Congratulations to Highlands CC for being selected as the winner of the 2014-15 Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards for the Carolina's by Golf Digest and GCSAA!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dew Patterns

Most people refer to water droplets on grass as 'dew.'  Dew is condensed water vapor that forms at a certain temperature (dew point).  Grass itself, when healthy, also secretes some water at night known as guttation.  Grass that is dry, does not do this.  The end result is a weak dew pattern.  You can see above in the picture, a fairway that has a weak dew pattern.  As golf course managers, this is clue number one that a given area is in need of irrigation.  Therefore, it is important for me and my assistants to scout the fairways prior to mowers removing the dew.  This gives us a pretty good indication of what is going to happen that day.
All plants and grass work very simply.  The roots of the plant take up water (just like we drink it) and then the plants release water through stomates to cool themselves off (like we sweat).  When there is no more water for the roots (dry soil) the plant wilts.  This triggers dormancy in some plants, death in others.  The release of water is known as evapotranspiration.  Our goal as turf managers is to simply replace what is lost on a given day.  There are different models to estimate this.  If a playing surface loses the equivalent of .10" water/day, it is my goal to add .10" of irrigation water.  Of course, this does over simplify it by it gives you the basic overall philosophy.  There are a number of other challenges that prohibit the movement of water into the soil that we also deal with.

Lake Challenges explained...

As you know, the lake has really presented challenges this year.  It is something we've dealt with in years past and I am sure will deal with again.  Consider these facts:

Swan Lake is essentially made up of all (and I mean all) the runoff that comes from Main Street in Highlands.  We accept everything from roads, ditches and storm sewers.  This means anything that was on the road comes with it during those heavy rain events (oil, salt etc).  It also accepts runoff off from the golf course all of the neighborhood surrounding the golf course.

Our treatment options are limited because we use the water for irrigation purposes.  Anything I spray in the lake will ultimately be watered onto the golf course.  That is a fine line that eliminates any copper based herbicides.

The lake is naturally shallow, allowing sunlight penetration all the way to the bottom.  This encourages aquatic weed growth.

That lack of rain this summer has prevented the lake from "turning over" and flushing itself out. Stagnant water is always ideal for weed growth.

However, as I mentioned several times, I am studying to become a certified aquatics pesticide applicator; I already hold certification in turf and ornamentals.  This will give me freedom to treat the pond whenever it is necessary.  Our current pond management group does a nice job but are only scheduled to come once a month.  When that is the case, it is difficult to be able to treat aggressively.  There are certain chemicals that can be used but require an irrigation restriction up to 3 days.  If the company shows up during a dry spell, they can't treat aggressively.  By me having control over the process, this eliminates that because I can treat immediately following rain events in an aggressive fashion while we are not using the irrigation.   

Finally, I am pricing aeration systems for the pond to install this winter.  While this won't necessarily control weed growth, it will create healthier water.

Thanks so much for your patience and understanding while we dealt with your lake.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lake Clean-up

Team lake Clean-up!
Our lake clean up continues with great success.  I personally have started to take over the chemical applications in the lake and will be certified by September.  We've made a great effort to physically remove the weeds from the lake.  Thus far, 5 cart loads of material have been removed.  Below, you can see the apparatus I designed and built to "drag" the material out of the water.
The lake has been a challenge for one reason alone this year: It is our irrigation source and we are limited to what kind of herbicides we can put in the lake.  Remember, anything that is applied to the lake will eventually reach the irrigation intake.  Herbicides that kill weeds often kill grass too!  If this lake wasn't our irrigation source, this would be a non-issue because more effective non selective herbicides could be used.

NC State Pythium Root Rot Study

NC State Researchers were back at the Club this morning to apply additional fungicides and evaluate the trials on our practice green.  We were happy to see some root rot forming on a couple of the plots!  They will take a few samples back to Raleigh to evaluate.  It is always nice catching up with Dr. Kerns.   

Monday, July 27, 2015


It couldn't have been more perfect!  Just as I was leaving work, with the greens sanded and fertilized with Gypsum, it started to rain. The end result: just under and inch of rain. It was one of those I had to stand on the porch to appreciate and think of that atmospheric Nitrogen that comes with such rain, greening the course back up!  The afternoon thunderstorms will do, but what we really need are one of those all day soakers....something that gives us 3" in a 24 hour period but falls nice and steady with little runoff.  However...beggars can't be choosers. Today there was a 20% chance of rain.  Keep in mind, all the rain we dodged the last few days, there was a 60-70% coverage of thunderstorms. I guess you never can really predict it.

Playing through...

This fella was spotted on the 3rd hole this morning.  He got out before the 10am start times.  The golf shop needs to be on top of this!

Hand Watering

The crew has done a terrific job this summer keeping up with the watering...and it hasn't been easy!  There are many areas the irrigation system doesn't reach and we water by hand.  Most days, 3-4 staff members are out on "wilt watch" patrol taking care of hot spots.  This attention to detail allows us to keep the course dryer by putting the water precisely where we want it.  The downside is that it takes away from other valuable projects on the golf course.


As we do every 14 days, greens are being 'spiked' and topdressed today.  The goal of the sand is to dilute organic matter that naturally accumulates under the greens.  Spiking creates tiny pockets for that sand to settle with minimal damage to our mowers.  We will end the day with a application of Gypsum for additional Calicum.  Finally, at 2am tomorrow morning, greens will be watered for 20 mins.  This creates a flushing action that purges any salts in the system and then creates a vacuum that pulls that cool mountain night air into the soil profile.