Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Seed Germinating - Work Continues on #6

Last week we seeded the fairway expansions on #9 and #10 and the seed is germinating less than one week later.  This is the ideal time for seeding grasses.  Work continues on #6 fairway expansion and the new bunker.  Once we finish the right side of the fairway we will begin on the left side removing the first bunker and widening the fairway.  We will continue to remove trees over the next few weeks.
#9 fairway expansion starting to germinate.
Work on the new fairway bunker on the right of #6.  Old clay drain tiles had to be removed.  Over time, frosts have pushed them to within a few inches below ground.  They were installed in the 1940-50's and are still in perfect condition.  An old tree stump also had to be removed by hand.  Seeding of the right side should be completed today.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tenacity and Xonerate treatments for the rough

Tenacity and Xonerate are chemicals that are used to selectively control mainly weed grasses in turf.  We have been experimenting with Tenacity for several years to control bent and poa in the rough.  One of the first areas we tried it was on the front lawn 4 years ago.  Today there is no poa or bent patches in the front lawn.  Over the years we have expanded our treatments to around fairways and open areas of rough.  This year we are treating more acres than ever before.  Those spots that have been treated in the past are filling in with more bluegrass.  The negative to these treatments is that it does turn the poa and bent a white (bleaching color) and some bluegrass.  Recently some data has shown adding Xonerate in very small amounts (0.5 oz per acre - imagine taking a 12oz can of pop, dividing it into 24 glasses then spreading 1 of  glasses over 43,560 sqft = 1 acre, evenly, that is how little it is) helps to shorten, reduce and improve the results of the Tenacity treatments  which is applied at 5 oz/A.  There will be a total of 3 treatments.  Today we applied the second application and next Tuesday we will apply the final treatment.  After this, we then will slit seed bluegrass into the rough.  If all goes well, this will help to improve the quality of our rough, making it easier to hit out of.

Tenacity and Xonerate effects on the poa (white patches) that has contaminated the low mow blue walking path on #14 tee.  In the background the new bluegrass sod is unaffected.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

CDGA Weekly Update - August 24, 2012

August 24, 2012 Scouting Report

Augtember: A Nice Month, Root Growth Returns, Greens With Good Color, Summer Patch Recovery Begins, Take-All of Bent, and Tim's Research Prose

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle - / Weather Blog

Yes! Augtember is what a friend of mine typed from Georgia the other day. Well, I liked it! And it spoke volumes - a period of cool tempertures has taken hold across a majority of the country. Dramatic. Yes, dramatic when you think about how it has followed the warmest July or how about the warmest month ever recorded in the United States? Yet, we didn't exactly know how to handle it at first - this new month of Augtember. It would catch us a little by surprise - at midday we found plants were still screaming for water. The lesson? Cool temperatures do not equate to an immediate return of plant health or a Houdini-like return of things like roots. But now, two weeks into this wondrous weather, we are beginning to see some nice things happen.

Bentgrass greens with restricted air movement are finally looking good again - deep green color without chlorotic patches. Poa greens without roots are finally on the move - and that would be down! There is only word that best describes this technical physiological aspect of new root growth for Poa annua var. reptans. Yes! On the turf disease front, a favorite category, we are not seeing much. Daily reports from superintendents are sounding lack luster? "Disease pressure has been very low and there isn't much to report on that front." Or how about our current discourse on Augtember's weather? "45 degrees last night! It must be September!! Just a few more degrees and we would be having a frost." End of summer in 2012 and all I can say is Yes!

Click here to view the August 24, 2012 Scouting Report.

Enjoy a warm summer weekend feel... even has a pinch of humidity!

Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program
Weather Blog

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

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fairway Expansions

We have completed work on #9 and #10 fairway expansion.  The bunker on the left of #9 was filled in and fairway expanded to the left.  The areas will be hydro-mulched.  Next we will be begin to fill the bunker on the left of #9 near the green (way out of play).  Next will be the bunker on #6 on the left (removal) and expanding the fairway to the right and left.  The very large bunker on the left of #6 (built into the hill) will be reduced in size (by about 2/3).  Most of this work will begin next week, along with some more tree removal as approved by the Green Committee and reviewed by the Board of Directors.

#9 fairway expansion and bunker removal.

Fairway expansion to the left side of #10 fairway.

Unusual galls on Swamp White Oak trees. Galls do little damage to the tree, just look bad.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Busy Weeks Ahead

Today began the first of many busy weeks on the golf course, as if this summer was not busy enough.  The Green Committee (and golf course architect, Greg Martin) approved many improvements to the course to make it more playable.  Those projects that require seeding will be completed first.  The ideal time for seeding is from August 15th - September 15th.

This week (and over the next few weeks) we will be working on the following projects:
  • Rototilling  and seeding the poor turf area left of #1 fairway (near the green) - where the willow tree was and a few select spots around the course.
  • Widening the fairway and removal of the bunker on the left side of #9.
  • Widening the fairway on the left side of #10
  • Removal of the Buckthorn and wood chips between #17 and #13 fairways (this area will then be seeded.
  • Removal of select trees around the course and grinding of the stumps.
  • And other projects that are yet to be finalized.
Aerification of the greens, tees and fairways will be September 10-11th and starting at the end of September we will finish the greens drainage project (#2, #7, #9, #15 and #16).

Rototilling the rough left of #1 fairway.  The area was leveled and seeded today.

Buckthorn being removed between 17 and 13.  The wood chips will also be removed and the area seeded.

Today we also needle-tined greens, topdress and dragged.
Please do not hit multiple balls from one spot - #10 fairway.  Not only does this causes many divots, but also excess ball marks on the greens.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

CDGA Weekly Update - August 17, 2012

August 17, 2012 Scouting Report

August Helps Us: Recovery Continues, Still Shallow Roots, Wilt of Golf Greens, Fairy Ring, Summer Patch, Dollar Spot Jumps, and Tim Sees Spots in Plots

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle - / Weather Blog

A wondrous forecast came true. So, since August began, soil temperatures have now gradually fallen by about 10 degrees. We are now patiently waiting to see more than just roothairs on roots, normal potential of root length is needed. On golf green surfaces our two turf species are trying but both are still reeling after July. Intense daily turfgrass wear, especially near the hole, isn't helping either. Bentgrass is as shallow rooted as we've seen, 2 to 3 inches deep isn't uncommon. Meanwhile Poa annua is as fragile as it always can be with current roots as shallow as 0.25 to 1 inch. Though I haven't complained often enough about Poa - bentgrass physiological decline got a neon light in 2012 - it doesn't mean we weren't frustrated. Poa's difficulty centers around its lack of temperature extreme tolerance, also known as a genetic inability to maintain robust roots.

Those who maintain greens often say working with Poa is more of an art than that of true plant science (used to make me chafe). However, after last weekend I learned of such art through a single lesson! On a bright cloud-free Saturday afternoon a wilt event would shock Chicago's rootless Poa greens. Humidity levels dropped rapidly requiring immediate midday handwatering. After that Art Institute visit it became clear we were not completely out of the deep end. In 2012 we treaded water longer than usual (March's rapid greenup to now). August has become a good father or mother with an outstreached arm in the pool, a brief rest as we swim in from the deep end.

Click here to view the August 17, 2012 Scouting Report.

Enjoy your weekend during a GREAT August.

Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program
Weather Blog

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

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

CDGA Weekly Update - Aug 10, 2012

August 10, 2012 Scouting Report

August is Nice: Recovery, Physiological Decline Dissipates, Type 1 Fairy Ring, More Summer Patch, Bad Poa triv, Peter's Dollar Spot, Tim's Bluegrass cvs.

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle - / Weather Blog

Recovery. So now we can say it, because it is over (peak midsummer heat). July, 2012 will be remembered as one of the worst summer months for growing things like turf - ever. It turned out to be the hottest July ever, as well as the hottest month EVER for our entire country (since 1895). Week to week, what we saw and felt on golf courses was bad, but it was much worse in other situations where automatic irrigation is not the norm. In Illinois, the phrase "total crop loss" was heard. Our farmland in central and southern Illinois would witness odd looking cornfields which were stunted and wilted on a backdrop of powder dry, hard soils having developed large, deep cracks. For city dwellers it was watching our lush urban landscape take a big hit - Chicago's golf courses just survived one of the most extreme summer seasons ever (1988 hot with drought; 1995 hot with humidity). However, often forgotten is that this summer of mayham represents 3-in-a-row. Our two preceding summers were also out of control (2010 and 2011 hot with floods).

Such super-hot weather is maybe only seen once or twice in a lifetime - we hope! It makes managing plant health both challenging and memorable. But it's over. As I write, an entire morning of cool air follows a day of cool rain. Our extended forecast is for more of the same. If you happen to manage cool-season turf... this turn of events is just what the doctor ordered. Yes!

Click here to view the August 10, 2012 Scouting Report.

Enjoy every morning of jacket wearing this weekend = a summer scorched landscape is now on the mend.

Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program
Weather Blog

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cooler, Wetter Weather Coming

With the cooler weather, we were able to resume typical cultural work this past Monday.  On Monday, we verticut and topdressed greens.  We have not verticut greens since June.  The verticutting was well overdue and helps to control puffiness and grain.  Hopefully things will return to normal (weather wise) for the remainder of the year.  We are still very dry and rain is forecast for the coming days.  We also applied a wetting agent to the greens on Monday to help keep localized dry spots from developing.

Verticutting greens this past Monday.  The reels consist of many blades that cut the grass vertically, sometimes you can see small grooves in the turf afterwards.  This is done in two different directions.

Sycamore trees have very interesting bark that peals from the trees each year. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

CDGA Weekly Update - August 3, 2012

August 3, 2012 Scouting Report

Goodbye July: Weakened Greens, Shallow Roots, 1st Summer Patch, Brown Patch and Dollar Spot Return, Peter says Badgers, Tim's New Fairy Ring Project

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle - / Weather Blog

As we enter August, 2012 a choral breath of relief was heard. July had ended having broken records (super hot and super dry). Some things we already knew but others we would learn and relearn. It is actually three summer seasons in a row that went beyond the norm for golf courses. In itself that is an unprecedented fact. Both 2010 and 2011 were hot and humid with unusally ripe conditions for the varied fungal diseases of turf. In 2012 the heat just plain leveled plant physiology and we have yet to see recovery from golf greens, our most intensively managed turf system. A most telling quote of the week for me "They're on the edge like most of us this week."

Initially 2012 reminded us of 2005, then it was 1988 or 1995 and finally for some, 75+ years ago. Unusally warm early, then especialy dry and hot, if you happen to live in central or southern Illinois the magnitude of the current heat and drought resembles 1936, something Dr. Bruce Branham researched with turf in mind. In return lessons were hard-earned. On greens we saw our weak and rootless Poa wilt every midday (sometimes twice). We saw physiological decline of creeping bentgrass, especially given limited air movement. We spoke a cautionary note if greens were "vented", needletine aeration was surprisingly and suddenly too aggressive. A green's fact of life spoke volumes. Fewer and fewer roots held surfaces down for routine/beneficial plant health practices. Please be aware roots in Illinois have yet to recover in 2012. We are waiting...

Click here to view the August 3, 2012 Scouting Report.

Have a good weekend and next week's forecast 80s/60s is just plain good!

Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program
Weather Blog

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

Thursday, August 2, 2012

2012 Drought

Sometimes it takes perspective to appreciate what we have compared to what others are going through. Click on the link and watch the short video on the Farmers Downstate Drought.

Storm clouds last week brought some rain (0.27" in the last 9 days), but not enough.

Mornings are always nice on the golf course, especially when it is cool. Looking though the back of a bench.

Mobile sprinklers have been in use all summer long in the rough around trees.
We have never irrigated so much.  The amount of water we have used to date surpasses what we would have used in a dry year, for the entire summer.  Lake levels continue to be well below normal and the small rains have helped, but it will take rains totaling 10-12" to erase the drought we are currently in.

On the course you may find a wet spot, but nearby is most likely a dry spot.  This is especially true in the peat ground were it is very difficult to evenly wet the peat.  Trees remove water in a non-uniform fashion creating a dry area within the drip-line.   Along fairway edges this is even more evident where tree roots are removing water along the edges of the fairways.  In order to balance the water in these areas, temporary part circle sprinklers are installed in the full circle heads and ran to water only the rough.  We run these sprinklers for hours to try and re-wet the peat beneath the trees and puddles can form on the surface, but the soil beneath is still bone dry.  About 2/3 the golf course is on peat ground.

In other areas the trees block the water from sprinklers causing a dry spot behind and a wet spot in front.  During a drought these areas are magnified by the amount of irrigating.

Hopefully the drought will break and gentile rains - not flooding t-storms with come and cooler temps will arrive.  The farmers could really use the help.

Good luck to everyone playing in MGI this weekend!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Weather Stats March 1 - July 31

How does this year compare to last year?  2011 was hot, but the flooding rains at the end of July caused most of our issues.  As we enter August we historically see ~35% of our annual temps above 90 occur (in other words, 2/3 of the hot days are behind us).  If that is true, we have about 7 more 90+ days to go.  This week the forecast is to return into the 90's again with T-storms mixed in.  The drought is not over and we continue to struggle to keep the peat ground moist enough to not only keep the turf alive, but also the trees.  The peat is especially hard to re-wet, once it becomes dry and the Poa trivialis is showing the stress of the summer, on the peat in the rough.

Our weather data is typically cooler than O'Hare's "official" readings by about 3-4 degrees (high and lows). 
Biltmore CC Weather Station:
Temp   2011 (3/1-7/31)        2012 (3/1-7/31)        2011 (entire summer)
80-89:  32 days                     40 days                     59 days
90-94:  11 days                     12 days                     15 days
>95   :   0 days                      8 days                       0 days
ET    :  17.41"                       21.30"                       26.47"
Rain :  25.32"                       11.71"                       34.74"

2011 was much wetter and a bit cooler than 2012.  In the last 60 days we have received 2.66" of rain and an ET of 10.65" (a shortfall of 8" of moisture).  August is typically one of the wettest months in Chicago.

Records Set at O'Hare:
  • Never since 1871 have so many 90s been on the books so early (35, 90 degree or higher)
  • 3rd warmest July on record
  • 2nd hottest summer to date (out of 142 years of record keeping)
  • 10th consecutive "warmer-than-normal" month ties 1953-54 record