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.

Monday, July 1, 2019

A Look Through the Superintendents Eyes

Half of 2019 is already gone.  Today is July 1, and the golf course looks fantastic.  On the surface that is.  The grass at this moment is green and lush nearly everywhere.  The tides, they are a changing!!!  The weather has finally switched to a hot, humid, dry pattern.  I am sure that it will change again.  To be a successful superintendent, it is important to look beyond the surface and see what is going on below ground.  I am seeing several changes that have recently started here at Sycamore Ridge. 

The first change, is in moisture levels.  Now that the frequency of precipitation has declined, we are relying on the irrigation system to supply the required water for the turf to survive.  Each day I see new areas of turf that are stressed due to lack of moisture.  Unfortunately, the perfect irrigation system has not been created.  The staff constantly monitors the course and adjusts the system to provide the right amount of water to a given area.  The problems become visible after multiple irrigation cycles.  Some areas receive more than enough water and become overly wet, and other areas get dry and the grass goes into dormancy and possibly dies.  This is a never ending battle when the irrigation system is used frequently.  I know that the longer we rely on the irrigation system, we will see more and more dry areas, along with more wet areas.  Nothing is as efficient as natural rainfall.

The second thing that I have seen is a flush of growth on the greens, tees, and fairways.  While we have not applied any significant amount of nitrogen to theses areas recently, in the last week, the daily growth rate has nearly doubled.  This growth is caused by microbial activity.  When soil temperatures increase, so does the microbial activity in the soil.  These microbes break down organic matter in the soil and release nitrogen.  While there has been a recent spike in the nitrogen levels, this should level out over the next few weeks and become manageable.  In the short term, this will cause additional clipping litter in the fairways, and slower greens. 

The final change that I have notices has been the formation of a black layer in the root zone of the greens.  This is isolated to the lower, wetter areas.  This black layer is caused by anaerobic conditions in the soil.  The heavy spring rains are the cause of this problem.  The soil is unable to breathe, and gasses get trapped, causing a rotten egg smell below the surface.  We will be addressing this problem by venting the greens with a small solid tine aerification.  This process will create channels for the gasses to escape and oxygen to enter. 

One last side note for the homeowners that treat your own yard.  July 4th is the standard deadline for preventive insecticide application to control white grubs.  This needs to be applied and effectively watered in by July 4th to provide the best control for these root feeders.  Be sure to read the label and follow all instructions carefully.

As always, if you have any questions, please ask.

Monday, June 3, 2019


May 2019 was the wettest May in history, and the third wettest month ever.  I believe that we had carts off of the path for parts of three or four days last month.  I am seeing water seeping out of areas that I haven't seen before in the twelve years that I have worked here.  I am nearly sick of it. I know that the golfers are tired of keeping the carts on the path.

June is starting out similarly.  An afternoon shower on June 1st, dumped nearly an inch of rain on the course, and put the carts back on the path.  Today is Monday June 3rd, and we have the carts off of the path to start the day.  Unfortunately, rain is in the forecast for seven of the next ten days.

While I do enjoy getting to TORTURE the golfers by making it "Cart Path Only" on the course, I do not enjoy how that focuses all of the cart traffic damage along the path.  As a group with more than one cart plays down each hole, the carts tend to leap-frog down the path.  As each cart passes the other, two or more tires tend to track out through the turf.  With the wet conditions on this and probably all golf course, this can cause significant rutting and damage along the path.

The wonderful thing about Sycamore Ridge, is that when we did our renovation in 2014/15, we put in these fantastic concrete cart paths.  All of the path is 8' wide.  This width allows for two carts to pass on the path, while keeping all of the tires on the concrete.  This requires some care and patience from both drivers.  If the driver in the front cart pulls as close to the edge with two tires, yet keeps them on the path, the driver that needs to leap-frog can slowly and carefully pass the front cart while keeping all of the tires on the path.  This should not be done at full speed, that would be very dangerous.

I greatly appreciate the fact that all of the golfers continue to come out to the course and muck through the wet conditions to play this great game.  The weather has not been kind to you or us.  These wet conditions and the impact from traffic can continue to have effects that could be visible for seasons to come.  That is why I ask yet another favor from our golfing public; please take extra care when the conditions are wet to ensure that every last blade of turf has the best possible chance to survive.  You just never know when your ball may land in an area that has been rutted up and the grass is dead.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Why do we have creeping bentgrass fairways?

Most of the golf courses in the Kansas City metro area have zoysiagrass fairways.  Over the years, I have been asked many times, "wouldn't you rather have zoysia instead of bentgrass fairways?"  Much of the time, I think that I would.  Zoysia is much more heat and drought tolerant than bentgrass.  The disease pressure on zoysia is pretty much limited to just one disease, and only during the fall to spring time-frame.  Weed control is much easier on zoysia, just spray it with Round-up when it is dormant, and you control all of the winter annual weeds.  With a timely application of pre-emergent herbicide, zoysia should stay pretty clean all year.  It really sounds like the perfect grass for tees and fairways in this region.

I have been growing creeping bentgrass on tees and fairways for 19 of my 23 years as a Golf Course Superintendent now.  I am really comfortable with it.  It has its strengths and its weaknesses.  I am really struggling with some of those weaknesses these days, but that is a story for another blog post. 

The fairways here at Sycamore Ridge, are in really great shape today.  They are green, and lush.  Many of the zoysia courses on the other hand, are realizing how much of their zoysia was killed this winter.  With the excess moisture and prolonged cold temperatures, the zoysia is simply dead in many wet areas.  I have not personally seen any of this turf loss, but have heard that most courses will be replacing a lot of areas with sod.  The zoysia in this area is Meyer Zoysia, a variety that is very slow to spread, and impossible to seed.  Sod is really the only viable way to establish it. 

My purpose is not to make light of the situation faced by my fellow superintendents. 
There is not a single thing that they could have done to prevent this from happening.  However, with the challenges faced when growing bentgrass, it is important to remember that the grass on the other side of the fence is not always greener.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Spring Has Arrived!

It is hard to believe that in just my last post, I was lamenting whether or not winter would ever end, and now we have finished spring aerification.  Winter has ended, and things are full steam ahead on the golf course maintenance side.  We have been put behind schedule on several projects due to the harsh winter, and we are working hard to get back on track to finish these up.  The irrigation system has been pressurized, and tees, greens, and fairways are being mowed.

I have been the Golf Course Superintendent at Sycamore Ridge for 12 years now.  My first spring aerification in 2007 was a deep tine aerification.  This process allows us to get much deeper into the sand root zone and break up compaction below the surface.  This is what we did again this week, for the first time since 2007.  When we are changing cups or working below the surface of the green, we can tell that there is a compaction layer that is difficult for the roots to penetrate.  We were able to borrow a machine that allowed us to poke holes down to nearly seven inches, and get a little kick at the bottom to shatter that compaction.  Our normal aerification only penetrates 4 to 5 inches, and can create that compaction just below that line.  Hopefully, we will see deeper rooting on the greens this spring as a result of this aerification.

As is our normal process, we sanded the greens before poking the holes.  The sand was then allowed to dry and brushed into the holes to fill them up.  After brushing, any excess sand is blown off of the green and it is rolled and a new cup installed.  This time, I feel that the process produced a fantastic end result.  The majority of the holes were completely filled, and the greens were firm and smooth afterwards. The post aerification healing time should be very short, and we will have great greens again in a matter of days.

The weather may be cooling off over the next few days, and that will not help.  The rains we got yesterday and again today will help to wash the sand into the profile and speed up the healing process.

I am very excited for the 2019 golf maintenance season at Sycamore Ridge.  I feel that with the support of ownership, we are positioned to have a fantastic year on the course.

One last quick reminder for those of you that do your own home lawn care... your pre-emergent weed control should be applied and watered in before April 15th.  Just remember that you cannot seed again until fall if you make this application, but it is the best way to keep out crabgrass and other summer weeds.

As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Will Winter Ever End?????

In the current forecast, I see a change for the better, with temperatures rising closer to normal.  Unfortunately, I also see some regular precipitation.  Everyone at the golf course is anxious for spring to arrive.  We are looking forward to getting back to a routine on maintenance work and seeing the friendly golfers out on the course.

So far it has been a brutal winter with very few golfing days.  We have had to chip more ice off of the cart path this winter than has been done in the previous 11 winters combined.  The ground is wet, and will be wet for a long time to come.  As temperatures rise, and the frost comes out of the ground, moisture will come with it.

With all of the snow this winter, there are areas covered with Snow Mold.  This is a disease that  attacks turf when it is covered with snow for a prolonged period of time.
Snow Mold

In my years, I have seen Snow Mold several times, but never like this year.  Normally, it is simply superficial, and grows back rather quickly.  I certainly hope that is the case again this year.

The temperature is a balmy 10 degrees as I write this post.  It is weird to think that we are already making arrangements for our spring aerification that is scheduled for three weeks from today.  The greens have a long way to go to be ready for aerification.

The winter has been so harsh, that many of the scheduled projects have been delayed.  As the temperatures rise, we will work to finish up what has been started, and hopefully have time to get a few more done.

I am sure that all of you have cabin fever, and are anxious to get back on the course.  Hopefully this will happen soon, and we can all enjoy a long, pleasant spring.  To get you excited, I will leave you with this picture of number 10 green, taken on a warm summer day.  See you all soon!!!!!