Monday, May 30, 2011

CDGA Weekly Update - May 27

May 27, 2011 Scouting Report
Memorial Day Weekend! Rough Takes Off, Words of Wisdom, Microdochium Patch?, More Waitea Reported, and Tim says Early Dollar Spot

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle - Weather Blog

Spring? In 2011 it never seems to be one season for long. Spring (if you want to call it that) took a step backwards this week when our medium jackets were back on, it felt cold. It all began Sunday, May 22, when a cold front broke the truce. A cloudy sky grew overhead and dropped significant rainfall, 2 inches, for some (north suburbs) and trace amounts for others (south suburbs). Those remaining dry would get a second chance later in the week. By Wednesday the dry cracking soils of Sunshine Course in Lemont were gone (until now 1 inch of precipitation had occurred all of May). In less than two days our rain gauge filled to nearly 3 inches. Farther north, the second deluge meant golf course superintendents were really complaining.

Immediately they could tell a water-filled cup meant poorly draining greens. From my perspective, incoming reports detailed a return of cool weather. In a week, I would continue to evaluate golf greens and experience Christmas (reddish bentgrass as opposed to nearby green Poa), see Microdochium patch (a.k.a. pink snow mold), and slowly tally more dollar spot reports. Cool and overly wet conditions were once again the norm but signs of spring were on the horizon. I saw more golf play and two striking blooms: black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) and white fringe tree (Chioanthus virginicus). Wait, it's not just spring, it's Memorial Day weekend!

Click here to view the May 27, 2011 Scouting Report.

Enjoy your holiday weekend as we transition towards warmer weather AND Summer.

Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program
NEW: Weather Blog

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS
Manager of Turfgrass Research
NEW: Research Blog

Flooded Course - but not for long....

Yesterday we received 1.25" of rain in a short period of time.  Normally this would not be such a big deal, but we had 2" last Sunday which saturated the soils and then an additional 1.7" on Wednesday/Thursday - for a total of almost 5" of rain in one week and 6.18" for the month of May.

Even though we had some flooding yesterday (Saturday) all of the major water is gone and traps are dry, however the soils are saturated and soft, wet areas remain.  These types of rains help us to determine what the next area in need of drainage is and later this summer we will address them.

#13 green - note cup dry, but bunker still draining.  This would have never been the case before installing drainage last fall.  #1, #3, #5, #8, #10 and #13 had extensive drainage added to these greens which has been very helpful.

#6 fairway after the rains-  water from Rt 59 overruns the drainage system and floods the fairway.  This usually goes down fairly quickly due to all the extensive drainage we have installed over the years.

#15 Fairway will also flooded, but after cleaning the drains quickly disappears.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rough is very rough

As is the case every spring, the rough is thick and longer than we would like at times.  Looking around the blogosphere you can quickly realize that Biltmore is not alone (click on this link to see what Oakland Hills CC is saying).   It is the talk among superintendents and golfers alike and it is an annual conversation, some years more than others.  Every spring the grass has a surge of growth accompanied by seeding.  The seed stalks are course and stiff – making hitting from difficult.  Once seeding is finished (in the next few weeks) the growth slows and the seed stalks disappear.

Our greatest problem is when we have rains (like the last few days) is that the grass keeps growing but too soft to take the mowers out.  As soon as the weather breaks, the mowers will be back at it!  The more grass there is to cut, the slower the mowers go – but we will stay with it.  We have 2 main rough mowers and 2 trim mowers – all four will be in operation as soon as it is dry enough.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunday Night Storms

Last night the storms that rolled through dropped just under 2" of rain.  Because the course has been so dry, the water was soaked up pretty good.  If we don't receive any more rain (Monday), I am sure carts will be permitted on Tuesday.  Tuesday morning I will be updating the course conditions on "".  To sign up to receive either a text message or an email go to:

Rained Out Link


Sunday, May 22, 2011

CDGA Weekly Update - May 20

May 20, 2011 Scouting Report
Clear Skies and Sun! Bentgrass is Green, Bentgrass Seed Germinates, More First Dollar Spot, Waitea Progresses, and Tim's Research Work for 2011

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle - Weather Blog
Wed 50 low /60 high and Thu 46 low /73 high. A pair of nice days and Friday is just as nice - warmer nights and how about full sun? It means this season has just turned the corner and is in a direction that creeping bentgrass likes (i.e., bentgrass needs average soil temperatures at 2 inches to stabilize at about 55 degrees or higher for good growth). Also, good germination of seed has begun and continued to accelerate into this week. Areas injured by season 2010 that were without complete recovery are now looking better - Chicago's inner roughs especially hard hit.

It turns out low-mow Kentucky bluegrass was also slow out of the blocks in 2011. The negative impact of repeat frost events in May did not help. Next up, we will try and experience good weather for June? June is arguably our most important month of root/shoot growth given what July can bring cool-season turf in Chicago. Such as, repeat daytime highs of 90+ degrees and, during a hot and humid summer, midsummer physiological decline that begins as July transitions to August. But wait, it's still May and this week felt like heaven on earth = clear skies and sun!

Click here to view the May 20, 2011 Scouting Report.

Have a great weekend, and exactly where's the sun?

Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program
NEW: Weather Blog

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS
Manager of Turfgrass Research
NEW: Research Blog

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Flower Time!

This is the week our flowers arrive.  For members that ordered them, pick up is this Friday (May 20th) from 12-4PM and Saturday from 8-11AM or if you asked for delivery it will occur this week.  We will also be planting the flowers on grounds within the next week.

The sorting of the flowers has begun!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

CDGA Research on Waitea Patch - #15 Green

For the 4th year the CDGA will be conducting research on #15 green to better understand how to control a disease called Watiea.  Waitea causes a yellowing of poa annua in a small ring shaped pattern.  It does not kill the grass, but can make it look pretty sick.  Waitea has become more of an issue every spring for golf courses across the country and the research being conducted at Biltmore has helped superintendents to manage this disease.

Preparing to apply the different treatments to the green for the control of Waitea Patch.

Gas Leak

On Tuesday of this week, while blowing fairways the fuel line on the blower broke dropping gas onto the fairway.  Unfortunately the operator did not notice the problem until he had just about made it around #4 fairway.  In the coming weeks we will monitor how the turf is doing.  We may aerify then add seed and soil or sod out the affected area.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

CDGA Weekly Update - May 13

May 13, 2011 Scouting Report
We count a 90° day: Soils reach 65° at 2 inches, First Dollar Spot, First Waitea, Crabgrass Germination Begins and Tim's Data on Poa annua Control

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle - Weather Blog

I'm awake! In a week our temperatures went through the ceiling. What happened was unusual and our environmental conditions quickly shifted from a cool month of sluggish greenup to midsummer. Three days at or near 90° began onTuesday, May 10 when Chicago set new record highs with Midway's mercury reading 91°. Little Sunshine Course matched that and then went on to log two more 90° days. It meant midday wilt stress of sand-based golf greens began. Hand-watering of those purpling patches also began. Just a week prior those same greens were a purplish-red color after enduring one last series of frost. Next up, familiar faces appeared. First, a terrific image via text mail was undeniable - bright yellow rings of Waitea affecting Poa annua on a practice green. I visited to confirm. Then our nemesis, dollar spot disease, said hello.

Our first dollar spot report was via phone on a bentgrass fairway in central Illinois by Bill Sharp, University of Illinois. That tip led Tim Sibicky to scout and find infection centers on Sunshine Course's practice putting green. A susceptible creeping bentgrass 'Century' was hit with the reddish spots typical of initial dollar spot outbreaks in May. That's heavy stuff for a season that, up until now, had been (big yawn) progressing slowly for an entire month. Not yawning.

Click here to view the May 13, 2011 Scouting Report.

Have a good weekend, enjoy a return to cool and maybe check out

Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program
NEW: Weather Blog

Sunday, May 8, 2011

CDGA Weekly Update

Let there be sun! It’s May, Illinois dries, Missouri reports dollar spot, and Tim’s Shoreacre bentgrass trial versus Poa annua

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle -  Blog etc.
We turned a page.  On the calendar it’s May.  In the sky we see sunlight.  On the gound, the sound (equipment mowing) means turf has quickly regained both growth and color (not purple).  Even Poa annua responded and produced seedheads on greens this week.  Soggy, cold conditions are generally not good for plant growth and definitely slowed this spring and interfered with golf.  Still, let’s keep perspective.  This is not spring 2010 when some of the most extensive winter injury existed on golf surfaces in recent memory (decades said some).  It’s spring 2011!  If you listen (eyes required), landscape plants are telling us life is good.  Hard to believe, since summer 2010 felt like Haites and, as you recall, we paid for it (lots of turf loss).  But August ended and a dry fall with cooler temperatures helped right the wrong (summer 2010). It gave us back control (water) we hadn’t seen all season.  Fairways and greens healed nicely by early October.  But the turf stepchild (rough) didn’t look so good – recovering from a rootless summer and then a disease called rust, Puccinia spp., finished the thinning.  This spring be kind and understand roughs might be ‘rough’.  It pains me to say, but weeds will likely be our biggest trouble of early summer (things like clover, crabgrass, knotweed, and Poa annua).  Be kind.

Click here to view Scouting Report

Have a great weekend and maybe think of some flowers for Mother?


Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS
Manager of Turfgrass Research

Saturday, May 7, 2011

April Rain and Air Temperature Totals

April looked like it was going to warm up, but by mid April the temperatures turned down stopping the progression of spring.  We ended the month with just under 5" of rain.  Even with the overly wet weather and cool temperatures the course continues to improve each day.  Hopefully May will be more normal.  To see more detail, click on any picture within the blog.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Is Spring here for good???

It is starting to look more like spring every day; however it is hard to believe that we will be planting flowers in just a few weeks.  Many of the trees are just now starting to bud out.  We have been having frosts just about every morning this week, not lasting very long, but none the less a frost.  Soil temps are still below 50 degrees - a more normal temp for this time of year is around 55 degrees.  The forecast for next week is warmer, with rain.

Daffodils are just about done flowering - #7
#6 green - the rough is greening and thicking.

Red Tailed Hawks Nest

A pair of Red Tailed hawks are builidng a next in a sycamore tree located behind #5 green.  In the picture below you can see on of the pair looking over the nest building.  Ove the last few years we have had a pair of hawks next in different locations around the course, not sure if it is the same pair or not but most likley they are.  Red Tailed hawks eat small animals including mice, squarles, etc.
Red Tailed Hawk building nest behind #5 green

Course Condtions updates by email

A new service to help with communicating course conditions (frost delays, no carts, etc) has been established.  With this service, you can enter your phone number or email address and a text message (or email) will be sent when course conditions are affected by the weather.

To use this service click on the link below.  There is no password needed.

We will continue to update the phone number, but we hope to convert over to this as it will pass the inforamtion along faster about course conditoins.  You can also visit the website if you do not want to have a email or text sent and see the latest information at  Serveral courses in Chicago are using this system.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Verticutting Greens

Monday we verticut the greens, lightly topdressed, dragged with a mat (to work the sand into the surface), and sprayed a wetting agent.  All this was watered into the green.  Verticutting and topdressing help to smooth the surfaced of the green.  Dragging works the sand in and stands any long runners of grass up so that the mowers the next day can cut them off.  The wetting agents help to keep the surface more uniform (moisture content) which reduce dry spots from forming.  We will typically verticut and topdress greens about every 2-3 weeks.

The blades are vertical to the surface - there are many blades which are spinning at 90 degrees to the turf.  The tips of the blades are set just below the surface of the turf.

Tree Inventory

This spring you may have seen our summer intern, John Pleva from Michigan State University putting tags on the trees.  Along with tagging all of the trees on the property, he will also be recoding the species, size (diameter of the trunk), and condition of the tree and noting the information on memorial plaques.  A tree inventory was done in mid 1980's but the data was not stored on a computer.  With the new information stored in Excel, we will able to keep the database up to date and have the flexibility to search and sort the information.  We hope to have all the trees tagged within the next few weeks.  We are expecting to record somewhere between 2 -3,000 trees.

John Pleva from MSU tagging a Silver Maple for our tree inventory.

Monday, May 2, 2011

CDGA Weekly Update

April’s Record Cloudcover: Floods then Tornados, Yellow Patch, Microdochium Patch, and Tim sees overwintering Thryidopteryx ephemeraeformis
Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle - Blog
After 118 years Chicago finally did it and set a new April record – most days with cloudcover.  Most folks, including golfers, were increasingly cranky as we counted each and every cloudy day.  The effects on turf health were obvious; creeping bentgrass remained strangely purple-bronze and roughs remained thin, without recovery.  I even noticed my skin had become increasingly pale.  However, more serious weather to the south was in the news and an inconvenient soggy month in Chicago quickly became less serious though it had interfered with course maintenance, plant health, and golf play.  In far southern Illinois, Easter weekend generated a rainfall total of 5-6 inches in 3 days and contributed to flooding that began Tuesday, April 26.  With a superintendent, I recorded the ordeal of a Carbondale golf course this week.  By week’s end, weather developments would stretch my perspective further: from floods in the Midwest to lethal tornados in the Southeast.

In the end, we knew the sun would come out sooner or later and on Friday it did. An area golf course superintendent left an early morning voicemail.  “The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and my dog has chased several deer.  Presently, he is looking for a goose.”  It made me smile and I enjoyed a sunny day after a difficult week that had given us all greater perspective. May is next.

Have a good weekend and enjoy some sun!

Click here to view the April 29, 2011 Scouting Report.

Have a good weekend and enjoy some sun!

Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program