Friday, October 31, 2014

Snow, Leaves, Trees and New Tee

This week was busy with leave removal.  All of the leaves on the golf course are mulched/ ground up and left in place to decompose in the rough.  It is amazing the amount of leaf material that can disappear into the rough.

1st snow of the winter.  It will be windy and cold today, with hard frosts this weekend.  But next week looks better.

Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea) is one of my favorite trees.  It has a nice bright yellow fall color and white fragrant flowers in June.  It grows 30-40' tall with smooth bark and very hard wood.  It gets its name from the wood which is yellow in color.  This one I planted behind the 1/2 way house and we have a few others on the right of #3 tee.

Bald Cyprus (Taxodium distichum) is another one of my favorite trees.  It is ideally suited for the peat bog.  A native of swamps it does very well in Biltmore's bog.  It is one of a few evergreen trees that drops it's needles in the fall.  Some of the trees produce "knees" which was once thought to help move oxygen to the roots, but current thought is they are used to help stabilize the tree.

Each day we clear the course of leaves (weather permitting).  Most of the remaining leave will come down this weekend.

#3 Ladies Tee.  We have completed work on the new tee but will not install the sod until next spring, giving it time to settle over the winter.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Week in Pictures

Be sure to check out Dr. Ed Nangle's CDGA Weekly Update for this week - some very timely information and a few pictures of Biltmore.

Frosts and leaves are the theme this time of year.  Leaves are pretty when they are turning color on the trees, but take labor and equipment to keep the course clear after they fall.  I think we are past the peak, but leaf drop will continue for a few more weeks.

Frost is common this time of year.

Seed Corn Beetle - a new pest has arrived at Biltmore.  The Seed Corn Beetle likes to make its home in the greens that look like a mound of sand.

Seed Corn Beetle holes.  They eat other bugs, which is good and so far only seen on our greens nursery, they are one of the few insects still active this time of year.

CDGA Weekly Update - Oct 24, 2014

Scouting Report
October 24, 2014 Scouting Report

As we start to wind down towards the end of the season and golf courses are looking at planning for the winter and also looking towards next year - especially with the early order programs now in full flow - it's always a good idea to look into what could happen and whether or not we could have done anything differently. Certainly the climate has already drawn queries as how to approach the upcoming winter. One issue we must remember however is that the winter of 2013-14 broke large numbers of records including the 100 year old temperature record - I'm open to anyone telling me that this winter will be the same, but I'm also willing to put some credence of belief into the fact that it will not be as bad. Courses that took the big decision to re grass will benefit and the courses that enjoyed the results of re-grassing to bentgrass prior to last winter will look forward to another relatively problem free winter period.

The weather has dried out and fall colors are completely on show, some dollar spot activity has still been reported as well as Microdochium activity - with the moisture last week along with the cooler temperatures it was expected. One other disease that popped up this week which I have not seen so far was red thread - not hugely damaging but always an interesting visual. Rust is still hanging around and some courses have been forced to make the unusual step of making a control application. Earthworm activity has subsided somewhat and so have the unsightly casts that become smeared all over fairways which are playing firm and fast this week. The abundant sunshine late in the week and predicted temperatures in the low 70's will really help turf to regain any density lost from aeration and the cool cloudy conditions.

Plenty of projects are ongoing - many of the courses are in the process of being put to bed, but there is still time to get out there and enjoy it - it might be a long winter!

Click here to view the October 24, 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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

CDGA Weekly - Oct 17, 2014

October 17, 2014 Scouting Report

We have had a dreary week that had as much as 2" of rainfall and decidedly fall like temperatures was the order of the moment. It did however finish on a bright note on the Friday and Saturday as the blue skies returned to warm the locale up. Tree lines have turned into the beautiful fall colors which have also brought the annual battle with leaf drop to a peak. The pigmentation however is certainly to be enjoyed and many will appreciate this time of year for the colors alone that can be seen all over the state. The MAGCS fall meeting will soon be upon us, so registration sooner rather than later to guarantee a seat is a good idea!

Insect activity seems to have dissipated and the digging damage subsided, however this week proved ideal for earthworm activity and many courses were seeing the smearing on fairways despite best efforts to remove the casts. They are an annual battle and the issue seems to rear its head in a focused manner where the fairways become very smeared and unsightly. The rain was certainly appreciated though it made conditions somewhat soft, however a week of dry weather would really make for excellent golfing conditions going into the mid fall. Poa germination has been evident this week and so if you think it was gone - think again!

Conference dates are beginning to line up and remember the following before the end of the year. The following dates should be of interest: Nov 11th - Midwest Turf Clinic, Dec 2-4th Kansas Turfgrass Conference, Dec 9-11th Ohio Turfgrass Conference and Show. Further opportunities for education and networking are ongoing - get involved!

Click here to view the October 17, 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, October 17, 2014

Week in Pictures

Red Maple in full color.
Ball Marks - with the rains/ soft greens please repair your ball marks and pick up your feet when walking across the greens.  Scuff marks from shoes have also become an issue lately.

Fall color is peaking - the course is still drying from the rains earlier this week.

#14 green - This time of year, our goal is turf health as we prepare the course for winter.  Greens will be slower than normal as we are encouraging more turf growth, and raising heights of cut slightly.  

Earthworm castings continue to be an issue.  We have been topdressing fairways with sand where we had issues in the past, now worms are moving onto the peat fairways.  This is a pictures of #1 fairway and a place we have not top dressed with sand in the past, but will start to now.  Earthworms are also very active in the rough, making the turf thin and muddy in areas.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


frost freeze saturdayWhat causes frost?
Frost forms in much the same way as dew forms. Frost usually forms when a surface cools through loss infrared radiation to a temperature which is colder than the dewpoint of the air next to the surface, AND the temperature of that surface is below freezing (32 deg F, or 0 deg. C). The source of this moisture is water vapor contained in the air.

The heaviest coatings of frost usually do not occur at the coldest temperatures because very cold air can not hold very much water vapor. Instead, thick deposits of frost usually occur when the air temperature is close to 32 deg. F (0 deg. C).

Interesting facts:
HOAR FROST: Huge ice crystals of frost can develop if a cold surface below 32 degree F (0 deg, C) is exposed for a long period of time to unusually humid air. This can happen on the underside of ice covering a river if the water level of the river falls after the ice was formed. The relatively humid layer of air trapped between the surface of the river and the underside of the ice then acts as a continuous source of moisture for the frost to grow on the underside of the ice. Hoar frost is also found in some layered snowpacks.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Frost and Trees and Sunshine

Today (Friday, October 9th) we had another frost - one of the hardest to date.  Even though the weatherman says the low would only be 42, we had a low of 32 on the bog.  This may sound weird, but it is very normal for Biltmore because of "cold air drainage".  A phenomenon where the cold air from surrounding areas drains/flows to the lower areas (ie the bog).  We typically see temperatures 5-10 degrees below nearby locations.  Frosts occur more often and more frequently at Biltmore.
Frost - a sure sign Fall has arrived.
In the last few weeks we removed many trees around the course.  The  majority of these trees fell into two categories, those infected with diseases/ insects and and those causing turf issues (shade and air movement).  The majority of the trees removed were Green Ash infected with Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).  Many of the pines removed were also starting to die from other diseases and over planting. The pines removed around #4 tee starting to die and those around #8 green were also starting to thin and cause shade issues on the green.  Next spring new plantings of bushes will be installed left of #4 tee and behind #8 green.   All of the trees were approved by the Green Committee and the Board of Directors.

Sunshine on #8 green - Early morning sunshine on this green was rare due to the pines that surrounded the green.  Next spring bushes will be planted that will create a buffer between the cart path and the green, but still allowing the most important sunshine of the day to hit the green, early morning.
Rust - a disease that can turn your shoes a "rusty" color.  Mostly affects older Kentucky Bluegrass varieties.  It can make areas of turf look almost brown.  Very often seen in the fall and rarely kills the turf, but can thin it. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

USGA - Winter Preparation for Greens


By Adam Moeller, agronomist, Northeast Region
October 1, 2014

Not only is creeping bentgrass a stronger species when tough winter weather occurs, it is a much stronger species during the summer. A deeper root system is one of the main benefits of creeping bentgrass compared to annual bluegrass.
As golfers enjoy the nice fall weather, golf course maintenance staffs throughout the Northeast Region are well underway with winter preparations. Severe winter injury occurred last year and many golf courses are doing as much as they can now to prevent similar damage. TheGreen Section Recordarticle Winter Damage by USGA agronomist Keith Happ is an excellent reference for information on why putting greens experience injury and how to best limit future problems. Several common factors contributed to winter injury at golf courses this past year including:
  1. Damage was almost completely on cold-susceptible annual bluegrass (i.e. Poa annua). Minimal damage occurred on creeping bentgrass.
  2. Putting greens with limited surface drainage and/or areas where surrounding slopes funnel water onto putting greens were the most heavily damaged.
  3. Damage was the most severe in drainage paths.
  4. Shaded putting greens experienced the most turf loss from winter injury.
  5. Putting greens maintained at low cutting heights in the fall and late fall were more commonly and severely injured.
Given the common factors involved in the damage, many courses are trying to focus on the controllable variables listed above. For instance, many courses have already begun gradually raising their cutting heights on putting greens. There are many factors that impact ball roll and green speed, and cutting height is certainly a major factor. However, the turf grows slower in the fall so this should offset most changes in green speed. Many courses learned the hard way last year that ultra-fast green speed throughout the fall does have serious consequences when harsh winter weather develops.
Tree removal to increase sun exposure is always beneficial to the turf, especially where significant shade exists. Tree removals are often controversial, so many courses wait until late fall to cut trees down to minimize the controversy. Unfortunately, removing trees in November will not help the turf prepare for this winter so immediate action may be necessary. Trees can make for nice features on golf courses, but when they create shade on putting greens they should be removed. This is particularly true for creeping bentgrass greens.
A few courses have even decided to rebuild or resurface their putting greens to avoid a repeat of the severe damage observed this year. While better surface drainage and a completeconversion to creeping bentgrass does not completely eliminate the potential for winter injury, these steps constitute the best insurance policy possible. 
Source: Adam Moeller (
Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service

Contact the Green Section Staff