June 24, 2014

Topdressing and Interseeding

Monday was a busy day for the turf management team as we gave the greens on the course a healthy dose of love in the form of topdressing, spiking, brushing, and rolling.  This process helps to incorporate sand into the top organic layer of the turf profile to help dilute thatch and produce a firmer and smoother putting surface.

While doing so, we also made our first attempt at interseeding Alpha bentgrass into 6 green.  This green in particular has the highest percentage of Poa Annua of any green on the course (at least 90%) and because of this it has consistently been one of our poorest performing greens as well.

To complete the interseeding process, we started by scalping the entire green, collar, and approach down to a very low height to help open up the canopy in order to get seed in the ground.  The green was then spiked and seeded at a half rate.  The topdressing sand was then applied, another half rate of seed applied, and then the entire surface was spiked 3 more times to help work the seed down into the surface a little where it will be able to retain water better and produce more effective germination.  The green was then rolled and topdressed again.

Scalping down the green, collar, and approach on 6.
Collin dropping the second half rate of seed after topdressing.
After the second seeding, we spiked the entire surface 3 different directions
Last step, just add water.  Seed needs to stay constantly moist in order to
germinate, so we will be regularly running the sprinklers on 6 green for
the next week or so.
I have to admit, that this is going to be a bit of a trial process.  I have seeded dozens of new greens in my career, but have never gone through the process or "reseeding" a green that is already covered with grass.  I am optimistic that this process will be successful and help to provide some much better turf conditions on 6 green in the coming years.  If we can make this process work well, we will be attempting it on some of our other more heavily populated Poa Annua greens and collars in the coming months and years also.

June 22, 2014

Someone Stop The Rain

With still over a week to go in the month of June, we have already doubled our average rainfall for the month with just shy of 7" having fallen out at the golf course.  The last two weeks have made it painfully obvious that we really need to make an investment on some additional drainage on the flat, upper holes of the golf course.

All told in the last week we have spent close to 150 man hours pumping and squeegeeing water off of holes 6 and 11, and there are still some large puddles of water out in the rough, and the fairways are extremely soggy.  Hopefully the rain cycle we have been stuck in takes a break here soon, I would love to get to use our irrigation system at some point this summer....

The ditch on 11/12 was overflowing into 11 and 6 fairway by Thursday evening.
Hole 11 fairway on Friday morning after the rain.  Not one drop of this water
drains on its own, it all has to be removed with pumps.
Cleaning off 6 fairway on Friday afternoon.
The cartpath between 6 and 11 is an absolute muddy disaster after these
big rains, and is high on my priority list for adding gravel to later this summer.
The worst part about all of this, is that it isn't a new problem.  Now in my 4th summer at GFCC, I would wager that we have wasted close to $10,000 in labor costs pumping and squeegeeing water off of holes 6 and 11.  The only summer we didn't have to remove any water was in 2012, which was a very dry year.  

Unfortunately, the real issue is that those two holes drain nowhere, literally.  They are almost perfectly flat.  The addition of the ditch in front of 6 tee, and the sump box in the right rough on 6 up by the green back in the 90s has helped some, but was really just the beginning of the fix.  The only real solution would be to rebuild those two holes and reshape them with catch basins and proper drainage.  Since that isn't a feasible option for us, I will be looking into some options for adding a significant amount more drainage tile in them this fall.

June 17, 2014

Seedhead Suppression

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you have surely picked up on my hatred of Poa Annua by now.  It is a horrible weed that makes my life miserable, however, it comprises close to 80% of the turf on some areas of this golf course, so it is a "necessary evil".  One of the worst evils of this plant is its physiological desire to produce a huge flush of seeds in the spring.

In the past we have been using a growth regulator called Proxy as a seedhead suppressor on the greens.  While it has mostly worked it has come with a bit of a price, mostly in its effect of causing soft and puffy surface conditions on the putting greens.  In a desire to try something different this year, we did some trials with a different product called Embark.

Embark has been used as a seedhead suppressor for Poa Annua in the golf industry for a long time.  However, it has seen somewhat limited use due to its effect of causing some yellowing and bronzing of the turf it is applied to.  Proxy in general does not have this effect, but it also is not as effective as a seed inhibitor.

This spring we continued our application of Proxy to all of the greens and collars, however we treated hole 16 with Embark instead.  While the Embark did cause some minor yellowing in days 7-114 after application, the rebound effect afterward has been dramatic.  The areas we applied Embark are almost seedhead free, and the Poa Annua is a deeper and darker green that the untreated areas.

The turf where Embark was applied showed minor bleaching a few
days after the application.

The rebound effect has been dramatic however.  4 weeks after the
initial application, the Embark applied area looks much better
than the untreated turf.
We also sprayed a trial strip of Embark at the beginning of 6 and 11 fairways.  These two fairways in particular have the highest Poa Annua concentration of any of the fairways on the course.  The results were fairly dramatic here as well.  We observed the same issue at the beginning, where treated turf looked a little off color for the first week, but so far weeks 3 and 4 after application we have seen some great effects.
The trial strip on 11 fairway shows that the Embark treated turf is much
greener, denser, and healthier than the untreated Poa Annua.
The timing of any of these growth regulators is crucial in order to achieve maximum Poa Annua seedhead suppression.  It is even more difficult to time here in the North where we have such dramatic temperature fluctuations in the spring.  We will be doing a few more trials with this product on some other areas of the course throughout the summer, in the hopes that we will be prepared to use this product extensively first thing next spring.