#12 @ Wild Horse

#12 @ Wild Horse

Thursday, January 21, 2016

What we like to see

Here is what we like to see in the middle of winter.   A nice snow cover on all of the turf on hole #1.  It was not a heavy snow but it provided some moisture and cover everywhere.  The turf is looking pretty good so far this winter.

I welcome any questions or inquiries about what we do or why we do it a certain way.  I can continue to write about what I find interesting on the course but really want to hit topics that you find intriguing.   As we progress through the winter I hope to keep updating consistently to get you in the mood for golfing this spring.  Feel free to email me at jmahar@live.com with topics you might want to learn about here at Wild Horse.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Rough management and playability

One of the most difficult areas to manage on the course for proper playability is the rough or "Wooga".  The rough should be somewhat penal as that is inherently its role.   Our feeling is that a shot into the rough should be findable but cost the golfer a half shot.  By that we mean the golfer should be able to advance the ball back into the fairway but not all the way up to near the green (thus a half shot penalty).   Sometimes our rough can be more unforgiving than that.   While we try to address that concern through burning, haying, and irrigation management there are some situations that are out of our control that can lead to difficult playing options.
One of the most common complaints we hear is that the rough is thickest along the edge of the fairway so a small miss is more penal than a big miss.  That is definitely not fair or preferable to us.  Much of the blame goes to errant irrigation but that is mostly untrue.  While some spots do receive irrigation overspray from sprinklers we have really tried hard over the last few years to eliminate that as much as possible by moving sprinklers in or out for more precise coverage.  There will still be some drift but it is minimal. 
One of the biggest problems for that area along the edge of the rough is seen below.  It is the amount of snow that piles up along those areas.   Wind sweeps snow off the fairway and deposits it along the edge.   A couple of these events can deposit 2-3 inches of extra moisture in that strip which can mean the difference between playable rough and unfair rough.   There is not much we can do about snow blowing into the rough but we have started periodically mowing a couple of swaths around the outside of the primary rough cut to make that strip more even with the rest of the rough.   Also this fall we aggressively applied glyphosate (Roundup)  to those areas to thin out the bluegrass that wants to thrive in that wetter environment. 
There will always be some luck as to the lie you might get in the wooga but we are cognizant of the conditions out there and try to make them as fair as possible while still maintaining the look of a links course with "unmaintained' rough.

Snow blown into edge of rough


It was nice to hear from some of you that missed my blog when its tab was put under the members login section.  Now it is easily accessed from the main page.  You have not missed much as there hasn't been a new post in over 3 months-shame on me!!  I appreciate hearing that there are a few avid followers which will motivate me to be more timely with my posts.

It is the dead of winter now and while we haven't had much snow here at Wild Horse the little bit we have had has been good cover.  For the most part it laid down pretty well and provided decent protection for the greens.   Also the mild December without many real cold overnight lows has kept the turf a bit green and looking good for the end of the calendar year.

We have started a new process this year to try to avoid the calamity of winterkill we experienced last year.  It is SNOWMAKING!!
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Snowmaking on #2 Green

We are very new to this process and are learning as we go about what kind of conditions are necessary to make good snow, the equipment necessary to do it, and other little things that can complicate a relatively simple process if all goes well.  We have not done much snowmaking this year because the first half of December was too mild even at night to do much.   Since then we have had some snowcover provided by Mother Nature, but are starting to lose that now and will probably try to get some snow laid down in the next couple of weeks.  

So why make snow?   Because it seems we never get much snow anymore!!   Even this year when many places north and west and also east have received snowfall we have been mostly left out.  And we know from experience that snow is the best insulator against cold temperatures and also provides moisture when it melts.   So we thought what better way to "cover" greens than with snow rather than expensive, labor intensive greens covers.   Will this guarantee survival?   No there are no guarantees in the natural world but we think it will really help our grass survive in most cases and also come out with more vigor in the spring.

So we are still in the learning process with this new tool but we think it definitely has potential.