May 27, 2014

Holes and Sand

We wrapped up another spring aeration of the greens today with absolutely perfect weather to help keep the process moving along smoothly.  I realize that millions of holes and thousands of pounds of sand on the greens is less than ideal for the golfers, but it is hard to deny the many important benefits of aeration.

There are really three reasons that aeration is so beneficial, especially on such highly maintained surfaces as a putting green.  Most importantly, aeration opens up the turf surface and allows the proper balance of water, nutrients, and oxygen to reach the roots.  Secondly, turfgrass roots love growing deep and fast into the loose channels of sand that we provide from aeration.  This root development will help to sustain the plants during the hot and stressful summer months.  Lastly, the aeration holes and fresh sand help to dilute the surface organic matter (thatch) that would otherwise leave the greens soft and puffy if left to accumulate unchecked.

Like all things that age, a putting green also requires some serious upkeep and maintenance.  No different than an aging car that went to the mechanic to get fluids flushed, belts changed, bearings replaced, etc.  You could drive that car potentially for awhile longer without doing those things, but the risk of having a serious breakdown becomes much greater.  The same goes for our turf.  Without routine aeration, the potential for a hot and humid summer would leave our greens prone to a major breakdown.

Punching holes with our new aerator we purchased last fall
After the sand has been applied, and the holes punched, then the
sand is drug in with a broom and the surface blown off.
We utilized a new tine configuration this spring as well that should help in a few areas.  The tines we used were smaller than usual, but on a much tighter spacing.  Overall we affected about 10% of the total surface area, which is about the same as when we use the larger size tines.  However, since these tines are much smaller, the tops of the holes will grow over significantly quicker.  Combined with daily rolling for the next few days, and the holes should be almost completely gone within a week.

May 21, 2014

Pond Leak....Again

It appears that my post back in the end of April about the pond overflow being fixed was a bit premature.  Something changed underground very abruptly last week when the remaining frost finally came out, and the hole in the bottom of the pond where the old overflow pipe was buried opened back up.

Last fall when we dug out the old riser on the pipe, the stub of the 15" steel culvert was dug back into the pond back, smashed, folded back over its self, and buried under 5,000 lbs of concrete and about 2' of silt.  Water however has an amazing way of sneaking through even the smallest of crevasses, and apparently managed to find a path under the concrete slab, and began to quickly erode a channel under it and find its way into the pipe.

The leak became so bad late last week that it was obvious we had no choice but to fix it.  The leak almost completely emptied the pond (about 1.5 million gallons) in only 3 days.  After the pond was empty, we rented an excavator this week, reburied the concrete block in silt, and then dug about an 8' deep hole in the cartpath on hole 8 to remove a section of the pipe and thoroughly fill and pack the void with clay.

Pond leakage at the end of April (just a trickle)

Pond leakage 2 weeks later

Digging the old pipe out in the middle of the cartpath on hole 8

We struggle enough to keep our irrigation pond full of water throughout the summer, allowing this leak to continue throughout the season would have made that an almost impossible task.  While the current fix should prevent any further leakage this summer, the real solution will be to go back in late this fall after the course is closed and dig out the entire 50' section of pipe and refill the entire void with clay.

May 13, 2014

Tee Box Update

Despite what has been an absolutely horrible spring thus far, we have been able to get all of the bentgrass seed on our new tees to germinate underneath the covers.  Plant seeds require two main factors to germinate:  moisture and heat.  We certainly have had plenty of moisture in the last few weeks, but the heat component has been almost nonexistent.  Fortunately, the covers provide a minor greenhouse effect, trapping in heat from the sun and warming the soil underneath much quicker.  Under ideal circumstances, bentgrass seed should germinate in 5-7 days.  We didn't get much to pop out of the ground this spring until day 15 after seeding.

Under the cover on hole 1 tee

Some sunshine and warm temperatures would do us a world of good right now.  It looks like we are in for hopefully our last few frosts of the season in the next few nights, but then the forecast is looking pretty good.  Now that all of the seeds have effectively germinated and the is weather looking to warm up, the need to trap in extra moisture and heat is no longer necessary, so the covers will be coming off soon.

I am tentatively hoping that by the end of next week we can start cutting sod off of our nursery in order to sod hitting pads in the middle of the new tees so they can be open for play soon.