Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Biltmore Weather Data

Slow spring, not what we like to see when healing is needed.  The rain was good, but sun and  warmth is really needed now.  We had 1.32" of rain in the last few days.  Check out some of those low temp readings in Jan and Feb (and the highs, if you can call them that)!  Yikes it was cold this past winter!!  It is hard to remember, but ~15 days ago (on April 15th) we had snow across the course - see blog below.  We are still running about 2-3 weeks behind normal.  At the bottom of this post are links to videos and a blog of Turf Universities and what they are seeing, as far as winter kill, how it happened and what to expect- very informative.

Biltmore weather data from Jan 1 - end of April.  Soil temps are hovering around 50, we need them to jump up to the 55-60 range for good turf growth.

Below are some links on YouTube about the winter kill to turf:

Winter Kill - Penn State

Winter Kill - Nebraska

Michigan State Blog on Winter Kill

Sunday, April 27, 2014

CDGA Weekly Report - April 25, 2015

Scouting Report
April 25, 2014 Scouting Report

On my first visit to the very far southern part of the state this week, I learned some very important things. Living in the middle of the transition zone can fit the term 'variety is the spice of life' nicely or it can be tough sledding when managing turfgrass through the seasons. I also learned that the polar vortex spared no one around the state. Temperature kill is of huge concern there and there is some extremely 'dormant' bermudagrass right now which may need so life support. Zoysiagrass is everyone's friend down there and the importance of Dr. Ken Diesburg and his world leading breeding program cannot be underestimated at Southern Illinois University. Zoysia also came through the winter in much better shape there and I am sure many courses are delighted with the results.

Superintendents in the area are of course ahead of the northern part of the state and Waitea may have been noted already, while many of the superintendents are also waiting for complete recovery from dormancy of zoysia. Many commented however that they are still a month behind normal - wild garlic has taken its chance to invade in the mean time! The one safety release that many superintendents have of course is that due to dormancy - applications to kill Poa annua can be made during these periods and there is limited impact on preferred warm season turf species!

I hope everyone took the time to fill out the survey and look forward to seeing many next Tuesday at the MAGCS meeting. I also hope that everyone had a good Easter and is looking forward to seeing recovering turf!

Click here to view the April 25, 2014 Scouting Report

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
Office: (630) 685-2307
Cell: (630) 423-1925
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch

Friday, April 25, 2014

New Greens

A busy week is coming to a close.  We have stripped #7 and #11 greens, used what was good to repair other greens, contoured them and installed new "007" sod.  Now begins phase two, making them in to puttable greens.  Water is key, especially with the dry spring we are having (20th driest on record), but all that is expected to change next week.  We are still repairing spots in fairways and have a few more greens to touch up.  Our goal is to have everything open (all 18 greens) and no ropes in fairways by Memorial Day!  So far we are on schedule.

The sod was grown near Ann Arbor, Michigan and came in large rolls on two semis.

An "installer" machine was used to lay the large rolls.

The finished product - more pin locations and new bent sod.  In ~4 weeks they will be open for play!  We will have to evaluate the trees around #11 green, as the shade is not a friend of bent grass.

Rolling of the seams is the first of many steps to get the turf to a puttable surface.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lemons into Lemonade

We are now in the process of repairing the damage from the coldest winter on record (Dec-March) on the greens and in the process making them even better then they were before.  #7 and #11 greens have been stripped, re-countoured and tomorrow new "007" bent grass sod will be put down.  By the end of the week all the finishing touches will be completed and in about 4 weeks the new greens will open for play.  Today we are slit seeding all of the other greens and EZ Locator is in town to survey the greens for the new pin placement software program (more on that in the coming weeks).  We also completed our spring aerification of the greens yesterday.  As a Golf Course Superintendent, we are always adjusting to what Mother Nature throws our way, and in the long run making things better.

#11 green - the new countours will allow many new pin locations.  Sod installation begins Wednesday.

Survey of the greens surface begins today for the EZ Locator pin program.  More info in the coming weeks on this new program.

Flowers of spring - windflowers are a bulb that does well in protected areas - and the deer don't seem to like them!

Monday, April 21, 2014

CDGA Weekly Update

Scouting Report
April 18, 2014 Scouting Report

Recovery is underway in many sites it seems and covers can be seen dotted all around the city as soil temperatures took another plunge this week. The forecast currently though seems like 70's are a possibility for many of us and even the guys on the north shore should benefit from that in the near to medium term. As I have visited more locations the glorious inconsistency of who did what and how it worked out has been disarmingly frustrating. There are some incredible stories of doing nothing and looking impeccable in a tree lined tight site to doing nothing and 30-50% damage in an open sunny site. Turf managers who broke ice 24 hours after it formed still had some 'perfume' while others who didn't even let ice form have four greens covered. Some of you would take only four greens covered, but from the perspective of play it's still causing some questions, especially as we are into summer golf and scoring.

It is Easter weekend so I hope everyone has an enjoyable period prior to what will be a very active period based on the current weather forecast!

Click here to view the April 18, 2014 Scouting Report

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
Office: (630) 685-2307
Cell: (630) 423-1925
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 15th and more snow...

If you live in Chicago, you know what happened.  For those lucky ones that have not returned yet, it snowed last night with a low temp of 20.5 degrees.  The ground re-froze but it looks like most of the snow should be gone soon.

Monday, April 14, 2014

CDGA Report April 11, 2014

Scouting Report
April 11, 2014 Scouting Report

It's a record folks - NOAA has reported that this was the coldest winter on record by 0.4 of a degree for the Chicago area - the last previous record was set in 1903-1904.

I am guaranteeing that nobody was managing golf courses in the area at the time and I am also fairly sure that there are no notes on the recovery process - which means, one day at a time and no panicking. Seeding, watering, fertilizer and covers are the order of the day - of course if you have bentgrass greens then you may be just fine.

Further reports have come in of dead grass of course (Picture 1 and 2), but also further reports of timing of issues have come in. Recent conversations indicated that one course manager knew he had the 'smell of death' on February 16th when he broke ice. This is remarkable as this was right on the border for Poa annua as he had counted ice cover to be at 42 days. The smell was not a nice sweet hay smell that is preferred, but the bitterer version and now famous line 'smell of death'. The impact on his course has been particularly harsh.

Recovery times of course can only be estimated and are everyone's focus going forward - mild damage may see recovery very soon but from some of my visits I would expect that optimal conditions may take an extended period of time. A call to the USGA is recommended as well as signing up for their free recovery webinar here.

The other issue at hand is that our current temperatures have not been ideal - some warm conditions have come through but with lows predicted to return back in the high 20's / low 30's, that is from ideal for warming up soil temperatures and getting seed germination.

Click here to view the April 11, 2014 Scouting Report

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
Office: (630) 685-2307
Cell: (630) 423-1925
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hail Storm

A hail storm moved across the golf course at about 11:10AM today, Saturday April 12th.  Golf ball size hail fell, we have yet to asses the damage from this storm.

CDGA Letter on Ice Damage

Update on Turf Damage Due to Winter Weather

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please see the attached letter from the CDGA Green Committee in regards to turf damage in the area due to the historic winter.

Click here to view the letter

If you have any questions regarding the matter, please don't hesitate to contact our offices.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
Office: (630) 685-2307
Cell: (630) 423-1925

Friday, April 11, 2014

What is the difference between Poa and Bentgrass?

Some ask what is the big deal between Poa annua and Bentgrass?  Both grasses are found on golf courses and both seem to be good grasses for greens, right?  There are very distinct differences a few are:

Poa annua- likes; does better in shade and wet areas.  Dislikes: Heat, Cold and prone to disease.  There is more, but that is the basics.  Nobody purchases poa seed for greens.

Bentgrass - likes: sun, heat, cold.  Dislikes: shade and poor draining areas.  Can handle more stress has less diseases and new varieties are well suited for golf courses.  The new varieties are far better than the old ones.  Breading work is done on bent, not poa.

Ok, bent is better - why do we have poa?   Poa is very good at moving into environments that bent does not do well in.  It produces lots of seeds at green height (another issue with why poa is bad for golfers and ball roll), bent does not seed (at green height).

Many courses are now converting older greens to bent.  They have to first address the two pit falls of bent - shade and drainage.  At Biltmore we have addressed the drainage issue, but not entirely the shade issue.  We work towards bentgrass, but sometimes you just need to start fresh and when you do the results are dramatic.

The next time someone says - whats the big deal between poa and bent take a look at #10 or #13 green and compare it to the others, there is a BIG difference.

What's wrong with this green?  Nothing!  A pure bent green (007), no covers were ever used and even though the green is less than 1 year old it came through the winter in perfect condition.  Why would you not want all your greens to be like this, I know I do!  It costs less to maintain and performs far better than an old poa green.

#17 green showing what a poa / bent green can look like after being affected by ice.  Some of the green is bent but some is poa - anything that is brown is poa.  It will recover in time and become more bent but it is a slow process without starting fresh.  We will fix the damage and in a few weeks memories will fade, but we need to always think about how nice it would be to have all bent greens, because there is a difference.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Course Opening Thursday.

The course will open today, Thursday, April 10th at noon.  This ties the latest opening of the course in more than 20 years.  The damage from the winter has been the worst than I have seen over the same period of time.  We all knew it was a long, cold winter but we had high hopes that everything would be okay.

The turf is just starting to turn green and has not started growing quite yet.  In the next few weeks I except to see improvements, but there will be areas that require more attention.  Two greens will remain closed at this time (#7 and #11).    #15 and #17 will have covers over the bad areas but will be open for play.  I am not sure how long the two greens will be closed at this time; it could be a few weeks or longer.

All of the greens have some damage from the heavy snow and ice which lasted longer than poa can handle.  Looks can be deceiving at this time as "brownish" turf does not necessarily mean it is dead.  As the soils warm and the grass continue to wake up, the picture will become clearer.

On a positive note, #10 and #13 greens look GREAT!  These greens were also covered in ice like the others and came through the winter in the best shape possible, just showing that poa vs the new varieties of bent are not even comparable.  The new bents require less care, fewer fungicides, and perform far better than any old poa greens.  If someone should ask, what’s the difference between poa and bent – take a look at 10/13 green and compare to any of the other greens and the answer will become clear.

As things develop, I will keep you posted to our progress in restoring the greens.  The weather has been harsh, but we are focused on restoring the course as quick as possible, which we will do.
Covers are used to help stimulate the turf by warming the soil.  Please do not walk across the covers.  #7 and #11 greens will be closed at this time.  #15 and #17 have will be open, with covers over portions of the greens.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Course Opening this Week

Finally things are starting to green up.  It looks like we will be opening the greens later this week - Thursday or Friday, just depends on how things go the next few days.  I will make the official announcement sometime Wednesday.  It is possible we may have 1 or 2 greens not open this week.  We are still evaluating the damage caused to the poa this winter and these greens may need extra time to recover.  They currently have a cover on them to warm the soils faster and stimulate growth.  We will know more by the end of the week as to the full extent of the winter kill.  With each passing day the course is looking better.

Today we burned all of the prairie areas, finished raking the course and rolled greens, tees and fairways.  We will begin working the bunkers and start cutting greens, tees and fairways on Tuesday.

Peter Westfall, my assistant, has water in his backpack sprayer to help control the fire as needed.

A "Drip Torch" is used to lite the grass on fire.  It contains a mix of gas and diesel fuel

The conditions were good for burning, dry with a slight wind.  A permit from the State of IL is required for this type of open burning,

Our custom made roller is used to level the peat soils each year.  We will continue to roll the peat ground for about 1 more week.  Once the soils are firm, we can then pressurize the irrigation system and see how it fared this winter.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

CDGA Update - April 4, 2014

April 4, 2014 Scouting Report

Welcome back everyone - it has been a long winter and while the calendar has officially entered springtime - Im not so sure that we are actually there yet. Snowfall March 24th and lows in the teens March 25th meant that old man winter has not let go of us just yet as far as temperatures go. As far the winter itself went it has been far from quiet from what I observed. Education talks were very well attended whether it was at Mauh-Nah-Tee-See in Rockford or Nashville GC in Nashville IL to Medinah CC at the annual CDGA club leadership conference led by the venerable Mr S. Solow - guys are suffering from some severe forms of cabin fever.

From my perspective it has been intriguing picking up on methods and thoughts behind how to deal with the winter. I do feel however that there are extremes that we have dealt with this year that it may have not made one iota of difference. Instances of ice build up were reported in late December and unfortunately some courses never shook the ice cover until early March. That time period 80-84 days will have certainly wiped out a lot of Poa annua - pictures are below. The courses with bentgrass of course avoided the worry of this but at the same time the recovery to growth may take a little longer than many of us would like.

From the personnel standpoint, we have hired Ron Townsend as our Director of Turfgrass Research. Ron a fellow Buckeye (I know I'm infesting the place) worked with the pathology program at OSU and most recently was up in Exmoor with the esteemed Mr. K. Galisdorfer. Ron was a Toro/Nicklaus scholarship award winner at OSU as well as a winner of the Trans-Miss scholarship. Ron will allow us to return to a much more normal research service while also aiding with data and website handling. Ron will contribute to the scouting report regularly and he may also be seen at meetings acting as my translator.....

Click here to view the April 4, 2014 Scouting Report

As always if you have a question or query please do not hesitate to ask and you can call or email.

Ed Nangle PhD
Director of Turfgrass Programs
Chicago District Golf Association
Office: (630) 685-2307
Cell: (630) 423-1925
Follow us on Twitter @TurfResearch

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Greens Opening?.... Not yet...

It looks like this will be one of the latest greens openings in recent times.  I do not foresee the greens opening within the next week as the weather forecast is just not helping.   Some greens are starting to wake up but others are still very dormant.  Below are some pictures I took today, Tuesday, April 1st.  Ice still covers Honey Lake and #7 pond.  As the ice melts, more evidence of the brutal winter are coming forward.  It was not just plants that were impacted by the cold, long winter.

#7 Pond - as the ice melts, hundreds of dead fish are starting to show up.  These fish kills were predicted by the IL DNR due to the amount of ice we had on the lakes.  The fish died due to lack of oxygen.

Snow still remains in some bunkers.  #10 green looks great!  Bent grass had no issues with the winter.

#10 fairway on the peat looks like a moonscape.  The frost heaves were tremendous this year in the peat fairways.  Soon we will begin rolling the fairways and rough flat again.

#2 green.  The bent is green and poa is going from straw color to a lime green.  In a few more weeks we will know exactly what poa did not live.  There will be some damage to greens, how much is not clear yet.

Raccoons came out of winter hungry for some grubs/worms.  This is left of #15 green in the rough.  We will repair the areas in the coming weeks.