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 14, 2014

Augusta National - No Place Like It

If you have never been to Augusta National then you cannot fully appreciate and realize how remarkable it really is.  For example, here are just a few facts that set it apart from any other golf facility:
The course is closed all summer - from June through mid-October
Regular course renovations are done to exact GPS locations
Heating and cooling units under some of the greens
Every green renovation is rebuilt to the exact inch of its previous shape
Some greens are rebuilt every 3 to 4 years.
There is no published operating budget for the golf course maintenance department
Due to the firmness and undulations of the greens, the golfer may have only a 2 or 3 foot circle to land an approach or chip shot to keep the ball on the green!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For those who wonder how everything looks so perfect at The Masters......these "workers" are actually golf course superintendents that volunteer to do the various chores during the week of the Masters and probably just over 100 make the pilgrimage every year at this and the other major golf events around the world.  Plus, there is no budget for the operation. 
The non-areas of the turf at Augusta National are overseeded with a cool season turf for the Masters.
This turf type, combined with the strong television filters give you the rich green color on your screen

The green television filters really mask the true color of the greens as they purposely dry them out, withhold the water and roll and mow them multiple times to challenge the players.

In the photo below, Adam Scott missed his 2 foot putt and had a 5 footer for a comeback.
Putting the Augusta National greens is like putting a ball on your granite counter top.  Combine that with challenging undulations and slopes and you cannot believe how significantly difficult the course can play.

The greens are allowed to dry out and turn off-color (bluish-purple)to achieve the desired speeds.
The golfer has a 10 foot birdie putt
Even the one of the best players in the world has a 5 foot come-back for par
The player's approach shot hit 20 feet short of the flagstick with spin on it and it still went over the green. Notice the lush ryegrass surrounds and the grayish color of the drying and wilting greens.

His shot was virtually perfect and it looked as though the ball was going to stop within a few inches of the hole.  No such luck.  His ball rolled 50 feet past the hole and almost off the green.
Notice the total discoloration of the putting surfaces.  This is done intentionally to challenge the best players in the world.  This is not for private club membership play. 

Most golf courses will have 2 or 3 fairway mowers to mow the fairways.  Not Augusta National.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Course Opening 2014

                                               Season Course Opening

The driving range will opening on Wednesday April the 9th.  We will be using the artificial hitting surfaces until the temperatures moderate and the turf begins to grow.  There is also some cold temperature damage on the driving range tee surface.  I will need to do some work in these areas to restore the turf. 

The golf course will be open beginning Thursday April 10th.  I am monitoring the firmness and foot-printing of the new #3 and #9 red greens on a daily basis.  We may open white and blue for play and delay opening the red nine for a few days until the surfaces are firm enough for traffic.

Keep in mind that we will be incurring early morning frosts for at least a few weeks.  Expect course opening delays on those days when frost is present

The photo below shows evidence of frost damage from when a person walks on a frozen green

Please view the video below on frost

Friday, February 14, 2014

Winter Weather - How it Affects the Golf Course

Winter weather can have different affects on the golf course turf.

A nice snow cover is the best condition for a golf course during the winter.  Even a complete blanket of snow allows for a sufficient amount of oxygen availability for the turf below.  The snow cover also protects the from the harsh dry winter winds which can desiccate and damage the grass plant.

The worst situation for turf during the winter is the formation of a layer of ice over the surface of the turf.  A solid layer of ice restricts oxygen availability to the plant.  If this ice layer exits for a 40 plus day period then some species of turf can expire. 
Shade is also an undesirable and negative influence on turf.
The photo below shows a shaded ice layer on our small putting green.
We have received record setting temperatures this winter

When turf is under ice and snow beyond each turf species tolerable limits, disease (as seen below) and death occur.

                 Winter turfgrass disease -
                An ugly site and dead turf
The one negative affect of excessive snow during the winter months is the resulting wetness in the spring.  North Shore springs are normally very cool and wet.  Once the snow melts, the cooler lake effect temperatures prevent the course from drying out.  The result is the melted snow causes softer, wetter conditions until warmer temperatures arrive.  Expect the course to be wetter and softer this spring until the warmer temperatures arrive to dry it out.  We currently have almost two feet of snow cover on the course.  This equates to almost 3 inches of water that will melt onto the playing surface.
Chicago snow totals for the season are currently more than twice the normal amount.!!!!!!

Below, John and Todd are digging into the snow on #1 red green to check for ice layers at the green's surface to determine if we have adequate oxygen exchange for the turf to survive the winter conditions.
We were exposed to 25 days where the temperatures remained below the 32 degree freezing mark.  This extended cold extreme has not been approached since the record was set in 1895 of 25 days below freezing.  This extent of cold can likely affect the health of turf, ornamentals and trees during the coming spring.

This amount of snow and ice not only affects the spring golfing conditions but our operating budget as well.  Overtime payroll hours and increased salt purchases are the two budget areas that are the most influenced.
Below, the staff attempts to clear snow from the cart paths.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Winter Work

Once the golfers have sought the warmth of their living rooms or have headed south or west in search of warmer weather, there is still quite a bit of activity on the golf course. The Golf Course Operations staff works well into the fall and winter to finalize necessary tasks. These, behind the scene,  guys give a truly selfless effort working out in the cold to prepare the course.   These are just a few of the off season tasks that are accomplished.

  We are getting our new Border Collie "Bristol" acquainted with the property and chasing geese.

There are plenty of leaves to collect an dispose of.

The staff clears the parking lot of snow when necessary.
We have just "blown out" the irrigation system for the season.
Applying preventative fungicides is necessary to prevent winter diseases.
These photos show just how winter diseases can devastate a course.
 Rough mowing units are used to mulch the leaves
Ivan & Santos are preparing the winter planter boxes
Lorrie is planting the winter pots
Adding additional drainage is a winter routine
Our staff takes down diseased and unsafe trees
In-house tree removals
           Mario is repairing any irrigation system leaks
Todd is adding a layer of sand to the green's surfaces to protect the turf
Apolinar is topdressing the fairways with sand to help firm the fairways and protect the turf from winter temperatures
These are the guys that work before dawn and till dusk many days in snow, rain, heat and cold to give us the golfing conditions that NCC members and guests enjoy. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bristol - Border Collie

Please welcome Bristol, the newest member of our Golf Course Operations team.  Bristol is a finely trained  Border Collie that will replace Polly as our goose dog.  She is two and a half years old.  Her presence and contribution are quite important to our property.  She works and performs on specific voice command to harass geese to flee the property.  She will work mostly early in the mornings and later in the afternoons when there are less golfers on the course.  That is when there are more geese on property.   During the fall and winter months, she will be out on the course for longer periods.

 Left to roam the course uninhibited, geese leave a daily mess that is not only unsightly but also takes many employee man hours each day to remove in order to prepare the course for play.  Geese also damage the putting surfaces when they relieve themselves on the greens.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Great Golf

As the golfing season comes to a close, the mild October weather has provided a few weeks of extended golf for our NCC members.  Thanks for all your compliments on the course this. These playing conditions are on a level with the best clubs in Chicagoland.  I hope our members enjoy the course and are proud of their property.