Monday, November 9, 2015

Winter Prep and projects

Leaf clean up has been on going with many leaves still clinging on. We anticipate in the next week or so to be almost complete.  Our winter projects are off to a good start! We are prepping for a golf car turnaround next to the tees on #8, new tee on 15 is being built with completion next week and open for play for the start of next season.  Our rough was badly injured from the recent drought and we have taken steps to help remedy it. For example you have seen the compost being applied. This is the best way to change a 100% clay soil structure to something that grass can thrive better in. The compost adds nutrients and most importantly helps with water retention during times of drought. This process will take place every year, very similar to our fairway top dressing program. We also have up the amount of times we aerify the rough to 4 total for the year. Currently we have several holes completed. Once the course is completed for this time, we will turn around and do it again starting in December. With rain in the forecast for tomorrow, we are top dressing greens. The rain helps to drive the sand into the turf canopy.  Stay tuned for more winter projects on the way. 

Friday, September 18, 2015


Laying replacement sod at the shortgame approach. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Golf Course Update

Golf Course Update
This time of year is typically dry for our area and we are currently experiencing the driest we have ever experienced.  Some golf courses have been lucky receiving rain fall while others like ourselves have not. As the golf course becomes dry, we start to see how inefficient the irrigation system really is. Our system is designed as a two row system.  A great example is Pinehurst #2 has a single row system right down the middle.  Ours is 2 rows, one row is on the left of the fairway and the other is on the right half of the fairway.  This system is great for watering the fairways and not so great when we need to water the rough. Our rough is comprised mainly of tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass with other unwanted grasses such as bermuda.  We are lucky enough to cultivate our fairways with the sand top-dressing over the winters and this has already accumulated 2.5 inches of sand.  Water travels easy through sand because of the porous nature, while our roughs are comprised of clay and is tightly packed allowing no water to infiltrate. With our lack of irrigation, head to head coverage and traffic, we have a rough that looks the way that it does.  Most new golf courses that are being built have gone to installing heads to just water the rough.  Why would they do this?   Well for a couple of reasons.   First, we do not want to over-water the fairways creating soft conditions to compensate for the lack of water targeting the roughs.   Second, the rough requires more water because of the nature of the grass and the soil structure. This is the challenge we are faced when we experience a drought here on the golf course.

Our bermuda control program around the greens is going very well with all of the rough replaced with sod.  Our next mission is to repair some of the collars that also had bermuda growing in them as well with either a little seed or sod.  The fairway bermuda suppression program is at work, turning the bermuda white.   While we wish the herbicides will actually kill it, what is really happening is that we are shutting down the chlorophyll production in the plant and as the cold weather arrives, the bermuda does not have enough food reserves to survive the cold winter.

Last week, the team finished up aerifying approaches and top-dressing them.  As customary to our greens aerification, the approaches were getting too soft and we needed to pull cores and fill with sand to keep them firm throughout the playing season.   Of course because we are dry, open holes tend to dry out fast which is what we are seeing on a few approaches.  In a short period they will heal up and we will be ready for the fall golfing season.

This time of year, we need a few weeks to take a few steps back so that we can continue to move forward creating consistent playing condition

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Golf Course Update

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Golf Course Update

Dear Members:
It is hard to believe that the summer is almost over and we be aerifyng the golf course next week. For many on my staff it's a monumental moment when aerification arrives because it signals to us that the season is slowly winding down and cooler weather is on the way. Our goal for the greens aerification program in the early spring is to be aggressive removing the unwanted organic material.  The second greens aerification, scheduled for next week, is to heal up quickly and be less aggressive. By combining these two types of techniques, we can still attain our goals of removing more that 20 percent of the area for proper greens health. The tees, approaches and rough will also see cores removed and the fairways will have select areas aerified with a solid tine for minimal disruption. Over all, that is the program for this year, so we have a lot of work for us to accomplish next week.
We are also entering the part of the season where the Bermuda grass is thriving in places across the golf course. This weed is the most difficult to control and most golf courses in our area, and those nationwide that are NOT Bermuda, have the same problem. Some courses are aggressive in their approach, while others do what they can. We are actually going to do both. It's been a well-known fact that through the spring and summer, our rough is not always where we would like it to be. We want to avoid that by using a mix of techniques that could give us desirable results while minimizing the impact on member play.  Our plan is to take small areas that are generally in-play, apply Round-Up to those, and then sod them, as seen in the photo to the right. Other areas that are farther away from play areas will be seeded. We will try to seed fewer areas because of the amount of time it takes to produce results compared to sod.

Some holes are worse than others and if we chose to apply Round-Up to the Bermuda on holes 5, 8, and 18, there wouldn't be any rough left.  So on these holes we are going to spray a herbicide, similar to what we do in the fairways to minimize the contamination, and then seed those. My goal over time is to get small areas where we can apply Round-Up. Is all of this a sure fire way of dealing with this problem? Probably not, but it's the best thing available to us, since we know that if we do nothing it will only get worse. I'm pretty certain that two things will survive a nuclear attack, cockroaches and Bermuda grass! 
On August 17th, we will have a tree company on site to remove a large willow oak where the back half of the canopy has died. This was a beautiful tree at one point, and it is a shame we have to take it down, but it's just not safe because of the proximity to the clubhouse and walkway. We will evaluate the area for additional improvements with another tree and plant material.
We hope your summer has been great so far and we look forward to seeing you on the course.
Thank you,
Phil Desbrow
Golf Course Manager

Lakewood Country Club.     13901 Glen Mill Road.     Rockville, MD 20850      301.762.5430

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Golf Etiquette

One day I was on amazon and and I searched for "Golf Etiquette" just to see what would come up. To my amazement there is actually a book that exist written by Barbara Puett and Jim Apfelbaum with the Introduction by Tom Kite and Foreword by Ben Crenshaw, This book helps the beginner golfer to the most skilled golfer on ways that they can respect the game and others around you.


"Golf Etiquette is an imbedded tradition that is nearly as much a part of the game as they play itself.

Throughout golf's history it has been customary to treat your opponent or playing companions with due consideration. In other words, when someone says to you, "It is your honor" to play, it represents more than mere procedure. In simple terms it means that one is expected to be on his or her best behavior when on the golf course. 

Respect for the rules, the golf course, and the player ensures a consistent future for a pastime that has endured for more than five hundred years. 

It is helpful that books such as Golf Etiquette should be introduced to golfers of all ages. It is up to all of us to keep these wonderful traditions alive to provide new generations a chance to enjoy the game that so many of us have enjoyed all of these years."
                                                                                                                  Ben Crenshaw

I encourage everyone who is interested in making the game more enjoyable for your self and others around you to read this book. Some of this information is common sense and others are things that may have been forgotten over the years. 

So where I am going with this? Each and everyday we are having more and more play, and that's a great thing. With that comes more activity on the playing surfaces. For example, ball marks are one of those "Golfer Etiquette" things that should come natural when you walk on a green. We haven't been doing our best at this and we want to get off on a great start this year. Bunkers are being played out of and not being raked when you leave.  Please remember to leave it better than you found it so that everyone can enjoy the game.  

The picture below describes what we see on a daily basis. This bunker would have looked perfect if it was raked after this person had played out of it and now it cost us time and money for the greens staff to come back and re-rake the bunker.  From our point of view, if the bunker has been raked properly or not been played out of, we can move on to the next one during our daily course preparations. This makes our bunker prep more efficient, its not efficient when we see examples like these. 

Picture taken this morning on right side bunker
of 18 green

Greens are healing up nicely albeit a little slow due to the considerable cloudiness we have had and they will be on there way to being completely healed very soon. Our efforts in our aerification program will pay off this season during the hot and stressful time of the year with great playing conditions.  The practice green is the slowest because it does receive the most traffic and will soon fill in. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Golf Course Update

Golf Course Conditions
The weather is finally getting warmer and soon enough the golf course will begin to wake up from the cold winter. There have been numerous projects that have taken place on the golf course between the snows and sometimes during. With our line of work, we can only wait for so long until we have to try something to get ahead.  Even though the winter was hard to work around, we actually have completed a lot of projects that were needed.

·         Removed Dead trees and ground stumps
·         Drainage installed on #3 Fairway,#12 Approach,#13 Approach,#14 Approach, #15 in front of fairway, #16 near bridge
·         New approach installed on #4, extended the fairway #16
·         Area for “Operation Pollinator”, more information to follow
·         Irrigation repairs
·         50 bluebird houses installed for wildlife enhancement
·         Fairway aerifiaction and top dressing
·         Greens aerification

We choose to aerify the greens as early as we can so that they will be healed up in April. This practice has been well received in years past. The aerification process is a necessary evil which will pay benefits in the near future. There are a number of other things that we have to take care of such as bunker prep. This requires us to check depths, add sand where needed and blow the sand off the edges of the grass. This is priority number one and will be completed this week. Other unsightly areas of concern are cart path edges and where we ground the tree stumps. These areas will be either seeded or sod will be laid down depending on the area.  Our Tee aerification will most likely begin in the first part of April and will not interfere with play. Following the Tee aerification, we will aerify the rough as quickly as possible and deep tine the fairways. Mulching of the trees will also be on going in the month of April. As you can see, we have a lot on our plate and will be working extremely hard so that we can catch up. In a nut shell, pardon our mess as you come out to play in the next few weeks. We can assure you that once the weather warms and the grass begins to grow, the course appearance will be one of which you will be proud.

Lastly, I wanted to mention our communication additions for the year. As you are all aware communication is key and sometimes it is very valuable for people to understand what it is we are actually doing and most importantly, why we do it. Lakewood does have a blog for course maintenance ( as well as a new twitter account (@Lakewood_Greens) for real time updates along with the Proshop at (@Lakewood_Golf).  Having a new web site and other new forms of communication will serve you better during the up and coming golf season.

Phil Desbrow, Golf Course Manager

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Why aerate the greens?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Winter Course Etiquette

This time of year most people are starting to get a little antsy being cooped up all winter. We start to see days that show comfortable outdoor temperatures so we get out and stretch our legs and go play a few holes.  What we need to remember is that from January 1st to approximately mid-March, the greens on the golf course are closed with the exception of the putting green. There are a number of reasons to do this, the most important one is ball marks. Ball marks in the summer do take a long time to heal, and when the winter is here they do not heal at all. Each mark is an opening in the green like a wound on your body. If the wound does not heal it becomes infected, in this case annual bluegrass has a chance to invade the green.  We work tirelessly to keep annual bluegrass out of our pure bentgrass greens.  The photo attached is a dormant green with close to 1000 unhealed or not repaired ball marks during the winter. Did you know? The average number of ball marks made on greens per round is 8 per golfer. Assuming only 130 rounds are played each day on your course, your greens receive 1,040 impressions daily. 31,000 per month or more that 374,000 per year! Amazing!!

Another important reason to stay off the greens is when we experience the freeze/thaw cycles during the winter. When the grounds start to thaw out it becomes very wet while the surface below is still frozen. This creates a high water table essentially walking on water, and when pressure is exerted can actually cut off the roots, the other half of the root structure is still in-cased in the frozen soil below. Building roots is the most important part of maintaining a green, for without roots the plant can die.  By keeping to these strategies we prepare the greens for a healthy successful year.

And lastly, you may be wondering why we are cart path only during most of the winter. As I have stated before the grass is not growing. During the growing season the grass is taking up water and dries out the surface. During the winter this does not happen. So, we have wet conditions on a daily basis. If we allow carts out when the conditions are saturated a few things can happen.
First, we increase the compaction on the golf course, and wet conditions equal surfaces to easily get “squished”. Second, cart damage can open up wounds in the turf and because we are not growing create entry points that would allow unwanted grasses to grow, such as annual bluegrass. The picture to the right is an example of what carts can do in the winter. Please abide by the rules for the day and the winter, by doing this you are contributing to a great season of golf. You will also notice, we have started a twitter account shown to the right, and will be used for real time updates as needed.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Course Update

Last week, we made a good push to finish our drainage project on #3 cart path edge before the mid- week snow.  We needed to pay close attention to how we floated the concrete so that the water will flow into the drain basin, with careful manipulation they were successful. That following weekend rain occurred and we were able to see how well it worked.  Once the weather turns for the better, our next path project will be on #11 next to the green. This will be very similar as to what we have already accomplished and should go much smoother. 

All 50 bluebird nesting boxes are out on the golf course, this makes a grand total of 74 boxes for the entire club property. On Friday, when I was looking at the ninth hole from the 59 patio, I noticed some bird activity already in one of the new box's. Irrigation repairs have been progressing nicely. When we drained our system for the winter, we noticed a few drain valves that were not functioning properly.  So, we need to replace them before the system is fired up for this season.

As usual, when we experience bad weather, we do have alternate plans for the staff. They are working on sanding and staining benches, painting tee markers, course cups and ball washers. 

A soft reminder, we are approaching our greens winter aerification.  We typically start this the first week of February, weather permitting. There will be more to follow on our process so stay tuned.

Mixing the concrete by hand.

Dye was added to the concrete so it will blend in with the
existing asphalt. 

Water is moving into the drain!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Course Update

We are making great progress on our winter project list and will utilize the next couple of days to get ahead. Our drainage project on 3 involved cutting out the cart path and installing a drain basin to capture the water. Our plan, is to start and finish this tomorrow, taking advantage of the warm weather.

Our annual Audubon Program is in full swing, where we will be installing 50 bluebird houses on the golf course. This will bring more bird activity in hopes of decreasing the summer insects such as beetles, flies, dragonflies, stinkbugs, cicadas, flying ants, damselflies, moths, grasshoppers, wasps and other flying insects. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Friday, January 2, 2015

Temporary Greens

Today, we have moved the pins off the greens and on to the approaches for the next two months.  It's very important to remove the traffic from the greens surface because of the winters freeze and thaw cycles.  Unfortunately, when we have warm days, the soil at the top 1 inch could be thawed and below still frozen. This creates a water table only an inch below the surface. When you apply traffic to that, you have the chance to actually cut off your roots you are trying to grow for next year and increase your compaction.  Lastly, the turf is not growing and not able to recover from ball marks.  Being proactive now, will set us up for a successful next season.