Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wet Course Conditions


Dealing With Wet Winters
Submitted by Craig Loving 

It seems like every year there are areas on each course that remain wet throughout the winter months.  Whether it’s an approach shot that doesn’t quite make it onto the green or losing a few yards off of your drive, these areas have an impact on the playability of the golf course.  The following paragraphs will explain why this happens, what measures we’ve taken to minimize this, as well as future projects to eliminate some of these wet areas.  We will briefly explain our winter irrigation adjustments, the effects of winter rain events, and how we deal with these conditions. 

Irrigation

During the winter months (November through March), we cut back our watering based on the needs of the plant.  As the turf goes into winter dormancy, the plant shuts down and water and nutrient uptake is reduced substantially.  We schedule our irrigation cycles based on evapotranspiration rates, which are reduced during cooler temperatures.  For example: in mid-summer months (ET of .26) we would need to water an area for 15-18 minutes to replace the moisture lost from both water evaporation and plant transpiration (evapotranspiration).  In the winter (ET of .06) we could water the same area for 2-3 minutes for the same effect.   

A majority of our focus in the winter is maintaining optimum root moisture to the greens.  We check moisture levels on a daily basis, then hand water or run irrigation cycles accordingly.  Fairways, tees, green surrounds, and rough irrigation are reduced as well, generally dependent on rainfall totals. 

Winter Rain

Rainfall is the primary advocate for wet conditions on the course during the winter months, mostly due to its unpredictability.  We can control every individual irrigation head on our course in regards to the direction, irrigation time, and irrigation amount for over 1,000 heads per course.  However, if we get a 2” rain event in December all we can do is wait for it to dry.  In some cases, this could take several days. 

There are two key factors behind why the drying process is prolonged during the winter.  The more obvious factor is that cooler temperatures reduce evaporation rates.  The lesser-known factor deals with a dormant plant’s inability to uptake water.  Therefore, most (if not all) of the turf drying comes from a reduced evaporation rate.  So when a 1” rain event happens in the middle of summer with high temperatures (and an active plant), it would take much less time to have playable conditions than when the same amount of rain occurs in the middle of winter. 

Protecting the Turf

After a winter rain event, we generally play it as safe as possible to ensure the health of the turf on our courses.  When grass becomes dormant, it loses its ability to recover from cart traffic ruts in wet areas like it would during the growing season.  This is the reasoning behind extended cart path only days, which is unfavorable for every golfer.  We have fairways on each course that may be 90% dry after a rain event that are cart path only, but are deemed so because the lower wet areas are too large to rope off for 1-2 days.  Some of our current worn areas in fairways and rough are due to high cart traffic in the winter months, and possibly due to a lapse in judgment by allowing carts in those areas at the wrong time of year (after rainfall).  We plan to be sterner in the future in this regard, and although it might not be a popular tactic, we believe it will help us with long-term turf health. 

Drainage

We plan to attack some of these lower wet areas with supplemental drainage to shorten the length of “cart path only” time.  These projects are ideal for winter months when our focus is on special projects and not on maintaining turf height.  With a trencher attachment to our skid steer, this process should be much faster than in years past.  Cowan Creek remains the course that needs the most supplemental drainage, as well as original drainage improvement.  We’ve seen dramatic improvements in areas that we’ve previously added drainage, and we hope to soon eliminate all of these long-term wet areas.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Weather and Greens Covering Update


Due to the current weather forecast including potential freezing rain on Friday and Saturday we are keeping the greens covered and courses closed through Sunday.  At this point we plan on opening all three courses on Monday. Please check this Golf Course Maintenance blog (http://sctxgcmaint.blogspot.com/) and Chelsea for any further updates. 

 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Just a little something from the USGA on covering greens

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COVERING GUIDELINES FOR ULTRADWARF BERMUDAGRASS PUTTING GREENS

By Patrick O’Brien and Christopher Hartwiger, agronomists, Southeast Region
January 9, 2013

The expense of a cover can be easily justified when compared to the cost of completely replanting a bermudagrass green.

Ultradwarf bermudagrass putting greens have limited cold tolerance and without protection, they are susceptible to cold temperature injury. Turf covers are used to prevent this injury and are kept on hand in most areas of the transition zone. Because golf is played throughout most of the winter in the Southeast Region, turf covers are used only for short periods of time and are removed for golf. January is a good time to review the basic covering guidelines.   

Types of Covers

Numerous turf covers were tested under research conditions at Mississippi State University and the results indicate that all of the commercially available products tested worked well. Read this article for more information: Turf Covers For Winter Protection Of Bermudagrass Greens. Not surprisingly, the most popular covers are the ones that are lightest in weight and easiest to handle. The covers we see most often are the black or white woven polypropylene product. Turf covers are available from numerous suppliers, but it takes time to get the product due to the specialized sizing for each green site and the manufacturing process. Emergency covering products such as pine or wheat straw can be used, but they may be more expensive and more labor intensive to apply. Permanent covers are a better choice. With proper storage and handling, covers will last 15 to 20 years.

When to Cover

The most common philosophy is to cover green when the predicted low temperatures are 25 degrees F or less. Although some golf courses have different thresholds for covering, remember that the role of a cover is not necessarily to keep the cold out, but to retain the warmth of the soil.  Since cold temperatures can harm bermudagrass, a conservative approach is wise. Covering the greens requires a coordinated team, but when everyone is in sync, the process can take as little as three minutes to cover a green and four minutes to uncover it. Click on this link to see a live demonstration of covering and uncovering a putting green: Video On Covering And Uncovering A Putting Green. Covers are stored adjacent to each green site when not in use. This link provides more information on covering protocols: Ultradwarfs In The Off-Season - A Winter Wonderland

Conclusion 

Appropriate use of turf covers helps prevent winter injury. The cost of covers ranges between 15 to 20 cents per square foot and they last for at least 15 to 20 years. This investment of approximately $20,000 is well worth it. If you have any questions on when to use turf covers on ultradwarf putting greens, please contact either Patrick O’Brien or Chris Hartwiger.

Authors: Patrick O’Brien patobrien@usga.org and Christopher Hartwiger chartwiger@usga.org)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Update on Green Covering

As previously announced due to weather forecasts we covered all greens Sunday and anticipated removing them Tuesday morning.  While Tuesday temps are good during the day forecasted temperatures for late Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning are in the low 20’s.  As such do to the time required to remove and then re-cover we do not anticipate re-opening the golf courses until late Thursday morning.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Cover Greens January 4, 2015

Due to the scheduled forecast on January 4th going into January 5th we will be covering greens at all three courses on the morning of the 4th. The current plan is to have them on until Tuesday morning.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


December 2014 Course Conditions
Course Conditions
All three courses are doing well and we’re progressing well on the playability items for 2014-2015. (See below)
Playability Items for 2014/2015
In the November Course Conditions report we identified the items that we are starting to work on in preparation for the new budget cycle in Jan. 2015. The items marked with highlighted blue font have been completed per the Nov. schedule. We are making very good progress even with a couple of rain days and having to cover greens twice.
Legacy Hills
Legacy Hills Greenside Bunkers
*** The greenside bunkers will start to be shelled out the week of 11/17/14. We will play all greenside bunkers as ground under repair until the project is complete. We look to have this completed before the end of the first quarter of 2015.
A majority of the staff’s time has been spent working on the bunkers and we have completed emptying #7 and #10 greenside bunkers.
*** All tree bids will be obtained in December so that they will be valid for a January start time.
HOLE #1
        Recommend this hole become a "cart path only" hole full-time.
        Place native rocks along cart path near green area. Will get rock from native
12/8/14 Area is prepared for rock
HOLE #3
*** Start Date Week of 12/08/14
        Create a DG area under the trees on the right side of the fairway, between the bunkers and the cart path. $1300
Started prep work week of 12/8/14
        Create a DG area under the trees at the right front of the green. $300
HOLE #8
        Large tree on the left side needs trimmed to remove fairway overhang. $1400
HOLE #9
        Eliminate two of the 4 exits and repair the remaining 2; make hole "cart path only" until the repair is healed. $1600
HOLE #12
        Trim the trees on the right side of the left blue tee box. $1000
        Install a DG approach to the green tee box. $300
HOLE #14
        Trim the trees on the left side of all tee boxes in Berry Creek. $5,000
Trimmed trees that we were able to reach week of 11/24/14
White Wing
HOLE #2
Remove and replace DG at the blue tee area. Add DG $800
11/17/14 – Added DG to level off curb drop off and raked clean (finished)
  • Place river rocks at the curb between the blue and green tee. Use Rock from #6
11/18-19/14 – Brought over rock from bed on #6 to level off this drop off. Swept in DG and dirt to fill gaps (finished)
  • HOLE #5
  • GREEN TEE:  Remove and replace the damaged steps; rework entire tee box and re sod with Zoysia turf. $13,000                         Waiting on Bid
  • HOLE #6
  • Replace damaged tee monument. $800
  • Remove rock walkway and replace with mulch with a rock border. To be used on #2
11/18-19/14 – Removed rock walkway and relined bed border with rock, will add mulch after Jan 1 and finish then
  • HOLE #7
  • Place river rocks along the cart path between #7 green and #8 tee box.
12/9-10/14 Added rocks and dirt to correct this drop off (finish this week)
  • HOLE #8
  • Major tree trimming needed from the tee area to the green. $10,000
  • HOLE #14
  • Major tree trimming on the right side from tee to green. $5000
  • HOLE #17
  • Flower bed left of green and behind the sales center, must be reworked. $400
We estimate another $10,000 in approach drainage work can be done on holes #14, #15 and #16. 
Cowan Creek
HOLE #1
        Suggest possible DG area under the group of trees on the right side of the fairway. $800 (11/4/14 – limbed up trees, began clearing out underbrush)
(12/9/14 – almost finished prepping area.  Need to hand dig around exposed native rock, then add decomposed granite, then define the border)
  • HOLE #3
  • Recommend installing more French drains on the left side of the fairway. $1000 (late December – early January)
  • HOLE #5
        Continue to improve the drainage issue near blue tee area to prevent DG from washing away with each rain. $500 (January 2015)
  • HOLE #6
        Improve the drainage on the left side of the fairway. $1000 (11/10/14 – exposed drainage pipe on the left side near landing area, began unclogging drain from daylight and flushing sediment buildup)
(12/9/14 – finished removing crushed and root-filled pipe, waiting on pipe and fittings delivery.  Still need to install new pipe, re-grade lower drainage area, cut down large willow tree in native)
  • HOLE #16
        Expand the DG area at the blue tee box. $600 (late November)
(12/8/14 – finished adding decomposed granite to expanded area.  Complete.)
  • HOLE #18
        (Safety issue) Place more large rocks adjacent to the cart path in the creek area to minimize the severe drop off. $800 (late November)
(11/20/14 – complete)
Greens Covering
Per the Greens Covering policy we have had to cover twice in 2014.  
Soil Testing
We have sent December’s disease samples in and are awaiting the results from the lab.
Moisture Monitoring

Here is an example of one week’s worth of moisture monitoring from Cowan Creek. The moisture meter we use in the field is the Fieldscout TDR 300. I have one available for demonstration after the meeting concludes for those interested in seeing how it works.

Audubon Certification
We received the "feature sets" of our irrigation maps from the original irrigation design company.  All three maps have been printed out using a plotter from the CA so they are large enough to be edited (adding wildlife areas). Once the wildlife areas are added to the maps, they will be transferred back to a .pdf file for submittal.  This will take a few weeks for completion.  We continue to update our pesticide record spreadsheets from this year, and will move onto our case studies for each course after the site maps and pesticide records are completed.
White Wing #1 Green
On November 24th we were able to locate the drainpipe that provides the drainage for #1 green at WW. As you can see the pipe was crushed and has been preventing the proper flow of drainage from this green.

During this time we also lowered the front collar of the green to take out the “sand dam” that was preventing surface drainage. We have the area marked as ground under repair and have stopped using the front half of this green for pin placements until we have improved health of that section. 
GCSAA Certification
Attended the USGA webinar on preparing putting greens for winter stress.
Attended Floratine University (fertilizer seminar)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Softball Field Overseed

We made the first cut on the Softball Field overseed today and it's looking great!


November 2014 Course Conditions

Moving into winter

Mowing Height

With the winter months here we have moved the mowing heights up on the greens. This helps the turf by providing more leaf tissue, which in turn also promotes a healthier root system, and relieves stress on the plant from the lower cutting heights. By raising the cutting heights the greens will not roll as quickly as they would during peak times but with continued rolling and topdressing they will remain smooth and roll true. As we move further into winter green speeds will increase due to the lack of growth. In the spring the mowing heights will remain raised until we reach combined temperatures of 150 degrees and the Bermuda grass shows signs of steady growth.

Cultural Practices

Solid tine aerfications to relieve compaction on the greens will take place when the temperatures allow it this winter. Also, per the USGA recommendations we will be light topdressing throughout the winter months to help protect the canopy of the greens from foot traffic and cold temperatures.

Moisture Monitoring

Adequate soil moisture plays a vital role in winter care for the greens. This year to insure moisture levels are where they need to be maintained we have put a procedure and documentation in place to monitor and record moisture levels in each green with our electronic moisture meters. This report will be turned in weekly to the Director of Golf Course Maintenance. In addition to soil moisture the report will also include soil temperature readings so that we can have a correlation between the two. An example would be; higher soil moisture resulting in higher soil temperatures and vice versa. Example below.
Winter Soil Moisture Readings
Course:  
Month:  November
Date: SoilDate:11/12/2014SoilDate:11/14/2014Soil
HoleHigh AreaLow AreaTempHoleHigh AreaLow AreaTempHoleHigh AreaLow AreaTemp
#1   #1   #1   
#2   #2   #2   
#3   #3   #3   
#4   #4   #4   
#5   #5   #5   
#6   #6   #6   
#7   #7   #7   
#8   #8   #8   
#9   #9   #9   
#10   #10   #10   
#11   #11   #11   
#12   #12   #12   
#13   #13   #13   
#14   #14   #14   
#15   #15   #15   
#16   #16   #16   
#17   #17   #17   
#18   #18   #18   
PG   PG   PG   
CG   CG   CG   


Soil Testing

The beginning of November we sent in our first disease samples of the winter months to Mississippi State for examination. Although the greens looked healthy the lab showed the presence of Pythium (root rot fungus) at all three of the courses. This is normally brought on by cool, wet weather. Early detection will allow us to treat this with fungicides before any symptoms will occur. We will error on the side of caution throughout the winter and send in disease samples monthly until April of 2015.

White Wing #1 Green

Every year we seem to fight with the middle and lower section of this green when it starts to get cold and wet. The CA for has had someone converting files over to electronic format and we have been able to find the original drainage plans from construction and plan to locate this drainage on the next closed day at White Wing, Dec. 1st. While doing this we are also going to do some work lowering the front collar of the green to increase surface drainage.

We will have the area marked as ground under repair and we will also stop using the front half of this green for pin placements until we have improved health of that section. 

Greens Covers

The following policy will dictate the covering of golf greens in Sun City Texas.

Sun City Greens Covering Policy

  • When the forecast is for temperatures to drop at or below 25 degrees greens are to be covered during the day prior to the temperatures reaching the 25 degree threshold.
  • The following day, including any successive period of days are forecast for the daily highs to remain at temperatures not conducive to increasing soil temperatures the greens covers are not to be removed but remain in place.
  • Superintendents have the latitude to cover without direction if they suspect that temperatures in their area are going to drop below the 25 degree threshold. However Superintendents will have no discretion to not cover if a Director of Maintenance, or Director of Operations directive has been issued to place covers.
  • Adequate moisture through either rain or irrigation will help support the canopy temperature and reduce driving of temperatures lower into the root zone. If expected low temperatures are forecast to be 33 degrees or lower Superintendents should make sure that greens moisture is at or near field capacity. 
  • The source to use for weather monitoring for determining the need to cover in Sun City Texas is: WeatherBug.com – This site will be the one used by everyone that is involved in the decision making process of covering and uncovering greens.  
    Playability Items for 2014/2015
    In the October Course Conditions report we identified the items from the playability report that we plan on completing in the first quarter of the year. Below we have identified the items that we are starting to work on in preparation for the new budget cycle in Jan. 2015. These items are marked with asterisks and highlighted with the estimated start dates. As we complete items on the list we will add future start dates as we progress through the list of projects.  
    Legacy Hills
    Legacy Hills Greenside Bunkers
    *** The greenside bunkers will start to be shelled out the week of 11/17/14. We will play all greenside bunkers as ground under repair until the project is complete. We look to have this completed before the end of the first quarter of 2015.
    *** All tree bids will be obtained in December so that they will be valid for a January start time.
    HOLE #1

  • Recommend this hole become a "cart path only" hole full-time.
  • Place native rocks along cart path near green area. Will get rock from native
    HOLE #3
    *** Start Date Week of 12/08/14
  • Create a DG area under the trees on the right side of the fairway, between the bunkers and the cart path. $1300
  • Create a DG area under the trees at the right front of the green. $300
    HOLE #8
  • Large tree on the left side needs trimmed to remove fairway overhang. $1400
    HOLE #9
  • Eliminate two of the 4 exits and repair the remaining 2; make hole "cart path only" until the repair is healed. $1600
    HOLE #12
  • Trim the trees on the right side of the left blue tee box. $1000
  • Install a DG approach to the green tee box. $300
    HOLE #14
  • Trim the trees on the left side of all tee boxes in Berry Creek. $5,000
    White Wing
    HOLE #2
    *** Start Date Week of 11/17/14

  • Remove and replace DG at the blue tee area. Add DG $800
  • Place river rocks at the curb between the blue and green tee. Use Rock from #6

HOLE #5

*** Currently waiting on the first bid for this work to be done

  • GREEN TEE:  Remove and replace the damaged steps; rework entire tee box and re sod with Zoysia turf. $13,000  

HOLE #6

*** Start Date Week of 11/17/14

  • Replace damaged tee monument. $800
  • Remove rock walkway and replace with mulch with a rock border. To be used on #2

HOLE #7

  • Place river rocks along the cart path between #7 green and #8 tee box.

HOLE #8

*** Will get bids in December so that they are still valid when we go to get the work done in January

  • Major tree trimming needed from the tee area to the green. $10,000

HOLE #14

  • Major tree trimming on the right side from tee to green. $5000

HOLE #17

  • Flower bed left of green and behind the sales center, must be reworked. $400

We estimate another $10,000 in approach drainage work can be done on holes #14, #15 and #16.

Cowan Creek

HOLE #1

*** Started week of 11/4/14 – limbed up trees, began clearing out underbrush

  • Suggest possible DG area under the group of trees on the right side of the fairway. $800
    HOLE #3
    *** Start Date Week of 01/05/15
    Recommend installing more French drains on the left side of the fairway. $1000
    HOLE #5
    *** Start Date 01/19/15
  • Continue to improve the drainage issue near blue tee area to prevent DG from washing away with each rain. $500  
  • HOLE #6
    *** Started week of 11/10/14 – exposed drainage pipe on the left side near landing area, began unclogging drain from daylight and flushing sediment buildup

  • Improve the drainage on the left side of the fairway. $1000

HOLE #16

*** Start week of 11/24/14

  • Expand the DG area at the blue tee box. $600  
    HOLE #18
  • (Safety issue) Place more large rocks adjacent to the cart path in the creek area to minimize the severe drop off. $800  
    Audubon Certification
    All three courses are still working on their site maps. Now that winter is moving in the Supts. will have more time to work on this.
    GCSAA Certification
    Have registered for a two day fertilizer seminar Dec. 3rd&4th for .6 CEU’s toward certification.