Saturday, August 20, 2016

Another Great Show

Jeremy and Gabe have done it again.  This years show of color around the House is better than ever.
 The perennials around the 1894 restaurant have reached full maturity.  
 Some trees were removed around the putting green last winter and now there is more space for annuals and more sunshine to make them explode with color.
 This is the first year we've had the Historical Marker so that area is getting some extra attention.
 The patio pots are simple and elegant.  I remember when Jeremy was planting them this spring and I took these two pictures so I could post them later and show how far they've come and what's in them.
 So here is what they looked like when they were planted and look at the picture below to see what plants were selected.
Jeremy and Gabe, your expertise is second to none.  Thanks for all that you do!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Some Great Golf.....On Okay Greens

 We've had some great golf these past few weeks.  The Member Guest Invitational was very memorable.  We had absolutely perfect weather.  The flop wall competition and skills challenge was fun as always. 
The Travis Mathews bus was here providing a great shopping opportunity and a really cool hang out spot.
 Jamie of course went completely over the top with the food.  I honestly don't think anyone can come close to matching his ability.  
And then there was the emotional award ceremony when we said goodbye to Rich Friend.  Rich has been the Golf Professional for the past 27 years and my friend for the past 23.   Tears were shed by everyone as we mourned his departure and celebrated his amazing service to the Club.  I will never forget that affectionate sendoff and I wish Rich the best on his new adventure.
 Then this week the Club hosted the 90th Washington State Men's Amateur.  On the 60th hole following a 6 hole playoff our very own Chase Carlson secured the win.  It was a fantastic event and the first men's championship held at the Club since the 1998 Washington Open.  Before the new teeing grounds were built during the recent award winning renovation of the golf course, Tacoma simply didn't have the length to challenge today's long hitters.  Now the course has teeth again and the expansive teeing grounds also provided some interesting options for the tournament coordinators.  Check out this picture of the setup on the final day of the Men's Amateur.
  The 7th hole was played from the 17th tee at over 420 yards.  That's 31 yards longer than the rated black tee for number 7.  To see more pictures of the event click HERE and check out the WSGA facebook page.  Click HERE to go to the WSGA website and see all the details of the event.  
The golf has been amazing these past few weeks but unfortunately the golf course has not. Sure it may look good and the greens have been very fast but with each season our frustration increases because so does the shade.  Above is a picture of #4 green and notice that the back of the green is in total shade.  Notice also that the shadows are very short as the sun is virtually straight up above when this picture was taken.  The back half of this green receives virtually little to no direct sunlight and this makes maintaining tournament quality firmness impossible.  

We monitor moisture in the greens with this device.  In the picture below notice the reading shows 25.7% water content.  That's a little high but at the time we took this reading we were setting up for a 90 degree day.  We prefer to keep the moisture at about 18-20% for good firmness and that's adequate moisture to get through a normal day of 75-80 degrees.  
Now check out the reading of the moisture content of the back half of the green which is always in the shade.  Yes that says 40%.

Keep in mind that these readings are being taken after we already have taken steps to dry down the back half of the green.  For example, the sprinklers on the back half of #4 have been changed to part circles which means they aren't even spraying water on the back half of the green.  We do this by changing out the internal motors of the sprinklers.  This of course takes time and constant monitoring. Even still that half of the green will just not dry down due to all the shade.

The fourth green is not our only problem area.  Look at these aerial images.  The first picture is of #4, the second is of #3 and the third picture is of #11.

Excessive shade is a constant problem and one that is only getting worse as the fir trees at Tacoma are not done growing.  The shade is increasing with each season and so are the expectations for good, consistent putting surfaces.  
On the bright side, check out this picture of #2 green taken mid day with the sun straight up.  The putting surface now receives adequate sunlight since we removed those three fir trees behind the green last winter.  We used to have the same problem with excessive moisture on #2 but not any more.  Of course moisture is not just about firmness and how the ball bounces on a green.  It's also about smoothness.  When the surface has too much moisture, foot traffic can make for terrible smoothness by days end.  If your as worried about this shade problem as I am, then worry no more.  The Club's Tree Management Plan addresses the need for sun on greens 3, 4, and 11 and there will be some thinning of the trees this upcoming off season.  There is also plans to improve the quantity of sunlight for the 18th green but this involves morning light which is the best light.  Check out this picture of #18 at noon on a sunny August day.

Because of the trees northeast and east of this green, the back right corner never receives any morning light.  It receives adequate afternoon light to maintain turf coverage but Tacoma has higher standards than just turf coverage.  In order for this green to have good putting quality and consistency, some morning light is essential.  Only two trees will be removed to correct this problem.  I know tree removal is an emotional issue for some people but rest assured the Club is using the best professional council regarding these agronomic challenges and making Tacoma the best it can be is the Committee's prime directive.  

Monday, July 11, 2016

Timing is Everything........Or is It?

This is a picture of the 6th hole taken last summer.  I took it early in the morning when there was a good amount of dew because you can clearly see by the dew pattern that we had some serious pitting of the turf caused by disease.  This next picture is a close up of one of the most infected areas and you can see that I removed a sample of turf.  That sample was sent to a diagnostic lab and the test results showed that we were fighting a serious outbreak of fairy ring and waitea patch.
Now this is when I'm supposed to show you a picture of the golf course today and of course our turf today should be disease free because of what we learned last year.  Well this is a picture of some of our fine turf today.
Here's another picture of some of our fine turf today.
And here's another.
So again we have disease.  Again I sent samples to the lab and this time there is no waitea patch, only fairy ring.  So things are better but certainly not great.  In fact I started writing this post a couple months ago because I was going to show just how great things are today due to the timing of a preventative fungicide application to the fine turf.  We did everything we were supposed to do.  We monitored soil temperature and applied a preventative fungicide twice this past spring and things were definitely looking good through May and into early June.  The preventative applications work best when applied at the right time based on soil temperature and we feel like we "nailed it" in regard to timing.  After all, timing is everything right?  Well, some hot, dry weather hit us in June and we started to see the disease pop up.  Some of it got so advanced that we started to loose turf.  Needless to say my team and I are very frustrated with the persistence of the fairy ring.  Spraying more fungicide is not something we want to do and it's not something we can afford to do.  We have spot treated some of the worst areas with additional fungicide but it would cost about $9,000 to spray all the fine turf areas.  The operating budget can not accommodate an application like that and even if it could, there is no guarantee that another application will solve the problem.  So where do we go from here? I can sum it up in one word.........cultivation.
 This is what I mean by cultivation.  You might say this looks like aerification and of course it is.  So why am I calling it cultivation?  Let me explain.  Aerification is the process of punching a hole in the ground.  This increases gas exchange.  It also provides a cavity which can be filled with sand or some other type of amendment in order to modify the soil profile.  If you punch a hole with a hollow tine, some of the soil and thatch is removed during the process.  But, there's more to it than that.  When you punch a hole with a hollow tine, soil is brought to the surface and this is what I want to emphasize.  When soil is brought to the surface, inevitably some of it is left behind and then gets incorporated back into the turf.  When soil is removed and returned it is basically tilling which can be referred to as cultivation.   So how does cultivation solve our fairy ring problem? To best understand it I encourage you to go online and type "fairy ring control" into any search engine and read up on it.  I'm certain you will find a lot of information and many of the articles will say the same thing.  You'll read that fairy ring is common and becoming more common as we try to reduce inputs into the turf system.  Fairy ring favors a lean, dry condition and all of us are trying to reduce our fertilizer use and water less.  You'll also read that fairy ring is one of the number one "hardest" diseases to control.  You might also read that fungicides have been very ineffective at controlling the disease.  If you read an article published by a chemical company, you will probably read that their fungicide does control fairy ring.  One things for sure, no matter how many different articles you read about fairy ring, all of them will say that aerification is one of the ways to alleviate the symptoms.  Well we aerify the fine turf twice a year and some areas are aerified 3 times annually.  Why then are we still seeing fairy ring?  I believe it's because we are only aerifying, and NOT cultivating.  We've been using solid tines for the past 5 years and solid tines punch nice clean holes without bringing up any soil to the surface.  When turf is cultivated using hollow tines, the soil gets turned over and mixed together.  When soils are mixed together, the fairy ring fungi are mixed together and they cancel each other out.  Fairy ring fungi produce compounds that are antagonistic to other fairy ring fungi.  So to sum it up, we are going back to hollow tine aerification and we are going to try as much as possible to break up the aerification cores and return the soil back into the turf system.   As much as this will antagonize the fungi, I know it will also antagonize the golfer.  For this I am sorry but we had a good run with the solid tine aerification.  We proved that you don't have to punch with hollow tines to manage organic matter.  Unfortunately mother nature again has revealed its complexity and now it's time to go back to the basics and let nature work it's magic.  I imagine after a season or two we can go back to periodically punching with solids without any serious consequences.  Want more info on fairy ring? click HERE, or HERE, and HERE