Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sunlight and Air

I took a couple of pictures last Friday which clearly show the amazing power of sunlight and air.  The picture above is of the back of #2 green and if you've been a member at Tacoma for any time at all then you know just how good this area is today versus its condition in the past.  Here's another picture of this area taken from the 3rd tee.
In the last week it has rained over 5.5 inches.  That's a lot of rain but we were still able to mow this area on the back of #2.  Not only is the area firm enough to mow, the quality of the turf is as good as any area on the golf course.  Just a few years ago the back of #2 green might have been considered the worst conditioned area on the course.  So what happened? Why the dramatic turnaround?  It's pretty simple.  All we did was introduce sunlight and air to this area by strategicaly removing trees.  Starting back in 2009, we removed a couple trees behind this green and since then we have been removing more trees every other year. Today we finally have the amount of sunlight required to grow exceptional turfgrass in this area.  If you haven't been behind #2 lately, I encourage you go back there and check it out. It really is incredible what a difference it makes when you have adequate sunlight and air.  If you can't remember how bad it used to be behind #2, then go look at the area behind #3.
Here's #3 and you can see just how dense the treescape is behind that putting green. Here's a picture of the area on the back of this green.
You can see that when we attempted to mow this area, the machines rutted and scalped the turf.  Because of the lack of sunlight and air flow, this area is squishy and thin.  This is simply not okay and one of the main reasons several trees behind the third green are marked for removal.  These trees will be removed before the upcoming growing season so it's good to know that this poor turf condition is temporary and before you know it, this area behind #3 will be just as good as the area behind #2.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What Storm?

Last Saturday there was a probability that the Puget Sound region would experience a historic wind event.  As you can see by this cup and flagstick we did see some significant wind but definitely not the kind I would consider historic.  To be specific in our area the National Weather Service recorded sustained wind from 20 to 30 mph and the strongest gust was 47 mph.  That's more than breezy but nothing out of the ordinary.  Here's some pictures of how the golf course looked this morning as we began the clean up process.

We did loose a couple trees as one Hemlock on the driving range fell on top of a small douglas fir.
Ironically this tree was going to be removed this winter since it was a standing dead tree.  As you can see in this picture there is another tree here which is standing dead. Sometime this winter when the ground is frozen we'll get out there with the chipper truck and remove it.  So anyway the historic wind storm that never happened has passed and the golf course suffered very little damage.  Clean up has begun and the playing ground should look pretty tidy by the end of the week.  
Lastly on the subject of tree removal, the Committee has decided to remove the 150 yard marker tree on #1 and #4.
These are the last two remaining 150 yard marker trees.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Trees and Disease

It was just a gorgeous morning today as we started our fall aeration on greens.  This picture is showing the sand application to #3 green.  Yes it's pretty dusty and that's because we're using dried sand.  Normally the sand has some moisture to it and it doesn't look this dusty. While I was standing on the green taking this picture I also took some pictures of the disease popping up on the back of #3 green.  Look here.
This disease is called Fusarium Patch and it is very common in the Pacific Northwest on Poa greens.  Here's another picture I took this morning of Fusarium Patch, but this was taken on the back of #4 green.  
You might be thinking these disease spots are really small and no big deal.  That's only true because we noticed this disease coming on early last week when the weather cooled down and so we immediately applied a plant protection product to stop the infection.  If we had not made that application, there would be significant turf loss in these areas.  So why do these areas have disease popping up and other areas do not?  That's pretty simple and I'm sure you can tell by looking at these pictures that these areas are surrounded by trees.  No, I'm not saying trees cause disease.  It's always disease pathogens that cause disease, but a plants natural defense mechanism cannot work well when the plant suffers from shade. Trees cause the shade which weakens the plant and then the plant becomes susceptible to disease.  In addition, trees restrict air flow and that makes the environment in these shady areas more conducive to disease.  So now you have grass plants weakened from shade living in an environment that has more disease pressure.  To make things worse, if you loose turf to disease in these areas, it takes forever for the turf to recover since the turf in these areas are weekend by the shade.  It's the perfect storm really.  Shade is an absolute killer on a golf course.  Selectively removing trees is the most logical solution since it will both improve the environment and improve the plants health. 
Right now there are 36 trees on the golf course that are marked with orange ribbon because they are scheduled to be removed this off-season per the Club's Tree Management Plan. Some of these trees are being removed because they compete for sunlight and are compromising the quality of the golf course.  Some of these trees are being removed because they are simply in the way of golf and so they also are compromising the quality of the golf course. If you would like more information on the reasons surrounding the removal of these trees, click HERE to download this years project summary.   By the way, disease incidence is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the true cost of trees.  For a realistic picture of what a tree really costs, this article is always a good read, click HERE.