Tuesday, May 27, 2014

That's Some Roots!

Jesus holding a plug from #13 green (007 bentgrass) - nice long roots!
Early morning view at the beach.

CDGA Weekly Update - May 23, 2014

Scouting Report
May 23, 2014 Scouting Report

Golf ball sized hail and tropical like rainfalls were not asked for this week - they did however decide to turn up! Courses either saw direct damage to putting surfaces from the golf ball sized hail or if they avoided that problem, they then took a deluge of water which measured as much as 1.6" of rainfall in just over an hour. To give you an idea, to put down an inch of water over 1 acre you need 27,154 gallons of water, so on average golf courses with 100 acres received 2,715,400 gallons of water in less than an hour. That can equate to as much as 1/5 of the total irrigation used annually for some courses in the area - this occurred in 1 HOUR. If you do not feel that this is incredible then please take me out to Lake Michigan so I can watch you walk on water.

Once the deluge was done, temperatures and conditions actually turned rather favorably. Chainsaws, contractors and cleanup were the order of the day, and of course with Memorial Day weekend coming, pressure is really on. Courses have decided that they cannot wait any longer and people have begun to sod out areas that are sitting there. It's far from ideal as there are both short and long term implications, but as people want to get back out golfing then there is not much choice. Leaf spot has made an appearance and further down state dollar spot has really started to fire.

Recovery should really start in earnest with the temperatures pushing consistently into the 70's and 80's though it is also time to start really checking for disease issues as humidity is going to creep up. It is Memorial Day weekend so the start of summer is here - hopefully this bumpy start is coming to a rapid finish and we can get back to great golfing conditions.

Click here to view the May 23, 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

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ezlocator Pin System

With the opening of all 18 greens today, you can now see where the pins are located by downloading a free app to your phone.  Search the app store for "Ezlocator".  After downloading the app, click on Biltmore Country Club and a picture of each green with the exact location of the pin will be shown for that day.  You can also request a printout of the pin locations from the pro shop.

Flower Time and Greens Open Friday!

All greens will be open starting Friday, May 23rd.  #10 and #13 will be pretty much normal compared to the other greens, except that it is a pure bent green built to USGA specifications.  #7 and #11 are bent sod greens, but not on a USGA base.  #7 and #11 will be slower than the other greens due to the fact that we are mowing them at a higher height of cut then the other greens, due to the amount of thatch that came with the sod.  As we work to control the thatch we will slowly lower the height of cut.

The cold weather of last week (hard to even remember that it was snowing less than 7 days ago) slowed the recovery process down but things are improving day by day.  This week was flower planting and we are just about finished.
Karen Thomson, my wife who does all of the flower designs at Biltmore and is laying out the plantings for the flower pots used around the property.  It has been some long days this week - starting at 5:30AM and ending around today at 7:30PM.  All planting should be completed this week.
#7 Green - New bent green (from sod) - will open Friday.

New #10 and #13 USGA Bent greens grown from  seed will open Friday.  This is being maintained at the same height of cut as the other greens.

New #11 green will open Friday (from Sod).  The sod greens will be a slower than the other greens.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Iowa State Univeristy - Why Winter so Hard on Landscape

Why Was Winter 2013-14 So Hard On Our Landscape Plants?

I think we’d all agree, the past winter season was a long and difficult one.  Even now, in the third week of May, temperatures are struggling to reach 70°.  And the three overriding questions remain…will summer ever arrive?  How do I explain to my boss, club members, clients, etc. why so many plants look dead after the winter of 2013-14?  And perhaps most importantly, why was this past winter so tough on landscape plants? 

Consider these events important events:
  • As we entered late fall and early winter, soil conditions were very dry.
  • As a result, many landscape plants entered winter under stress or in a weakened condition.
  • Severe low temperatures (before measureable snowfall) caused the soil to freeze to impressive depths.  This could have resulted in root death to sensitive or stressed plants.
  • When snowfall eventually arrived, it blanketed the ground without interruption, persisting until early spring in some locations and ensuring frozen soil until late March/early April.
  • Strong winds seemed to be an everyday occurrence.  When coupled with high light intensity and frozen soil conditions, the damage to evergreens became a foregone conclusion.
  • Finally, low temperatures, the likes we haven’t seen for many years, helped create the perfect storm.

Mitigating Winter Injury
Winter injury may not be immediately apparent when plants resume growth in the spring. Some plants may actually leaf out and appear quite normal for a time, only to decline and die later during stressful summer conditions.  To minimize unsightliness and promote plant health, dead wood should be pruned out as it becomes apparent. 

Providing appropriate amounts of water to compromised plants may be the most important task for landscape managers.  Plants already suffering from winter injury may die quickly if forced to cope with drought stress.  Mulching the area around trees and shrubs with organic materials like wood chips or shredded bark will help conserve soil moisture and keep lawn maintenance equipment away from sensitive bark and stem tissue. 

Finally, it is important to remember that fertilizer is not a cure-all for winter-injured plants.  If a soil test determines that mineral elements are deficient, then applying an appropriate fertilizer makes perfect sense.  But high rates of fertilizer will not miraculously close sunscald wounds, restore life to killed roots or buds, or reverse any of the other negative effects resulting from the memorable winter of 2013-14.
Jeff Iles
Department of Horticulture
Iowa State University

Below you will fine a few pictures taken by Dr. Iles around Ames. 

CDGA Weekly Update - May 16, 2014

Scouting Report
May 16, 2014 Scouting Report

The taste of summer we experienced last week was a tease. I for one am feeling frustration with an inability to begin research trials on small square footage which must mean that many turfgrass managers are really banging their heads off a wall right now when thinking about dealing with acres of grass. Seed heads came out in a tour de force in some sites as well and it will be another thought that people will have to deal with going forward. The fact that snow fell and stuck on the north side of the city was a shock for many on Friday but the hope is that looking at the weather, change is on the way.

The other issue that has arisen is whether or not the viability of the seed bank has been affected. Interestingly bentgrass seeds have germinated though not done much since then, but between the slit lines or aeration holes where there is dead poa - there has not been any emergence of material from the seed bank. It may be difficult timing wise but it does seem somewhat odd, to follow up on it there is not a lot of information out there to indicate whether or not soil temperatures may impact its viability but the lack of activity seems to be less than helpful.

The unfortunate situation now is that many of us are arriving towards the inevitable increase in golf and nowhere near ideal playing conditions. All we can do is continue to make sure everything else is excellent and wait on the temperatures to return.

Click here to view the May 16, 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, May 16, 2014

Snow Pictures - May 16th

Temp at 8AM - 32.2 degrees

Trying to keep the snow/ water from crushing the flowers.

Snow - May 16th!

When we came in today at 5:30AM to begin work, the temperature was 39 degrees.  By 7:30AM, the temp had dropped to 32.7 degrees (and still dropping as I write this) and SNOWING , big snow flakes continue to fall and starting to stick to the grass!  The radar shows heavy snow in the area. 

Today is flower pick up - starting after 12 noon.  Be sure to cover the flowers for the next few days at night as the low temps are predicted to be in our area. We have had hail, frost and bad t-storms during flower pick up, but snow is a first.

We will most likely have frost both Saturday and Sunday and delays in golfing start times should be anticipated.
Peter Westfall, my assistant, smiling, even with snow falling.

To protect the flowers, from frost - we cover them with plastic, but this is the first time we covered them to protect them from  SNOW!

Snow falling - notice the Robins on the bridge rails, even they are confused.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mothers Day!

This past week we finally saw the turf respond to the warming soil temperatures.  The peat ground, which makes up almost 50% of the course, stays colder longer than other areas.  Because of this, the turf is slow to start growing and greening.  This last week soil temps jumped up over 55 degrees, about 2 weeks later than normal.  The rough started growing and the greens are healing.  A few more weeks like this and we should be pretty much back to normal.  It will be awhile longer for the new sod greens (7 and 11), as the thatch that comes with the sod takes awhile to get under control.  The thatch makes the greens spongy/ soft.  It will take many core aerifications and topdressing with sand before they play like the other greens.

The next few weeks we will be working hard to prepare the course for Memorial Day weekend, which includes planting all the annual flowers around the property.

A reminder that flower pickup is this week - Friday and Saturday.

Happy Mothers Day!

Last week we aerified weak areas in the fairways and filled the holes with a mix of seed and soil.

Happy Mothers Day!

Look closely at the #8 green and you can see very faint green lines.  This is the bent that we seeded into the greens this spring to help with the recovery.  Click on the picture to enlarge.

CDGA Weekly Report - May 9, 2014

Scouting Report
May 9, 2014 Scouting Report

Wow - a week of all kinds of everything going on. The heat finally arrived - with a big bang I might add - and the rain followed which was welcome. The 1.2" in a 2-3 hour period was somewhat tropical though and so it made for somewhat sloppy surfaces in places. There was as always with Chicago climate spatial variability to the rainfall but some courses did get poured on. Many courses were starting to get dry so a natural flush of warmer water helped for many reasons. Establishment of bentgrass seed will have been helped and another week of that warm weather would really put courses in a better situation. The humidity that arrived Thursday with the heat was the first push for disease activity while aeration holes are also starting to fill in and bentgrass greens are beginning to look really nice.

Golf has been somewhat slow to get going, presumably with the weather improving activity will return, however it is helping with recovery time as managers commented that they have been able to get some work done. Many superintendents are finished with what caused the winter problems and are now trying to push for recovery as quick as possible. The weather of the previous week may have been depressing but this most recent weeks weather was definitely more uplifting. Bentgrass surfaces in Central Illinois are also in excellent form as the heat has started to return down there now.

Time is still needed to return to excellent conditions but at least some heat has finally shown up!

Click here to view the May 9, 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, May 6, 2014

New Sod Greens

The new greens (#7 and #11)  that were sodded are now 2 weeks old and yesterday we aerified them for the first time.  This aerification removed some of the thatch from the sod.  The thatch helps in keeping the sod together during shipment and installation (we used big roll sod), but it does not help in making a smooth, puttable surface.  It will take several aerifications and many topdressings with sand to dilute and remove as much of the thatch as possible as we continue to lower the height of cut.  We started cutting the greens at .500" a few days after the sod was installed and are now cutting them at .180".  Our normal height of cut on the greens is around .110".  As we get closer, we will go slower in lowering the height (.005" at a time).  Our goal is to be very close to .110" by Memorial Day weekend, but we will have to see how the turf responds as we continue to lower the height of cut.

Pulling the plugs - we used a quad tine holder with 1/2" tines.
After the plugs are removed, the green is rolled 2 times and then sand is broomed across the green filling all holes.  We also applied wetting agents yesterday.

A close up of the plugs - mostly thatch.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Chicago Tribune and CDGA Weekly Update 5/5/2014

May 5, 2014 
Weather sends golf season off course
Hard winter, chilly spring take toll on fairways, greens
By Teddy Greenstein Tribune reporter
Think you had a tough winter? Pity the area’s golf course superintendents. For weeks they’ve desperately tried to turn their bumpy browns into smooth greens.
A blog written by Skokie Country Club superintendent Donald Cross warned that viewing pictures of the course’s weather-damaged greens “can lead to Insomnia, Hypertension, Depression, Anxiety, Irritability, Stress, Mood Swings, and other psychological and physiological conditions ... all of which have been experienced by this author!”
Ed Nangle, director of turfgrass programs for the Chicago District Golf Association , said he has seen fairways that look like “a chameleon in a candy shop.”
Gary Groh, the head professional at Bob O’Link in Highland Park, summed up his frustration over the chilly spring this way: “It’s 48 degrees here right now up by the lake. Doggone it!”
The driving range is open at Bob O’Link, but the course might not be playable until June after the poa annua died on about 13 greens, forcing the club to replant.
And Bob O’Link is part of the majority. Public or private, small or big maintenance budget, few courses were immune to the big chill.
A survey conducted by the CDGA and Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents found nearly 65 percent of area courses have damaged greens and an estimated 85 percent have issues with fairways or tee boxes.
“I’ve been in the business for 25 years,” MAGCS executive director Luke Cella said. “This is the worst.”
Cog Hill owner Frank Jemsek can’t remember worse weather-related conditions in his 50 years in the business, according to daughter Katherine, the club president.
The greens on Cog Hill’s signature “Dubsdread” course are fine, but some greens on the Nos. 1-3 courses have puncture marks as a result of aeration. “Customers are noticing and asking a lot of questions,” Katherine Jemsek said. “We try to educate them and explain that we’re doing everything we can.”
With ground temperatures stuck in the 40s, too cold for grass to grow, courses have had to create their own “temps” in the form of temporary greens. Skokie opened with just three of its normal greens and is now up to eight.
Officials at Wynstone Golf Club in North Barrington created temporary greens at the end of fairways. Landing an approach shot inside a spray-painted 20-foot circle encompassing the hole yields an automatic two-putt. Get your ball within a 4-foot circle, and you can walk off with an unsatisfying one-putt.
Wynstone’s goal is to have every regular green playable by Memorial Day weekend. In August the club will shut down for a “gassing and regrassing” of all 18 greens, a $150,000 project that will replace the temperamental poa annua with weather-resistant bentgrass.
That divide was evident at Medinah, where the poa annua greens on the No. 2 course “were slow to wake up,” superintendent Curtis Tyrrell said, but the bent-grass greens on the world-class No. 3 course were barely affected.
Clubs are reluctant to make the switch, though, because it requires about 16 weeks of growing weather. So on top of being shut down in the fall, Wynstone might not be ready for play in 2015 until June.
“Change causes heartburn at private clubs,” Wynstone head pro Andy Phelan said. “This is a third home for our members, after home and the office.”
It’s a sensitive enough topic that officials at intensely private old-money clubs Shoreacres and Old Elm declined to comment.
Dan Dinelli, a third-generation superintendent, said members at North Shore Country Club in Glenview have been largely sympathetic.
Dinelli’s maintenance crew limited damage by using plant protectants to winterize and by removing snow and breaking up ice in February. The club has just two temporary greens and expects to be in top shape for the Encompass Championship, the Champions Tour event the club will host June 20-22.
“Honestly I’m really just focused on member use now,” he said. “It has been a long winter for everyone.”
Cella, who works with superintendents throughout the Midwest, said the winter culprit was “ice encasement.”
“People think the turf goes dormant in the winter,” he said, “but the grass still needs oxygen to live. When it gets encased in ice, there’s a buildup of toxic gases and it dies.”
A chilly April made a bad situation worse.
“When the Masters is on TV, I’ve usually mowed five to seven times,” Cella said. “I mowed my lawn for the first time last weekend. We’re a solid three to four weeks behind, so you can’t even get grass seeds to germinate.”
Cella and the CDGA’s Nangle have been advising superintendents — and trying to help them keep their sanity.
“There’s no point in panicking,” Nangle said. “But there’s frustration and impatience because the temperatures now are what they should be in late March.”
Nangle said whatever the superintendents did in the winter and spring, “it didn’t seem to matter. The guys who covered (the greens) did not get perfect results. And some that didn’t cover on heavily tree-lined courses did fine.”
One of those is Glencoe Golf Club, a public course charging $50 to walk 18 holes this weekend. Head pro Matt Radde said he has heard “horror stories” from pros at other clubs, but he cannot share in the misery. Glencoe has been open since late March, and every green is playable.
“Some of the spots aren’t pretty,” Radde said, “but there’s nothing wrong with them. We get a lot of private (club) players who say we have some of the best greens around.” tgreenstein@tribune.com  Twitter @TeddyGreenstein

Scouting Report
May 2, 2014 Scouting Report

Hurry up and wait is about the only way to describe the current situation for many courses. Frustration has set in with the climate as the cold, wet, cloudy weather is good for nothing except spending time worrying about it at the bar. Many superintendents who responded to the recent survey sent out by CDGA and MAGCS indicated the most consistent reason as to why they did not have damage was purely down to the fact that they have a strong creeping bentgrass stand on their putting surfaces. I think they might even feel a little bit guilty - if not, they certainly are extremely grateful!

Germination has been slow and while covers will help to warm soils they do very little as far as making an immediate putting surface. Moisture has arrived in a somewhat more consistent manner although there were instances of heavy hail occurring this week in the western suburbs of Chicago. Staying the course and remembering it is somewhat out of your control in regards to climate will help to reign in the frustration somewhat. Take solace in knowing that many people are in the same situation, trying to get back to optimal conditions as soon as reasonably possible and that once soil temperatures get to >55°F consistently we will all feel some relief.

Many superintendents understand now what they have and I think the fear of loss has now been overcome with determination to beat the damage with the hope that there is some form of spring prior to the return of summer - roots have begun to make an appearance downward but it doesn't seem like they are sprinting as of yet. Courses have aerified and some are looking close to recovered while others just need some heat. Time is all that is required - which unfortunately is not there in abundance. If the forecast holds for next week with temperatures possibly reaching the 70's and if we are lucky a warm rain then help can be considered to be on the way!

Click here to view the May 2, 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, May 3, 2014

Spring??? Is it Really Here??

Today after seemingly a month of cloudy, cool weather the sun is out and the forecast for next week looks promising!  We are still a few weeks behind in growth for this time of year, but things are starting to green up and grow (including the rough).  Seed on the greens is germinating and the damaged areas are filling in.  Our goal is to have all the greens back up and open by Memorial Day weekend.  So far we are on schedule.

Daffodils are great spring flowers if deer are an issue, as deer won't eat them.

The new roof for the clubhouse is well underway.  How many workers can you count?? Click to enlarge picture....

#13 green - ahhh, if only all the greens were like this one - pure bent "007", built to USGA specifications - life would be good for everyone.  This green (along with #10) will open Memorial Day weekend.  The mower in the picture is Toro's new electric greens mower.  This was given to us from Toro at no charge to keep.  Very quite and a nice cut.

Spring is here to stay, I HOPE...