#12 @ Wild Horse

#12 @ Wild Horse

Friday, March 24, 2017

Test Strips

     Ouch that looks bad!  What is going on here?  We did some experimenting last fall in an attempt to find a cheap way to knock out Poa annua.   This is glyphosate (Roundup) applied at light rates.  We were confident the glyphosate application would not harm the bluegrass enough to cause damage but we were hoping to find the rate that would kill poa and not the ryegrass also.   The green rectangle you see above is one rate and the diagonal line that looks worse is 2x that rate.  As you can see the 2x rate caused some damage to the ryegrass but that strip should respond quickly when the remaining bluegrass starts to grow.  The picture below shows a 4x rate that we tried to see if we could get better poa kill and maintain some of the good grasses.  This area was predominately poa and ryegrass so it took this application pretty hard.   It looks like this is too much, but you never know until you try.  There are still a few remaining bluegrass plants  that should hold it together but we will be reseeding this strip this spring.  The jury is still out on how much poa we killed.  Many times it will look dead but come back.  By mid summer we should see what we gained from this type of poa control strategy.

So why would we take the risk of using glyphosate in an attempt to control poa?  There are two reasons.  First, the cost of light glyphosate treatment is next to nothing so it would be a huge cost improvement over the alternative we will discuss later.  Also poa has a tremendous diversity in its population so strictly using one control strategy tends to fail over time as resistant strains of poa can by selected.  By employing different strategies better overall control should be achieved which is Weed Resistance 101.

The picture below illustrates our preferred poa control strategy (although not our exclusive one).  The white splotches below are poa annua plants that are succumbing to our Prograss applications from last fall.   Pretty effective but the cost is nearly $450/acre so finding a cheaper alternative would be beneficial. 

Now you know why we have some odd looking strips scattered in fairways.  These are our test plots to evaluate poa control strategies.  Hopefully you see why we experimented last fall and although the strip on 17 fairway may not have worked as we hoped, we learned something in the process and might be able to dial in an effective rate for poa control in the future.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Ice Damage

Here's a picture from this winter in front of 6 green.  We had a deep line hydrant break and ran water into this sump and it froze as you see here.  This next picture is what that area looks like now.  It is pretty apparent that there is some ice damage that occurred around the edges of this frozen pond especially right up next to the path (just above my dog in the pic).  We rarely have ice damage in this climate but in other areas of the country it can be devastating if certain conditions exist.  The interesting thing is that you see the middle of the pond is undamaged because it was under water.  Apparently the grass was able to breathe enough under water but not under the ice cover near the edge of the pond.
This particular area has a large percentage of rye because it is chronically wet and receives a lot of traffic from carts as they exit the fairway.  Both of those conditions favor ryegrass over bluegrass, but ryegrass is much more susceptible to ice damage than bluegrass.  So this is an interesting turfgrass ecology lesson as each species finds its niche in certain microenvironments on the course.  If you look closely at other low areas that might hold water and ice during the winter you will see that they are almost purely bluegrass since over the years the rye has been killed by ice. This area will probably receive some seed in a couple of weeks and recovery should happen fairly quickly because there are some surviving bluegrass plants that should fill in the voids. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

My Profession

Really thought this video represented the golf course superintendent's profession very well.  Hope you enjoy.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Hot Cold

Well the worst possible weather situation has occurred again this past week.  Highs of 79 on the 21st down to a low of  1 degree on the night of the 24th.  As we talked about in a previous post  this is the type of situation you fear in February.  The warmer than normal temperatures wake the grass up and then whammy.  We will have to wait and see what kind of an effect this has on the turf.  In January there was a temperature swing from -20 to 60 in ten day span-a drastic swing for sure.  To put that into perspective that would be like going from 100 down to 20 in July.  That would be a shocker!!  Turf is able to withstand extremes like that in mid-winter because it is dormant but as we near March grass starts to break that dormancy due to higher sun angle, daylength, and temperatures.   This is when damage to the plant can occur as the crown starts to hydrate and then freezes during a quick cold snap.

Before this last week the turf was brown but there was lots of green ready to spring up.  We expect some slight damage from this cold snap but will wait to see the full extent. 

Warmer temps are on the way and we should be able to open the course Friday March 3 in the afternoon.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ball Roll Study

I attended an interesting session on greens trueness and measuring that parameter while at the Golf Industry Show.   For many years now golfers and superintendents (even though they won't admit) have been closely monitoring green speeds which has become somewhat of an evaluation critique of greens conditions.  Fast greens=good; slow greens=bad.  That really shouldn't be the end-all measure of a green.  In my mind a smooth, uninterrupted, straight-tracking roll of the ball is indicative of a good green.  This is referred to as the trueness of the green.  But how do you measure such?  Doug Linde from Delaware Valley University set out to find a way.   One method was simply to observe the ball roll and determine the number of hops and/or snaking action the ball made as it rolled.  There were obvious differences from one course to another as expected.  The other method of evaluating trueness was using a "putting device" similar to a stimpmeter to roll a ball from eight feet into a hole.  In that case 90-100% of the balls rolled "true" into the cup no matter which green they were on.  So that measurement could not statistically differentiate between greens like the visual assessment did.  Even after greens had been aerated 90% of the balls rolled into the cup with this device proving that a well struck putt will nearly always go into the hole no matter the green condition.  For comparison sake the average 10 handicapper will make 27% and the average pro will make over 60% of that same 8 foot putt.

So what do these studies prove?  First is that there is a difference in trueness of ball roll easily determined by the naked eye.  You have probably noticed that if you have played different courses.  We all strive to get that perfect billiard ball roll on a green but it may not happen.   However, the second study proved that even if ball roll isn't perfectly smooth, putts can still be consistently holed with the proper stroke. 

We have always prided ourselves on having the "truest" greens around and have felt that the golfers appreciated it.  The "eye test" certainly is important to the golfers evaluation of greens condition, but what may be more important is that no matter how "untrue" the ball roll appears it is still possible to putt it in the hole.   So next time you have to play on aerated greens remember that the most important aspect to making putts is a consistent stroke.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


The apocalypse might be near as I have joined Twitter.    I have always been hesitant to join Facebook,Twitter, Instagram and other social media, just because so much information on it is useless.  But I also realize that there is a lot of great information that can be valuable to me and others. I hope to use it to give updates on course conditions here at Wild Horse and also highlight other golf related topics.  So follow me @Josh Mahar5 to get some what I hope is useful info! 

Warm Weather

Amazing stretch of weather we are having.  What does that mean for the golf course?  It is always scary to have big warmups in February because the turf can start to grow and then you can get a major cold snap.  These wide swings in temperature during dormancy break can be potentially dangerous, but it appears there are no below zero type arctic chills ahead in the near future.  Also the ground is thawing and there is adequate moisture to avoid desiccation.  So this unseasonal weather isn't scaring me as much as it could in other years.  We have been watering greens with our deep-line system just to be safe, and they appear in good shape as of now.

Crazy as it seems, we are likely to start charging up the regular irrigation system today.  That will be one of the earliest charge-ups ever.  There was a year we irrigated on February 10.  Unfortunately it was  necessary to blowout again, but the turf was extremely dry that winter and needed irrigation badly.  We are not in dire need of irrigation right now, but it looks like by next week if this trend continues our turf might need a drink so we will be ready.

We have considered opening the course early on a limited basis but at this point we are sticking with our normal March 1 opening date.

Enjoy this spring-like weather and hope it gets you in the mood for golf.