Wednesday, October 22, 2014


You can see below the attractive waterfall that was built over the 10" irrigation line I showed you yesterday.  We will install a new rock walking bridge just above this.  Also, in the next week we are going to start some substantial drainage work on the 15th hole.  The area on the lower approach will be raised up 12"-18" to allow for better drainage.  The area currently suffers because the water table is so high.  These improvements will make this area much more firmer and friendly should your ball land in the area.
Starting projects like this now is important because a bulk of the Greenkeeping staff is laid off beginning the first week of December.  Otherwise, we could wait until we close. In addition, the last week the staff is here after Thanksgiving is used for leaf clean up and greens aerification.

Sand Topdressing

One nice advantage of switching out bunker sand is additional topdressing sand in roughs.  I am using it roughs in case it contains some pea gravel.  Also, since we are open for play, golfers certainly appreciate not having to hit out of topdressing sand.  Fairway topdressing will be applied over the winter when the course is closed, following aerification and verticutting.

Frost projects and bunker sand

It's that time of year when frost will have us delayed most mornings.  Therefore, we have a number of projects outlined that allow us to be out on the course and be off the turf.  One project is removing sand from the bunker on #1 and the bunker on #5.  We will replace the sand with a geo-angular sand that is now available.  I asked the green committee to look at this new sand and see if there is interest in replacing it across the entire course bunkers in the future.  I believe you will find it much more golfer friendly.  Our current sand, know as SP55 from Spruce Pine, NC is a feldspar base that is also used at Augusta National.  However, it contains a lot of fine material that tends to compact.  On top of that, add 100" of rain per year and you are left with challenging bunker shots.  Hopefully this new sand will stay "fluffier."   



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

More from Tuesday

The rock walk bridge on the 15th hole settled and was resting on top of a 10" irrigation line.  This is a bad scenario that could potentially break that line.  Therefore, we were forced to take down the headwalls in order to remove the rock.  We will reconstruct the bridge, perhaps at an area of the creek that is much narrower. 
Below, Lyn and crew are getting a start on additional curbing around the golf course.  We started on the 2nd tee today, specifically on the corner below the ladies tee.


We put the finishing touches on the #12 creek project.  This included adding more rock to the creek and seeding/strawing the banks.  Once the seed germinates, we will remove the straw to avoid weed growth that comes with straw.
Approaches are being fertilized following aerification.  We are using a 16-4-8 fertilizer that is 50% slow release.  Again, fall fertilization is crucial.  According to Penn State:
The best times of year to fertilize cool-season turfgrasses are in late summer, late fall, and mid to late spring. Sometimes, two spring applications may be desirable—one in early spring and another in late spring. Fertilizers applied to turf during periods of heat and drought in midsummer can stress plants and lead to injury.
The most important time of year to fertilize turfgrasses is late summer (early to mid September). Fertilizer is very necessary at this time because it promotes recovery from drought and heat-related injury sustained during midsummer. Late summer to early fall is also the time of year that cool-season grasses begin to manufacture and store carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are used by turfgrasses for root and rhizome growth, disease and stress tolerance, and protection from winter injury. Nitrogen applied during late summer stimulates foliar growth, but not to the extent that occurs in spring. Thus, slightly higher rates of nitrogen (1.0–1.5 lb nitrogen per 1000 sq ft) can be used for late summer application.
An application of fertilizer in late fall can serve as a replacement for an early spring application. Late fall, in this case, is the time that foliar growth slows or stops, but soils are not frozen. In most areas of Pennsylvania, late fall fertilization should take place in mid to late November.
The advantages of late fall fertilization over early spring fertilization are: (1) nitrogen taken up by turf in late fall is used primarily for and by roots (before the soil freezes); (2) little, if any, foliar growth occurs; and (3) carbohydrates are not exhausted as quickly when late fall fertilizer applications are made in place of early spring applications. If done correctly, late fall fertilization provides early and noticeable turf green-up in spring with less foliar growth. Excess growth is often associated with high rates of nitrogen applied in early spring.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Soil Testing

October/November is a perfect time of year to send soil samples off for nutrient testing.  The lab will evaluate everything to nutrient quantities to soil pH.  This test allows us to determine if lime is a requirement for this winter.  Liming is typically done in the winter because the chemical reaction that takes place to raise soil pH typically takes a few months.  Lime also adds valuable calcium to the soil.  I will test tees, roughs, fairways and approaches annually.  Greens soil tests are sent off 2-3 times a year.  Obviously greens are maintained much more intensely and given the sand base construction, nutrient leaching is more common.  I also send them to a different lab that analyses the soil much more closely.   
Although not real clear, this picture shows about 2.5-3" of sand topdressing on top of the native soil.  Our commitment to sand has led to drier and firmer surfaces all over the course!

#12 Creek

With our daily mowing schedules slowing down, we are shifting gears a bit to improvement projects.  One project is opening up the creek on the right side of #12 below the green.  Chad Stockton did a great job on this and we plan to have this wrapped up tomorrow.  As Tom Fazio once said, HCC has so many wonderful water features; many clubs pay millions to replicate what we naturally have!  I agree, so why have this creek run underground in a pipe?!


Tees are being aerified this morning and fertilized.  Fall fertilization is the most important application on cool season turf.  The idea is to increase carbohydrate reserves in the plant and push root growth.  While the air temps are cool, the soil temps are still warm leading to good root growth and less top growth.  Turf fertilized adequately in the fall will respond much quicker in the spring.
This 18-0-18 fertilizer has become a staple in our program for greens and tees.

Tees are aerified with 3/4" tines at a 2" x 2" spacing.
Ballwashers are also being drained.  At $200 each, I would hate for any to freeze and break.