#12 @ Wild Horse

#12 @ Wild Horse

Friday, October 2, 2015

Greens and greens surrounds-what's going on?

Sorry for the lack of reports lately but here's an update on what's been going on.  Once again this fall we overseeded with bluegrass on the greens surrounds and then sprayed them with Tenacity.   The whitening of the turf is very apparent but if you noticed there was less "white" because we had removed most of the unwanted bentgrass last year.   The ryegrass will flash white but usually recovers as you are seeing right now.  Within a couple of years we have gone from 75% bentgrass to almost none.  The bluegrass /ryegrass mix is about 50/50 which is about as good as we could hope for.  So we are extremely pleased with that transition to the grass types we want and expect exceptional turf quality around the greens in the years to come.

Just around the corner (Oct. 5-7) we will be aerating greens with a 3/8 inch tine.  We will be pulling a core with this tine which doesn't mean much to you as the hole will still be the same size--not a large hole but it will affect putting quality some.   But we feel we need to get more aggressive with our greens aeration practices to reduce compaction and improve our root structure.  We will drag the cores to break them up and then topdress heavily on the 7th to fill in the holes.   We will be raising height of cut and reduce mowing frequency to help speed recovery before winter sets in.  But we will still roll the greens regularly to maintain speed and smoothness.  We have not pulled a core on greens  in several years so this is a major change in our greens management.  We expect to do the same process again in the spring and are anxious to see how much this helps our turf.  We expect better rooting, a slightly firmer surface, and better water infiltration which should lead to healthier more manageable greens.  The putting quality once healed should be as good as ever.

We have lots of chemical and fertilizer applications to ready the course for the winter and bunkers to work on this fall to keep us busy as mowing slows down.  In the next blog I will share some things we do to "put the course to bed."

Get out and get that last golf round in before the snow flies! 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Upcoming Aerification Schedule

Hard to believe but its coming up on aerification season again.  Here is our schedule for this fall.

Right now--Aug 3-6-  Fairways

August 24-25-  Overseeding (with bluegrass) greens surrounds.
This will be the last year we do this as we have established a good ryegrass/bluegrass blend on the collars.

August 26-27-- Greens surrounds

September 8-9 -- Tees

October 5-6--Greens
This will be different than previous years.  We will be pulling cores rather than just solid tineing.  They will be rather small (3/8inch)  so they can heal quickly before winter sets in.  We feel like our root zone is becoming compacted and the best way to relieve that is by removing cores.  We know that can be a pain for you the golfer but it is a practice that is necessary to maintain great greens through the summer.


Friday, July 24, 2015


There is not much "new" to report at Wild Horse as far as the course is concerned, but the announcement of our plans to build on-course lodging has obviously attracted a lot of attention.  We are excited to see this new venture break ground and can't wait to share it with the many travelling guests that find their way to Wild Horse.

Summertime can get to be a bit monotonous for the crew.  They have been mowing greens and fairways daily now for almost 4 months.  But I have to commend them for always showing up ready to give their best to make Wild Horse as good as possible for you.  Thanks to these crew members: Todd Bubak,  George Dillon, Tom Shoemaker, Ed Fruit, Steve Rodhouse, Riley Ostendorf, Drake Langley, Taylor Walker, and Cody Bebensee.

Most days we will have 7 guys including myself working.  About half of that crew will  mow in the morning and be done.  The rest will finish the rest of the day collecting trash, fixing irrigation, trimming bunkers, spraying weeds, raking traps, scraping cart paths, servicing equipment, and any other tasks we might need to do.  It is a pretty modest sized crew but we try to get as much done in a day as we can to keep up with everything.

We will be breaking up the monotony of the summer by aerating fairways starting August 2.  We will do as much as we can each day and hope to be done on the 5th.  Many people are surprised at how early we do this practice rather than waiting until the more traditional fall aeration period.   We do this for a couple of reasons.  One is that is does break up the grind of  the summer but that is not the main reason.  Our primary reason is that the fairways during late summer look like they need some fresh air.  The bluegrass starts to get chlorotic and the ryegrass thins due to the moist warm soils so we figure it a great time to try to give them some breathing room.  Also as we head into the middle of August the recovery time is very quick with holes disappearing within a week.  Another reason for aerating early is we can limit  Poa annua germination by spraying preemergent right after aeration.  Pulling cores and busting them up spreads plenty of Poa seeds around just in time for their favorite germination period of late summer/early fall.   But by aerating early in that window we can apply a preemergent barrier that won't be compromised by a later aeration.  And the final good reason to do an early fairway aeration is that the full crew is still aboard and we can finish this process in 3 or 4 days rather than over a period of a couple weeks.

I will post the rest of the fall aeration schedule shortly.  There are a couple of tweaks that will be different from years past so stay tuned.

Good Golfing!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Wooga Hay

If you have been out to Wild Horse this week you have seen our haying operation on some of the "wooga".   So what is the purpose of such operations?  Most of you will appreciate the easier search for balls and better chance for recovery from the rough and while that is a benefit of swathing, it is not the main priority.  The goal of haying is long-term health of the prairie that separates one hole from the next.   Our intention is to set back some of the warm season native grasses which should create  space for other forbs to prosper.  This is similar to what prescribed burning does in the spring to cool season grasses except during the summer the target is warm season grasses.  Grazing would be the best option to selectively thin grasses and create species diversity, but that isn't very feasible so we will use haying as an alternative that can reduce overall production and open up the canopy of the stand.
So why have we not done this before?  Our goal with our burn program that started 15 years ago was to reduce bluegrass and bromes while encouraging warm season native grasses.  Up until now we have not wanted to dissuade our native grasses but we feel like we have enough of those species that we can start limiting their production to maintain a good variety of cool and warm season grasses and also encourage more wildflowers and forbs. 
Our plan is to swath some areas now, others around the end of July, and a couple areas will get it both times.  We want to see the difference in intensity and timing and how it affects each area and what plants seem to respond best.  We will probably do this for a few years to see how the prairie responds during both wet and dry years.  Prairie evolved under fire and disturbance such as grazing so that is what we will try to simulate with our prescribed burns and haying operation.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Nursery Green

Here you see our nursery green that was so valuable this spring.  The first picture shows it as we were taking the last plugs out of it to repair our greens and the second is how it looks after we tilled, harrowed, seeded and cultipacked it.  We need to get a good start on growing it back just in case we need it next year.  I sure hope not! 
We were lucky that the nursery didn't have much winterkill and we were able to use most of the sod we had on it.  It usually winters well as it is protected down in a hollow east of the driving range.  As you know we seeded greens  a couple of times but we were glad to have sod available to fix up really damaged areas quickly and also to repair spots that didn't fare well with seedlings.  As mentioned in the last post it takes a lot of careful work to lay sod into greens because there is little margin for error or the sod will be scalped or too low.  Those patches take about three weeks to knit together so you can't see the seam lines.  Many have been in the ground about a week and a half so while you see many of them right now, within a week or two they will meld nicely with the rest of the green.
You can a see a small area in the far right corner of the second picture that is tilled up.  We are going to plant a couple new varieties of bentgrass there to see how they perform in our climate and management.  There continues to be improvements in bentgrass (and all grasses for that matter) with selective breeding  and we may at some point want to take advantage of those improvements.  So as the summer goes on we will also interseed into the chipping green with a newer variety to see how it performs and if we can establish it through interseeding into our present greens.  If our evaluation provides some good results we may start interseeding the rest of the greens in the future.  But that would be down the road a couple of years.  Years like this though make you consider all options to provide good putting greens and newer varieties may help do that in the future. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

What a difference a month makes!


This is 7 green on April 29 and May 29.  Sorry for the blurry pic but you can see the dramatic difference.  While there are still some blemishes the green looks much better!  At times during the recovery it seems like no progress is being made until you look back a week or even a month.  This shows how particularly bad our situation was.  When there is more dead than alive you have some serious issues!  

It has been a trying time from the disappointment of losing the greens to the struggle with weather difficulties during May but we think we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I appreciate the support and encouragement many of you have given and want to recognize all my crew for their hard work.  I want to give extra kudos to Taylor Walker who nearly single handedly sodded and patched most of our dead spots!  That is over 1000 sq. feet of sod and 4000 plugs!!!

 The greens have not made it all the way back to full recovery but each day we are seeing improvement and think within a couple of weeks we will be 95% healed (about 75% now).  The greens are still a bit shaggy and inconsistent but we are starting to manage them in a more normal manner now and the putting quality should improve in the next couple of weeks.

As for the rest of the course it is looking great.  I said we have 69 acres of great turf and 1 acre bad but it was the bad that was in the most important spots!  Just like you- we cant wait to get to that 70 acres of good!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Greens Progress Report

The greens continue to get better as they recover from winterkill.  We have seeded most areas a couple times to try to reestablish a strong population of plants.  In the worst areas we have sodded and patched with sod from our turf nursery.  We will continue to do that until all areas are healed.  But for the most part we just need time for the turf to grow back together.

 Progress has not been as quick as I or you have hoped but we are gaining.  Obviously the weather has been a factor in the slow recovery for a few reasons.  First we have had a couple of very intense rains this May that have washed away some seed and carried the topdressing away that protects the seedlings from drought and traffic.  Secondly, a late frost on May 12 hit our second round of seedlings pretty hard and injured or killed many of those.  Finally, as discussed in a prior post recovery from winterkill is most difficult just because of the cool soil temperatures and lack of consistent temperatures to promote growth.  That definitely has been the case this spring.

Most people wonder "When will the greens be back to normal?"  Next week they will be better and in two weeks better yet as incremental progress is made.  Within a couple of weeks many of the small blemishes will be grown together and greens will be decent.  As we move into June we will start to manage greens more like we normally do and by mid-late June they should be back to what you expect at Wild Horse.
We are working as hard as we can to get back to good conditions and appreciate your patience and also the encouragement many of you have given to me and my staff.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Greens Recovery

We finally started seeing some seedlings emerge last week from our seeding on April 14. (Notice the light green rows in the picture above).  It took about 6 or 7 days longer than normal due to the cold temperatures but we are glad to see some new grass.  Seeding in marginal soil temperatures usually leads to inconsistent stands which is what we are seeing.  In some places we have solid rows of grass in our verticut slits but other rows only show sporadic plants and then some rows have no plants.  We are not surprised by this because the longer the seed lays in the cold ground the less germination you tend to get.  But we did get some plants started early in the seeding window especially under the covers.  Then we went back into the spots that had washed the worst from the hard rain or had poor germination and seeded again on April 28.  We also seeded a few spots again today after deciding our stand was marginal.  We think these latest seedings will perform better now that soil temperatures are favorable.  So we have been doing everything possible to create a good seed bank for new plants to emerge and fill our voids.  Again once the seed comes up there are other perils that can harm new seedlings.  We have already seen a couple cold nights ding the leaf tips of some seedlings and a couple of areas look to have some disease affecting them.  So it is a long road to recovery but we are off and walking!

Phase two of the recovery process is patching isolated dead spots with sod from our nursery.  We have started this time-consuming process by concentrating our efforts in the cuppable areas.  Then we will go back around again and start patching seeded areas that didn't germinate well and just keep making the rounds until we have a complete green.  This phase will probably last all May as we tackle this tedious process as time allows.  We have a decent amount of sod available in our nursery so we will use as much as we can to create a playable surface the quickest.

Speaking of playability, as mentioned in the last post the putting quality is at its poorest right now but as the seedlings start to mature and the remaining plants creep into the voids, the surface will become more consistent in a couple of weeks and will continue to get better toward the end of the month.  By then the greens should be pretty decent with only isolated humps with thin grass.  I expect that by the middle to end of June all winter damaged greens will be completely healed.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Greens Seeding

We completed the greens seeding process last Tuesday and Wednesday.  We modified our verticut reels to cut a wider slit and then dropped the seed, verticut again, seeded again, and then dragged the seed in.  Then we finished by topdressing and dragging once more.  The goal is to create a seedbed that can germinate as many plants as possible to minimize recovery time.  Unfortunately the heavy rain we had the past few days may have moved some seed and it may be necessary to reseed some spots at a later date.  As I talked about last year when some of my colleagues suffered winterkill on their greens, recovery from winterkill on greens is the most challenging task in turf management.  First the bentgrass seed is about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.  So it can easily wash, dry out, smother, or blow away.  So just getting the seed to germinate is difficult.  Once that happens, the seedling is not very vigorous due to its small seed size -bigger seed means more energy stored in the seed to help it get going.  Then there is the problem of traffic from mowers and golfers so even once the seedling gets started it can be ripped out or damaged from traffic.  To mitigate some of these issues our greens management will be much different than usual.  First, we will water regularly during the day to keep the seed moist-it can only take a few minutes of drought at the crucial root extension stage to lose our little guys.  Secondly, we will minimize mowing as much as possible during the next 3-4 weeks while still attempting to keep a putting surface.  Finally all this must be done with temperatures that are marginal for seedling germination so maturation of the seedling takes much longer than you or I woulld like.  If the damage we incurred from the winter happened in July the recovery time would be about a third as long so patience is key.
It is readily apparent now what is alive and what is not compared to a couple of weeks ago.  The putting quality up to now has been OK but the greens in the next few of weeks will be more inconsistent as the dead grass recedes and the alive grass grows.  As the remaining live plants start to fill in and seedlings germinate and mature the surface will become more consistent but that may not happen until mid to late May with good weather.  We apologize for the inconvenience but are doing all we can to remedy the situation. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015


This video is outside the shop this AM.  Not too exciting but wanted to make sure I could get a video uploaded from my phone to this platform.  As most of you know this blog was contained within the Wild Horse Golf Course website under Superintendent News and will continue that way for awhile during the transition to this platform.  Once the transition is complete the tab will take you directly here to view the blog.  We think this version will be easier for us to post pictures and video which should provide you with more information.  Also more content will be stored and indexed to allow you to look back at previous posts.  Hope you enjoy the changes and continue to follow the maintenance team at Wild Horse. 

Winter Damage

Greens have greened up some more but many high exposed areas continue to struggle to get going.  The winter seems to have really set the turf back and I am amazed at how slow it has been to respond.  I brought some plugs into my office to see how they would respond in a warm environment.  


 You can see not all plants lived but probably 40% did make it, but they are barely poking their heads out as you can see if you look closely at the picture above.  So half dead is not good but I prefer to look at the bright side and it's better than all dead.  That gives us something to work with and should be enough to keep putting quality decent.
Below is a plug from good quality turf.   You can see how much better it is than the plug above.  It has some plant loss, but its overall vigor is much better than you see above for whatever reason.  That is why you see the blotchiness of the greens right now.  Some patches are lagging behind in their development, but should start to catch up in the next couple weeks.

Click for Options
So what do we do from here?  We will aggressively fertilize to stimulate growth and recovery from the surviving plants and then overseed around April 15 to bolster the population.  We will explain that process and its difficulties at a later date. Also we will be mowing at a higher height of cut and less frequently than normal so greens will be a bit slower than normal.  As the turf starts to recover we will focus more on putting quality and less on just growing grass, but that will be the priority for now.

We continue to aerate fairways and are nearly half done with that project.  They are looking pretty good so far and will get mowed for the first time this week.  Greens surrounds and tees have been a bit slower to get going but also will receive their first mowing this week.  Both of these areas look pretty good coming out of winter.  There are a few thin spots on approaches from last fall's bentgrass killing applications as expected but we are really pleased with how they are going to be once they start growing.    

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Greens Covers

March 28--We have placed some covers on the back of 2 green, 4 green and putting green to help those areas pop out of dormancy.  The covers should help keep soil temps up and trigger some growth.  These are some of our areas of most concern so we want to get the grass growing there for a couple of reasons.  First if the grass is alive it will get a head start on growing and getting healthier.  The greens in general are very weak and are not showing much vigor even in areas of protection where the stand is relatively intact. The other reason for covering is it should give us a better idea how much winterkill there is and thus give us a better idea on our remedy.  If need be we may utilize these covers through April in areas that need reseeded to hasten recovery.  I know it is a pain to play around these but we will try to keep them isolated away from hole locations.  They are temporary this spring and will help us recover much faster and get back to good greens sooner so we appreciate your understanding.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sprinkler Contest Winner

March 26--The number of sprinklers on the course is 663 by my count!!  The closest actual guess was by my mom (told you she read this) at 670 but I forgot to mention the legal disclaimer that employees of WH and immediate family are not eligible to win.  So the next closest guess was 575 by Jason Hines.  Congrats to Jason (maybe that will ease the pain of Kansas' tourney loss) and thanks to those who guessed. 
Thats a lot of sprinklers to keep track of and keeps us busy most of the year but especially so during spring startup.  These are larger sprinklers designed for 90 foot throws.  Many courses will have 70-75 foot throw sprinklers which means even more heads to keep in working order.

Our greens continue to struggle to wake up.  We will give them some fertilizer this week and also "paint" them with green dye.  Painting is becoming more popular on dormant greens down south but has been used in the northern tier for a variety of purposes.  We are doing it to darken the turf so it can absorb more sunshine and warm up.  Also it should make them look better until they start to grow more.
Last post I suggested the problem with our slow greenup was the last cold snap in February but now that I have assessed more areas it appears that the cold snap in early November is more likely the culprit.  The grass under our covered knobs looks a bit farther along than uncovered but it still shows the predominant patchiness that we are experiencing throught the green.  Those covers were put on after the rapid freeze in November suggesting that weather event had the most effect on our greens' winter survival.  If you look at the picture below you can see the patchiness of the green.  This patchiness is explained in a post below (October 31) about the varietal segregation.  For whatever reason some varieties handled the winter better than others.  Slowly most areas will catch up but as mentioned before we will wait and see how much damage actually occurred this winter.  This is a very strange year as far as spring greenup and winter survival. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Coming Out of Winter

March 22--Thanks for the guesses from those who took a stab at the number of sprinklers on the course (see post below).  I am going to give it 3 more days so if you want a shot get your entry in soon.

Here is a picture of our greens for those of you who haven't been out this spring.  Despite the nice weather they are taking a long time to green up.  Every day that passes makes me more nervous.  When you look closely there are still live plants in the brown areas but there are also some plants that didn't make it.  We are still in the wait and see mode to determine how much damage there will ultimately be but it is apparent that there is some winterkill.  As stated earlier, most of the greens will be OK but there will be some thin spots on knobs etc.  I was asked about the condition of the course at the recent stockholder meeting and gave a long-winded "I don't know".  I was taught never to say "I don't know" because it will make you look uninformed or disinterested, but when it comes to winter damage "I don't know" really is the best answer.  Despite my repeated observations of brown grass through the winter months, it really is tough to determine how the plant is doing and what it will look like come spring.  It is really a guess, an educated one, but still a guess.  My best guess for what happened this year was the warmup in early February shot soil temperatures into the mid-40s (especially on greens which heat and cool more quickly than fairways)  prompting the plant to start coming out of dormancy.  Then we had -6 and -1 lows at the end of February which really shocked the greens and they are slowly emerging from that. So we are hoping for continued good weather and more green in the future. 

Below you see a picture of the left edge of 17 fairway along the fairway bunker.  Notice this turf is splotchy.  Why?  This area receives quite a bit of cart traffic as people tend to drive along this edge as they round the corner here.  Cart traffic leads to stress which often isn't seen until extreme conditions like heat, cold, drought come into play.  Then stressed plants are injured or killed.  Also ryegrass handles cart traffic better than bluegrass so it is more predominant in this spot but if you remember from last winter, ryegrass tends to be less winter hardy.  So you can see stressed ryegrass was hurt by the winter.  Luckily there is some bluegrass here and some more stressed rye will green up (albeit later).  This spot may need some seeding but probably will be able to "catch up" on its own given a month.  I point this out to show that there are lots of smaller microclimates and situations that affect the turf population and its health throughout the course.  There are a wide range of edaphic conditions that affect turf performance such as topography (hill vs. valley), soil texture (sandy vs. clay), exposure (south vs. north facing slopes), traffic, etc.  These differences are most easily recognized now as the turf first starts to green up.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Course Opening

March 18--Now I know how many people actually read this blog.  Only 1!! ( probably 2 because my mom reads this too!)  That is how many guesses I have received for the number of sprinklers on the course from last weeks entry (see below).  I hope there are more people reading and just not guessing. Come on you always need more golf balls-give a guess!  Going to give it another week and then reveal the winner and number.
Warm weather has hastened the green up of the fairways but the greens are lagging behind.  That is due to the prolonged exposure this winter with no snow cover to speak of.  The plant tissue was totally dessicated down to the crown.  So the plant has to regenerate a whole new leaf which takes more time until you start seeing the green leaf tip emerge.  It was another tough winter (although not as bad as last year) but you can see the cumulative effect of cold, dry exposure on the plant and its ability to get going in the spring.  For the most part the greens look like they will be OK but there will be a few knobs with some thinning.  It can be tough to assess just how much yet because some of the plants are just starting to emerge from the crown- a testament to how tough they really are but scary knowing just how precarious their situation is during the winter.

March 10-- The course is open for play and the weather is great for early March so dust off your clubs and come on out.  The turf is still very brown but is starting to darken up and with these nice temps should be looking a bit greener by the weekend.  We get lots of  "when are you going to mow the greens?" questions this time of year and that all depends on the weather.  The best guess is around March 25 which is our average first mowing,  but if it stays warm it could be earlier.  One reason we don't mow too early is that our reel mowers need moisture in the leaf to lubricate the blades and reduce heat buildup.  If there is only brown tissue with no moisture, damage can occur to our freshly sharpened blades-definitely not what we want.  Also, the sand topdressing from last fall  can exacerbate that issue so we like to wait until we have some green in our greens before we mow.

The irrigation system has been charged and we are in the process of auditing it to reveal any problems caused by the blowout.  Sprinklers are designed to run with water, not air, so winterization can potentially damage them.  So we check each head in the spring for problems like non-rotation, busted nozzles, etc. to ensure efficient irrigation for the season.  Trivia question is how many sprinkler heads are on the entire course (including clubhouse lawn, practice area, and range)?  Email (address below) your guesses and I will reward the closest guess with a sleeve of balls.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Golf Industry Show

February  27--The weather will prevent the course from opening on March 1.  Looking at the forecast leads me to believe it might be March 7 or 8 weekend.  Stay tuned for an update.  The cold weather we have had recently is definitely not ideal for turf.  I don't mind 6 below in January nearly as much as March 1st but still think our turf is doing better than last year.  Now it is wait and see once spring arrives.

I just returned from the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio put on by the Golf Course Superintendents of America and the National Golf Course Owners Association.  It is a good sized trade show ranking 75th in size of all trades shows with about 17,000 attendees.  It includes educational sessions and a product trade show that illustrate how large and worldly the golf industry is.  I was particularly pleased with my education sessions this year that included information ranging from the business of golf to turf fertility to cutting unit performance and more.  There is a great breadth of seminars available that encompass all facets of golf operations. It is always exciting and thought provoking to attend such conferences and really motivates me for the upcoming season.
Technology was present everywhere you went on the show floor from gps controlled sprayers to apps that track your maintenance inputs.  I have to admit I am not much of a techie but I always evaluate advances that might help us be more efficient.  The key is adopting technology that produces a significant effect and returns on our investment.
For example our new irrigation software definitely is able to put water where and when we want it better than before.  Also we are utilizing moisture meters to monitor soil conditions more than ever so we irrigate only as needed.  We have always tried to irrigate efficiently but these technological advances have helped us do it better.  
Many technological features are apps, data logging, or gps driven platforms (software), but there are still some old fashioned advances (hardware) that are exciting.  Cutting units continue to be fine-tuned to achieve a better quality cut at lower heights. When I say low height of cut that means .1 of an inch or lower.  Don't try that at home! You must be thinking "it's just mowing how complicated can it be"?   It is amazing how much design and setup considerations are accounted for to achieve great cutting quality.  The number of blades on a reel, the speed of the reel, ground speed of the mower, the angle of the blade and bedknife, the centerline of the reel in relationship to the bedknife, the metallurgy of the reel, the roller orientation to the reel, and how the cutting unit is carried on the mower are just a few things that influence our mowing.  Most of those things I mentioned don't mean anything to you but I relay them just so you can realize how technical "just mowing" is to us grass guys.  There continues to be advances in mowers that will help us cut better at the low heights necessary, and I am excited to get new greensmowers in a couple years that will highlight these advances.

Just like any industry golf course management continues to evolve and we try to keep up to maintain Wild Horse at a high level.  It was a great conference and show that has me excited for the golf season to arrive!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New this Year?

February 17--It seems like I get the "Are you doing anything new this year?" question as the season starts.  Most of the time the answer is "no, not really" which answers their question accurately because they are talking about anything new that they will instantly notice.  No new tees, filling in 16 bunkers, or cutting 10 inch holes are planned so it is true nothing new is in store this year that will drastically change the course.  That said though we continually look to tweak and improve our agronomic programs from year to year.  There are some minor changes that you probably won't notice but should help the course in the long term.  In actuality the most crucial part of our program is diligence and persistence whether it be pest control, cultivation, proper fertilization, etc.  So the key to keeping turf at its highest level is not a magic bullet or "something new" but a continued, consistent program.   That is why you see us doing many of the same things i.e. aeration, topdessing, etc. year after year.  The biggest mistake to be made is thinking our turf looks good so we can skip this or that.  So expect to see us doing many of the same practices but we hope to do them a little better and more efficiently each year.

We are excited about the upcoming season.   Some of the projects we have worked on the past few years should really show their benefits this season.  The greens surrounds transition to bluegrass and ryegrass although not fully complete is going well and should provide excellent playing conditions this summer.  Our sand traps have been much better in terms of playability and shape due to our continued focus on them during the fall.  We often reshape, excavate if necesssary, and refill bunkers as needed and they are much  better than 10 years ago.  No one is ever happy with bunker conditions but we have tried to make them penal (as was their design) but recoverable with a good shot.  Our irrigation controller upgrade last year went smoothly and this winter has given me time to fine-tune that program.  We expect to utilize it to its fullest potential this year and while it may be difficult for the golfer to discern we are able to irrigate more efficiently and use less water.  This should subtly lead to better overall turf conditions.  Another improvement over the years has been in the "wooga".  Our goal when we started burning on a regular basis was to reduce the bluegrass population, control unwanted weeds like sandburrs and ragweed, and make the rough more playable.  Although the playability of the rough can be an issue during high precipitation years we think we have accomplished most of those goals. Can it be better? Yes, but the health of the prairie in terms of plant diversity and the aesthetic value of the native flora is much better than when we first started banging balls around this pasture. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Golf Course Rankings

January 12--Hopefully you all got a new putter or driver from Santa and have been carefully getting the feel for it in your living room or garage.  Perhaps you are lucky enough to travel to warmer climes to utilize your new gift.  There are lots of golf courses to choose when you travel and each golfer looks for a course that fits their golfing ideal for a variety of reasons.  Perhaps it is design, maintenance, or even access that determines where you play.   Combining those attributes usually makes a course a "must play".  That is what we try to accomplish here at Wild Horse and it has garnered attention from many golf publications, the latest of which is our inclusion into Golf Digest's Top 100 You Can Play list.  It is an honor to be included in such rankings and a validation for the hard work put in by all clubhouse and maintenance staff.  Whether Wild Horse is number 30 or 100 on the list really isn't that important as the differentation between the two is mere decimal places in most cases.  But being included in the list shows that our product is easily in the top 5% of all golf courses.   That in itself may not be a reason to play here but to those travelling golfers looking for a great experience such lists are a good source.  We at Wild Horse are extremely grateful for all of our guests that make the effort to come see us annually or even for a one-time stopover on a cross-country trip.  We cannot survive without these players which makes each "places to play list" so very valuable to us.  Anyway just wanted to congratulate Wild Horse for its accomplishments and thank all who have been a part of it and that includes our members and guests through the years!

The course received a nice rain in mid-December and it has been cold since with some snow cover.  To this point the winter has been much more favorable than last so we hope for the best for the rest of the winter.