct 19th -23rd, we will be closing the 13th green and opening a temporary green on the approach to allow us to work phase II of the repair. There is a significant low spot in the center/right of the green that has had recurring problems with ice accumulation every winter. Next week we will work to alleviate this issue by striping the sod off this area and re-grading for positive surface flow. Had we aerified this green in September we would not be able to successful complete this high priority improvement.
This "bird bath" has caused us too much pain in the past, by the end of next week hopefully it will just be a memory of another successful improvement to the golf club. 

In past years we have done the same type of work to greens that had the same problem with great success. The one main difference this time around is that we are starting the work in the 3rd week of October, where every other year we have started on the first day after we closed the course for the season. There are pros and cons to each of these chosen dates. It’s clear both the staff and membership would like to work this sort of project when we are not having to work or play around one another; however, the bigger issue is the weather. Starting something like this in Mid-November means having to battle frost on the grass, in the ground and in the sod. Often we can’t get the day’s work started until 11am or noon when things thaw out. This frost issue also causes grief and a loss of productivity. In past years we have had to bring the sod inside the mechanics bay for the weekend to allow it to thaw out so it can be put back down. Starting the job in November also means no root growth or healing before the winter sets in, leaving the sod susceptible to the harsh winter conditions. The work we have just finished on the front of 13, and the work we will complete next week will have at least 4 full weeks to grow some roots before the grass goes dormant for the season. This will give the turf better survival chances through the winter and give us a great head start in the spring to getting the smoothness back for putting. This work on 13 is not the first green we have improved the surface drainage issue on and it won’t be the last, but it might just be the single largest area on any green we have had to tackle. Once the second phase is complete, which should be before the 23rd, the green will reopen and we will do our best to keep the pin locations away from the disturbed area as it recovers.
 Currently our winter preparation for the golf course is in full swing. You will notice green speeds slowing as we continue to bring the height of cut higher, which helps strengthen the turf for the long winter ahead. We have only had to put two mats out on par 3’s this fall as our divot filling and healing program is working very well.

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