#12 @ Wild Horse

#12 @ Wild Horse

Friday, February 21, 2020

Opening Day

Opening day is still a few weeks away but its now within sight.  As stated in the last post we have moved the annual opening date from March 1 to March 15.  We did this because in most years the course really wasn't ready to open until later than March 1.  We will always be assessing the situation and will open earlier if conditions (both turf and weather) warrant.  As far as this year is concerned, it appears that the turf should be in relatively decent shape to handle some early traffic.  So weather in the next couple weeks will be the determining factor in when we open.   This is a way too early prediction but I would not be surprised to open on March 7, but stay tuned for the latest.

The past couple of years have really been great as far as turf conditions are concerned.  Good winters and timely rains have definitely helped us out.  Much of our routine will remain similar to years' prior, but a couple new tweaks will be tried to address some minor issues.  1)  Goosegrass has become more and more prevalent, probably due to extended warmer, wetter summers so we will utilize a different preemergent in some areas to address this increased weed pressure.  2)  Grub control has been a little sporadic the past couple years so we plan to use a different insecticide in some of the higher population areas.  3) We continue to expand the use of PGRs (plant growth regulators) both in areas covered and frequency of use.  When Wild Horse opened we would treat only greens, but we have over time developed programs for surrounds and fairways to take advantage of the decreased shoot growth, density, and disease suppression that PGRs offer.  All in all, turf under PGR is a better playing surface. 4)  Continued emphasis on maintaining the "wooga" in a playable but healthy and dynamic prairie sward through burning and different mowing regimes.  Look for weird mowing patterns or timing.  You will probably say why did they mow it that way?  but prairie management is at its best when it is random in intensity and timing.  5) We will be topdressing surrounds more regularly to create a surface more similar to the greens.  The turf conversion from bent to blue/ryegrass has improved the bounce and feel of the surrounds but we hope to make it even better with a more consistent topdressing program.  6)  Some treatments (last fall) to repel earthworms looked to be beneficial and we will continue to explore those this spring.

The spring aeration schedule is as follows:
Fairways-  April 6-17 (1-3 holes/day)
Surrounds- April 20-21
Greens-      April 27-28  (solid needle tines-same as last fall and last spring)
Tees-        May 11-12

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Winter update

It's been awhile since I have posted anything here partly because fall flew by and partly because I thought "who reads this s____ anyway?"  Apparently there are a couple others besides my mom so it is time to get back to keeping  you informed on the goings on here at Wild Horse maintenance.

October was very chilly and we even dropped below zero in October which really slammed the door on the season.  The turf browned off considerably and I thought uh-oh it could be one of those tough winters.   But December was relatively mild and the turf is looking pretty good at the halfway point of winter.  We have had some moisture through snow and rain which has been beneficial.  Below are the wind-whipped drifts left behind after the late December snowstorm.

Todd Bubak continues to prep our equipment for the summer season.  Each cutting unit is disassembled and checked for any repairs necessary.  Then they are ground (sharpened) and  reassembled.  This is a necessary task but it can be a bit tedious and time consuming considering we have 36 cutting units to service most years.  So if you ask what do we do during the winter?  Servicing equipment is our main task and while we don't have a large fleet it definitely keeps us busy.

Before we moved into the shop for the winter work, Todd was able to build a new cart path up to and around 5 green which will be put into play this spring.  This will eliminate the traffic in front of six tee making that a more safe situation.   Also the flow of carts should be better with less congestion near the bathrooms.  We are also in the process of adding gravel to paths to keep them in good condition.

Opening date this spring will be March 15 (not March 1).  We felt this was a better timetable to put traffic onto the course.  If conditions warrant we will allow play before that time.

August 15 Update

Maintenance Update August 15, 2019

Summer is starting to fade away which means aerification season is just ahead.  The schedule follows:

August 18-22 Fairways

August 26-27  Greens surrounds

September 4-5 Tees

October 14-15  Greens (same as we have been doing with small ¼” tines)

This schedule is pretty much the same as we have done previously so you can expect similar conditions as last year.

Everyone keeps telling me how easy it must be this summer with all the rain.  Well we haven’t ran much irrigation but that hasn’t decreased the workload any.  The heavy rains have kept us busy fixing cart paths and bunker washouts.  It may look like everything is fine once you arrive, but the crew has been busy putting the place back together.  The rain and continued wetness have also increased disease pressure but we are trying to weather that storm until better drier weather arrives.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Maintenance update July 6

Summer just keeps rolling along and I apologize for not doing an update in June.  Days are flying by and we have already arrived at Member-Guest weekend.  This has become a very popular tournament and we always hope to have the course peak at this time.  It is good timing for that as the heat of summer hasn’t taken a toll on the turf and the wooga is shining with wildflowers.  This year’s participants will find some receptive greens as recent rains have kept the greens softer than usual, but they are still rolling nicely.  We don’t do too much different for the event other than a double cut Saturday and maybe another roll on Sunday just to get them rolling a foot faster than our normal green speed. 

Our normal summer routine for mowing is greens daily, tees and collars 2x/week, and fairways 2-3x/week.  Traps are raked usually on Monday and Friday unless rain necessitates more attention.  Add in weekly rough mowing, and this keeps the crew of 7 part timers busy mowing away.  They get a lot done in short order and I am thankful for their help.

I mentioned the wooga and the abundance of wildflowers earlier and it has been a stellar year for spiderwort and larkspur shown below.  We have mowed a couple more passes around the fairways to try to keep those areas more playable and we will begin mowing more rough this week and continue through July to keep the “wooga” in check with all this rain.

Speaking of rain we have had a lot.  Only irrigated two nights in June (other than watering in product).  This has been a blessing (reduced irrigation demands) and a curse (increased workload fixing bunker and cart path washouts).  The turf looks great now but I am expecting more root diseases as we enter the summer season due to the constantly waterlogged soil we have experienced in May and June.  Brown Patch (shown below) while not a soil borne pathogen has already shown itself on ryegrass in collars and I think that has been due to the excessive moisture we have seen lately.  In other words the course looks as good now as it will for a couple of months until we head into fall.   That being said we still expect great golfing conditions coming up this summer.  Hope you can get out to the Horse and enjoy.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Update May 8, 2019

We have punched holes in greens this week and now are waiting to topdress.  Probably going to happen next week considering the wet weather.  Again this spring we used small star and ¼” solid tines to aerate greens.  This combo gives us numerous holes for water percolation and root growth but disrupts the surface very little.  Putting quality is still pretty good and will quickly return to normal in about 10 days.  We are quite pleased with the greens condition right now with good root development and healthy turf.  The height of cut continues to go down and we are nearing normal mowing heights.  That coupled with increased rolling should get the greens putting well by late next week.

May is the time when the turf really starts to move-not much happens in April.  As you have probably seen there are some seedlings up in the winterkilled areas.  Warm temperatures should get them moving along better in the next couple of weeks.  As is normal in the spring, soil temperatures have been at the bare minimum to germinate seed so we are happy to see what we have so far, but more seedlings should be emerging soon and development will continue.  This should help those thin fairway spots fill more quickly. 

We will be trying a couple of new Poa annua control products on certain areas of some fairways so expect to see some discoloration or thinning in the next month in those areas.  The rest of the fairways and surrounds are starting to look better every day with density and color starting to really shine.

The prescribed burn was executed on April 8 on a large portion of the perimeter of the course.  Only the areas around 10, 11, 14 were left unburned due to an unfavorable wind.  The rough has been a little bit delayed this year with the cooler temps, but expect thick gnarly wooga due to the ample soil moisture available this spring.

I am still trying to find a good time for the first course tour of the year so stay tuned for date and time for that.

Expect the course to start to come together in the next couple of weeks.

 Jmahar@live.com with questions or comments.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Aerification Changes

Quick update on the aerification schedule that has been altered by the snow.  The surrounds aerification scheduled for this week has been postponed until next Monday 22 and Tuesday 23.  That will require us to move tee aerification into May 13-14.  Greens aerification remains set for May 6 and 7.

Much of the snow has melted but huge piles remain in some areas.  We are working on clearing paths to expedite getting back out on the course.  We are hoping to get back to golf on Thursday (18th) as the high school tournament is scheduled for that date.  If we are able to get back to golf before that we will let you know as soon as we know.

Thursday, April 11, 2019


You are probably sitting around surfing the net, watching it snow, peeking in on the Masters, and maybe wondering what's up at Wild Horse.  The wind and drifts are for sure-8" for us so no golf for awhile.  We will let you know when golf can be expected once we can assess the situation.  Turf areas will clear quickly but paths will be drifted so walking might be necessary for some time.

So what does the snow mean for us?  A definite change in the aerification schedule will be necessary and we will let you know those adjustments when we know.

We worked diligently to finish up fairway aerification and the burn this week before the storm.  Some have asked if that is all the burn and yes it is.  We wanted to get all of the perimeter done but that takes a perfect day to accomplish.  An unfavorable wind prevented us from burning around 10, 11, and 14.  Also our crew was wearing down and we didn't want to make a mistake.  We have started burning every other year rather than on a 3 year schedule.  Such as that is, it is not imperative to get all areas burned each year as we can pick up some the next year.  A huge thanks to my crew for their efforts each year to help manage the rough.

The ice damage that we have discussed prior is becoming more apparent as the turf greens up.  Whenever you incur damage it is sometimes difficult to determine whether it is best to "sow it or grow it".  It is always best in my opinion to grow it if you have enough surviving plants.  Why?  Because those viable plants will be at least 4-6 weeks ahead of any seedlings that you germinate so there is a huge time advantage by "growing it".  That means maximizing growth through extra fertility and limited mowing.  Many of our areas like those seen below fall into this category where there are enough surviving bluegrass plants that can fill in to achieve a desirable turf by the end of May.  There are fewer areas that incurred complete kills and will be seeded as soon as soil temperatures warm.  Those areas will take longer to achieve the density we want but expect them to be complete by the end of June.

A huge inconvenience to you and your game and our mowers is the escalating worm activity seen below.  Unfortunately there is no legal chemical control for earthworms.  There has been much research on cultural practices that reduce activity but no quantitative results have been achieved.  Recently though some products containing saponins derived from mowrah meal, green tea leaves, or seaweed have shown effectiveness at repelling earthworms.  We have purchased some of these products and are waiting for a warm spring rain to apply them.  Hopefully they work well for us and we can start cleaning up our greens and collars.

Enjoy your Masters weekend.