Friday, May 27, 2011

It starts today!

Memorial Day weekend starts what many superintendents in the Northeast call "the horrible hundred". The horrible hundred is the roughly 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This is the time period that separates the men from the boys.

Each year at this time I reflect back to an article my old friend Ted Horton gave me called "M.I.G.S". Ted was the superintendent at Winged Foot back in the day of "The massacre at Winged Foot". Ted was and still is one of the tops in our field and has always been willing to help a fellow superintendent out. When Ted gave me the article he said that if I followed it's principles the "horrible hundred" would be a little more bearable. The article was written by a gentleman named Mr. Bill Smart and though I never met the man his words are just as true today as they were back in the seventies when it was written.

M.I.G.S stands for Mow, Irrigate, Groom, Spray. Mr. Smart stated that if you concentrate on these four areas during the summer your chances for a well conditioned golf course will increase dramatically.

The mowing aspect of "M.I.G.S." focuses on keeping an eye on mowing heights, reel and blade sharpness,   timing, and frequency. The article says to watch your mowing heights and in times of stress raise them to reduce stress on the turf. Slow greens are better than fast browns! Make sure your blades and reels are sharp to reduce stress on the plant and also reduce disease pressure. In wet conditions when the quality of cut may be compromised skip mowing so as to reduce stress.

The irrigate portion of the article states to watch your watering. It is sometimes like walking a tightrope in the summer when it comes to irrigation. Too much water and your disease pressure increases, too little and wilt can take grass out. Mr. Smart recommended keeping turf on the drier side and to use supplemental irrigation to keep the turf healthy. If you have a hot spot on a green use a hose to water just that spot and try to keep the overheads off for as long as possible. Syringe the turf as needed but keep it on the drier side for a healthier and more enjoyable golf course.

The grooming aspect deals with details and cultural practices. The details include checking ballwashers, clean tee markers, wipe down benches, trash collection etc. The cultural practices concentrates on topdressing, aerification, verticutting, and other aspects to keep the turf healthy.

The spray section deals with plant protectants. The article states to have your spray program planned out well in advance. If weather dictates that changes be made, make them! Do not sacrifice the health of the golf course to save a few bucks as the long term cost of diseased turf is far greater than the cost of an unforeseen application. In short plan your spray program and stick with it.

I know I have written about this in the past but I am writing about it again so to remind myself of these thoughts as they are some of the most sound principles I have ever been taught. Thanks Ted, and thanks Mr. Smart you were aptly named!
Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Getting things done.

The weather didn't cooperate with us in the mowing department but we did get things done today. The area by the entrance of the cart path on 18 has been plagued by ruts over the last few years but now that we have the proper equipment we have addressed it. Installed today was roughly 100' of pipe and an interceptor drain. If the weather cooperates tomorrow we should finish this long overdue project. Nice job guys!
Saturday, May 14, 2011

What is that stuff?

I was asked by quite a few people today "what is the white stuff on the greens?". Well that white stuff is foam and we have used it when spraying as a marker and just recently we outfitted our rotary spreaders with foamers also. The foamers allow us to apply granular products in a precise manner which eliminates skips and overlaps. The two foamers cost about $100 for both and considering the fertilizer costs about $50 a bag I think it's a good investment.
Saturday, May 7, 2011

Golf Course Update

With the more favorable weather that we have experienced recently we have finally been able get the golf course in respectable shape. Judging from the amount of play that I witnessed today it seems the membership is enjoying the course also. To borrow a Martha Stewart line... its a good thing. The month of May will be a busy one for the green staff as outings fill up most Mondays and Thursdays and regular member play will most likely be heavier than normal on the other days we are open. We have some upcoming events that will allow us to show off our Tillinghast course to other in the golf community. One of these events will be a meeting of the Golf Course Superintendents of New Jersey on the 19th. This meeting will have up to 120 superintendents and industry professionals playing our course. We will also have those players critiquing it as we will be surveying these folks after there round. While I hope all who attend enjoy the course I am really looking forward to hearing where these golf course management professionals think we can improve. I am a big boy and can take any criticisms with an open mind. On the operations side of things I want to thank the membership for allowing the green staff the block of tee times after the women's play on Tuesday mornings this season. This past Tuesday we were able to topdress greens, mow fairways, mow the step cut, mow approaches all while the turf was dry. The key part of this is that the turf is dry when we are able perform these activities. Mowing when the turf is dry equates into a cleaner and crisper cut which translates into better after cut appearance and better plant health. An analogy that I have used in a few green committee meetings when discussing quality of cut is: if you where scheduled for surgery would you want the Dr. using a scalpel or a steak knife? Mowing when the turf is dry is more akin to the scalpel. We will expand some of our work during these Tuesday mornings and expect to get a good amount of work accomplished while not disturbing play. In the past week or two we have gotten most of our annual flowers planted and also have made some improvements to the landscaping by the cart barn. In the next week or two we expect to have the rest of the annuals planted and most of the beds mulched. Regarding irrigation we have started trimming the turf around the heads so the yardage will be visible and should have this finished by the end of the week. We will begin conducting an irrigation walk through this week to check that all heads are functioning properly and will begin making adjustments and fixing any malfunctioning sprinklers. We have had the fertigation system serviced this past week and it is in good working order. The last item regarding the irrigation system is to clean out the transfer pump intake on the fourth hole so if you see our crew working by the old pump house on the 4th hole this week thats what they are doing. Other than the clubhouse itself the irrigation system is the most valuable piece of infrastructure at FHFC so we have been, and will continue to be very proactive with preventive maintenance. An ounce of prevention..... In the coming weeks we will be installing some drainage by the 18th green side cart path. We hope that this drain will improve the condition of the turf near the entrance of this path. Speaking of drainage one of our long term plans is to address the 3rd and 4th holes and we will be formulated a drainage plan and estimating costs this season. Last but not least, this week we will be scalping down some of the areas (3rd tee, 5th tee, 7th tee, 9th tee) where we planted fine fescue last year. While I am somewhat disappointed about the amount of Poa annua that has spread in these areas I am certainly not giving up on them. After speaking with several Dr's at Rutgers and Cornell Universities we will make adjustments to our plan and expect to make progress throughout the season. It is my opinion that the more contrasts in the form of height, color, and texture of turfgrass on a golf course make that course more visually appealing and interesting. Judging by the positive comments that I have gotten on the walk through area that was developed last fall between the 2nd green and 3rd tee it seems the majority of you agree with me. With that in mind I ask you for your patience while we develop these areas.  

Fwd: foxes

These photos were sent to me by Mr. Engelhardt yesterday afternoon. The den is to the right of 13 tee. If you are lucky you can see the little ones playing. I have counted 8 but there may be more.

Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:
>

> Hi Frank,
> You probably have seen these critters already, but in case you haven't, here they are.
> Allan

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wrong!

Please do not use the divot mix on anything other than fairways and tees. This mix contains bent grass which is not a desired species in the rough.
Sunday, May 1, 2011

Details, details, details

Contrary to my assistant Chris Desalvia's beliefs, I do know how to use a sod cutter and every once in awhile I come up with a good idea. The gravel path on the third hole was looking a bit ragged with a large amount of Poa annua plants populating the edges. I, yes yours truly, took a sod cutter and ran it along the edge of the cart path and some of the crew, including my doubting assistant, raked the Poa annua away. Whats the old saying? Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile.
Before 


After
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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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