Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Cutting greens in February... What will this year bring????

I have been a superintendent for 24 years now, and I have never been motivated to cut the greens in the month of February.  Until this year!  A stretch of moderate weather is required before I even think about it.  This year the stars aligned, and we are in the middle of a very mild stretch of warm weather.  The greens were rolled and mowed late last week.  There was a significant improvement in the smoothness of the greens and of course some improvement in the speed.

The forecast for the next 10 days continues to indicate temperatures above average.  These warmer temperatures will wake the grass from its winters slumber, and get things growing.  I see the potential for an early green-up and that the greens will require regular cuttings before long.  Most likely another one before the end of this week.

What could this possibly indicate for the rest of the year???  I have absolutely no Idea!!!  The career path I have chosen, has taught me time and time again, that nothing is predictable when it come to the weather and growing grass.  We will continue to roll with the punches and do whatever is best for the golf course when the time is right.

As the weather warms up, it is always exciting to see the golfers return to the course.  Not many years ago, we would have over 200 players on a single day only 4-6 times a year.  Just this last weekend, we had over 400 golfers come out to play.  What this indicates to me is the need to be prepared for additional golfers through the 2020 season.  With that in mind, we have been looking for ways to improve the course to accommodate additional players and ensure that everyone has an enjoyable experience.  I have already identified some tees that will be enlarged to create more teeing areas to spread the traffic out.

I hope that everyone has a fantastic golf season in 2020.

Monday, December 9, 2019

New Golf Carts

We have recently traded in our old golf carts for a new fleet.  The new Platinum colored EZGO RXV Elite with lithium ion batteries will bring more enjoyment and comfort to the golfers playing at Sycamore Ridge.  Each cart has an upgraded comfort seat, USB charging port, rain canopy, cooler, and an improved dashboard with more storage and better cup holders.

There are many other benefits to this cart that the average golfer will not realize.  These carts are powered by lithium ion batteries which are 275 pounds lighter than standard lead acid batteries, require zero maintenance, charge in half the time, last longer on a full charge, and are guaranteed for five years.

When you play your next round of golf, check them out, and enjoy the new ride.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Reasons for frost delays

I am recycling an old post, but this time of year, it is always good to explain the reasons behind frost delays.

When grass has a layer of frost on it, any sort of traffic can cause turf damage.  The damage is caused when the sharp edges of the frost is forced through the cell wall of the plant, causing death of that cell.  If only leaf cells are damaged, the result is unsightly, but not death of the plant.  If enough of the cells in the crown of the plant are killed, the entire plant is dead.  This is why we have frost delays.

Here at Sycamore Ridge, you will find that a frost delay will impact the front nine more than the back nine.  This is because of the elevation changes and wind exposure.  It may be 40 degrees on the thermometer of you car, but down in the low lying areas of the golf course, the colder air will pool and form frost.  Frost is less prevalent on a breezy morning, because the wind helps mix the warmer air with the colder air.  Frost can become most severe just after sunrise.  This is because the sun heats up the upper atmosphere first, forcing the colder air down to ground level.  Once the frost has formed, we keep all traffic off of the frosty grass, including maintenance, until it warms up enough to melt the frost and not cause damage.

Image result for frost damage on turf
As we start to get frost on a daily basis, we will change the starting hole to number ten.  With fewer low areas, more wind exposure, and less trees to cause shade, the back nine always defrosts faster.

Once it is safe to have traffic on the grass, the maintenance staff will begin preparing the course for play.  This may add time to the delay the golfers experience.  We will always work toward keeping the frost delay as minimal as possible while protecting the turf to ensure the best possible playing conditions.

Can you just run the sprinklers to melt the frost?  NO! you cannot.  If the temperature is low enough to form the frost, if you add water from the sprinklers, you can get ice. While ice generally causes less damage than frost, there is still potential for turf injury.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Goodbye to Summer

Summer 2019 has finally come to an end.  Fall is here, and the course can now take a well deserved rest from the challenges that this past summer has thrown at it.  Some people think that a wet summer like we have had should make for an easy year on the course.  Unfortunately with the extra moisture comes other problems.  Excessive moisture and a lack of wind this year has caused more disease than I have seen in the previous 12 years combined.  The pre-emergent weed control efficacy washed away early, and we have a significant amount of weed contamination over the course.  My grub control was also  impacted by the rain, and we had more grubs than I have ever had before.  In my 23 years as a golf course superintendent, I have never been so excited to put a summer behind me as I am this year.  The last 10 weeks have been some of the most difficult weeks I have ever experienced on a job.

Fall seeding is complete.  We finally have had a time with enough timely moisture to get the seed growing and keep it alive.  We will see the benefits of this heading into next spring.  The amount of seeding that was done this fall is significantly less than in previous years.  This is a benefit of the wet summer that we had.

We have sodded out the worst areas on the greens and it will take some time and effort to get these areas smooth and ready for play.  There are still some thin areas on the greens that should disappear quickly.

Every year brings a fresh set of challenges to growing grass on a golf course.  While I am excited to see the summer of 2019 in my rear view mirror, I have certainly learned a few things.  I will improve on my practices.  I vow to do better in the future.  I will take a deep breath for a moment, and gear up, because the leaves are starting to fall and it is time to get ready for what comes next.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Really People???? Rantings from a Superintendent.

As the summer drags on and the stress of trying to keep the course conditions as nice as possible,  I have come across a few things I need to vent about.  I know that not a single reader of my blog is responsible for things like this, but you are my audience. So, please, bear with me.

Please fill or replace your divots!!!  Notice in the picture that the cart path is just a few feet away, the pelts of grass were laying just a few yards away.  There is absolutely no reason not to take the time to respect the course and other golfers in this situation.  I can only hope that the individual that did this, lands in a divot like this one day and has to play it as it lies.

Keep your carts out of restricted areas!!!  Some times, a cart will cause damage to the turf when it is turned to sharply, but doing donuts in the fairway is rude.  To top it off, this is on a hole that is always cart path only.  The cart should not have been there at all. 

Never drive your cart on a green!!! All of these should go without saying, but some people just don't care.  A handicap is the only possible reason for a person to drive their cart on the green.  This was not that.

I always want our customers to enjoy the time they spend at Sycamore Ridge.  We are a golf course, not an amusement park.  Please use your head for more than a hat holder.  Respect the property that requires a lot of effort to maintain.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Early Aerification Done Again

Once again this year, the weather cooperated and we were able to do a core aerification in July.  Last week with the cooler temperatures, we aerified the greens.  The benefits of a core aerification are numerous whenever it is done.  The removal of thatch and replacing it with sand, provides better air movement, and water penetration.  When I looked at the calendar of events for the rest of the golf season, I knew that we either needed to do this in July, or we would need to wait until the middle of October.  The weather in October is very unpredictable, so when we saw a stretch of cooler weather, we went ahead with the scheduled aerification.

This year, we went at the process a little differently.  We made a slightly smaller hole, but many more of them.  There are (90) 3/8" holes per square foot of green versus (36) 1/2" holes per square foot in previous core aerifications.  That makes for over 12.5 million aerification holes on the greens.  With these additional holes, an extra 10% of the organic matter was removed.  With the smaller holes, the time for healing will be greatly reduced as well.

This early aerification will jump start the healing process for any thin areas on the putting surface as well as provide improved health, and firmness of the greens as we head into the fall.

I consider aerification to be a "necessary evil" it is never fun to do, and the golfers never like it.  It still must be done.  We try to do the best possible job and leave behind a surface that is playable.  The long term health of the greens must be the first consideration when maintaining a golf course.  Just know that in early September when the majority of the courses in the Metro area are doing their greens aerification, we will not be doing it then, and the greens will be smooth and healthy.

On a side note, the maintenance team is looking for additional staff; part time, full time, or even just weekend help.  If you or someone you know is looking for work, an application can be found at this link;

Orion Management Application

Once filled out, the application can be submitted to;

Monday, July 22, 2019

Very interesting article!

This is not my regular blog post for the month, but it is an interesting article that I found.  It is about why green speed can change from day to day.  Please click on the link below to read it.