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.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Why are the white greens different?

I receive numerous questions about the white nine greens and why they differ from the red and blue nine greens.  First and foremost, the greens renovation that was done to the white nine, prior to my arrival at NCC, was merely a process of changing the type of grass on the green.  The  bent-poa surfaces were replaced with L93 bentgrass, the new bentgrass variety of the day.  Nothing was done to the 80 year old subsurfaces.  Only 4 and 5 white greens were totally rebuilt.  The other white greens maintained the same flatter surfaces and soil rootzones with no drainage.  Without question, the white greens are a different "animal" than the red and blue greens and they will always be different.  Simply put, they are basically 100 year old greens built with 100 year old materials and technology.  The red and blue greens are constructed of current technology to meet the demands and expectations of today's golfer. 

The white nine greens differ distinctly from the red and blue nine greens.  The differences include:
The white greens are established with L93 bentgrass which has a different type growth habit than
     the A1 bentgrass variety on red and blue.  A1 is a finer leafed turf.  The leaf blades of the L93
    are broader and react differently to heat and humidity.  The wider leaf equates to increased
    resistance on ball roll, therefore reducing green speed.  These two varieties are very different.
The white greens have no subsurface drainage, the red and blue greens do.
Without subsurface drainage to carry the water away, the green stays saturated and wet.
The white greens are made of native soil, the blue and red rootzones are sand based.
The native clay soils hold water and do not allow it to move through and away from the rootzone.
Certainly sand based greens with drainage will be firmer and drier than moister soil greens.
Sand based greens will allow water to drain thru the profile resulting in firmer putting surfaces.
The white greens do not have as notable slopes and contours as the new red and blue greens.
Being flatter, the white greens will not have the increased speeds of a sloping green.
Thus, the putting speeds are faster on the red and blue most days.
A new bentgrass variety, increased contours, sand based rootzone and interior drainage are the
     four components that differ from the white greens.   All golf greens are not the same.

The photo below shows the sand based rootzone of the blue and red greens.
Notice the extremely healthy 5 to 6 inch root structure of the sand based greens 
The photo below is of a darker colored soil based "white" green.
The root structure is shorter and not as healthy
The black native soil, absent of drainage, holds water and is a softer surface. 
During wetter periods, the native soil particles hold water and act much like a sponge.
Void of a subsurface drainage system, the white greens hold water during rainy periods.
There is no place for the water to go.  There is no drainage mechanism for water to exit.
Notice the water standing in the bottom of the cup.
Softer, wetter subsurfaces do not result in firm & fast putting surfaces.                             

There is a misconception that the white nine greens were rebuilt to the same specifications 
as the newly renovated blue an red greens.  Only # 4 and #5 white greens were totally rebuilt.
The other seven white nine greens simply had a new bentgrass variety planted on the surface.
There was no drainage installed nor a replacement of the rootzone material.  The subsurface
 is the same as it was when the course was built in the early 1900s. 
Below exhibits vast difference in the construction of the white vs the red and blue greens
            The photo below is of  White green #1 rootzone.  There is no drainage mechanism in place.  Therefore the greens stay soft and wet for days following a rainfall.            
 The photo below is a USGA sand based green as is found in the red and blue greens.  The dark brown layer is a mixture of sand and organic matter.  Below is a gravel layer with drainage pipe which assists in carrying water away from the green.  Therefore the surface of the green dries out quicker resulting in a firmer surface with increased putting speeds.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

It Can Change is a Day

The life of a Golf Course Manager is always challenging.  Weather has a significant impact on the turfgrass health and condition which directly reflects on the playing condition of the course.  Hot, dry, dirm, wet, soft, etc. condititions can change daily on a golf course.  Controlling the Uncontrollable is our biggest challenge in Golf Course Management.

Two days ago we had 10 staff members hand watering fairway drain lines that were wilting from the intense 100 heat.
Today, we have 15 staff members squeeging water from the low spots in the fairways following 1.7 inches of rainfall last night.  If not given attention, the lower and wetter areas can become scalded from the 90+ degree temperatures and they become an optimum location for turfgrass diseases to occur. 

The two photo below show an agressive and devistating turfgrass disease known as "Pythium."  It favors low, moist areas and occurs in hot - humid weather conditions.  Thus the reason for squeeging the fairways and applying plant protectants.
   The photo below is of a lightening strike on the #7 red green Wednesday night. 

Eleminating Shade

Several key elements to a quality playing surface is that the surface be firm and dry.  Normally, shaded turf areas tend to hold more moisture and are subject to limited sunlight.  In the example of #7 blue tee below, prior to pruning the trees to the east of the tee, the tee was sparse of turf, damp and in generally poor condition.  Once we pruned the trees and exposed the tee to improved sunlight and air movement, the quality of the tee has dramatically increased. 
The photo above shows the dense tree canopy that shaded the #7 blue tee area
The photo below shows the weakened turf area due to wetness and lack of sunlight.

The photo above exhibits the area adjacent to the #7 blue tee that was cleared to allow sunlight and air movement for the turfgrass
The photo below shows the quality turf resulting from the the improved area.
The photo below is of a heavily shaded area next to #9 red ladies tee.  Sparse turf and dirt occupy the space.
The photo below is of a quality stand of turf after the trees have been pruned allowing for sunlight to access the area.
             The photo below shows the extreme dryness around a group of trees.  The root systems of mature trees can consume hundreds of gallons of water from the subsurface.  Notice here that there is one specimen tree with two less desirable trees in close proximity.  The two less desirable species are using soil moisture at the expense of the desirable tree.  This situation is an example of where the institution of a quality Tree Management Program is helpful.  In the best case scenario, the undesirable tree would be removed so that it does not limit the potential and health of the desirable tree. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer Heat 2012

The intense heat and lack of rainfall are having a significant effect on golf courses throughout the Midwest and especially in Chicago.  Although we do have an automated irrigation system, the transpoevaporation rates of the grass plant cannot go unscathed by the intense heat and dryness.  The golf course is holding up very well and playing conditions are superb.  There are some areas that are a bit off color but that is unavoidable under these weather conditions.  Normally these type of temperatures do not occur until later in the summer.

Last summer, we had hot days but it rained 12 to 14 days in each of the months of May, June and July.  This year we are in the middle of a drought.  That is why no two years are alike in managing a golf course.

100s topple records across Plains; heat/some t-storms Chicagobound


                                5 Day Forecast for the last 5 days
Thursday 100 degrees
Friday     95  degrees
Saturday 94 degrees
    Sunday    95   degrees
  Monday    95  degrees
Blistering Heat     Heat Index 110 degrees
Continued cart traffic in the same locations can cause wear and damage to the turf.  This is why we utilize traffic rotation measures to distribute the cart traffic and sustain quality turf conditions.

Water management is a key component of turfgrass management in dry situations.  Overwatering and leaving the turf in moist conditions during extremen heat and humidity can result in devistating disease occurance.  For this reason, we water only as needed to each specific area and with each specific turf species.  For example, in the photo below, we water enough to keep the bentgrass fairways at the proper moisture levels but because the same sprinkler heads cover the bentgrass fairways and the bluegrass roughs, we do overwater the bentgrass in order to water the bluegrass intermediate rough to the levels necessary to keep it green.  Once we get some rainfall, the bluegrass will return to its normal green color.
Below, we cannot water the intermediate rough without getting the bunker sand wet
In order to meet the water requirement for the different grasses on the course in dry conditions, 8 to 10 of our staff are assigned to watering the dry areas on the course.  This insures the survival of the turf in extreme heat and drought conditions.  It is very labor intensive but absolutely necessary. 
                                    Syringing Fairway Darain Lines
                                                  Syringing Greens
Here is the forecast for the next 4 days 
Today        97   degrees
Wednesday 100  degrees
Thursday    99  degrees
Friday       100  degrees