Sunday, December 3, 2017

#3 Green....A work in progress

Growing grass in the Pacific Northwest is often easy.  Growing Championship caliber putting turf in the Pacific Northwest is often not easy and downright impossible without adequate sunlight and air flow.  We've proven this time and time again over the years by selectively removing trees and then watching poor quality turf turn into something to behold.  One of the best examples of this work is that which has been done around Tacoma's 3rd green.  Let's go back to 2007 when we first started getting serious about addressing the shade issues on the golf course.  Here's what the surface of #3 green looked like after a cold winter.
You can see that there was a lot of grass on the surface but obviously there was some areas where there wasn't any grass.  A putting surface like this most certainly does not provide good consistent performance.  Now some golfers are perfectly comfortable playing golf on a poor quality surface like this and this condition is pretty common in the Pacific Northwest where we find a lot of trees and subsequently a lot of shade.  But if you have the resources and the desire for exceptional putting greens, this shade induced condition does not need to be tolerated.  That's the attitude we took a decade ago.  We decided we wanted the best putting greens possible and that meant facing "head on" the issue of the invasive Douglas fir trees which were depriving the turf of precious sunlight.  To resolve our shade issues we contracted Arborcom to perform a shade analysis of the putting greens on #2 and #6.  At that time those two greens were by far the worst putting surfaces on the property.  The Arborcom study taught us all we needed to know in order to fix those two greens.  It also taught us so much about sunlight requirements and how the sun moves over the property that we've been able to develop tree management strategies for all the putting greens.  Now we have a comprehensive Tree Management Plan for the entire golf course.  Due to budget constraints we've only been able to tackle a couple of projects each year but it never fails that each year with each project I am blown away by the positive impact of more sunlight and air flow as a result of tree removal.  On #3 the first project or phase 1 was completed in 2010 and it involved removing 25 trees to the east of the putting surface in order to recapture some morning sunlight which is the best quality sunlight.  Here's a before and after pic of that area east of the putting green which is basically right around the 4th tee.
That project made such a positive impact to the quality of the 3rd green and it really made a very poor putting surface into something pretty good in just one growing season.  After two years of observation it was clear that the green still needed more sunlight so phase 2 was initiated which involved removing another 6 trees directly behind the green.  That project provided about 1 hour of mid day sunlight and made a huge difference, but then the following year the golf course went through an award winning renovation which resulted in the expansion of short grass around the back of the green.  The expansion of short grass meant that there needed to be an expansion of quality sunlight so last year we initiated a third phase of tree removal around the putting green.  The results of this most recent project is absolutely amazing.  First click here to see my blog post from last fall which detailed the project and showed just how bad the turf was around the back of the putting surface.  Now here's a before and after pic which clearly shows that the area behind the green has been thinned out. 

The "after" picture reveals a couple of things.  First of all notice the nice grove of oak trees which were released by the project.  Protecting our threatened native oak trees is a major focus of the Club's tree management plan.  Secondly, check out the nice view of the fourth hole which was revealed.  Here's a close up of that new vista.

Lastly, look at the results of the projects prime directive which was to improve the turf quality around the back of the green.  Here's a look at that area today which was thin, and mushy just a year ago.
The improvement is really remarkable.  We've received over 8 inches of rain in the last 4 weeks and this area is healthy and firm.   Needless to say the putting green has also improved from this recent project. The power of sunlight and air flow never ceases to amaze me.  

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