#12 @ Wild Horse

#12 @ Wild Horse

Friday, November 10, 2017


Brrr! its cold out today which means winter must be just around the corner.  We always fear what winter might bring to our turf and causes us some angst not being able to control much of what mother nature deals us.  

We have completed a heavy topdressing on back nine greens and will finish the front on Monday 13th.  The idea behind this last-minute topdressing is to bury the crown of the plant under a protective covering of sand.  This insulates the crown from temperature swings and prevents desiccation.  The crown of the plant is the growing point that must remain at a reasonable moisture level through the winter to do its thing come spring.  To further benefit the crown of the turf we have raised the height of cut, fertilized, and aerated recently to make the plant as healthy as possible going into winter.  This helps the plant produce and store carbohydrate reserves in the crown which act as a plant antifreeze and also gives the turf energy to get going in the spring.

We will be placing covers on greens knobs in the coming week to protect those extremely vulnerable areas.

Also we have not blown out irrigation lines yet as this is another way we try to prevent winterkill. This time of year is a bit nerve-wracking hoping we schedule blowout early enough to avoid prolonged freezing temperatures but late enough to provide irrigation until the last possible moment.  We want to have moisture available to the plant throughout the winter so we water heavily just before blowout to ensure the soil is at full water holding capacity.  We are scheduled to blow out irrigation on November 20-21 about a week later than normal.

We have also been doing some subtle reshaping work on certain bunkers which you can see below.  If you glanced at the photos you probably didn't notice any difference but if you look closely at this greenside bunker on 11 you will notice in the second picture where we have pulled some sand away from that middle top lip.  The sand has blown up against the lip and negated the sharp overhang lips that you see on the right side of the bunker.  This is somewhat unique of our "blowout" style bunkers and many courses prefer and work hard to keep sand right up to the lips.  Not here however as Proctor and Axland are the finest at creating those harder edges that look more erodible i.e. natural like pits carved by wind and water erosion.  Not only does the lip look more natural now, but by pulling back the excess sand that had accumulated at the top we have reduced the chance for a plugged lie in the face of the bunker.

The next two pictures highlight the same before and after on the large bunker right of 18 fairway.  The shadows help define the harder dropoff edge that was created.  Also lots of sand was pulled back down into the belly of the bunker.  

Finally here is a picture of 8 fairway bunker after the work was completed.  Unfortunately I didn't take a before picture, but you can see by the shadows the lip we created on this bunker.  These are subtle things you probably didn't notice until now but we are always trying to keep the course looking as intended from the architect's point of view.  Dan Proctor visited with me a couple summers ago about redefining some of these edges and I did some last fall, but finally found a process that I think works better at accomplishing what we want which is a natural looking sand trap.

Monday, October 9, 2017


The golf season is winding down but there will be a few more good days to play and the course is looking pretty.  The greens are healing nicely from the aerification of last week.  The holes were small and the topdressing has worked in nicely leaving a good surface to play on.  We have raised the height of cut as we prepare for impending winter so greens aren't summertime fast but they still roll smooth.  Our mowing schedule on everything has slowed and we will only mow a couple more times on fairways and tees.  This is the time of year when we try to go easy on the grass to allow it to go into winter as healthy as possible.

One nuisance you have probably noticed this fall is the worm castings, but there is not much that can be done to prevent them.  This year they seem to be particularly bad perhaps because of the recent rains.   We hate them as much as you because they are unsightly and gum up our mowers but usually it is a short-term problem.  They are really active for about 2-4 weeks, but this cold snap should start sending them down in the soil as they too prepare for winter.

Below is a picture taken after the cross country meet showing the impact of hundreds of runners on the turf.  I show this not because I am upset about it but it is a good way of showing what golf carts, mowers and golfers do to turf.  This picture illustrates it better because the traffic is concentrated in one area and at one time, but the same compaction is occurring all week every week during the season.  I know golfers get tired of the mess associated with aerification but this is why we aerate so often-to counteract the subtle stress turf sustains due to traffic of all kinds.

Again this fall you have seen these rectangular spray strips.  We are once again trying some different rates and timing of Roundup application in hopes of controlling Poa annua.  You might wonder why we have done these trials in various areas and not just in a single fairway.  We want to test our applications under various conditions of soil types, traffic, and soil moisture to see if there is differences.  Also each area will have different percentages of bluegrass vs. rye so we can see how much injury occurs to each type of turf.  And finally Poa has many different varieties within its species so we want to see if one type is affected more than others.  Each area treated will have differing types and abundance of poa plants.

Monday, September 11, 2017


Say it every year but man September is just perfect here in Nebraska.  And the golf course is enjoying the last days of summer.  This is the time of year when superintendents can catch their breath a bit and enjoy the fruits of their labors.  The weather, the shortening days, and the turf growth habit come together to make the course as good as it gets.
It has been another great season here at Wild Horse and we hope you can make it out a couple more times before the snow flies.  It is indeed glorious out there today with the emerald green fairways surrounded by the purple and orange hues of the native grass roughs.  Makes for some inspiring golf.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Aeration Schedule

Hard to believe but we are on the downhill side of summer which means aeration will soon be taking place.

We will start poking fairways on August 13.  We usually try to do 3 or 4 fairways per day and get done as quickly as possible-probably by August 16.  We try to get cleaned up as quickly as weather allows- the plugs must be dry to start dragging and blowing them.  If you play those days there will probably be 1 or 2 holes that you encounter full cores that haven't been broken up.  We appreciate you patience with this process.

August 28-29--Greens Surrounds.  9 per day

Sept 5-6--Tees

October 2-3--Greens with small tines similar to last fall.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dog Days of Summer

It is now the height of golf season as July is the month with the highest number of rounds played at Wild Horse.  But it is probably the worst conditions for growing grass as high temperatures and ample humidity can cause turf to suffer.  We have not been lucky enough to catch any rains recently so the rough and edges of fairways are starting to brown off quickly.  Our efforts to keep irrigation out of the rough is readily apparent now as the first cut beyond the fairways is brown and crispy.  Below is a good example of where irrigation is and where it isn't.  There are still some areas that receive some irrigation overspray but without rain even those areas are becoming parched.   This is definitely makes finding and hitting balls from the rough much easier but the "look' of the fairways may not be as consistent due to a few brown spots here and there.  But all in all the course is holding up well and golfing conditions are great.

I posted a video of this critter on twitter about a week ago under the caption of "Omaha rattler".  Every year we have one or two people swear they saw a rattlesnake.  Not to say it couldn't happen but most of the time they are probably seeing this critter-a hognose snake.  It very much looks like a rattlesnake from its markings and its diamond shaped head.  It will even twitch it's tail rapidly which  can look and sound almost like a rattlesnake. These guys are generally pretty timid although this one was a bit feisty.  I attribute that to him being the largest  specimen I have seen.  Really a cool snake to have on the property-keeps you city folk on edge.  Ha!

Oh I barely recognize you with your haircut!  You can see we have knocked down some areas of rough similarly to last year. You can read about why we do so in a previous post on rough management called Gnarly "Wooga"

Friday, June 23, 2017

Got a Leak?

That's the question we get most times when someone sees us doing a project like this.  No, not a leak- we are just making work for ourselves by moving sprinklers around to 1) get better coverage on turf and/or 2) limit the amount of overspray into the rough.  We have probably done nearly 40 of these over the past few years as we try to maximize our irrigation efficiency by placing the heads in just the right spots.  Also we cannot completely eliminate irrigation overspray into the native areas but we have made significant progress over the years in minimizing the amount of irrigation spraying into the rough.  It is little projects like this that can make incremental improvements to the course in the long term.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Poa control

Revisiting the test strips we talked about earlier this year  http://whgcturf.blogspot.com/2017/03/test-strips.html.  This picture clearly illustrates the spray path that we took last fall.  Outside of this pattern you can see the abundance of Poa seedheads (whitish splotches).  So it sure looks like we might be on to something with Poa control using Roundup.  We will once again pick some spots to attack again late summer and early fall and hope we can achieve great control like you see in the rectangle below.