#12 @ Wild Horse

#12 @ Wild Horse

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Early Winter Arrival

December 11--I thought that at the start of November the course was as green as it ever had been at that time, but by the end of November it was as brown as it had ever been.  It has been a dry, erratic start to the winter and we have already started to water greens with our deep line irrigation system.  It remains to be seen how the rest of the winter will go but some moisture from above would be welcome for sure.

First picture shows the cracking in the greens that is already occurring.  The second picture illustrates just how brown it is already.  Usually, this is what it looks like in February.  Hopefully we will get some snowcover soon.  
You can see the cover on the knob in the top right corner of the previous picture.  The cold weather froze up the greens before we could get covers out, but the recent warm spell has allowed us to get some of the covers out on our most exposed hills.

November 17--- I guess winter made its arrival early!  WOW!! it has been frigid.  Luckily we were able to blow out the irrigation system in a mad scramble just before the cold snap.  How this abrupt change in temps affect the turf remains to be seen.  Grasses have an amazing ability to physiologically ready themselves for winter and freezing temperatures.  Daylength and lower temperatures stimulate changes in the sugar content of the leaf making it more similar to the antifreeze found in your car's radiator.  Temperatures as radical as we just encountered will certainly test a plant's winter survival mechanisms!

October was a beautiful month and we were able to continue progress on the greens' surrounds transition to bluegrass/ryegrass.  There will be some small open voids of dead bentgrass come next spring but they should continue to fill quickly. Overall we are extremely pleased with the establishment of new turf species in the approaches.

Hope you all checked out the new aerial videos of the course.  We think it looks fantastic and are looking forward to next years golf season.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


September 23--
Here are some pics illustrating the effect of Tenacity on the bentgrass in our greens surrounds.  The first picture is showing 17 colllar which has a very high population of bentgrass as is shown by the consistent white color throughout.  The green strip is where I ran a strip of Tenacity (2nd application) last year.  It shows much more blue/ryegrass as more bent was killed last year.

The second picture is around 18 green.  You can see the grass right around the green surface is much darker indicating more rye/blue and less bent.  Why would that be?  That area receives a tremendous amount of traffic due to mower turnarounds (both greens and collar mowers).  The ryegrass handles the extra traffic much better than the bent and is outcompeting it and becoming more dominant in the stand.  This started occuring when we began overseeding ryegrass 3 or 4 years ago but was hastened by last year's Tenacity application.

The last picture is a closeup of what is happening within the turf on the collars.  The darker lines are the overseeded bluegrass from last year.  In between those lines is the dying bentgrass.  Harder to see are the smaller seedlings from this years overseeding which will help fill the void of dead bentgrass.

2013 Tenacity Application
Here is that same area in the first picture above from the prior year.  Notice the stripe of ryegrass.

We have talked alot about the transition of grass types on our greens surrounds.  These two pictures illustrate how the chemical applications we made this fall are helping us accomplish that.  The dark stripe you see is where I took the spot sprayer and made a second application of Tenacity in a month.  What you see is a predominance of ryegrass where we removed more bentgrass with that second app.  As we have discussed before we wanted to do a second application this fall, but we didn't feel comfortable doing that on a large scale.  That stripe looks good but what you cant see is the ryegrass is pretty thin in that strip and would affect playability.  So we decided to go conservatively this year but can get more aggressive in future years.  The second picture shows a similar chemical application from last year.  Again you see the darker ryegrass dominating in that stripe.  While color is not the reason for choosing rye/bluegrass over bentgrass you can see it is an added benefit of switching grass types.

You surely have noticed the whitening of some areas of certain fairways if you have been out lately.  This is again the work of the chemical Tenacity.  On #14, 15, 16, and 17 fairways we sprayed some large areas of the fairway that had numerous bentgrass patches. You can also see several splotches throughout the course where we have targeted bentgrass by spot spraying isolated patches.  The applications made to  #1, 3, 10 and 18 are a bit different in their purpose.  We are always looking for new or better ways to keep our fairways pure and this is a test to see what rate and/or timing of Tenacity might be most effective on Poa and rough bluegrass.  Just as was the case with the surrounds, these areas will be pretty stark for awhile but will gradually green back up  and we can assess how much of the unwanted grass was removed.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Irrigation Management

August 17 --July turned out to be the driest on record with a scant .25" here at the course.  Luckily the temperatures were moderate and the turf fared pretty well.  We received an inch and half of rain last week which helped alleviate some of the browning of the hills and fairway edges.  Many people do not like that off color of the turf, but if little rain falls for a month and there is no browning of certain spots on the course, then overwatering is occurring.  We are constantly monitoring soil moisture levels and eyeballing to the turf to make daily adjustments to our irrigation regime.  We strive to provide the turf with enough moisture to stay healthy without overdoing it- a happy medium I guess you might say.  However some spots don't receive great irrigation coverage and will go dormant which is ok.  Bluegrass is expecially drought tolerant and will rebound nicely once it receives rain or extra irrigation.  
However there are some problems with keeping turf on the drier side as shown below.

As you can see here cart traffic is especially damaging to turf under drought stress.  This happens more on a hot days but can happen anytime but the damage is usually less apparent.  This picture shows damage from a couple weeks ago when we had irrigation motor issues and were not able to water all of the course for a couple of days.  Luckily, as I stated before, the bluegrass is especially adept at going into dormancy and surviving such stresses but it does look unsightly for awhile. 

Here is an interesting picture that illustrates how we try to maintain just the right soil moisture.  What you see here is a low spot in 3 fairway.  You would naturally think that this spot should be wetter than the surrounding area since it is a large bowl.  So why is it showing drought stress?  Those two circle you can see are grates over french drains that were installed during construction.  Basically, a large hole was excavated and filled with gravel and sand to drain rainwater away in this catch area.  So what you are seeing is the "sump" that has a coarser sand that holds less water than the surrounding soil.   Usually this browning will occur after a rainfall because we will withhold irrigation until the turf starts needing it. This is a good indicator that soil moisture is starting to be depleted and irrigation will be necessary soon.  A couple of irrigation cycles will replenish the soil moisture in the sump and it will recover but it is pretty odd to see the lowest spots on the course brown and everything else green.

Fall is just around the corner which means some upcoming aerification and overseeding.  This week we will be doing both to our surrounds and will once again be spraying Tenacity to alleviate bentgrass.  You can learn more about this process if you scroll down to last years posts about our "white grass"!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rough Management

This picture shows a couple of things I wanted to point out about the rough and its progression.  You can see our normal 1st cut of rough that we mow around the perimeter of the fairways at 3 inches, and then you see another cut at about 6".  Outside of that is unmown (you see the yellow bluegrass seedheads).  We have started to do this because of the thickness of the rough right outside of the 1st cut.  Try as we might to keep irrigation out of the rough we do get some overspray which leads to the problem mentioned above.  We hope this "graduated" rough is more fair and helps you find your errant shots a little easier.  

I mentioned in a previous post about how last year's drought really altered the composition of the rough.  The unwanted bluegrass unfortunately survived irrigation overspray occurs, but it died or was severely thinned in many unirrigated areas (which is tremendous).  In those places lots of new plants and grasses are thriving due to the reduced competition from the bluegrass.  You can see that on the right side of the above picture is nearly a uniform stand of bluegrass seedheaded out (irrigation overspray from a tee).  To the left is a mixture of native grasses and some weeds with very little bluegrass. 

This second picture shows a line in the middle of the frame where we burned previously on the right and never burned to the left.  The prairie on the left is nearly a monostand of bluegrass and smooth brome but the right shows more diversity in plant species and has a more open canopy.  So while you just know the rough to be a hazard in your golf game, we are continually trying to manage it for playability by opening up the canopy and decreasing the thick unforgiving bluegrass.  This also leads to more species diversity and a better prairie ecology.  To see that firsthand look to your left as you drive from 6 green up the hill to 7 tee.  There you will see some great needle and thread grasses with long wavy seedhead awns and some pretty orchid-like purple flowers called fringed coreopsis that are signs of a healthy Nebraska sandhills prairie.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Greens On Crack

Yes our greens cracked again this year as they do every year.  The cracking was probably even more severe because the frost went very deep into the soil.  The picture above is on the right corner of 11 green.  This crack actually heaves upward by about an inch every year but as the frost comes out of the ground it goes away.  Most cracks do not exhibit this heaving process but it illustrates that there must be some sort of mini-fault lines within the soil because the cracks return in the same places annually.  Most years the grass survives along the crack and it becomes unnoticeable once growth starts.  However during severe winters the exposure along those cracks can kill the grass leaving a noticeable browning for a month or two.