#12 @ Wild Horse

#12 @ Wild Horse

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!