Friday, September 26, 2014

Week in Pictures

Beautiful week and weekend coming.  Be sure to get out and enjoy the weather!  Fall color is starting to show.  Trees are turning and the flowers that prefer cooler weather are looking nice.  A physical response to the colder weather and short days tell all living plants it is time to prepare for winter.  Part of that response can be a color change but for all plants their growth habit is altered as they shift gears in preparation for winter.
Maples are just now starting to change color. Oaks started dropping leaves last week.

Marigolds like the cooler, drier, sunny weather.  Considered an "old fashion" flower, they are starting to make a comeback.

This time of year the grasses look their best.  Purple Fountain grass, an annual type grass, is at it's peak.

Mums are a classic flower of Fall.

Lantana (an annual) can handle frosts.  Frost will turn the leaves more purple but keeps on flowering.  A great plant for sunny, dry locations. 

Early morning fog is common on the bog at Biltmore.  Cold air drainage can make the temperature vary greatly from the bog to the putting green in the early morning and late evening.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ball Marks

When the weather turned cooler and wetter a few weeks ago, the grass slowed growing as well.  Un-repaired and improperly repaired ball marks have become a real issue.  Today we marked all of the ball marks on #13 green.  On a par 3 green you can only imagine the number of ball marks.  At the end is a video on how to repair a ball mark.

760 flags - we did not have enough of any one color, so we used all of the flags we had.  The different colors do not mean anything.

Imagine putting through this maze of ball marks

An improperly repaired ball mark, like these can take up to 3 weeks to heal.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rough at Biltmore

The rough at Biltmore is always a challenge.  One type of grass that we have never planted but has dominated the peat ground is Poa trivialis or commonly called Roughstalk Bluegrass.  It most likely came to Biltmore as a contaminate of grass seed, this was very common in the early days of seed production, but not as much now.  This should not be confused with Kentucky Bluegrass or Poa annua, all three are very different grasses.

Poa trivialis (Roughstalk Bluegrass) likes: shady, wet areas.  When it gets hot, goes dormant or to the layman "dies" and lays flat in a matted dead appearance.  It looks dead, but it is not.  It is just waiting for things to cool down/ and get wet.  It can tolerate sunny areas, but does best in shade.  It is very thatchy because it spreads by stolons making it difficult to advance a shot from.  It can also not handle wear or traffic like Bluegrass.

Poa pratensis (Kentucky Bluegrass) likes: sunny, well drained areas.  It can handle very hot weather and can also go dormant during dry times but when it does, stays standing up.  Much easier to advance a shot from - a bunch type grass.

As their scientific name implies, they are both in the same Genus but have very different "likes" and growth habits.  Poa trivialis is a weed of golf courses (along with it's cousin Poa annua) and both are never intended to be planted.

Control is difficult, as Poa trivialis is a prolific seeder and can grow back from its stolons.  In the past we have found some success in roto tilling the areas and seeding with our "Biltmore Blend" of Bluegrass seed.  Our blend was specifically picked for traits that worked best for us - dense, disease resistant, aggressive (to out compete the Poa trivialis), wear tolerant, able to handle some shade, and dark in color with early spring green up.  Unfortunately there is no one best cultivar, so we created a blend of several cultivars with attributives best fitting our situation - some are better in shade, some are better in wear tolerance, diseases, etc.  The idea is whichever variety is best suited for the environment, it will survive.

Several yeas ago we tested a product call Tenacity for the control of Poa in the rough.  We found good results and then did a course wide application.  This was not well received by the membership due to the extent of the control (dead Poa).  However, after the voids filled in with the Biltmore Blend complaints about the rough dropped considerably.  We did not treat under trees because areas were best suited for the Poa and the Bluegrass would not be able to compete.  As trees are removed these large patches of Poa trivialis are exposed to sun and go "dead" during stressful times.  The best solution is to rototill these areas in late August and seed with our Biltmore Blend of Bluegrass.  Seeding in late August is ideal time of year and these areas typically re-open to play by October.

For more information check these links:

Ohio State - Poa trivialis
GCSAA - Poa trivialis
Sugar Creek Golf Course Blog
Wikipedia Poa trivialis

Poa trivialis still green under the tree.  Most likely next year the Poa will go dormant during a hot period, typically late August.

This old tree stump is located between #11 and #14.  The stump is in the back of the picture.  On the North side of the tree the Poa trivialis has gone dormant, with a few patches of Bluegrass still green. Look closely and you can see the new Bluegrass seed coming up.  Most likely when the Poa trivialis breaks dormancy and comes back to life it will overtake the new seedlings.  The ideal way would be to renovate this area and then seed.

This Bluegrass covered stump (between #2 and #9) with Poa trivialis thinning on the North side of the tree.

This area (right of #13 near the green) was seeded last fall to the Biltmore Blend of Kentucky Bluegrass.  Small patches of Poa trivialis is trying to come back (light yellow), but the Bluegrass does have the upper hand as of now.  At these levels, chemical treatment would be very effective in keeping this area clean of Poa trivialis.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Week in Pictures

1st frost of the year this past week and finally things started to dry out. Last night (Saturday) we received 0.11" of rain, just the right amount.  The warmer weather expected to arrive next week will make for some great golfing conditions! 

We have moved our starting time for the grounds crew to 6AM (from 5AM), but it is still dark at that time of day.  Our new greens mowers have LED lights, without lights it is really hard to get the greens ready for a 8:30 shotgun this time of year.
The pumpkin patch is looking good!  For the Fall Festival this year, the hayride will take members to the pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin! 

CDGA Weekly Report - Sept 19, 2014

Scouting Report
September 19, 2014 Scouting Report

Winter is coming - and from what we can tell - it's coming fast! First frosts were reported on two occasions this week. Locations both on the west and northwest side of the city had slight frosts - which is a month ahead of the first likelihood for the area of frost occurrence according to the Farmers Almanac! The temperatures have certainly cooled off and it is noticeable in many ways that the winter is coming, most noticeably in crabgrass which has started to turn red as the cold temperatures impact is photosynthetic capacity. The other downside to these cooler temperatures is that aeration procedures that have been scheduled later may take a longer time to recover if the pattern continues as the bentgrass in particular will cease with its growth habit.

Insect digging has not necessarily dissipated although the overall damage this year does not seem to be as bad as previous years and this may be linked to both the cold winter and the fact that the summer was relatively wet. Disease pressure has subsided somewhat although there are plenty of dollar spot scars to be seen on fairways. Pressure may rise somewhat this weekend with temperatures forecast to rise back into the 80 degree range, but long term the cooler temperatures will naturally reduce the issue.

Leaf spot may have popped up this past week somewhat as the cooler temperatures affected the bentgrass, however again - drying out and blue skies will help to reduce that pressure.

A majority of superintendents are happy with their course conditions currently and I have seen some excellent playing surfaces - it really is a great time of year to get out and enjoy the course - getting an extra bounce as surfaces can be safely dried out and allow for great golf conditions.

Click here to view the September 19, 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, September 16, 2014

1st Frost of the Year

Today we had our 1st frost of the year, only in the rough and down on the bog.  It started out pretty cold today, 37 degrees for a low.  Looks like things will get a bit warmer this week, with some much needed sunshine!

A little frost on the pumpkin patch by #13 this morning.

Grubs and raccoons (or skunks) don't mix.  In the last week the damage from the raccoons has started.  We are treating the areas as they occur. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Where were you in 1973?

In 1973, Miguel Rodriguez began his carrier at Biltmore Country Club - over 41 years ago.  He tells stories about living in the old clubhouse upstairs.  He has seen many things change over the years- new clubhouse, new irrigation systems - two of them, flipping of the "9's" - several times, many floods and storms and lots of drainage work.  He has been an important part in making the course go from a place that would flood for weeks to draining within hours.  He is our go to guy for drainage - he has overseen the installation of miles and miles of drainage tile.  He can remember the day when they use to call Biltmore, "Floodmore".

After this year he is slowing down a bit and going from full to part time so he can spend more time in Mexico during the winter.  A big change for someone who has devoted his life to Biltmore.  But his career working on the golf course is not over yet.  He may spend more time cutting rough then greens now, but he still has the passion to get up at 4AM each day during the summer and make Biltmore better for the members.

He has also raised several Evens Scholar sons who caddied at Biltmore.

You many not have seen him, you may not even know him, but he is someone we all should thank for his years of service and we hope many more years to come.  So the next time you see Mike on the course, tell him thank you!

Miguel Rodriguez - 41 years of service and counting!
Mike - our "go to guy" for drainage.  He has trenched miles and miles of drain tile - from rough to fairways to greens.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

CDGA Weekly Update - Sept 5 2014

Scouting Report
September 5, 2014 Scouting Report

The week that was echoed the month that was just passed, a little bit wetter than we would like, but it could have been a lot worse. Aeration and recovery is now the focus of many and looking at the weather forecast the sooner it is done the better - otherwise it seems like recovery could take a long time. Conditions have been nothing short of excellent all summer and it is setting up for a great season of fall golf. Leaf spot is hanging around with the moisture and undoubtedly there are some very wet rootzones. This buildup of moisture followed by heat has triggered the appearance of some summer patch so managers have begun to look at root drench type control options to knock it back.

Insect digging has occurred and damage is now evident, though probably not as bad as was expected. Dollar spot and brown patch were active though reports of pythium activity diminished. The annual Wee One foundation fundraiser is upcoming at Pine Hills and even though the field is full, there is always an opportunity to help. The foundation's purpose is a noble cause: 'The Wee One Foundation was named to honor Wayne Otto CGCS and to continue to assist golf course management professionals and their dependents who incur overwhelming expenses due to medical hardship without comprehensive insurance or adequate financial resources.' Take a look at all the work they have done at

The turfgrass field day is almost upon us and if you get the chance, register ASAP to help us confirm numbers for lunch purposes. You can register online at as well as printing out the form and faxing it into the Midwest Golf House at (630) 257-2088.

Click here to view the September 5, 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, September 2, 2014

Aerificaiton Has Started

For the next two days the crew will be working from dark to dark, 5:30AM ~7:30PM to complete the aerification process of the greens, tees and fairways.  We run a staggered shift during lunch to keep all equipment running non-stop.
Day one started out foggy - we need the sun to help dry things out so we can complete the work in two days.  This is #1 fairway being aerified.

Lots of sand (nearly 75 tons) is used to fill the holes in the greens.  Here Sal is creating the 3/4"x 12" holes in the greens.  Later we will push and blow the sand into the holes.

The dry sand is delivered 25 tons at a time.  The trucks come from Ohio where the sand is man-made to exact specifications from quartz rock. The sand is then blown from the truck through a pipe into the storage bin, where we then load it into our sand topdresser.

Sunshine is very important component of this process - without it all work comes to a halt.  We have a very tight schedule.