Saturday, May 12, 2018

USGA Course Care

Golf Carts: Five Things Every Golfer Should KnowMAY 9, 2018 | LIBERTY CORNER, N.J.By George Waters, USGA

Golf carts can improve access and generate revenue, but they can also have negative impacts on turf health and playing conditions. (Green Section)
Golf carts play an important role at many golf facilities. They provide a revenue source and increase accessibility, allowing golfers who might not otherwise be able to walk the course to enjoy playing. These benefits are not without their costs, however. Golf carts can have very negative impacts on turf health and playing conditions, especially in areas where traffic is concentrated. Keeping these five things in mind will help ensure that you don’t put the cart before the course during your next round.
1. The impact of cart traffic varies.
Many factors influence how cart traffic affects a golf course. Certain grasses are more vulnerable to traffic injury and may require special cart policies. Areas with heavy soils and poor drainage face a greater risk of compaction and other traffic issues. Even the time of year plays a role. When grasses are growing slowly, they are more vulnerable to the cumulative effects of cart traffic. For all these reasons, cart policies vary from course to course, hole to hole and even day to day.
2. Wet conditions and cart traffic do not mix.
Carts can slide, skid and sink when turf is wet, causing immediate and lasting damage. Wet soils are also more vulnerable to compaction, which can have negative long-term effects on playing conditions, even if those impacts are not immediately visible. Avoiding wet areas and respecting cart path restrictions is an important part of being a responsible cart driver.
Driving a golf cart through a wet area causes serious damage. By respecting cart restrictions and avoiding wet areas, golfers help care for the course.

3. Cart traffic during hot, dry weather can also cause problems.
It’s easy to understand that driving a cart through a soaking wet area is likely to cause problems, but many golfers are not aware that driving over dry or heat-stressed turf can also cause issues. During hot and dry weather, cart traffic increases stress on the grass and can leave behind damaged turf and straw-colored tire marks that may take weeks to heal.

Cart traffic during hot and dry weather can also cause turf damage. The tire marks that appear on dry or heat-stressed turf can take weeks to heal.
4. Sometimes it’s better to take the road less traveled.
A single golf cart driving down a fairway has little to no effect on turf health or playing conditions. It is the cumulative effect of many carts that eventually takes a toll on the grass. This is why cart damage is most obvious in areas where traffic is concentrated, like the ends of cart paths. Doing your best to steer clear of high-traffic areas can greatly reduce the impact of your cart.
5. Less cart traffic means better playing conditions.
Walking or sharing a cart goes a long way toward reducing cart traffic and improving turf health. This helps courses conserve resources and provide better playing conditions for everyone.
Reducing cart traffic makes it easier to maintain healthy turf and good playing conditions. When possible, walking instead of riding is a big help. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

Golf facilities use ropes, stakes, signs and many other traffic control measures to minimize the negative impacts of cart use; but ultimately, they depend on golfers to be mindful of where and how they drive. Respecting course rules, being understanding of cart restrictions and doing our best to reduce cart traffic can have a very positive impact on the courses we play. Visit the Course Care section of to learn more. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

A great article on the Augusta syndrome by Mike Bailey

Ten reasons why Augusta National shouldn't make you green with envy

It's what's known in the golf course maintenance business as the "Augusta effect," and high definition TV has only amplified it.
Over the past 30 or 40 years especially, the maintenance staff at Augusta National has set the standard extremely high for golf course superintendents everywhere.
Golfers watch the Masters on TV and salivate over the beauty and perfection. And if you've never been to Augusta National during tournament week and think that maybe that's just the way it looks on television, think again. It is that perfect.
Peter Grass, the newly elected president of the Golf Course Superintendents Association, knows how unfair this is to superintendents.
"Superintendents are being asked to do more with less -- less money, less staff and less water. There are high costs directly related to golf course management," said Grass, who is superintendent at Hilands Golf Club in Billings, Mont. "However, golfers' high expectations have not changed. They still want their courses to be impeccable. Despite the challenges, superintendents also want their courses to offer exceptional play on healthy turf. Every day, they strive to provide the best possible conditions to customers."
Eric Bauer, the director of agronomy at the new Bluejack National Golf Club north of Houston, knows a little about trying to emulate Augusta's conditioning. The exclusive course, which was designed by Tiger Woods, has a definite Augusta look to it, and it's expected to have that Augusta look.
But even then, with a generous maintenance budget at an exclusive club, Bauer will tell you (below) that there are other ways Augusta National has an advantage.
So yes, Augusta really shouldn't be setting the standard, as it were; it's unattainable for all but a very few. Here, then, are 10 reasons it's unreasonable for most golfers to compare their home course to Augusta National Golf Club.

10. Good help is hard to find, but not for Augusta National

Augusta National gets the very best people to mow greens, blow leaves, rake bunkers and put out fresh pine needles. "If you were to ask a majority of superintendents today labor is becoming more and more a challenge," Bauer says. "Today's worker is getting harder to find and motivate."

9. Augusta also gets the best volunteers during Masters Week

When you see that army of mowers sweeping the fairways after play each day, those aren't members of Augusta's regular maintenance staff; many of those guys and gals are superintendents at some pretty high-profile courses around the world, doing specific tasks normally associated with regular crew members. In fact, just go ahead and multiply the crew by 10 during tournament week and imagine most of those guys with mowers and blowers having turfgrass degrees. That's Augusta National.

8. Augusta attracts the very best young talent, too

What budding superintendent or tech wouldn't want to work at Augusta National? Every year, the club gets flooded with resumes from all over the country and from the very best turgrass schools. As Bauer says, "Augusta probably has its pick of the best of the best coming out of school or wishing to complete internships, only to have the opportunity to put ANGC on their resume."

7. No carts are allowed at Augusta National -- ever

Forget the 90-degree rule, this is an all-walking, caddie course that is not going to be ruined by those pesky golf carts driving all over its pristine fairways. (Ironically, Club Car is headquartered in Augusta, Ga.) So, right there, Augusta National gets a lot less wear and tear than your home course.

6. Augusta National isn't natural

Not to imply that the folks at ANGC are doing anything harmful to the environment, but you don't get conditions like that without spending a lot of money on pesticides, herbicides, wetting agents and the like. So if you're the type who likes your golf course as natural as possible, you can forget it looking like the one on Magnolia Lane.

More: So you want to be golf course superintendent?

5. Greens Stimped at 13 and above would slow down play

If you want really fast smooth greens, think about the average golfer. Inducing three- and four-putts all over the place -- especially on weekends -- would grind play to a halt. Who wants that?

4. Perfect conditions and affordable green fees don't go together

It takes pretty much an unlimited budget to produce perfect conditions, and the members at Augusta not only have deep pockets, but they get a boatload of TV money, too. Of course there are a few private clubs and even some resort courses around the country that have close-to-perfect conditions, but they aren't exactly affordable for the masses. So if you're looking for any kind of value golf, you really have to learn to overlook a few flaws.

3. Without a lot of play, great conditions are easier to maintain

Though Augusta National isn't in the habit of disclosing how many rounds they get (ANGC staff isn't even available to comment for articles), you can bet it's less than your club, unless you're a one-percenter. Much less. There are days where Augusta might get two or three groups, and that's not abnormal. Without much play, it's much easier to give a golf course some serious TLC.

2. What's wrong with firm and fast?

It takes a lot of water to make a course as green as Augusta National, which has an incredible irrigation and drainage system that keeps it from getting soggy. For most courses, that kind of watering would mean an awfully soft golf course, the opposite of say, Chambers Bay near Seattle, which was heavily criticized for its brownish-green look during the 2015 U.S. Open. But let's face it, most golfers want their drives to roll out, and they want to be able to bounce a ball up onto the green, which is very difficult if you're watering a course to keep it super green.

1. No summertime golf at Augusta National

On TV we see Augusta National in all its glory with the azaleas in bloom, the fairways and greens perfect and the weather conducive for growing cool-season grasses. In the summer, that doesn't work so well, so the course is closed, and it doesn't have to endure the stress of hot weather with people taking divots and making ball marks on its perfect greens. As the GCSAA's Grass says, "Superintendents face challenges from Mother Nature, whether it's a rough winter or summer drought conditions. But, superintendents are problem solvers, and they know the best ways possible to deal with whatever Mother Nature brings."

Friday, February 16, 2018

Should We Do It?FEBRUARY 16, 2018By Elliott Dowling, agronomist, Northeast Region

Playing golf on soft or partially thawed greens can result in damage like excessive ball marks, thin turf or footprints that linger into spring.
Excitement for the upcoming golf season begins to build during late winter. While some golf facilities in the Northeast close for winter, others continue to allow play depending on the weather. When the weather is favorable, allowing play usually is a fairly simple decision. However, the decision becomes much more difficult when the weather fluctuates between extremes. Mild and sunny days in February and March might be enticing to golfers, but lasting turfgrass damage can result when winter play is allowed under the wrong conditions.
Playing golf during highly variable winter weather can result in turf damage. During late winter, cold snaps often follow periods of warm temperatures. Under these conditions, turf is extremely vulnerable to injury from traffic. Play during a sudden thaw can be especially damaging because the upper 1 or 2 inches of soil can defrost while the underlying soil remains frozen. Traffic under these conditions can shear turf roots at the interface between the thawed and frozen layers. Such shearing can compromise turf health come spring.
Frozen soils also cannot drain. When precipitation occurs, the surface of frozen soils will remain saturated and prone to injury. Soils also dry slowly during late winter due to short day length and cool temperatures, so even unfrozen soils will be slow to dry and firm up after precipitation. Soft surfaces are more vulnerable to damage from foot traffic, ball marks, rutting and compaction.
It is important to remember, no matter how thawed or frozen the soil is, turf is unlikely to be growing during winter. Grass that isn’t growing cannot recover from damage until spring. Therefore, turf damage that occurs during winter can have a cumulative effect that lasts until warm weather arrives and the grass is able to recover.
Before allowing winter play ask, what is the purpose of winter play? All golf facilities welcome additional rounds, but sometimes allowing play during winter presents more costs than benefits. Keep in mind that winter play under the wrong conditions may result in a net loss due to the expense of repairs or slow spring greenup.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Winter Project Update

Winter projects are moving right along this year. Over the past winters we have performed our spring greens aerification during the winter. We have experimented with different techniques so we can achieve our USGA recommended 20% surface disruption. During this time we exercise the most disruption allowing us to achieve our goals. This is very important during this time, our member play is down and we do close the greens for these agronomic programs.  This year we opted to target the top 1 inch of the green surface. We regularly test the top 4 inches and our test concluded we needed to be target the top. We used a machine that slices a 1 inch deep line and then is filled with sand right behind the unit. This is a wonderful way to have firm and fast greens during the summer months. For our second program, we will use our deep tine machine that will poke a hole 12 inches deep. We then will drop a line of sand and manually broom into the holes. This will help with drainage and increase the rooting on the greens. Once the deep tine program is complete (fingers crossed by next week), we will cover the greens until sometime in mid-March.

Other notable Projects:

  • Golf Course wide tree pruning. This will increase sight lines, shade mitigation and improve air flow. 
  • Curbs have been installed on 3 green, 4 green 5 green, 18 green, 9 green, and 10 tee along the cart path edge. This will cut down on wear and the staff having to repair every year. 
  • Fairways have been verti-cut, aerified, and top dressed and currently we are finishing up the deep tine.
  • Rough has been aerified
  • The rough around #5 green has been replaced with new sod.
  • Our new tee on #17 is coming along nicely and we hope to have this completed by March. 

The Graden Machine in Action

Pushing off left over debris

Deep tine machine going 12 inches deep

Sand ready to be pushed into the holes 

Finished product
#18 green side curb addition

#10 Tee curb addition