#12 @ Wild Horse

#12 @ Wild Horse

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Whats up with those fairways?

We have continued maintenance as usual with a few modifications to keep ourselves and crew safe during the coronavirus pandemic.  But for the most part the on-course activities have been proceeding as normal.

Aerification is nearly complete with only tee boxes left to do.  We just finished up greens and will be topdressing them tomorrow.  They are in good shape and we expect them to heal quickly and then we will start to focus on putting quality in about ten days.

The course looks pretty good for the most part except for a couple of fairways notably #12 and #14.  These were treated aggressively last fall to remove Poa annua.  It worked well and much of the Poa was killed leaving some voids and overall thinning.  These treatments however can be pretty hard on our "good" grasses particularly bluegrass and that is showing up now with thinning and delayed green-up.  Other fairways that were treated 5, 6, 7, 17 also show signs of thinning but not to the extent that is occurring on 12 and 14.  These fairways were looking pretty good early this spring but the couple really hard freezes late in the year definitely took their toll.  We did do some seeding on the very worst spots and will really push the thin areas with fertilizer to help them thicken up.  We expect these areas to really respond as temperatures warm and will see noticeable improvement in the next month.  By June 1 these fairways should be very nice and pretty much poa free.  These pictures illustrate the difference in green-up in #16 fairway (untreated) and #14 fairway (treated)

Here is another shot of the thinning and slow development on #14.  So while it may not look the greatest right now the long term benefit of keeping the Poa population in check is our goal with these treatments.

Friday, March 20, 2020


I just finished testing PVC fittings to install in our cups to keep the ball from bottoming out in the cups so golfers won't have to touch the flagstick or the cup.   Did I just type that?  Weird as that would have seemed a month ago that is where we are at.

So what does this situation mean for Wild Horse maintenance specifically?  Well first and foremost is we want to allow use of the facility, but our concern is for the health of our customers and staff.  Don Graham, GM, has outlined our modifications to the clubhouse use and food and beverage service in an email to our customers, but we will talk here specifically about what will happen on course.

As mentioned in the opening line, we will be installing a pvc irrigation fitting into the cup so your ball will come to rest partially in the cup.  Players should avoid removing or touching the flagstick at this time.  Also carefully remove your golf ball avoiding touching the cup.
Rakes will be removed from bunkers to avoid touch point contamination.  Smooth bunkers with your feet or club.
Course bathrooms have not been opened for the year yet and will remain closed.
Water coolers and water fountains have not been implemented yet this year and will not be for the time being.

We are still about two weeks away from starting to mow, aerate, etc. on a regular basis.  That is generally when we bring extra staff on.  We will continue to monitor the situation and decide at that time if it is prudent to do so.  If not, Todd Bubak, assistant superintendent, and myself will handle any and all necessary duties at that time.  What does that mean?  Probably no aeration, limited bunker raking, limited changes in course set-up, and a concentration on basic mowing practices.

Again the situation is very fluid and can change overnight so we will try to keep you updated on what is happening out here, but we hope you can come out and enjoy golf and some quiet time at Wild Horse.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Snow mold

Here is something we rarely see out here at Wild Horse.  This is snow mold-a fungus that attacks turf under snow cover.  These spots are on the back of 15 green.

So why do we not see this more often?  Well the most likely reason is that we rarely have snow piled up on greens for an extended period of time.  Secondly the turf must be somewhat active as it was in late November when we received this snow.  Usually snow falls later in the winter when the turf has hardened off leaving very little green leaf tissue for the snow mold to infect.  These spots are amazingly circular and will show up for awhile but the grass should be able to grow out of it in time.  Snow mold can be controlled by applying fungicide in late November and we used to apply, but decided several years ago that it was just not necessary as snow mold pressure is very light during most winters. 

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.