Friday, March 21, 2014

Soft conditions

The snow is pretty much gone but it's effects are still apparent in the form of soft conditions. Greens, while rolled, are still on the soft side. Soft greens = more ball marks. Please fix your ball mark and any others you may encounter along the way. I thank you, your fellow players thank you, and maybe most important your greens thank you! 

Greens Open

We will have the greens open this afternoon for play. Greens will have been brushed and rolled and cups changed for the weekend. However there will not be carts available this weekend 
Friday, January 10, 2014

Latest Regional update from the USGA


By Jim Skorulski, senior agronomist, Northeast Region
January 9, 2014

A combination of standing water, slushy snow and ice found on many Upstate New York and northern New England golf courses this week prior to the deep freeze has many superintendents concerned over the survival prospects of annual bluegrass on their golf courses.
The roller coaster continues with winter weather over much of the country. Record-low temperatures, extreme temperature fluctuations, heavy rain and icing events are troublesome for those managing turf. Grass in the Northeast region has already been exposed to below-zero temperatures, which in itself is usually not a major concern in late December or January. However, the rate and extent of the temperature fluctuation along with the presence of standing water or slush combined with extreme cold are very troublesome, and that is the concern with the latest freeze event impacting the region. This combination of weather events is the most worrisome to turf managers maintaining large populations of annual bluegrass and even low-cut perennial ryegrass. The concern to date is not ice encasement; rather, it is direct cold temperature kill or crown hydration injury.
It is likely too early to determine if any winter injury has occurred. Areas that have retained some snow cover may have been spared if the snow was able to buffer frigid temperatures at the surface. Golf facilities with enough staff available to remove standing water and slush from greens prior to the deep freeze can feel a bit more comfortable. The heavy winds that occurred as the temperatures began to drop seemed to evaporate at least some of the surface water to further improve prospects for turf survival. Greens covered with impermeable fabrics and insulating materials will also better withstand the temperature change and hydration. At greatest risk are low-pocketed, poorly-drained putting green and fairway areas dominated by annual bluegrass. It will also be a test for the newer, more cold-tolerant bermudagrasses that are fulfilling niche roles on Northeastern golf courses.
At this point there is little to do but wait it out. Forecasts call for another warming trend and that should make it possible to extract a few turf plugs from areas that are vulnerable or have a past of winter injury. Turf plugs can be cut out of the surface using a reciprocating saw, such as a Sawzall®, and chisel. Turf plugs are then brought indoors to assess its condition and see if turf greens up after a few days of exposure to warmer temperatures. For an excellent demonstration on how to sample turf for winterkill injury, please see the video Sampling Greens For Winterkill. A period of temperatures above freezing also provides an opportunity to expose and loosen some of the worst ice layers covering greens and other important playing areas. This too can be risky depending on the weather that follows but an extended forecast for above-freezing temperatures provides an opportunity to take action.
Things will become even more interesting moving forward. We must anticipate that turf that has already been subjected to multiple freeze/thaw cycles is depleting its stored energy reserves and thus its ability to tolerate colder temperatures and severe fluctuations decreases as well. We will update you with any news of turfgrass problems that may have resulted from this latest weather event or those we are likely to experience in the next eight to 10 weeks. I also hope to provide some ground temperature data recorded from soil sensors and data loggers in the field. Do not hesitate to contact our offices if you have any questions or concerns regarding the impacts of the ever-changing winter weather on your golf course. We wish all a successful season in the year ahead. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Frost project

An area that has been problomatic over the past few years has been the 8th green and 9th tee. This growing environment has very poor air movement, root encroachment, and shade issues. Last week we trenched along the back woodline of the 8th green. Today we are starting to remove the underbrush from this area. This is a great frost project as we can make an impact on the surrounding turf without putting traffic on it. Over the next month or so we will continue to clean this area up, grade it, then hydroseed it in the spring. This area should be more attractive to the eye and more importantly provide a better growing environment for these troublesome areas. We are planning on sodding the 9th tee in the early spring and sprucing up the the surrounds of this tee box.
These roots were going right into 8 green. Trees and turf do not mix well!
This area has been an eyesore and a wind block
The boys are making progress

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Winding down

While driving into work this morning I had the wipers on as the sleet fell on my windshield. It's about over..... The golf season that is. So with the unpleasant weather this morning we begin the task of pulling the course accessories for the year. The water cooler stands, trash cans, benches, tee markers etc are being brought inside where they will be refinished in the off season. The bathroom on the fifth hole will be closed for the remainder of the season beginning today. Seasonal staff will begin leaving for the winter at the end of the week  and a skeleton staff will remain. Lastly the irrigation system is scheduled to be blown out on Dec 2. Let's hope for a mild winter. 
Friday, November 8, 2013

Bleachy white turf, verticutting, and a quick round of golf

We were pleased with the progress of the right side rough on the 17th but we are not completed with this. Since we did not do a total kill some poa and bentgrass survived the scalping process. We have sprayed this area with an herbicide specifically labeled to weaken/kill these species in this stand of turf. If you see the bleached appearance of some of the turf the product is doing its job!

Notice the whitish appearance of the turf.

We recently verticut the approaches and some select fairways. While we have verticut the approaches in the past we have not used this process on the fairways. Verticutting removes organic matter while also stimulating lateral growth. Though it thins the turf intially it makes for a denser stand in the long run. We tried the process out on a few fairways to see how much time it would take and if it was something we could do on a regular basis in the future. We are happy to say that it went quicker than expected so you will be seeing this process more in 2014.

While initially this process will thin the turf eventually it will lead to a denser stand of grass.
Lastly I was recently went on vaction to Bandon Dunes where the conducted the world speed golf championship. One of the contestants shot a 77 at Old McDonald while completing his round in 48 minutes. Certainly food for thought.....
A contestant about to tee off

The same contestant seconds later racing down the 1st fairway at Bandon Dunes.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

He is at it again!

Well folks its been a while since I last communicated with you all. In the past month we have accomplished quite a bit after a pretty tough summer. First off we renovated the rough on the right side of 17. This rough was always patchy at best due to large population of Poa annua. We re-seeded this area with a mixture of turf type tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass. Judging from the initial feedback I got you would have thought I lost my mind due to the unsightly scalping that we did, now just a little over 6 weeks later we are getting the kind of feedback we were striving for. This area of rough really stands out and if this was a pilot project for other areas of the course I think we were successful. The photos below were taken 4 weeks apart. 

Another process that raised some eyebrows was the core aeration of the fairways. I had many questions directed at me as to why we were doing this and why it had not been done in the past. Well first off, turf needs to breathe. With the high amount of cart traffic that we have at FHFC compaction is a problem. With core aeration we allow gas exchange. Think of it this way, if you were lying down and had a large weight placed on your chest your breathing would be impaired after awhile. Now imagine you’re a grass plant and you have golf carts driving over you on a daily basis. Tough to breathe right? The core aeration helps relieve compaction and also we are able to remove thatch. Without getting too technical thatch=bad. With the 7/8” tines we used for core aeration we removed quite a bit of thatch. As to why we had not done this process in the past the answer is simple, we did not have the equipment to clean up properly. That changed this year with the purchase of a used turf vacuum. You may have seen the vac out on the course sucking up the remnants of the aerification plugs or more recently aiding in leaf cleanup. The photo below shows healthy vigorous turf growing in the core aeration holes.

Now onto another process, deep tining. Deep tining promotes drainage and deeper roots as it goes much deeper than traditional core aeration. This process differs in that we do not pull a plug but rather just create a hole. We are averaging 5-7” depth on tees and fairways. This deep tining relives soil compaction further down in the soil profile which will help promote drainage. The hole also allows for a channel that roots can grow in. If you remember from some of my earlier posts, roots grow in air spaces between soil not in the soil itself. Over the next 2 weeks we will be deep tining our fairways in preparation for the winter. Now before you say “Oh no, not again” the deep tine holes are much less noticeable, are spaced much further apart, and are barely visible after one mowing.  The photo below shows a the 16th tee surface that has just been deep tined. 

I know that sometimes it seems that we are doing a lot, however, in truth most clubs do this on a regular basis. We are also under some time constraints as our seasonal employees will gone by Thanksgiving and we simply will not have the staff to perform these essential agronomic practices. I hope you understand that we do these practices in preparation for a healthier and more enjoyable course next year. 


Frank Tichenor
Friday, August 23, 2013

USGA Regional Update


By Jim Skorulski, senior agronomist, Northeast Region
August 7, 2013

Rough areas composed of thatchy, shallow-rooted bentgrass and Poa annuawere no match for the 20-plus inches of rain, stifling heat and extreme humidity that blanketed most of the Northeast region in June and July.
“Skinned knees and bruised elbows, but no broken bones” was the clever response provided by Michael Luccini, golf course superintendent at Franklin Country Club in Franklin, Mass., when asked about the condition of the golf course following the brutal stretch of weather experienced in the Northeast region in June and July. Most golf facilities in the region experienced some bumps and bruises and others broken bones during the stretch of hot and humid weather that followed heavy rains – a perfect recipe for cool-season turf failure.
Many parts of the region experienced soil and canopy temperatures well above 90°F during the day without much relief at night. Damage from high temperatures has been common to turf in the Northeast, including scald, wet wilt, Pythium and brown patch disease, foliar anthracnose, dollar spot and summer patch diseases. The inability to topdress during the hot months of June and July resulted in puffy turf conditions on putting greens. As bentgrass turf became more succulent and putting surfaces softer, the turf became more susceptible to mower scalping and traffic damage. Greens located in stagnant environments suffered the most as did poorly drained areas and anywhere flooding occurred. Golf facilities with heavy cart traffic and busy outing schedules in June and July also experienced considerable turf damage. Fairways and roughs with excessive thatch or rough areas composed of creeping bentgrass and annual bluegrass (Poa annua) did not hold up well through this subtropical weather pattern. 
What are some things we should learn from the summer of 2013?
  • Deferred maintenance is not a formula for long-term success. Just think how much better things might be right now had the drainage project been completed, the trees removed, the fairway and rough aerification programs maintained, poor quality roughs regrassed, and the problematic greens rebuilt? Sometimes it takes the perfect storm of events like those of the summer of 2013 before this message hits home.
  • More is not always better. This was especially true with nitrogen applications. High rates of controlled-released granular fertilizers did what they were intended to do in wet soils at a high temperature: they released nitrogen. This was sometimes to the detriment of the turf.  
  • Fans really work well where they are needed. Obtaining fans in July was like trying to find an air conditioner. Good luck. Seriously though, the new generations of fans are powerful, quiet, effective and a must for areas where natural air circulation is limited.
  • Mowing over wet, saturated soils in mid-summer is never good. Sometimes it has to be done, but if a mowing can be skipped it may just allow you to live and fight another day. That can be said for cart traffic as well.
  • Large tournaments or outings are best scheduled outside of July if at all possible. Prepping for a big event during extremely stressful weather is asking for problems. It is also much harder for the staff to syringe and take other protective measures during such events or when the golf course is at full play.
  • Crabgrass really does well in the heat and preemergence herbicides just do not hold up as long with hot, wet soil conditions.
  • Mother Nature remains the boss. We have more tools than ever to manage golf courses and we do it better than ever, most of the time. When the weather becomes truly difficult, the best we might do is to just ride it out. Defense wins championships as the saying goes, and good offense takes the pressure off the defense. It is a balancing act to be sure.          
Fortunately, as quickly as the tropical-like rains and heat arrived, they have been displaced with cooler and drier air. The break in the weather has even produced some good overseeding results that did not seem likely several weeks ago. We are certainly not out of the woods yet, especially given the weakened condition of the turf and the possibility that weather patterns could change back to summer heat just as quickly. Nonetheless, we will take this break and hope it continues into mid-August when we all anticipate better growing conditions, shorter days and cooler nights. 
So, if you are one of the fortunate ones to only experience some skinned knees and bruises this summer, I would say you are doing a lot of things right. If not, it is time to reevaluate the practices in place and reconsider the investments that will allow the turf to better survive extreme weather conditions without completely sacrificing playing conditions. 
Thursday, August 22, 2013


The drainage that was put in on #2 seems to be working as planned as seen below. The drainage on the first fairway is also working as planned. This photo was taken after .95" fell on the course this morning.

But there is more work to do as this picture of 12 approach shows.

And of course there is #4 shown below. We are scheduled to work on drainage on the 10th hole starting on Monday. During this time the hole will be played as a par 3 to ensure our employees safety. Thank you for your cooperation. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tee Aerification

We have started aerifying tees. We should be done this process on Monday. Following Aerification we will seed them with bentgrass
Wednesday, August 14, 2013


The weather didn't cooperate yesterday but we are back on the drainage project on hole #2 today. We are across the fairway and making our way through the rough.
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A.W. Tillinghast

A.W. Tillinghast
Architect Forest Hill Field Club "I know of one club which is about to make heroic efforts to eliminate every root of poa annua which flourishes on their greens and yet these same greens are remarkably true. This would seem to bear out the contention of one celebrated expert that poa annua should be encouraged and not despised. He asserts that if it is not regarded as a weed but nourished and kept carefully cut, it will produce wonderfully hardy and true turf." "That is poa annua, a sort of outcast blue grass. It drops its seed plentifully and spreads rapidly. Maybe it would be well to try a test bed of it and give the poor old bum a real chance. He may prove a gentleman after all."

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I hope you enjoy this look into our department and find it informative and fun. I will be posting on topics that are related to the maintenance of the course, projects, interaction with the enviroment, and golf course architecture. Please visit often.

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