September 30, 2013

What Happened To September

Somehow a month has blown by since my last blog post in late August.  Things change pretty quickly this time of year in our part of the world.  During the month of September, we lost a total of 1hr and 40 minutes of daylight.  October will be just as dramatic, meaning that during our two "fall" months of golf, we will lose close to 3.5 hours of daylight.

September in particular is a very challenging month for the maintenance department out on the golf course for a variety of reasons:
1.  Staffing is reduced by almost 50% from the peak hours worked over the summer.  Most of the college staff has either quit or is working part time hours.
2.  There are still a lot of tournaments during the month, so there is lots of prep work, just with fewer people.
3.  The sun starts to show up a lot later in the morning, meaning lots of days we put in the first hour or two of work with headlights and flashlights.
4.  Leaves.  Lots of them.  Before we can mow anything or rake a bunker this time of year, the leaves have to be blown out of the way first.
5.  Lastly, we have a lot of agronomic practices to complete in September, mainly aeration and some additional fertilization.

Without a doubt, the leaves are the biggest obstacle for us right now.  I would wager that this time of year we spend a solid 20-30 man hours every week just keeping the leaves blown off of the greens, tees, fairways, and bunkers and mulching them up with the rough mower.  Windy days are particularly challenging, when the leaves tend to collect in bunker lips.  

A bunker that was blown and raked in the morning,
already filled back in with leaves by lunchtime.

The cottonwood leaves are particularly problematic as they fall from much
higher and have more of a tendency to drift in the wind.

Aeration of both the greens and tees went very well a few weeks ago.  There was one small hiccup with the new machine on 2 and 3 green after a pin that holds the depth adjuster sheared off.  We pulled 5/8" cores out of both the greens and the newly sodded tees, and did solid 3/4" tines on the seeded tee boxes.  All told we used about 70 tons of sand to fill the approximately 5,800,000 holes we poked in the turf in just 2 days.  We pushed a quite a bit of both liquid and granular fertilizers on the greens afterward in an effort to get the holes to grow over a little quicker as well.

Pulling cores out of 2 tee
Transferring sand between topdressers

Cleaning up cores.  Hard work, never fun, but worth it all in the end!

14 green covered with sand before being brushed into the holes.
September definitely went by insanely fast.  Now coming up in October we are in need of a "killing" frost, something down in the upper 20s that will finally send the turf on its descent into dormancy so we don't have to mow quite as much.  Also a really hard frost will get the rest of the leaves to drop off the trees and put us out of our groundhog day misery of blow, mulch, blow, mulch, blow, mulch.....