Monday, December 5, 2016

December Golf Course Update

Last week we received almost two inches of much needed rain and has helped to recharge the soil profile going into the winter. This has also put a damper on some of our projects that have already started.

  • New tee on #18 is delayed until we can work the soil, this tee will lengthen the white tee markers close to 30 yards. 

  • Golf course leaf clean up is slowly coming to an end.
  • Fairway Deep tine is complete and we are currently using the deep tine machine on the tees.

  • Curb install is on going, we are currently installing behind one green. We also will be raising the drain basin up. Our goal with raising this area up us to facilitate an easier walk to the green and reduce the wear and tear the turfgrass receives. The white outline is our working area and will be the tie in point when all complete. 

  • Our most notable project started today, we have contracted out Mid-Atlantic Dryject services to inject sand into our upper profile of the greens. As you can see from the photos, this is a gentle process to the surface of the but underneath you can see the results. This is just another process to help us reduce our organic matter in the upper surface of the green. The results will pay dividends during the summer. Tuesdays forecast includes rain, and on Wednesday we will finish up the few remaining greens. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Course update.

Today we are finishing up the Graden on the tees and will move into approaches with the sand we have left over.  

We also are spot aerifying traffic areas on the green surface.  These areas will benefit from a little extra air and water movement.  

Rough Aerification is on going as well as our compost applications.  


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Tee Graden

The machine is performing well and we are well on our way. You can see in the photo the objective of the whole process. New sand channels will allow water to move through the profile.  


Monday, October 31, 2016

Course Update

This week it is full steam ahead with agronomic programs.

  • We have already begun to deep tine fairways and look to finishing them up this week or early part of next week. This is a must process to facilitate deep rooting as well as promote good drainage. 

  • Greens were vert-cut in two directions followed by a light top dressing. The objective is to cut out the over growth of bentgrass and to tighten up the canopy. Following this, top dressing is applied to firm up the surface. 

  • This past summer we experienced a large amount of wet wilt on our tees.  We have been given access to a Graden that cuts a slit into the turfgrass and drops sand into it. This program is necessary so that we can improve our drainage and promote a healthy playing surface.  It is a long process and our goal is to have all the tees done this week.  

We are also completing the rough aerification. With over 80 acres of rough this too is a long process and takes time. Once the rough is aerified, we will follow up with compost. Over the years compost has been a big part for our rough. With limited irrigation in most places, the compost helps retain moisture as well as create a much better growing medium for the turfgrass.  Our bi-annual fairway top dressing program will commence in late November or early December and more to follow when this begins. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

A message from the USGA

Truth And ConsequencesSEPTEMBER 16, 2016By Elliott Dowling, agronomist, Northeast Region and David Oatis, regional director, Northeast Region

Dry seasons highlight irrigation deficiencies and pinpoint where adjustments are necessary.
The summer of 2016 has been extremely challenging for golf courses in the Northeast Region; and it isn't over yet. The heat and humidity have been oppressive, and rainfall has been extreme or absent, depending on your location. In most years, turf managers anxiously wait for September, normally a month that favors turf recovery. Unfortunately, until very recently September has provided little relief from summer heat. Most golf courses have experienced some stress and turf thinning, if not total turf loss. Recovery is needed, but it has been slow to arrive because of the ongoing heat and lack of rainfall. Irrigation is not a substitute for natural rain, and the absence of rain is slowing germination and growth.
September also marks the unofficial start of fall projects. Golf courses rely on fall projects and cultivation to improve turf health and playing conditions for next season. Unfortunately, the unseasonably hot, dry weather has caused some courses to scale back cultivation programs and postpone golf course improvement projects. If your grass is too weak to sustain traditional fall cultivation, implement a less-aggressive approach by using smaller tines and less sand until the weather improves. When the weather breaks, perform additional cultivation if it is needed to promote long-term improvement.
The silver lining of a difficult season is that infrastructure deficiencies are highlighted such that they are difficult to ignore. This fall is a good time to think about turning some of your course's weaknesses into strengths.
  • Irrigation coverage—For courses that have experienced extremely dry conditions, now is a perfect time to document irrigation problems related to pumping, supply, control, coverage and other factors. Act soon before regular rainfall erases irrigation coverage problems that drought has exposed. If you haven't developed a drought emergency plan, this year has certainly shown why it is important to do so.
  • Drainage—Irrigation often gets top billing, but nothing is more important than getting rid of excess water when it arrives in copious quantities. Keep in mind that surface and subsurface drainage are equally important. If your greens don't have good internal drainage, implement a deep soil-modification program or install an internal drainage system.
  • Trees—Trees on a golf course can add beauty and strategy, but they also shade the turf, compete for moisture and can clog drain lines. Extremely wet or extremely dry, tree roots can cause problems.
  • Fans—Fan technology has improved tremendously in recent years. Having one or more portable, gas-powered fans will provide another level of protection when faced with difficult summer weather. Some courses may have been able to avoid turf loss this summer if they had used a fan for a few weeks.
  • Grass species—Breeding programs are continually developing new and improved turfgrass cultivars. If you have old “grass technology” it may be time to upgrade to a species or cultivar that can better withstand heat, drought, wear and disease.
The benefit of experiencing a challenging summer is that it highlights a golf course's strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully you can use this year to affect positive change at your golf course.

Friday, August 26, 2016

A message from Steve McDonald of Turfgrass Disease Solutions

Relentless July and August Leads to Major Turfgrass Problems
16 August 2016
Turfgrass Disease Solutions, LLC
Over the past three weeks, I have visited more than 65 golf courses in Delaware, Maryland, New
Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania and there is one common theme, stressed turf due to the relentless
weather since mid to late July. The recent high day time temperatures, warm nights, humidity, intense
sunlight, wind and then spotty thunder storms have placed incredible stress to all cool season fine
turfgrass areas. The weather has not discriminated amongst private nor public clubs, high budget nor low
budget courses - every golf course is showing signs of stress in some regard. It has been a brutal season
to try to maintain green speeds, manage moisture and playing conditions. Due to the varying climates,
budgets, ages, and designs throughout the region, golf courses should not be compared to one another.
The growing season of 2016 is bringing chronic issues such as air movement, drainage, shade and weak
species to the fore front.
The most common problem I have encountered, especially in regions that are receiving rainfall, is
severe wet wilt to fairways, tees and greens. Wet wilt is a physical problem in which the soils are
saturated and the grass cannot transpire water to cool itself because of poor air movement and high
humidity levels. This has been most commonly observed in low lying areas of fairways, tees and greens.
Most commonly, it is complete decline or the only live grass is in aeration holes from this spring or last
fall. Wet wilt is very difficult to manage and can take up to 10 days to fully show up, especially on higher
cut tees and fairways. Typically, you will see that golf cart tire tracks wilt quickly and then decline even
when the soil moisture is adequate. If you are experiencing wet wilt, be conservative with mowing
heights and use solid front rollers. Rolling greens is a significant stress to thin turf. On fairways, in the
short term, limit cart traffic and restrict to roughs or paths. Don’t be afraid to preventively syringe turf
that is showing signs of wilt with adequate soil moisture. Long term, explore options to improve drainage
and air movement.
Dry wilt is also a problem for many golf courses not receiving rainfall in some regions. This
places an incredible load on the staff to manage moisture with hoses and overhead irrigation, which is
tough in the heat. If you are in a dry period, be sure to check that irrigation heads are properly
functioning. Far too often an irrigation problem shows up when the stress shows up and with the heat we
have experienced, it’s a slow road to recovery.
Beyond lack of water or too much water, is decline in the poorest growing environments. Air
movement is the most important growing environment consideration during warm, humid periods. Air
movement is needed for fine turf to be able to cool itself following light applications of water (i.e.
syringing). If there is no air movement, the turf in that environment can be 8-12ᵒF or more warmer than
turf receiving air movement naturally or through fans. Fans have completely changed greens
management in areas where trees and underbrush cannot be removed. Air movement is the key for
syringing to work. If the turf does not dry in between syringing, the effects are minimal and the turf will
begin to thin.
Mechanical stress is showing up throughout the region, especially in shaded areas. Mechanical
stress, although self-inflicted, is tough because superintendents are trying to produce a playable golf
course. The two most common mechanical issues I see are roller damage to the collars or mower stress
from turning or to the edges (clean ups) of greens. Be sure to watch staff turn mowers and use rollers to
be sure they are properly completing the task and adjust heights if mowing is skipped. Skipping mowing
may be needed during droughty or wet conditions but if skipping mowing, be sure to assess the height of
cut and not remove too much tissue in a single mow. You will be able to work the height back down in
time, but the initial scalp can cause issues under the current environment.
Disease pressure has been extremely high and every major turfgrass disease has been observed.
Brown patch and Pythium pressure has been high for the past three weeks. For those of you maintaining
perennial ryegrass, I have confirmed gray leaf spot over the past week- this disease can be incredibly
damaging under stress. In some of our trials, we are seeing tighter spray intervals and high rates work
best but nothing will provide 100% control in extreme conditions or saturated, humid conditions.
Preventive fungicides should be applied as needed. If curative control is attempted, be sure to have the
disease properly identified and use the best course of action.
Annual bluegrass weevils have been significantly damaging bentgrass fairways and tees for the
past 3 weeks. We have found early instar white grubs in some of the untreated plots in our research trials
so be sure to scout for them if you are seeing wilt or unthrifty turf. Be sure to scout for insect pest and
treat accordingly.
In a quick outline, these are just a few of the major observations I have had in my recent visits.
Other common themes include: elevated amounts of phytotoxicity (injury from commonly used plant
protection agents), elevated plant parasitic nematode levels, physical injury from aggressive golf shoes
and damage from venting or spiking greens and/or sand topdressing on weak and/or stressed turf. For
those of you considering aerification in the near future, please assess the health of the turf before aeration
or use a less aggressive technique. Aeration should not be looked upon as a tool to renovate weak turf,
but rather a tool to promote long term health. Aerification of weak turf in August can lead to weak turf in
September and October which are two of the most important golf months in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Feel free to reach out with a phone call/text (610.633.1878) or email
Steve McDonald
President, Turfgrass Disease Solutions, LLC

Friday, April 15, 2016

USGA: Slow Bentgrass Recovery Explained

A Spring With Four SeasonsAPRIL 14, 2016By Addison Barden, agronomist, Northeast Region

Soil temperatures are not yet optimum for turf to recover from aeration. Some courses have delayed scheduled aeration until the weather is more favorable.
The wacky weather during March may have actually been good for golf courses. In early March, all signs pointed to an early, abnormally warm spring. After consecutive bitterly cold springs, an early start to the golf season was a welcomed prospect for many golf facilities. Spring also is an important time for maintenance staffs to perform special projects and cultural practices. These projects could have been very difficult to complete if golfer-friendly weather had persisted. However, the mix of warm and rainy days has created lulls in rounds, giving golf course superintendents  uninterrupted opportunities to complete important spring work. The mixed weather this spring ended up being a fair trade-off between golfers and superintendents.

This spring's variable weather has affected several seasonal agronomic issues:
Annual Bluegrass Weevil (ABW):
Active ABW adults have been found throughout the region. However, conditions are not yet optimum for adulticide applications in much of the Northeast Region. Continue to monitor forsythia bloom in conjunction with active adult ABW sampling. When forsythia bloom is at half green and half gold and air temperatures are conducive for adult movement – i.e., warmer than 50 degrees Fahrenheit – adulticide applications can be made.

Recovery has been slow for courses that already performed putting green aeration. Despite a few warm days, soil temperatures are not warm enough for active turf growth. Unfortunately, the only catalyst for recovery will be warmer soil temperatures. Making additional fertilizer applications in an attempt to promote growth may only cause more problems once soil temperatures warm. Patience is important during unpredictable springs.

Turfgrass Slow to Grow:
Some cool-season turfgrasses, such as bentgrass, have been slow to emerge from winter dormancy. On the other hand, bermudagrass was actively growing as far north as Philadelphia, but growth has dramatically slowed with the return of cooler weather. Again, remain patient with turf growth until consistently warmer weather arrives. After all, it is only April.

Bentgrass Injury:
Because bentgrass has been slow to grow this spring, beware of overdoing normal maintenance practices such as mowing, rolling, brushing and topdressing. Bentgrass is very susceptible to wear injury at this time of year. Be aware that bentgrass discoloration due to excessive mechanical wear during prolonged periods of cool and wet weather is frequently misdiagnosed as disease.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Compost Application

We are applying compost to the playing surfaces (Tees, Fairways and Rough) starting with the tees. There are a number of benefits as follows from Washington State University.

Compost Benefits

Using compost as mulch, in the soil or as potting media is beneficial in many ways.
Compost contains a full spectrum of essential plant nutrients. You can test the nutrient levels in your compost and soil to find out what other supplements it may need for specific plants.
  • Compost contains macro and micronutrients often absent in synthetic fertilizers.
  • Compost releases nutrients slowly—over months or years, unlike synthetic fertilizers
  • Compost enriched soil retains fertilizers better. Less fertilizer runs off to pollute waterways.
  • Compost buffers the soil, neutralizing both acid & alkaline soils, bringing pH levels to the optimum range for nutrient availability to plants.
Compost helps bind clusters of soil particles, called aggregates, which provide good soil structure. Such soil is full of tiny air channels & pores that hold air, moisture and nutrients.
  • Compost helps sandy soil retain water and nutrients.
  • Compost loosens tightly bound particles in clay or silt soil so roots can spread, water drain & air penetrate.
  • Compost alters soil structure, making it less likely to erode, and prevents soil spattering on plants—spreading disease.
  • Compost can hold nutrients tight enough to prevent them from washing out, but loosely enough so plants can take them up as needed.
  • Compost makes any soil easier to work.
Compost brings and feeds diverse life in the soil. These bacteria, fungi, insects, worms and more support healthy plant growth.
  • Compost bacteria break down organics into plant available nutrients. Some bacteria convert nitrogen from the air into a plant available nutrient.
  • Compost enriched soil have lots of beneficial insects, worms and other organisms that burrow through soil keeping it well aerated.
  • Compost may suppress diseases and harmful pests that could overrun poor, lifeless soil.
Healthy soil is an important factor in protecting our waters. Compost increases soil’s ability to retain water & decreases runoff. Runoff pollutes water by carrying soil, fertilizers and pesticides to nearby streams.
  • Compost encourages healthy root systems, which decrease runoff
  • Compost can reduce or eliminate use of synthetic fertilizers
  • Compost can reduce chemical pesticides since it contains beneficial microorganisms that may protect plants from diseases and pests.
  • Only a 5% increase in organic material quadruples soils water holding capacity.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Reduced Inputs

In an effort to be more sustainable and reduce our inputs, we have begun the process of seeding around the trees.  This will reduce the amount of mulch we use on the golf course as well as the labor in maintaining the weeds in the mulch.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Golf Course Update

Warm weather is approaching and we are looking forward to the start of the 2016 golf season. Our winter projects have been kicked into high gear and we have been making steady progress on our punch list. The staff has completed the install of five part circle rough irrigation heads on #8 after the left fairway bunker. This area has given us trouble in the past because of the lack of irrigation, cart traffic, and the hill that it sits on. There is also being an irrigation head added to number nine next to the path as you walk up to the green. With proper irrigation coverage, our rough will be greatly enhanced and more consistent in these weak areas.

In the past, we would have a portable fan located on our third green, it was powered by a generator and at times extremely loud when in use. We have developed a plan to permanently mount the fan next to the green and wire it to the power coming off the gazebo behind the fourth tee box, eliminating the use of the generator. Our fairway deep tine is in progress and we are happy to say that the completion of this agronomic program will be finished early next week. This process punches a hole approximately 6-8 inches deep for deeper root penetration. You will also notice that we have not started our annual fairway topdressing application for the fairways. We opted to move this to the end of March and splitting the applications to two times a year rather than one heavy application during the winter. Our goal is to start March 21st and have this completed in 5 days, weather permitting.

Greens aerification is complete for the first half of the year, our next heavy aerification will be on the regular scheduled time in mid-August. The tee aerification schedule will commence next week and will take the majority of the week to finish.  Number 1 cart path edge is receiving a stone curb next to the tee boxes, this will keep traffic from driving on the grass and make a nicer look as you approach the first tee.

With the warmer weather looming for next week, the greens will be open for play starting Tuesday March 8th. They will be sandy until the grass begins to grow and fill in.

#3 Fan Install

#8 Irrigation Install

Fairway Deep Tine 

#1 stone cart path edge prep

#1 stone curb example

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Golf Industry Show Wrap Up

This past week I had the privilege to attend the 2016 Golf Industry Show in San Diego, California.  Every year I attend I make it a point to come back with detailed information that will help Lakewood and the staff. This will better position ourselves for the future in our competitive market and for our brand. The conference consist of classes, the show where we are abreast of the new technologies, new ways of thinking and talking with fellow golf industry professionals on how we can be better our departmental goals. This year I opted to take four professional development classes that includes:

Hire, Manage and Develop Your Team:

This class emphasized how to properly interview new team members where we can establish priorities for selecting the best candidate. Understand that well organized teams enjoy their individual tasks, believe their task is important, understand the goal, understand and respect each other, understand the hierarchy of leadership and embracing unity. Staff training is a key element not only in performing the job function but also to keep everyone safe. Developing a staff requires steady performance reviews where they will be in line with the departmental goals as well as the organizations mission and vision statement.  

Building a Winning Team:

The value of teamwork is paramount to the success of the organization. Teamwork is a cooperative and coordinated effort on the part of a group and the individuals in that group to achieve a common goal.  With the changing trends in the workplace, there are seven trends that we discussed:

  • Quality and Service
  • Adaptability and Flexibility
  • Co-operative Work-styles
  • Breaking Down Silos
  • Internal Service
  • Multi-Generational/Multi-Cultural Workforce
  • Creating Partnerships

Understanding what makes effective teams can be clarified through 10 characteristics:

  •        Members are positive, active contributors
  •        Clear Goals
  •        Effective Communication
  •        Effective decision making process
  •        Clearly defined roles and expectations
  •        Equitable power and influence
  •        Constructive ways to handle conflict
  •        Mutual trust
  •        Effective utilization of all member resource
  •       On-going Evaluation for effectiveness

Strategies for the Effective Superintendent:

To be an effective Superintendent, we need to have great negotiating skills every day. We are negotiating with employers, spouses, children, employees, vendors, contractors and other facility departments.  As I have learned, “In business, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.”  This knowledge can be used to help us extend warranties, discounted shipping, discounted on parts, cost saving purchases, efficiency etc.

Key Interviewing and First Impression Strategies:

By far this was the most interesting class, did you know that you have 7 seconds to make a good first impression? Or that if you made a negative first impression that in order to turn that negative impression to the same individual, it takes an average of 8 times to positively interact with the person before they change their mind from the first impression! This shows you how important first impressions matter. Even having a proper handshake and “smizing” while you meet someone for the first time is key. We also discussed interactions and building rapport. This can be extremely helpful when meeting new and existing members of our club and building the brand. From the interview aspect, it’s important that when we interview for the candidates to join our team, that we ask the same questions to each candidate, we thoroughly look over their resume beforehand and be on time just as they should be for us. Understand the process and how interviewees become naturally nervous and learning how to make people comfortable could result in finding the right person for the job.

Attending this event is a privilege and I am always grateful that Lakewood allows me to do this. Continued Education is key so that we can continually become better leaders of our department and for the club. With many golf courses in our area, it is important that we exhibit out of the box thinking so that we can put our best foot forward, making Lakewood Country Club a great place to relax for its members and great work environment for its staff. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Perspective, Playing the Course Backwards

It finally feels like winter and the grass is turning more dormant by the day with night time temperatures in the teens. As we transition from the unusually warm weather this past December, we begin the process of closing the greens and moving to our temporary locations. Below is a communication we have sent out. 

"The cold weather has decided to move in and with this, the ground has started to freeze.  Because of this we have decided to move to Temporary Greens for play.  This year for winter play, we have set the golf course up differently then in years past.  This winter we are going to play the golf course backwards!  We have set up the tee markers in front of the greens, and you will play back to a temporary hole to the designated tee box where the flag is placed.  The idea behind this is to minimize wear and compaction around the typical play areas of the golf course.  Plus it will give you a different perspective on playing the course during the winter months.

Starting this week, only the back nine will be set up for play as the Green staff is starting greens aerification on the front nine greens.  So the first tee will be in the 18th hole fairway!!!  Please make sure you check in the golf shop before you tee off." 

Back 9 setup, notice the flag location and and the tee line.