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.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Can I cross country ski on the golf course?

Cross country skiing and snow shoeing are allowing on the golf course when there is snow cover.
We request that skiiers follow two simple rules:
1. Do not ski on the greens and tees.
2. Ski in the roughs whenever possible.

Use caution when snow skiing on NCC property. There are no staff members on the course most days during the winter months and there are numerous depressions, fozen water features, course maintenance projects in progress that command your attention for safety.

If you have any questions just give me a call.

Can I walk my dog on the golf course?

In order to enjoy spending time with your dog on the NCC golf course I recommend the following:
Do not walk on the course when there is a frost. This can damage the turf.
Stay on the cart paths and the in the rough.
Have your pet leashed so that they do not run on the greens and cause turf damage.
Even when there is snow cover on the course do not allow unleashed pets to run on the
greens and tees.
Clean up after your pet.

Thanks and enjoy. If you have any questions just give me a call.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fall Course Cleanup

When the cooler temperatures of fall descend upon us and golfing begins to slow, there is still plenty of work that still happens on the course. Leaf collection and removal is just one of the tasks that lasts all the way through November. It is necessary to remove the leaves. Leaves left in piles or in layers can cause damage to the turf over the winter when trapped under the snow. This is quite an accumulation of leaves that we have to remove from the property.

The staff works in freezing weather to clean the property of leaves and debris.

Daily blowing of the leaves on the fairways is performed until all leaves are gone.

Leaves around the clubhouse and golf shop areas are collected and removed

Below - We have 4 rough mowers that mulch the leaves in the roughs.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Walkway Flowers

The photos below are of the flower pots at the front of the clubhouse and the seasonal landscaping along the walkway to the front of the clubhouse that Lorrie Witt and her staff have put in place. We hope you like the presentation.

Monday, October 25, 2010

South Side of Clavey

Leaf collection and removal is a full time task in the fall.

As we are nearing the end of the golfing season and play is diminishing, we will be closing the holes on the South side of Clavey Road. Many of our employees have already left for the winter and the remaining staff will focus on maintaining the 18 holes on the North side of Clavey. Our primary focus for the next several weeks will be leaf collection, mulching, and removal.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Green Speed Factors

Frequently asked question - "Do you just cut the greens lower to make them faster?"
The answer is no. Mowing height is only one factor involved in green speeds.
Green speeds are not increased by simply lowering the cutting height of a mower. Each individual turf species has limitations on how low it can be mowed with being severely damaged.

Numerous factors influence the green speeds on a daily based.
These factors include, but are not limited to:

The firmness of the green’s surface
The irrigation schedules of the green’s surfaces
Rolling of the greens
Single or double cutting the greens
The construction method (root zone mix) of the greens
Grooming of the greens
Brushing of the greens prior to mowing
Fertilization rates
Rainfall amounts
Wind velocities
Humidity levels
Topdressing schedules
Cupping locations
Contour of the green’s surface
Aerification schedules
Ball marks
Thatch levels
Grain formation
Soil temperatures
Turfgrass variety established on the green

Friday, October 1, 2010

What Factors are Involved in Determining the Daily Cupping Locations?

Who decides the daily cupping locations for the greens?
What factors are involved in where the cupping locations are set

For daily play, the Golf Course Superintendent determines the cupping locations.
For particular tournament play, the Golf Chairman or the Golf Professional may provide input.

The consideration and actual placement of the cupping locations on the greens each day is dependent on numerous factors. They include, but are not limited to:

Undulations and slope of the green
Wind direction
Wind velocity
Actual speed of the green
Moisture level of the green
Number of ball marks in the vicinity
Distance of the hole on a particular day
Entry and exit points of the green
Traffic flow and wear patterns of the green
The health of the turf in the localized area within the green
The quest to meet a 6 easy – 6 medium – 6 challenging cupping location set-up
Even distribution of front – middle – and back cupping locations (preferably 6 each)
Even distribution of left – center – right cupping locations (preferably 6 each)
Make the course play at a designated distance each day
Number of available and fair cupping locations on a given green
Suggestion by the Golf Committee for the degree of course difficulty for given events
Meet general USGA course setup guidelines as related to green’s edges, slopes, etc.
The particular design of the hole
The distance and difficulty of the approach shot for that particular day
The skill level of golfers for a particular event
The firmness of the green

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Aerification Update

Once the Northwestern Ladies Invitational is completed next Tuesday, we will doing an extensive amount of work on the golf course. We will be aerifying and topdressing fairways and tees. Our aerification on the blue and red nines will depend on the 14 day forecast after next Tuesday. If the forecast is for fairly mild weather we will aerify the red and blue greens next week. If the weather is unfavorable, we will have to wait until the spring to aerify.

I do not want to leave the new greens with open holes over the winter. For the safety of the grassplant and the quality of the course for member play, I want to make sure that when we do aerify that the weather is conducive to a quick turf recovery.

If you plan on bringing out guests during the fall, please contact the golf shop or my office for aerification updates.

Also remember that the grass hitting surfaces on the range and the short game area will close October 1st for the winter to allow the turf to recover from the season usage.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fall Range & Short Game Schedule

It has been a busy season and NCC has one of the most active driving ranges in the area. In order for the range and chipping hitting areas to heal and grow-in before the cold winter temperatures, it will be necessary for us to give it time to grow while the weather is still favorable. This is the only way we can count on having quality surfaces to practice on beginning in the spring.

As in the past, the target date for closing the grass surface of the range and the short game area will be October 1st.

As you can see from the photos above and below, there are large portions of the practice areas that need to be re-established.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fall Aerification Dates

Our fall aerification will begin Tuesday September 7th with the white greens.
At this time we will also begin aerifying the fairways and tees. We have a busier than normal fall tournament schedule with the Northmoor Invitational and the Northwestern Ladies Invitational. These two events will impact the fall aerification on the red and blue greens. I will send you an update on the red and blue aerification once I see how the weather patterns are forming.
If you have any questions, please give me a call.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bunker Face Replacement

We are in the process of re-sodding some of the bunker faces on the white nine. These areas have a difficult time in the summer because they get a heavy layer of sand build-up on them from the bunker shots, they are exposed to the drying South winds, and their vertical faces (slopes) do not allow for adequate water infiltration. Therefore, these areas dry out quickly.

Below Mario is hand watering the bunker faces. Watering with the overhead sprinklers results in the sand in the bunkers being too wet for quality playing conditions.
Mario and Ramiro are adding a low volume irrigation line to the bunker face on #9 white bunker.
This system will add a low volume of irrigation water to the vertical face of the bunker slope. It will prevent heavy run-off of water into the bottom of the bunker.
Below the staff has re-sodded the #9 white bunker face and installed irrigation.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hand Watering Around Bunkers

You may have noticed several of our employees hand watering the areas around the bunkers in the fairways and around the greens. They are watering only the turf without having water flood the bunkers. This, while labor intensive, has a two fold benefit. It gets much needed water to the turf and it prevents the sand from being wet. While we do have an automated irrigation system, those sprinklers turn 360 degrees which waters both the turf and the sand. Wet sand can minimize the quality of bunker playing conditions for the golfer.
Regulo Sanchez is watering the turf immediately bordering the bunkers.
Notice the edges of the bunkers are drying out and deteriorating due to lack of water

Dry bunker edges are less defined due to extended hear and lack of water

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Golf Cart Routing

You will notice that we have placed a few more cart traffic stakes on the course, especially on the blue nine. The blue nine turf is young and immature. It is showing significant signs of cart traffic wear, compaction, and thinning of the turf. This is common on a young turf that has been exposed to a tremendous amount of rainfall, moisture, heat, and humidity this summer. The wear occurs mostly in the lower areas but also near the bunkers where carts drive as close as possible to the fairway bunkers.

Cooler temperatures, fall aerification, and golfers varying their driving patterns will help revive these areas. Thanks for your help.

Here is an example of a heavily used golf cart path where the turf has been affected by the record setting rainfalls this year. The turf remains soft and wet and the golf cart tires repeatedly compact the area resulting in thinning of the turf.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Turf Video - Why does turf die in the summer?

Below is a video site that describes why there is turf loss in the summer months.

Wall Street Journal Article

The article below is from the Wall Street Journal and it references the tremendously difficult weather conditions that are resulting to damage on golf courses around the country. There are major "Top 100" type courses that are closed for the remainder of the summer or that have significant damage. This is an interesting read.

The Ugly Summer of 2010
Brutal heat has greenkeepers fighting to save their courses from ruin

The sustained record-breaking heat across much of the U.S. this summer, combined with high humidity and occasional heavy rain, is killing the greens on many golf courses. A handful of high-profile courses have already had to close, and if the heat continues, others are likely to follow. Golfers themselves deserve part of the blame for insisting that putting surfaces be mown short and fast even in weather conditions in which such practices are almost certain to ruin them.
Huntingdon Valley Country Club outside Philadelphia, which dates from 1897, shut two of its three nines two weeks ago because of serious turf disease caused by the hot, wet weather. The Philadelphia area in July had 17 days of 90-degree-plus weather, six more than average, mixed with flooding thunderstorms of up to 4 inches.
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Members at the Golf Club at Cuscowilla, east of Atlanta, received letters this week that the club's highly regarded Ben Crenshaw-Bill Coore course would be closed for eight to 10 weeks so that the wilted greens can be completely replanted. The Ansley Golf Club broke similar news to members about the club's in-town Atlanta course. "The continued, excessive heat and humidity have put our greens into a critical situation and the possibility of saving many of them is remote," said a letter from the grounds-committee chairman. Even Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., the site of five U.S. Opens, is having serious weather-related problems with its turf.
The U.S. Golf Association last week issued a special "turf-loss advisory" to courses in the Mid-Atlantic states, urgently advising greenkeepers to institute "defensive maintenance and management programs" until the weather crisis ends. Most of the danger is to greens planted in creeping bentgrass and annual bluegrass (also known as poa annua).
"Physiologically, these are cool-season grasses that do very well when the air temperature is 60 to 75 degrees," said Clark Throssell, director of research for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. "They can cope with a few days of 90-degree weather every summer, but when that kind of heat lasts for days at a time, they have extreme difficulty."
Temperatures for weather reports are measured in the shade, but greens baking in the midday sun can reach 120 or 130 degrees. When grass spends too much time in soil that hot, it starts to thin out, turn yellow and wither. Most bentgrass strains will collapse entirely with prolonged exposure to 106-degree soil. The grass doesn't go dormant—it dies.
Grass does have a mechanism to cool itself. It's called evapotranspiration and is analogous to perspiration. The roots draw up water from the soil and it evaporates through the plant's leaves, dissipating heat. But when greens are scalped to a quarter-inch, an eighth of an inch and even shorter, the leaf surface available for transpiration declines.
Prolonged heat causes other problems. One is that root systems shrink, sometimes to within a half-inch of the surface, reducing the amount of water drawn up to the top. Humidity and heavy rain make things even worse. Humidity retards evaporation, while soggy soil stays hot longer than dry soil does. Puddles and saturated soil also create barriers that prevent needed oxygen from getting to the roots.
Even when the combination of these factors doesn't kill bentgrass and poa annua greens outright, it weakens the turf significantly and renders greens more susceptible to fungus and disease.
Bermuda grass, by contrast, thrives in temperatures in the 80s and 90s but cannot survive cold winters. That makes Bermuda the logical choice for courses in the Deep South. High-prestige clubs in the so-called transition zone, which includes parts of Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Texas and the Midwest, have long put a premium on having bentgrass greens because of Bermuda's historic liabilities as a putting surface. Bermuda greens were coarser, bumpier and had problems with excessive "grain," caused by the bristly blades growing in one direction (generally toward the setting sun) instead of vertically and thus unduly influencing the speed and direction of putts. Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, claims to be the first course south of the Mason-Dixon line to install bentgrass greens, in 1936. Hundreds of clubs have followed since.
But they pay the price, even in years with less brutal summers than this one. Colonial, for instance, has five or six fans around every green, stirring up 25-mile-per-hour breezes around the clock to help keep the greens cool. The club in summer has four full-time employees who do nothing but hand-water the hot spots on the greens every day. "Keeping the greens alive till that first cool spell in September is all we hope for," said the club's head pro, Dow Finsterwald Jr.
When hot weather hits bentgrass courses, course superintendents also raise mowing heights. That yields more leaf surface and improves evapotranspiration but can slow down putts by a foot or more on the Stimpmeter, which measures green speed. "Better slow grass than no grass" is a mantra among greenkeepers, but the pressure from golfers to keep the greens rolling fast is relentless.
During the hot summer of 2007, ground crews at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, home of the PGA Tour's Tour Championship, tried every trick in the book to keep the club's bentgrass greens healthy. They hand-watered each green every 30 minutes during the hottest days, just enough to cool off the grass blades but not enough to add moisture to the soil. They ran fans and cut the greens with walk-behind mowers rather than heavy triplex riding machines, to reduce stress.
But nothing did much good. "It's such a helpless feeling. You watch the greens turn yellow and you know they're going to collapse, but there's just nothing more you can do," said Ralph Kepple, East Lake's superintendent.
For the 2008 season, East Lake replanted its greens in one of the new "ultra dwarf" strains of Bermuda that are hard for most golfers to distinguish from bentgrass, in terms of performance. The club is pleased with the decision, Mr. Kepple said—especially this summer.
Augusta National, the home of the Masters 90 miles east of Atlanta, is in an area that is often 10 degrees hotter in the summer, but it easily maintains bentgrass greens. The main reason: The course is closed for play in the summer. That's a luxury very few courses can even consider.—Email John Paul at

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Record Rainfall and Wettness

I often get the question,"Isn't this rain good for the golf course?"

When you get 3 to 6 inches of rainfall at a time or when it rains every other day for 6 or 8 days , the answer is ALWAYS NO!!!!!!!!

When conditions are dry and the rainfall comes in timely manner, rainfall is great for a golf course. When it rains 12 days in the month of June or when it rains 7 inches in a 12 day period, then negative aspects of turf conditioning come into play. Soils become saturated, healthy deep roots regress back to the surface and are less healthy and golf carts are restricted because of the compaction and damage they may cause . High humidity normally accompanies rainfall and humidity is a contributor to turf disease. If high temperatures are included in the equation then that increases the conditions for serious challenges.

Below are a few of the charts and graphs and headlines from the Chicago Tribune this summer relating to our weather conditions. We will always do all we can to have the course playable for you but in months like June and July of 2010 the record rainfall amounts are quite impacting on the course and cart usage.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Course Restoration

Thanks to each of you who have made such positive comments about the course conditions and staff effort during the Member-Member this past weekend. I relayed your thanks to the staff.

After 4 inches of rain on last Friday night and Saturday morning, the course was flooded and many of the bunkers were flooded unplayable. Beginning at 5:00 AM on Saturday and Sunday, the staff pumped out bunkers, squeegeed fairways, redistributed the sand in the bunkers, and delivered the course for play for the Member-Member event. Many courses were closed both weekend days but our staff (see below) came through. They put in hundreds of man hours before and after play to prepare the course. They are a tremendous group of men.

The finished product - Ready for play Sunday morning

White #9 Buckthorn Removal

We recently removed the buckthorn thicket on White #9 cart path. For many of you, it was a mass of brush one time that you were out and then it was gone in a few days on your next time on he course. While projects like this can get completed in a fairly short time, this project entailed hundreds of man hours to complete each phase of the project. I hope you like the new look.

Below - The dense buckthorn thicket in place

Below - Removal of the buckthorn

Below - Clearing of the debris & adding topsoil

Below - Sodding the area

Below - The finished product

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Member - Member Rain Day

In case there is any doubt about how much it has rained last night and this morning, I have included the photo below of one of the flooded streets in the area. Some areas of the city have received over 8 inches of rain.
Below are a few photos early Saturday (today) morning. We have received 3.3 inches of rain and more is on the way. I thought you might like to see the course conditions after a heavy rainfall.
I looks like the Member-Member will be a one day event tomorrow. The bunkers are flooded and the fairways have standing water. We will pump the bunkers once the rains have passed through and get the course ready for tomorrow.

Let's hope we don't get the 87 degree high temperature this afternoon that is forecast. That temperature and the 90% plus humidity will be an ideal formula for a disease outbreak.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Putting Green Cupping Rotation

You will notice that at times there are no putting green cups located at the northwest end of the putting green. When there are cups at this end and edge of the green, 90% of all golfers stop right there and practice putting. They do not use the other 8 cupping locations or the other 8,000 square feet of putting surface. We rotate the cupping locations to disperse the foot traffic of the golfers so it does not wear out a single portion of the green.

Damp Bunkers

When the rainfall stopped in late June, it really stopped. The last three weeks have been very hot and very dry. So far, it is the hottest summer in the last 4 or 5 years at NCC. I understand that dry bunkers are the preferred playing condition and the photos below show how we have been utilizing our staff to hand water bunker faces, green surrounds, tee surrounds, and fairway drain lines to prevent over watering key in-play areas with our overhead irrigation system.

With the forecast for extended temperatures in the 90s and high heat indexes, the grass plants are subject to high evapo-transpiration rate and have to be watered or they will wilt or die. We cannot keep up with the high evapo-transpiration rates during periods of high play and extended heat periods with hand watering only measures. We will irrigate with our automatic overhead irrigation system on Friday and Saturday nights this week so the bunkers may be wet in the mornings until about 8:00 or 9:00 AM. I would like to wait until Sunday night to irrigate but the weather conditions dictate otherwise. I just wanted to give you a heads-up.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Soil Moisture Extremes

After a record setting rainfall in June, the golf course is now very dry. Within 4 or 5 days the soil moisture conditions can go from one extreme to the next. This is due to the heavy clay soil types in the fairways and roughs. Managing "AROUND" Mother Nature and the weather is always a challenge. Things can change in a hurry. Even though we have an ample supply of irrigation water, there are areas of the course that have different established turf species, are out in the open, more exposed to sunlight and wind, receive more traffic, and have a poorer soil structure so they are stressed more quickly and command frequent attention.

Below is a photo of the soil in one of our flower beds.
After an inch rain the course was saturated

Monday, July 12, 2010

In Full Bloom

We continue to add additional landscaping to the NCC property. Below are several photos of our landscaping results this season. We have a very limited staff that is assigned to taking care of our plant materials and the flowerbeds. Santiago and Hector do a tremendous job of keeping up with our extensive landscaping. From the terrace plantings to the pots to the perennial beds, the flowers are in full bloom.