#12 @ Wild Horse

#12 @ Wild Horse

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.