#12 @ Wild Horse

#12 @ Wild Horse

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

My Profession

Really thought this video represented the golf course superintendent's profession very well.  Hope you enjoy.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Hot Cold

Well the worst possible weather situation has occurred again this past week.  Highs of 79 on the 21st down to a low of  1 degree on the night of the 24th.  As we talked about in a previous post  this is the type of situation you fear in February.  The warmer than normal temperatures wake the grass up and then whammy.  We will have to wait and see what kind of an effect this has on the turf.  In January there was a temperature swing from -20 to 60 in ten day span-a drastic swing for sure.  To put that into perspective that would be like going from 100 down to 20 in July.  That would be a shocker!!  Turf is able to withstand extremes like that in mid-winter because it is dormant but as we near March grass starts to break that dormancy due to higher sun angle, daylength, and temperatures.   This is when damage to the plant can occur as the crown starts to hydrate and then freezes during a quick cold snap.

Before this last week the turf was brown but there was lots of green ready to spring up.  We expect some slight damage from this cold snap but will wait to see the full extent. 

Warmer temps are on the way and we should be able to open the course Friday March 3 in the afternoon.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ball Roll Study

I attended an interesting session on greens trueness and measuring that parameter while at the Golf Industry Show.   For many years now golfers and superintendents (even though they won't admit) have been closely monitoring green speeds which has become somewhat of an evaluation critique of greens conditions.  Fast greens=good; slow greens=bad.  That really shouldn't be the end-all measure of a green.  In my mind a smooth, uninterrupted, straight-tracking roll of the ball is indicative of a good green.  This is referred to as the trueness of the green.  But how do you measure such?  Doug Linde from Delaware Valley University set out to find a way.   One method was simply to observe the ball roll and determine the number of hops and/or snaking action the ball made as it rolled.  There were obvious differences from one course to another as expected.  The other method of evaluating trueness was using a "putting device" similar to a stimpmeter to roll a ball from eight feet into a hole.  In that case 90-100% of the balls rolled "true" into the cup no matter which green they were on.  So that measurement could not statistically differentiate between greens like the visual assessment did.  Even after greens had been aerated 90% of the balls rolled into the cup with this device proving that a well struck putt will nearly always go into the hole no matter the green condition.  For comparison sake the average 10 handicapper will make 27% and the average pro will make over 60% of that same 8 foot putt.

So what do these studies prove?  First is that there is a difference in trueness of ball roll easily determined by the naked eye.  You have probably noticed that if you have played different courses.  We all strive to get that perfect billiard ball roll on a green but it may not happen.   However, the second study proved that even if ball roll isn't perfectly smooth, putts can still be consistently holed with the proper stroke. 

We have always prided ourselves on having the "truest" greens around and have felt that the golfers appreciated it.  The "eye test" certainly is important to the golfers evaluation of greens condition, but what may be more important is that no matter how "untrue" the ball roll appears it is still possible to putt it in the hole.   So next time you have to play on aerated greens remember that the most important aspect to making putts is a consistent stroke.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


The apocalypse might be near as I have joined Twitter.    I have always been hesitant to join Facebook,Twitter, Instagram and other social media, just because so much information on it is useless.  But I also realize that there is a lot of great information that can be valuable to me and others. I hope to use it to give updates on course conditions here at Wild Horse and also highlight other golf related topics.  So follow me @Josh Mahar5 to get some what I hope is useful info! 

Warm Weather

Amazing stretch of weather we are having.  What does that mean for the golf course?  It is always scary to have big warmups in February because the turf can start to grow and then you can get a major cold snap.  These wide swings in temperature during dormancy break can be potentially dangerous, but it appears there are no below zero type arctic chills ahead in the near future.  Also the ground is thawing and there is adequate moisture to avoid desiccation.  So this unseasonal weather isn't scaring me as much as it could in other years.  We have been watering greens with our deep-line system just to be safe, and they appear in good shape as of now.

Crazy as it seems, we are likely to start charging up the regular irrigation system today.  That will be one of the earliest charge-ups ever.  There was a year we irrigated on February 10.  Unfortunately it was  necessary to blowout again, but the turf was extremely dry that winter and needed irrigation badly.  We are not in dire need of irrigation right now, but it looks like by next week if this trend continues our turf might need a drink so we will be ready.

We have considered opening the course early on a limited basis but at this point we are sticking with our normal March 1 opening date.

Enjoy this spring-like weather and hope it gets you in the mood for golf.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Just got back from attending the Golf Industry Show and as always it has me excited to start to the season.  So too does this nice weather!! 

The biggest takeaway from the education sessions I attended was that the old way of doing things is now the new way!  Golf experienced great growth in the 80s and 90s and maintenance budgets were flush.  The level of maintenance and "extras" zoomed skyward and it became an arms race in conditioning.  Then 9/11 happened, the economy dipped, and supply overtook demand in the golf market.  Maintenance budgets leveled or constricted causing much angst among superintendents.  But in reality this reduction in resources might actually be a good thing.  Staffs have been reduced making prioritization critical to success.  "Fluff" outside of the playing surfaces is no longer a high priority.  Fertilizer and chemical applications are more scrutinized and watering practices are more conservative.  These thing together have a positive impact on protecting the environment.

I never liked the idea of over maintaining a course so it is refreshing to see many courses reverting to amore conservative style of maintenance before the golf boom.  Obviously there is a sliding scale of maintenance from Augusta to the local 9-holer, but overall sustainability is the buzzword. 

Wild Horse was built before sustainable became the buzzword in golf course maintenance but we have done many things that help it stay that way.  What are some of those ideals?  First and foremost is that the soil is great and we were able to build push-up greens thereby eliminating internal drainage and a special greens soil mix that might need to be replaced someday.  Also this allows us a never-ending supply of free topdressing.   Secondly the emphasis was on the playing corridors and the rest was left natural.  Therefore we can concentrate our irrigation and agronomic practices on the playing surfaces.  Also the climate helps keep pesticide inputs especially fungicides to a minimum. So Wild Horse has some built-in features that make it sustainable but we compliment those with our maintenance practices.  Our turf is kept lean and fertilized only to satisfy its needs.  Irrigation is used only to replenish evapotranspiration.  We try to run a lean crew also to keep our labor costs down.  All of these things make us "sustainable" which simply means that our resources i.e. water, fertilizer, pesticides, equipment, and money will not run out during Wild Horse's existence and the environment will continue to support our golfing grounds.