Friday, June 30, 2017

Antracnose! Now what?

      In the last few days we have identified the disease anthracnose on 8 of the putting greens at Sycamore Ridge.  I believe that we caught it relatively early in the developmental stage, and have already applied a fungicide to help prevent further spreading.  We will continue to treat with fungicide every week to ten days to to keep the disease in check.  It will take time and cooler temperatures before the disease symptoms will completely disappear.
      Anthracnose is relatively common on greens in this area,  we have had it before.  This disease may have played a role in some of the turf loss we experienced in 2016.  However, we have identified the problem sooner and will rapidly be making changes in our maintenance practices to mitigate the effects of the disease.  The work that was completed during the winter months, including clearing of trees and brush around the course was intended to help the greens survive the summer months better. The occurrence of this disease may indicate that additional work needs to be done to help reduce environmental stress on the greens.
      I chose this topic for my blog this month not only because it is painfully timely, but I want our customers to know about the changes to our maintenance practices and why we are doing them.  The greens with anthracnose are holes 1-8.  Environmentally speaking these greens have less air movement when compared to the rest.  As a result, we will be running the fans more often to keep the putting surface cooler and drier.  These greens will be rolled more often and mowed less often.  This practice will allow the plants to have more leaf surface area to help with overall plant health.  In combination with the additional fungicide applications, we will be providing the greens with small amounts of fertilizer on a regular basis, to ensure continued growth and recuperation.  Topdressing practices will need to be modified to reduce the stress caused to the turf by the sand and brush. Periodic venting of the greens will continue, to ensure that the green has adequate air exchange.

      Overall, I am hopeful that these changes will not make a noticeable difference in playing condition for our customers.  I believe that our changes in maintenance practices will help to keep the greens healthy for the rest of the summer stress period.  If you have any questions or comments, please look for me at the course.  I would love to hear from you.

For more detailed information about anthracnose, please click this link.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

What Can You Do?... Take The Path Less Traveled!

       In my 20+ years of being a Golf Course Superintendent, occasionally golfers have complained about course conditions that are directly caused by golfer traffic.  I am going to take a few minutes to get on my pulpit and talk about how golfers can have a positive impact on course conditions by simply being more aware of how they move around the course. Earlier this spring, the maintenance staff at Sycamore Ridge installed a significant amount of sod around the course immediately along the cart path.  The turf had been thinned out simply because of traffic.

       The first location that comes to my mind, is in the parking area near a tee or green.  Frequently golfers will pull two tires off of the path to get just a little closer to their destination.  When this happens over and over, the turf will die.  By keeping all four tires on the path in these areas, the turf will have a much better chance to survive.

       Next we replaced sod along the path at curves and corners around the course.  In many locations we placed yellow buttons, on the path, to get the attention of golfers and hopefully remind them to keep all four tires on the path in those areas.  This has worked in some areas, and has not in others. When a cart is on a curving path, it is human nature to take the most direct path, and hug the corners as tight as possible.  The constant traffic on theses corners, will kill the turf.  If golfers would be more diligent about keeping all four tires on the path, the turf would be in much better condition.

       Lastly, I want to address fairway entry and exit locations.  It seems as if all carts must enter and exit fairways in the exact same area, this is not true.  This creates localized compaction and the need for traffic control objects.  If cart drivers notice a heavily traveled area through the rough, they should look for a different way to get to their next shot.  Keep the cart on the path as long as possible, and depart the path at a location even to where the ball is at.  When you are ready to return to the path, take the shortest route, not just the most direct route, back to the path.  When everyone funnels back to the path at the exit posts, a compaction area is created and the turf is thinned or killed.  These practices will distribute the traffic throughout the rough between the path and fairway, providing more consistent playing conditions on the entire course.

       While these suggestions may not apply to every golf course, I know that they would apply to every course I have worked on.  While you may not think that one more time over an area will have a negative impact, when there are hundreds of "one more times", eventually the turf will reach it's limit, and die. Perhaps if you take the path less traveled, you may provide yourself with better playing conditions and card a better round.