#12 @ Wild Horse

#12 @ Wild Horse

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Irrigation Driven Sump Pump

We have been wanting to improve the drainage in front of 6 green for several years.  During large rains our "French drain" sump fills with water and must be pumped out with a transfer pump.  In an ideal situation electricity would be available somewhere close and a simple electric sump pump could be hung in the catch basin.  But this area on 6 fairway is not near electricity so instead we used unique system developed by Turfdrain that allows us to move water without electric power.  In this application, irrigation water is run through a siphoning valve that then sucks the water out of the sump and pumps it through the outlet pipe.

This first picture shows the excavation of the old gravel fill sump.  This was complicated by the water still in the sump and the caving of the banks but Richeson Irrigation dug us a nice hole.


Here you see the new catch basin draped in erosion cloth to prevent contamination.  To the right is the 1" line that ties into the irrigation system.  To the left is the outlet piping that will carry the water up and over the hill to the east.  As you can see we backfilled with sand which should move water better into the sump and not get as clogged with sediment like the previous gravel layer.


The project nearly complete-just waiting for the sod..

 
Finally here is the working parts of the system.  You can see the float ball that will automatically open the siphon valve when water reaches a certain level in the catch basin.


We have been pondering doing this sump (which almost always holds water after any large rain event) for some time now and we are quite excited to have this really cool system installed and ready for the next thunderstorm.  Kudos to my crew that knocked this out in a day.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

More Accolades

Recently Wild Horse received some more accolades that can be seen at the following links.

golfdigest.com/gallery/americas-100-greatest-public-courses-ranking

https://www.nebraskagolf.org/top-10-you-can-play-in-nebraska/

It is an honor to be highly thought of by these sources and others that have included us in their best golf courses listings.

So how does a course get into such lists and what role does maintenance play in that regard?  Each publication or panel of raters has criteria for rating courses and most of it is based on the design of the golf holes and how they challenge the golfer.  Criteria can vary from one source to the next which can account for the differences in course rankings from one list to another.  As with all rankings there is the subjectivity of each rater that can make the difference between being 56 or 78, but that really doesn't matter much.  If Wild Horse is included in these lists it must generally be a highly regarded course among the best in the state and nation.

At the stockholder meeting this year I talked about what I feel the maintenance team's role in this ranking game is.  We are the coach that hopefully maximizes the "talent" of the course.  Wild Horse is a great design with variety, strategy, and fits well into our prairie landscape.  So we have plenty of "talent" to work with.  Then we try to maximize the golfers' experience by providing great playing conditions that contribute to the design of the course.   For example the greens and fairways have some slope to them but are not overly severe.  Therefore we try to maximize those slopes and run-up areas around greens by keeping them firm and fast as possible. 

Along with playing conditions, we strive to keep the architectural merits of the course relevant and intact.  What exactly does that mean?  That means keeping bunkering looking as intended by maintaining the "blowout" look.  It means keeping mow lines in their place.  It means examining teeing areas and adjusting if necessary to weather conditions and/or player capabilities.  It means managing the native vegetation and topography to visually accentuate the golf holes.  Some of these things probably are not consciously recognized by most golfers, but together these things create a product that subconsciously "feels right" to the player.  Then when they are done with their round they say that was fun. 

We hope that our work solidifies each golfers' perception of Wild Horse as a top-notch facility-one that they want to return to often. That's what we are trying to accomplish.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Greens aeration update

We have poked holes in all the greens during the cruddy weather we have been having the past few days. It hasn't been pleasant to work in but it is great timing because we aren't in your way and you aren't in ours.  We hope to get our topdressing out Monday if we don't get too much snow tonight.  Then we hope for some warm weather to help greens heal up quickly.

Even though we see it often, it is truly amazing how quickly and easily new roots find these channels in the soil.  The new roots love the freeway without compaction and water and air are readily available. 
As most of you know we are seemingly always poking holes but there is really no substitute for this critical practice if you want to maintain high quality turf.   We realize it can be an inconvenience for you playing the game but we try to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible.  And the week of less than ideal playing conditions pays off in a season long stretch of great conditions coming in the months ahead.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Course Update April 2017

It has been a warm April and the course is looking pretty good for this time of year.  We are starting to wrap up aerification with fairways and surrounds done.  We had planned to do greens this coming week but the weather looks not promising so we will postpone greens aeration until May 1 and 2.

Greens are looking good right now and we have heard some "slow" comments about them.  True they are not down to midseason height yet but we like to give them until after aeration before we shave them down.  This is for two reasons-- the higher height of cut will help them heal faster from aeration and also aids in root development now.  Once we get down to summer height, root development will be limited by less leaf surface.  Leaf surface area has a strong correlation to rooting depth.  For example a 3 inch high lawn will have about 3X the root mass of a 1 inch lawn. So we use this time in April to build up a root mass to help us through the summer months.

This is a busy time with aerification, fertilizer apps, pre-emergent weed control, and  root disease control to do right now.  We always consider this time fame in April as the setup window for all the good that is to come this summer.  We are excited about where the course is right now and are looking forward to a great season


Monday, March 27, 2017

Aerification Schedule

It's that time of year again! 

April 3-14  Fairways doing 1 or 2 holes per day weather permitting

April 17-18  Greens surrounds

April 24-25  Greens- 3/8" solid tines.  Same size as last year no cores pulled.

May 8-9  Tees


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.