This site is intended to share information relating to the management of the golf course conditioning and quality of Northmoor Country Club and the art, the science, and the factors that influence those conditions. Please visit as often as possible.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Augusta Syndrome

The first full week of each April, the golfing world tunes in to The Masters Tournament at Augusta National.  I have been there a number of times and it is quite a place for sure. If you have never been to The Masters, you cannot imagine the significant undulations of the property including both the fairways and the greens.   On the first and eighteenth fairways, golfers are walking up a steep slope from the fairway to the green.  Both fairways have virtually a 45 degree slope.  There is a 175 foot elevation change on the Augusta National course.  As a reference point, the Horseshoe Falls drop at Niagara Falls is 173 feet.  There is actually a 100 foot elevation change on the #10 hole.  The entire elevation change across the entire property here at NCC is only 64 over almost a mile.  On certain holes, if your chip or approach shot does not hit in the correct 2 to 4 foot landing site, your ball may end up 30 to 50 feet away from the cup or even off of the green.   The slopes and contours of the greens are not visual on the television screen.  The contours make the greens like putting on a table top.   There are places that you simply cannot get the ball close to the hole.  These conditions test the very best professionals in the world.
Several factors that public & country club golfers may not be aware of concerning Augusta National:
    There is no operating budget at Augusta.  This does not occur at but a select few private clubs
         They spend millions of dollars a year, whatever it takes.
    The course is closed from May-October when all other courses are open and under stress
    The cutting height of the greens at Augusta may not be lower than we cut our greens.  We mow
        our greens every day and may double cut and roll the greens to get maximum speed.  The
       greens at Augusta have enough undulation to generate high end putting speeds, not to mention
       that their greens may be mowed as many as 6 to 8 times a day during the even. 
   Any given putt may have 20 to 40 feet of break to it.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The photo below shows the number of volunteers for the event.  Most 18 hole facilities might have a staff of 12 to 25.   There are twice that many saff members preparing the bunkers on this single hole
Most 18 hole courses have 2 or 3 fairways mowers.  14 here in the Augusta photo and a few extra in Golf Course Operations in case they are needed. 
Who determines the daily cupping locations for The Master event?  
NCC's own Assistant Superintendent, John Morris was an Assistant at Augusta for 5 Masters events.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Every Course Is Different

Each golf course is different in may ways.  Courses vary on design, construction quality, construction materials, local climatic environments, elevation changes, soil types, irrigation water quality, shade, air movement and turf grass species just to mention a few.  For these reasons, it is difficult and rather impossible to make exact comparisons of any two golf courses.  Note the following examples.

The photo below is of our Pennlinks 2- Penneagle2 bentgrass fairway at NCC on April 2nd.  It is just breaking dormancy.

The photo below is of a Sunset Valley GC that is just a mile or so away.  Notice how their older bentgrass-poa annua fairways are much greener on the same day of the year.

The photo below is of #1 Red green at NCC today.  Notice how it is just breaking dormancy.
The photo below is of a green at Sunset Valley taken on the same day.  Notice the greener color from the older bentgrass -poa annua greens content
The photo below is of the new green at Exmoor CC taken on the same day.  A newly planted turf and a new generation of bentgrass is the reason for the darker color.
These 3 courses are within walking distance of each other yet quite different in many ways.  Imagine the differences in courses you play at different times of the year that are located in the north and west areas of Chicagoland.
The photo below is of #4 red tee looking onto # 9 red fairway.  The same turf variety is established in both areas.  Notice the turf on the tee is still brown and the fairway turf is beginning to green up and break dormancy.  Why the difference?  The tee has an amended sand content rootzone which is different from the native black fairway soil.  There is more fluctuation in the sand based rootzones.  In this case, the rootzone temperature of the tee is colder and therefore the tee turf is still dormant.
The photos below are of # 1 white tee and #1 white fairway.  Same turf species.  Same day.
Again, the tee has a modified rootzone which remains colder than the native soil fairway, thus delaying green-up of the tee.
#1 white tee
#1 white fairway

Friday, March 13, 2015

Internship Opportunity: Golf Course Management Operation

The following presentation shares information about the excellent Turfgrass Internship and Assistnat In Training Programs offered at Northmoor Country Club.   Students have the tremendous opportunity to be exposed to and participate in the FULL SPECTRUM of a high quality golf course management operation from a leadership, agronomic and business aspect. 

Winter Work Tasks for the Golf Course Operations Staff

While Chicagoland golfers and NCC members are traveling to warmer climates, enjoying winters at a southern or western club or just staying warm inside their homes during our Chicago winters, the NCC Golf Course Operations staff stays busy caring for the club's property and preparing for the next spring's golfing season. 

The presentation listed below will give you a bit of insight into the frequently asked question,
"What do you do all winter?"  There is a tremendous amount of work that happens in the early fall, throughout the winter and in the spring prior to opening the course.   Enjoy the presentation.

Monday, January 5, 2015


Many of you saw Bristol, our Border Collie goose dog, on the course this past summer.  As a 3.5 year old, she was just beginning to learn her way around the course.  Unfortunately and devistantlingly, Bristol developed a sudden fungal infection and passed away on Friday night of last week.  Personally, I have lost a loyal friend and a valued staff member.  Spending all day together everyday we became very close.  This came only a year after Polly, our previous Border Collie died at age 13 from an enlarged heart issue.  
One of her commands was to "Lie Down"   

On point and ready to go get the geese.
Both Bristol and Polly lived with John at night.  The breeder insisted that the dogs be with someone 24 hours a day and not just left in a small pen and alone at night.
Bristol supervising my two pugs Bowie and Kuma
This was Bristol's last handshake for me before I left her at the trainers.  I hugged her and promised her I would be back. 
The photos below are of Polly - A Grand Lady and Friend



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Winter Planters

Once again Lorrie Witt has outdone herself with her creativity in designing the winter plant containers on the patio and at the front entry of the clubhouse.  She spent four hours on Wednesday afternoon in the 26 degree weather to prepare the planter for the Thanksgiving holiday. Sergio, Rafael and Apolinar also helped with preparing the bedding mix for the containers.  We have some tremendous employees for sure.

Lorrie shopping and making her choices for plant materials
Preparing the planters
Patio arrangement

    Front entry arrangement

  A handful of "die-hard"golfers braved the cold with their yellow golf balls as part of the traditional Thanksgiving morning outing. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Aerification Video - Why We Aerify

Aerification is one of the most necessary and basic turfgrass management practices.  As the video below illustrates, relieving soil compaction, improving oxygen availability and increasing penetration and percolation within the soil profile are just a few of the benefits of aerifying.  In our case at NCC, aerification also benefits the health of our turf surfaces (especially the greens) by allowing us to remove some of the negative elements that accumulate in the rootzone via the poor irrigation quality water that we use.  The aerification process that we implement today, aides our course conditioning in the future.

Aerification timing and methods vary from course to course depending on any number of factors: tournament schedules, amount of play, irrigation water quality, sand or soil rootzone construction, available sunlight and air movement to the green, weather conditions (cold and heat), etc.  The size of the aerification tines also varies with the desired outcome.  In or fall aerification, we use the larger coring tines that remove the cores from the rootzone.  In the summer months we use "needle" or small solid tines that do not pull out a core. 

The timing of aerification varies at different courses.  I have chosen the mid to latter part of September for four reasons:
1. Even though the weather can still be really favorable for play in the latter part of September, the volume of play decreases after Labor Day.
2. Aerifying while there is still a degree of warmer days allows for the aerification holes to heal and cover quicker.
3. Most significantly, next to aerifying in mid-August, September is the next best time for us at NCC because we have very clean, poa annua free, green's surfaces.  Aerifying later is a more optimum time for poa annua to invade our greens.  Keeping our surfaces clean with a pure stand of bentgrass is a key to our management and course conditioning program.
4. Aerification in the middle to end of September comes after all of the major tournaments at the club

Please take a look at the following video.