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, June 28, 2010

Green Speed Factors

Numerous factors affect the speed of the greens on a given day or over an extended period. The most impacting factors include the health and condition of the turf, extremes in weather conditions, extended periods of drought or rain, construction methods and materials used to build the green, species of turf established on the green, the design & contours within the green, etc. Last but not least, green speeds should be maintained at a pace that affords the membership an enjoyable round of golf.

One factor that is often overlooked is that virtually no course has its greens maintained at lightening fast speeds everyday of the season. The turf simply cannot take that kind of pressure over an extended period without showing signs of a decrease in quality. You may visit a club for a Member-Guest or Guest Day or some special event where they have the greens very fast for that single day and that day alone. It doesn't mean that is their speed everyday.

Factors Affecting Green Speeds

Contributing Factors (lower speed)

Rainfall/irrigation/dew/humidity/moisture held in the plant
Increased Mowing Height
Changes in soil temperature
Diminishing effects of Plant Growth Regulators
Ball marks
Lack of sunshine (prevents turf drying)
Greens with a flatter design and minimal contours
Lack of air movement

Contributing Factors (higher speed)

Lower mowing height (Diminishing return)
Increase # of times mowing - double cutting
Changes in soil temperature
Reduced fertility
Use of Plant Growth Regulators
Any factors that contribute to a smoother surface
Any factors that reduce plant growth
Use of improved bentgrass varieties
Higher wind velocities (keep surfaces firm and dry)
Greens with more slope and more undulations
Good air flow
Improved drainage for firm surfaces
Dry surfaces
Low humidity

Venting Greens

Oxygen availability to the roots of the grass plants on a golf green is an essential component for a healthy green. With golfers and mowers walking and rolling over the green's surface each day the surface can become compacted and limits oxygen exchange into the rootzone.

Here Luis is using an aerifyer, equipped with 5mm diameter tines to punch holes in the green. These holes provide channels for oxygen to permeate the turfgrass rootzone and allow the roots to "breath." The holes also offer improved infiltration of water (rainfall) to move into the subsurface rather than water puddling on the surface.

Once we roll over the greens one time and mow them, the holes are not even visible and the ball roll is not affected. We will do this process to the greens every week or two in the summer months. This process is called "venting" or "needle tining" the greens.

Blue #8

Below is a photo of the new Blue #8 green complex

Thursday, June 24, 2010

June Rainfall

Weather is one of the most impacting influences on a golf course. A one inch rain today can affect the conditions for a week. A 4 day period of 95 degree temperatures can dictate the health of the turf and the agronomic decisions that we have to make for weeks afterwards.
Below, marked in red, is a list of the days in June that it has rained.

I realize that many of our members need to ride in carts to enjoy their golf. I take every measure to accommodate the use of carts whenever absolutely possible. 2010 is already recorded as the 3rd wettest spring in the past 82 years. Last spring was the wettest spring in the past 112 years. It is easy to see how the weather impacts our decisions on the course.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

SubAir in Operation

Weather conditions are one of the most influencing factors on the health of a turfgrass plant. Saturated rootzones and extended periods of wetness are detrimental to the health and quality of a green's surface. The turf roots do not like being submerged in water. There is no oxygen available to the plant when the soils are continually wet.

We have just completed the 3rd wettest spring in the last 82 years. Last spring was the wettest spring in the last 100 years. Continual and persistent rainfalls have the opposite effect on turfgrass plants than a nice drenching infrequent rainfall. This is not the kind of spring we want for our course, especially the new blue nine. Wet conditions reduce roots depths and are a haven for disease occurance.
The photo below is is of the SubAir machine in operation. The machine sucks water out of the subsurface of the green and discharges it offsite of the green.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Storm Damage

The storm last night brought high winds, an inch of rain, and quite a bit of damage to the golf course. You will not see much of the damage today because the staff was out at daylight cleaning as much of it up as possible before your round. We should have most of it cleaned up before the Sunday morning events.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wet Conditions

The photos below show how wet conditions exist and can receive damage following a heavy rainfall. At times, it is necessary to implement different options for cart usage when wet conditions exist. Depending on the amounts of rainfall, carts may be restricted to paths, restricted to fairways, or restricted to the roughs. Thanks for your understanding during the times that we have these restrictions. It is my goal to allow carts on the course as soon as possible following a heavy rainfall. I place a high priority on trying to achieve the best possible balance between protecting your valuable asset and providing you access to enjoy your golf course.

The photo below shows where several carts drove in wet area of the rough when carts were restricted to the drier fairways.
The photo below exhibits the type of damage a golf cart can do to the course when saturated soil conditions exist.
The photo below is a wet area in the rough following a rainThe photo below is a wet area in the rough after a rain

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Replacing Fairway Divots

The recommended way for our NCC member's to repair a fairway divot is to fill the divot by using the mixture in the sand and seed bottles. This is the preferred repair method. Too often if the golfer places the turf back in the divot, there is not a solid turf to soil contact and warm air dries the turf, dies, and leaves an unsightly dead area of brown grass.

The photo below shows the correct way to fill a fairway divot. Sand is used to fill the divot and then you can use your foot to smooth it level with the surrounding turf.

The photo below shows an example of where the turf was placed back into a fairway divot. The turf died and turned brown.

Chipping Green Design

A common question I receive is,"Why is the chipping green designed the way it is?"

Based on my conversations with Dr. Hurdzan, he wanted to design a chipping area that had different sectors to the green. He knew there might be 3 or 4 different golfers practicing at the same time. With this design, each golfer could chip balls to their won section of the green. If the green was just flat, there might be 200 golf balls on the green at one time and the golfers would not have a clear spot to hit to. It was meant to be a Short Game practice area primarily for bunker practice and bump and run (low trajectory) chip shots. The pink markers designate the 4 different sectors of the chipping green.

I hope this gives you some insight into the design of the chipping green.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Improved Rough

The photo below shows the evidence and success of the project where we widened the fairway on #2 red. In less than 8 weeks we have gone from a weak - thin turf to a dense stand of turf. This was achieved by reducing the shade in the area and by providing a wider area for carts to drive, thus reducing compaction of the soil.
The photo below shows where we removed a dead tree and widened the fairway on #2 red which resulted in improved turf conditions.
The photo below shows the thin turf in #2 red right rough where traffic and shade had reduced the quality of the turf.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rough Heights

I was recently asked why there is some inconsistency in the height of our roughs. Good question. This is due to 4 or 5 main agronomic reasons:
1. We have 3 different species of grasses in our roughs (poa, bent, and bluegrass) and each of
these species has a different growth rate and different growth pattern. Basically, each of
the 3 species grows at a different rate.
2. We recently fertilized the roughs for the first time in 4 or 5 years. We did this to encourage
growth in some of the shaded and high traffic areas. The nitrogen component of the fertilizer
is now releasing with the warm weather and is available to the plant.
3. The rainfall over the last two weeks has stimulated the growth of all of the rough.
4. Many of the heavily shaded areas of the rough have shorter and thinner turf. The areas that
are exposed to more sunlight have a denser growth pattern.
5. The more cart traffic that is exerted on a given area of turf will affect the growth rate of that
specific turf area. In many cases the closer you get to the green, the more concentrated the
cart traffic becomes and it keeps the turf worn down more because there are more carts
driven in a concentrated area.
6. In certain times of the year (spring and fall) the roughs will grow much faster than in the
hotter summer months.
As for mowing the roughs, we mow all the roughs twice a week and then on Fridays we mow two times around each fairway for the weekend preparation. We mow at a 2.5 inch cutting height.
Based on a survey that I did of approximately 12 area high end clubs, we mow more frequently and lower than any other club in the survey.
If you have any questions, let me know.