Monday, January 11, 2016

Course Update, 1/11/2016

3 Pond in its Winter State
Winter has finally arrived, and some of the coldest air of the season has invaded our area.  I wanted to take a minute and share some of my observations over the last 4 weeks.

18 green receiving a mow on 12/9/15
Mowing fairways on December 22. Quite shaggy!
Clipping yield from 18 green, 12/9/15

December brought record warmth to our area.  The green and fairway turf was mowed and plant protectants were reapplied in those areas.  The decision to do this is not a easy, cut and dry one to make, but one that was necessary IMO for the long term health of the turf.  Growth regulators were included in the reapplication to minimize growth in case the warm weather continued, which it did for a bit, albeit not the 60's we saw earlier in the month.  As of this morning, all areas are clean of disease.
Topdressing 18 green
1 green after sand was applied

The warm December allowed us to continue adding topdressing to greens to continue to protect the crowns from any cold injury due to exposure.  It also kept the soil from freezing, which was key for any rain events we received over the course of the month.  A great example is over this past weekend, when the course received 1.75" of rain Friday and Saturday.  Thanks in part to the unfrozen soil, open holes from our November deep tine aerification, and a late season wetting agent application that aids in moving water away from the soil surface, all surfaces were dry before the temperatures dropped and any standing water could freeze.  Remembering our ice adventures from a couple of years ago, I was quite happy to see that!   The dangers of ice to Poa annua greens and our experiences are explained here and here to refresh your memory.  
#5 after this past weekend's weather event
No ice, just a dusting of snow on green surfaces

17 Green
With temperatures now forecasted to be below normal, additional snow cover would be highly beneficial to further insulate the crowns of the plants.  Poa annua is resilient, but susceptible to deep cold injury.  While it is "so far, so good" in regards to turf survival over the winter, the situation is one that will be continuously monitored and sampled.

If you have any questions, contact me at  Stay warm!


2015/16 Tree Work

(Editor's note:  This was supposed to be posted on January 2, 2016, but did not due to a technical error.)

A beautiful December sunrise
If you took advantage of the warmer golf weather that December brought, you may have noticed the tree work that has been accomplished within the last few weeks, and may have questions on the reasons why certain trees were removed.  Elcona's tree removal strategy revolves on continuously improving playing conditions and turf health on the golf course, while maintaining the integrity and playability of each hole. Trees are a tremendous asset to Elcona's golf course, as long as they are the right tree in the right location.

The impact of tree roots and nutrient competition  to a turf stand.
Some trees can be targeted for removal discussion based on their proximity to fairways or greens, their impact on the surrounding turf health (too much shade and nutrient competition), while others are targeted because they are growing into other, more desirable trees.  Others are removed for their own failing health or the large amounts of debris and litter they produce.  The picture above shows quite healthy turf outside of the tree rootzone, which is clearly defined by the brown turf.  Below I have identified a couple areas and the reasoning behind their removal.

Right side of 6 with a couple Sugar Maples removed

#6/16 before removal

This area above is on the right side of 6, both off of the tee and in the rough short of the bunker.  This area is a popular spot for wayward tee shots, but is quite thin in terms of turf cover due to many Maple trees, in terms of their maturation, high shade cover, and robbing the micro-environment of nutrients that the turf uses to thrive.  The above left picture shows an example of the thin turf cover and bare areas that are typical in this situation.  This removal will increase the amount of sunlight to the area and create a better environment for turf to grow, while still providing a challenge for any wayward tee shots.

#1 from the landing area.
The area to the right is #1 from the landing area.  The tulip tree behind the green was removed due to the large amount of debris that is rained onto the green, as well as the damage it took from a couple of storms in the past 2 years.  Roots were also beginning to encroach the immediate green surround and impacting the health of the bluegrass.  Two oak trees on the left side of the hole will also be removed later this month whenever the ground freezes.  Both oaks are in sickly shape, one from oak wilt and the other from an ant infestation.

We also have continued focusing our efforts on removing silver maples on property to further reduce those pesky helicopter seeds that are prevalent in the late spring months.  About 10 additional ash trees have been removed due to their succumbing to Emerald Ash Borer damage.

I welcome anyone that has questions on any work done on the golf course to contact me at, or give me a call at the maintenance facility.