Saturday, April 14, 2018

Fairway Aeration??

If you click on "Calendar" in the menu at the top of the blog you can see the entire golf schedule for the year which includes the dates for punching and sanding the greens and fairways.  Above you can see a picture of the calendar page and notice that we have 3 weeks blocked off for fairway aeration.  Does this mean it takes 3 weeks to punch fairways? No, in fact it takes about 5 or 6 days to punch fairways but this time of year it takes 3 weeks to find enough "good weather" days for the process.  Remember we absolutely cannot have it rain during the process or it turns out to be a big mess.  The reason I'm bringing this up is that in case you haven't noticed, we've only punched 5 fairways and there's only one week left on the schedule.  What's the hold up?  Check out this tweet from the other day sent by the national weather service....

Some how we managed to punch the greens on schedule, but as you can see we simply haven't had appropriate weather for punching the fairways so we are very much behind.  There is some hope though.......check out the forecast for the next two weeks.

It looks like starting this Wednesday we'll actually be seeing some spring like weather which should allow us to get all the fairways punched.  I just want you to know that since we are so far behind it's likely we will be finishing up on the 23rd or 24th.  I'm sorry if this inconveniences any of you but this spring the fairway aerification is very important since we skipped punching them last spring due to the demands of the new pro shop renovation.  

Saturday, March 31, 2018


If you were on the golf course last week you may have seen this machine working on the fairways.  This machine is one of our newest acquisitions and what it does is slice into the turf and at the same time it drops seed into the slit created by many round knives. It's really quite remarkable and is a very effective interseeder.  What is interseeding?  Well it's when you plant seed into existing turf with the intent to supplement the sward with new grass plants. You could call this overseeding but it is very different from the process many refer to as overseeding when the intent is to have an entirely new stand of grass like in the example of overseeding dormant bermudagrass. When you see the beautiful fairways at Augusta National this week you'll be looking at overseeded bermudagrass.   
Here's a picture of what this machine did when we tried it on #2 fairway.  As you know #2 is the most shaded fairway on the golf course, and because of excessive shade the turf there is simply not strong enough to handle the aggressive slicing nature of the machine. We only made one pass of the machine on #2 fairway.

Here's what it should look like after using the new machine.  You can see that there are slice marks but for the most part it is a very non disruptive machine and process.  So why are we interseeding?  Think of the fairway sward as a population.  A population is stronger with more numbers and more diversity.  When we introduce new young seedlings into the turf population we are increasing its strength.  The new plants can increase the overall density of the sward and by introducing new species we can hopefully reduce disease severity, and improve drought or cold tolerance.  So what grass species are we introducing with this new machine?  Fescue of course.  Chewings fescue to be exact.  Golf was meant to be played on fescue.  A fescue sward has the proper skid factor and firmness for golf.  In addition, fescue is the native grass in our area and was the predominent grass species upon the prairies that once covered the Puget Sound region.  Now don't get me wrong, we will never be able to convert the fairways to fescue with this machine, our goal is to have a mixed stand of grasses with fescue.  Remember there is strength in having diversity so a mixed stand is the way to go.  This will not happen over night and it will not happen at all if this process is not funded. We own the machine but buying enough seed to cover our 40 acres of fine turf will cost about $14,000 annually. In order to get the funding we need to see if it's going to work.  The proof is in the pudding so we're interseeding a few fairways to see what happens.  I'm not going to lie.  This is pretty exciting for me.  I can't wait to watch and see the results of this trial. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Time to Strip

This picture shows "cross grain cracking" on a painted surface.  This problem occurs when there is an excessive build up of paint and is common on older homes, especially historic homes which have been painted many times.  The only solution is to strip off all the paint and start over.  This is similar to the problems we see on older, historic putting greens when there is an excessive build-up of sand.  No, the greens aren't cracking but when we get too much sand built up on or around putting greens, the solution is to strip it off and start over.  
That's what we've been doing around some of the greens.  Here's a picture of #5 where we removed excess sand which built up in front of the green and impeded the run-off of surface water.
Then we stripped off the area near the bunker which had a build up of topdressing sand and of course sand splashed out of the bunker.  The problem here is that over time the build-up of sand exasperated the natural tendency for greens to change shape and the putting surface retreated away from the bunker.  Now that the excess sand has been removed, we can start mowing the green closer to the bunker as it once was and recapture hole locations that have slowly been lost over time.  
We then moved over to #8 and again started with the approach.
After the approach was put back together we moved to the back of the green.
Finally we finished up on #8 with that back area.  All together we removed over 10 yards of sand from around the 8th green.  You will immediately notice that the putting green and surround look much more natural with smooth transitions over the contours. Again this is going to allow us to mow the green out to where it once was and get back those lost hole locations.  This next picture shows the new green edge on holes 5&8 once the whole process is complete.
This is a time consuming endeavor and takes a tremendous amount of labor so we'll continue to pick away at it each winter but honestly this is the kind of project which is never finished.  Once we've gotten around to removing all the excess sand around the greens, we can always do the same kind of work on the tees,  Sand build-up on tees creates a different set of problems which I'll discuss at a different time.  Applying sand to turf really is a little like applying paint to your house.  Both processes are essential but over time the build-up starts to create problems and you gotta strip it off.